Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Warmist law would put a pile of cash into the pockets of nuclear power operators -- if enacted

Maybe this will be a deterrent to enacting it! Given how much Greenies hate nuclear

Nearly half of the nation's nuclear power plants stand to earn a windfall if the climate-change bill passed by the House becomes law. The legislation, which passed by a narrow vote in June, would open the way for nuclear plants operating in states that have unregulated electricity markets to charge much higher prices than they currently do. The price increases would translate directly into higher profits for nuclear-plant operators - reaching into the billions of dollars a year.

"There's an incentive to raise prices, because competing fuels would become more expensive under the bill," said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a D.C.-based advocacy group. "If you move up prices, you'll move up your profits."

Under the House-passed bill, power facilities that run on fossil fuels such as coal would have to pay for the right to pollute, specifically to emit carbon dioxide, raising their operating costs, perhaps significantly. The "pay-to-pollute" system would result in higher electricity prices on the open market. Because operating costs for nuclear plants would be unaffected by the House bill, nuclear plant operators would see higher prices for their product - at least in some markets - while their production costs remain flat, resulting in big profits to the bottom line.

The bill will cause an "increase in revenues to carbon-free power sources like nuclear, and this is exactly what is supposed to happen," said John Shelk, president of the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA).

Lawmakers see the price rise as a market-based way to deter the use of fossil fuels, notably coal and crude oil. The House bill, however, still faces an uphill fight in the Senate.

The average U.S. price for electricity could rise by an additional 13 percent by 2020, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The American Public Power Association estimates that the price of electricity could jump an extra 20 percent in the bill's early years.

Nuclear power plants give off no carbon emissions and would not be hit with increased operating costs under the House-passed bill. Any market increase in the price of electricity, therefore, would produce a big boost in the profits of nuclear facilities operating in states with unregulated markets. Forty-six of the 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S. operate in states with unregulated electricity markets, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the main lobby for nuclear energy. In these markets, there is no control on profits that power generators can collect. The other 58 nuclear plants operate in regulated markets, where power generators' profits are controlled.

Power generators that use coal, the dirtiest and cheapest source of energy, would have to raise their electricity rates to recoup the cost of their carbon dioxide emissions under the bill. Generators of nuclear energy and hydroelectric power, however, would not.

The amount of money that nuclear companies collect from higher electricity prices, in excess of their operating costs, would be profit. Generators of hydroelectric power - electricity from moving water - also stand to reap big profits under the House measure....

The American Public Power Association, which represents community-owned electric utilities, said the profits that nuclear companies could collect would be substantial. "There could be a very large amount of money moving from consumers' pockets to power companies with no environmental benefits," said Joe Nipper, senior vice president of the association.



The raucous debate over health care could thwart the Senate’s enactment of sweeping energy and climate legislation this year, say Democratic aides, energy lobbyists and environmentalists. If Democrats fail to push through a health care bill — or get embroiled in even more contentious debate this fall — experts fear they’d lose much of the momentum necessary to get the controversial climate and energy legislation through the Senate. “If health care ends up being very contentious, you may not be able to go back to the well again for climate votes,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist for energy companies at Bracewell & Giuliani. “The debate will either take up too much time, too much political capital or both.”

A major worry is that Congress will be unwilling to take up such complex, divisive energy and climate legislation next year because moderate Democrats believe the issue would be toxic for them during the midterm elections, as Republicans have promised to make climate a top campaign issue. Moderate Democrats from coal and manufacturing states have already expressed doubts about the bill — particularly the centerpiece provision, a cap-and-trade system that limits greenhouse gas emissions by forcing utilities, manufacturers and other companies to buy, sell and trade pollution allowances. Those Democrats may be unwilling to vote for the measure, especially if they have already taken a tough vote on health care.

“It’s not slam-dunk,” said Frank O’Donnell, head of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group. “It’s going to take some very serious discussions and negotiations before it will be ready to get 60 votes.”

In August, four Democratic senators — Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, both of North Dakota — urged that the cap-and-trade provision be dropped. Their opposition came a week after 10 moderate Democratic senators — mostly undecideds whose support will be critical to passage — sent a letter to President Barack Obama, saying they would not support a bill that didn’t protect American manufacturing. “It is essential that any clean energy legislation not only address the crisis of climate change but include strong provisions to ensure the strength and viability of domestic manufacturing,” they wrote.

The House narrowly passed an energy and climate bill in late June, with 44 Democrats — largely from rural, coal-dependent and manufacturing states — voting against it. Progress has slowed in the Senate, where lawmakers are more focused on health care.


Green/Left radiation hysteria stubs its toe on Chernobyl

Selective attention to detail at Chernobyl CAN show adverse effects in areas where the radiation is particularly high but at lower levels the radiation is harmless and animals are thriving. Greenie scientists can only see the harmed bits. The basic toxicological truth that the toxicity is in the dose applies to ionizing radiation too -- but to the Green/Left it is ALL bad, no matter how low the dose. They find it handy for scaring people

'We walked out into a wasteland, grey and desolate. The buildings had deteriorated, windows had been smashed. Trees and weeds had grown over everything: it was a ghost town." It reads like a passage from a post-apocalyptic novel, such as Cormac McCarthy's The Road; in fact, it's how Tim Mousseau describes his first visit to Chernobyl.

In 1999, this Professor of Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina travelled to the site of the world's most horrific nuclear accident, alongside Professor Anders Møller, an ornithologist and evolutionary biologist from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. Their on-site research has sparked an intense controversy over the effects of radiation on humans and animals – one which they hope their latest trip into the fallout zone, which sets out in two weeks, will help to resolve.

The basic facts of Chernobyl are well known. At 1.23am on April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Soviet nuclear power plant (sited in modern-day Ukraine) exploded, after an electrical test went horribly wrong. The radioactive material released was hundreds of times greater than the fallout over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, polluting about 80,000 square miles of land across Europe and spreading radioactive rain as far as north-west Ireland.

In the wake of the accident, more than 300,000 people were evacuated and an 800 square mile exclusion zone created around the reactor. Yet recently it has been reported that the abandoned town of Pripyat has become a wildlife haven. There have been sightings of wolves, bears and moose wandering through the deserted streets, and swifts swoop round abandoned office blocks.

The implication is that if wildlife can return so soon, nuclear radiation – and nuclear power – might be less dangerous than has been suggested. James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia theory, has even written that the natural world "would welcome nuclear waste as the perfect guardian against greedy developers… the preference of wildlife for nuclear-waste sites suggests that the best sites for its disposal are the tropical forests and other habitats in need of a reliable guardian against their destruction by hungry farmers and developers".

According to a UN report in 2005, long-term cancers caused by Chernobyl will eventually kill about 4,000 people: an alarming total, but less than predicted. In fact, in an age of "dirty bombs" and nuclear proliferation, Chernobyl functions as a grim experiment into the consequences of extensive nuclear fallout. Although radiation levels have dropped significantly over the 23 years, there are still "hot" regions. Prof Mousseau says that the most contaminated areas measure 300 microSieverts per hour on the Geiger counter, the equivalent of 1,200 times normal radiation levels, or 15 times as much as a chest X-ray. "Long-term exposure would be deleterious," he adds drily.

The real problem, however, is environmental contamination of radionucleotides, caesium, strontium, and plutonium, which have half-lives of 30,000, 29,000 and 24,000 years respectively. Since this means that over that time period, these chemicals will decay to half their previous concentrations, they will contaminate the land for years.

"What you need to worry about is eating the food, because ingestion is the main way that one becomes exposed to radiation poisoning here," says Prof Mousseau.

And despite the stories about nature thriving in the Chernobyl area, Prof Mousseau is not convinced. The first discovery that he and Prof Møller made was that birds in the fallout zone were suffering increased levels of genetic mutations. The pair examined 20,000 barn swallows and found crippled toes, deformed beaks, malformed tails, irregularly shaped eyes and tumours. Some birds had red plumage where it should have been blue, or blue where it should have been red.

Thanks to the contamination of the food supply, bird species have declined by more than 50 per cent in high-radiation areas. Only a fraction of the swallows are reproducing, and of those that do lay eggs, only five per cent hatch. Fewer than a third of birds survive to become adults. Prof Mousseau and Prof Møller could confirm that these abnormalities were genetic by examining the swallows' sperm....

It seems like a portrait of an ecosystem in crisis – so how have other scientists reported the opposite? Dr Robert Baker and Dr Ronald Chesser, from Texas Tech University, conducted their own study, published in the journal American Scientist in 2006: "We were surprised by the diversity of mammals living in the shadow of the ruined reactor only eight years after meltdown."

Their long-term studies contradicted those of Professors Mousseau and Møller, describing the region as "thriving", with a wild boar population 10 to 15 times higher in the exclusion zone than outside. They also failed to find any type of elevated mutation rate, or evidence that survival among animals living around Chernobyl differs from those in clean environments.

"Chernobyl is not a lunar landscape," says Prof Mousseau. "You can hear birds and mammals, spot the occasional wolf and fox, there are trees and plants – so it's not a complete desert. The reason for this misunderstanding is because there is a quiltwork of contamination, so you could have lots of organisms in one area, and none in another. To a trained biologist, though, it's very obvious."

Those are fighting words – particularly as both teams will shortly publish papers about mammals in the region that have diametrically opposed results.

For his part, Dr Chesser says: "I think that the discrepancy between our work and that of Møller and Mousseau stems from their inattention to details. I will go no further than that. I have no doubt that our work is accurate."

Prof Mousseau is equally forthright: "I'd rather avoid discussing specifics of their work, but no other folks apart from us have been rigorously counting organisms and measuring their distribution and the background contamination. Their work is based on anecdotes."


British regulator lacks legal power to ban incandescent bulbs

How are shops supposed to decide whether a customer intends a 100W bulb for use in a 'household', wonders Christopher Booker

The continuing drama over the EU's drive to force us all to use only so-called "low energy" light bulbs, rather than the incandescent bulbs that many of us prefer, has brought to light a truly surreal legislative blunder. Last week, it was reported that, as from next Tuesday, the public will be expected to report to trading standards officers anyone guilty of selling "illegal' incandescent bulbs. I thought I would check with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether such an absurd thing could be true.

No, I was told, it will still be legal to sell existing stocks of 100 watt or frosted bulbs, but it will be a criminal offence to import them from outside the EU. When I asked the legal basis for this, I was directed to various laws, starting with the EU's 2005 Eco-Design of Energy-Using Products directive. When I asked how this had been put into British law, I was directed to a regulation of 2007 which turned out to concern the "eco-design" of fridges and boilers but said nothing about imported light bulbs.

I was also, however, pointed to a European Commission regulation (244/2009) of March this year, regarding "eco-design requirements for non-directional household lamps". Wading through a lot of bureaucratic gobbledegook about "non-directional" bulbs used for lighting domestic rooms ("a non-directional lamp", it helpfully explains, "is a lamp which is not directional"), at last I found the explanation for what Defra thinks it is up to – and its extraordinary blunder came to light.

This curious story goes back to the day in March 2007 when the EU's leaders, including Tony Blair, gathered in Brussels to approve a package of proposals designed to stop global warming. It was soon clear they hadn't the slightest idea how all their quixotic dreams could be put into effect, because these raised all sorts of practical problems which were left to hapless officials to resolve.

On the proposal to ban incandescent bulbs, for instance, it emerged that many light fittings could not take "low energy" compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). A report for Defra the previous year had found that this applied to more than half the fittings in UK homes. So the officials were left to work out how the ban on what were now dubbed "old-fashioned" bulbs could somehow be phased in over several years in a way that was both legal and workable in practice.

Initially they leant on Europe's own manufacturers to stop making incandescent bulbs "voluntarily", but this did not get around the problem of imported bulbs, for instance from China. So their solution, enshrined in regulation 244/2009, was that it should gradually be made illegal between now and 2016 for "non-directional" incandescent bulbs to be "placed on the market", because they do not comply with the EU's new "eco-design" standards. This is the regulation on which Defra bases its claim that, from Tuesday, it will be illegal to import 100 watt or frosted bulbs for sale, with all other "non-directional" incandescent bulbs due to follow between now and 2016.

But herein lies Defra's amazing error. The legislation it depends on to make this claim, regulation 244/2009, refers quite specifically to "household lamps". So the EU has not made it illegal to "place on the market" bulbs which are not intended for household use. Defra thus has no power to ban the import or sale of incandescent bulbs for use in shops, offices, factories, outhouses or anywhere which isn't a "household". And how are shops to decide, when asked for such bulbs, where a customer wishes to use them?

In other words, not for the first time, in its desire to bend over backwards to meet the wishes of the EU, our Government has made a total Horlicks of trying to understand the laws it is so eager to comply with.


As hybrid cars gobble rare metals, shortage looms

The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods. That makes Toyota's market-leading gasoline-electric hybrid car and other similar vehicles vulnerable to a supply crunch predicted by experts as China, the world's dominant rare earths producer, limits exports while global demand swells.

Worldwide demand for rare earths, covering 15 entries on the periodic table of elements, is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tonnes annually in several years unless major new production sources are developed. One promising U.S. source is a rare earths mine slated to reopen in California by 2012.

Among the rare earths that would be most affected in a shortage is neodymium, the key component of an alloy used to make the high-power, lightweight magnets for electric motors of hybrid cars, such as the Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Focus, as well as in generators for wind turbines. Close cousins terbium and dysprosium are added in smaller amounts to the alloy to preserve neodymium's magnetic properties at high temperatures. Yet another rare earth metal, lanthanum, is a major ingredient for hybrid car batteries.

Production of both hybrids cars and wind turbines is expected to climb sharply amid the clamor for cleaner transportation and energy alternatives that reduce dependence on fossil fuels blamed for global climate change.

Toyota has 70 percent of the U.S. market for vehicles powered by a combination of an internal-combustion engine and electric motor. The Prius is its No. 1 hybrid seller.

Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, calls the Prius "the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world." Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of lanthanum. That number will nearly double under Toyota's plans to boost the car's fuel economy, he said.

Toyota plans to sell 100,000 Prius cars in the United States alone for 2009, and 180,000 next year. The company forecasts sales of 1 million units per year starting in 2010.

As China's industries begin to consume most of its own rare earth production, Toyota and other companies are seeking to secure reliable reserves for themselves. Reuters reported last year that Japanese firms are showing strong interest in a Canadian rare earth site under development at Thor Lake in the Northwest Territories.

A Toyota spokeswoman in Los Angeles said the automaker would not comment on its resource development plans. But media accounts and industry blogs have reported recently that Toyota has looked at rare earth possibilities in Canada and Vietnam.


Alert over new wave of exploding fridges in Britain caused by 'environmentally-friendly coolant'

Bring back freon. The Ozone "hole" waxes and wanes just as it always has done

Luckily no-one was hurt when Kathy Cullingworth's fridge exploded but the damage bill was £10,000. A series of violent fridge explosions is believed to have been caused by leaks of 'environmentally-friendly' coolant. Safety standards for manufacturers might have to be reviewed following the blasts, which have destroyed several kitchens. At least four similar explosions have been reported in the last three years in the UK, two of them since May.

The problem appears to result from a widespread switch to 'Greenfreeze' technology over the past 15 years and the use of isobutane and propane hydrocarbon gases as refrigerants. Previously CFCs and HFCs were used in fridges but these gases damaged the ozone layer and contributed significantly to global warming. There are now more than 300million Greenfreeze fridges around the world.

They are designed with safety features to ensure the flammable natural gas inside the pipework cannot leak into the fridge. However, if this happens there is a risk of a powerful blast as the gas could be ignited by a spark when the thermostat switches off.

Graeme Fox, an air-conditioning and refrigeration contractor, said: 'During the day when the fridge door is frequently opened there isn't a problem. 'But at night, when everyone is sleeping and the door remains shut, this leaked highly flammable gas can build up in the fridge cabinet.'

Mother-of-two Kathy Cullingworth, 55, is taking legal advice after her Creda fridge exploded three weeks ago at her home in Normanton, West Yorkshire. The Mail told how it caused more than £10,000 of damage. An independent engineer confirmed the fridge contained isobutane refrigerant and a leak is suspected.

A similar fate befell Carline Preece and her family at their home in West Bromwich. Fortunately Mrs Preece, 44, her husband Michael, 45, and their four children were in bed when the fridge blew at 6am. Mrs Preece thought an earthquake had struck. She said: 'The doors were ripped in half, the front door has a gaping hole in it and all the windows were blown open by the force.'

Jane Gartshore, president of the Institute of Refrigeration, said there is a 'theoretical possibility' that such explosions can be caused by a leak of isobutane. But she stressed: 'There are hundreds of millions of these fridges and these incidents are very, very rare.'



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1 comment:

Panta Rei said...

re light bulb ban

not surprising about the muddle behind it!

All about the strange and unpublicized EU and industrial politics that led to the light bulb ban: