why the U.S. is behind


I thought about posting a story about how cheap alternative energy has become, especially wind power. Much cheaper than coal. I also considered posting a story about how Costa Rico ran its entire country on renewable energy for 300 days or even about the energy plight of Puerto Rico. But I fought against the subsidies for Excelon because the nukes are dangerous boondoggles and because the lost jobs could be replaced with renewal energy jobs. This proves that the State of Illinois wasted 285 million dollars on this crap. I am infuriated.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/illinois/investigation-radioactive-leaks-at-illinois-nuclear-plants/article_5afd12ac-e54b-5b20-be98-b72233c1075c.html

Investigation: Radioactive leaks at Illinois nuclear plants

  • By Brett Chase and Madison Hopkins • Better Government Association

Radioactive waste continues to pour from Exelon’s Illinois nuclear power plants more than a decade after the discovery of chronic leaks led to national outrage, a $1.2 million government settlement and a company vow to guard against future accidents, an investigation by a government watchdog group found.

Since 2007, there have been at least 35 reported leaks, spills or other accidental releases in Illinois of water contaminated with radioactive tritium, a byproduct of nuclear power production and a carcinogen at high levels, a Better Government Association review of federal and state records shows.

No fines were issued for the accidents, all of which were self-reported by the company.

The most recent leak of 35,000 gallons occurred over two weeks in May and June at Exelon’s Braidwood plant, southwest of Chicago. The same facility was the focus of a community panic in the mid-2000s after a series of accidents stirred debate over the safety of aging nuclear plants.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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While this piece is important, it is also kind of cutsie in the fact that all the nuclear waste mentioned is well taken care of. Still I want to make 2 points.

1, I always thought and still do, that Yucca Mountain is a perfect place to store nuclear waste. I was pissed when Obama tried to call the whole thing off and I am glad that the Trump administration is trying to reopen it. Don’t get me wrong, I do not like much of what Trump has done so far BUT this is just fine.

2, Illinois had the perfect opportunity to be the nations nuclear waste dump for real. Northern Illinois between Chicago and the Mississippi River is virtually earthquake free. Like for 1000s of years. As soon as Obama defunded Yucca Mountain we could have stepped up and said, “We will build it here”. Illinois could have gotten Billions of Dollars and 100s if not a 1000 jobs, and the waste would have had a very short train trip to disposal. They could have even used trucks. Then it would have been up to the rest of the States to figure out how to get their waste here.  But no, that would have been tooo bold, so now we are back to the beginning.

http://nprillinois.org/post/illinois-issues-prairie-states-nuclear-waste-conundrum#stream/0

Illinois Issues: The Prairie State’s Nuclear Waste Conundrum

Jul 20, 2017

The Land of Lincoln is the country’s largest de facto nuclear waste dump.

Under a federal measure passed 30 years ago, the spent fuel from America’s nuclear reactors is supposed to be permanently buried out in the Mojave Desert, tucked deep under a mountain, far from any population center and easily guarded

In reality, though, that radioactive waste – tens of thousands of tons of it – is sitting in temporary storage at dozens of current and former nuclear power sites all over the country, as it has been for decades. The largest portion of it is divided among seven sites that dot the nation’s fifth-largest state: Illinois.

The story of how the Land of Lincoln became the nation’s biggest de facto nuclear waste dump is a tale of public fear, political pragmatism and the power of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

It’s a story that radiates political irony. Among those responsible for Illinois’ atomic dilemma is the state’s favorite son, Barack Obama, who scuttled a decades-old project that was to have created a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

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Go there and read. Think about it. More next week.

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Time and time again experts have said, drilling in subzero weather is dangerous. Here is why. It’s BP. They should know better. Right?

Oil well leaking out of control on Arctic Alaska North Slope

An oil pipeline runs from an on-shore facility. The Caelus Energy Oooguruk Development Project is situated on a six-acre gravel island in the Beaufort Sea that’s home to several producing oil wells, on the North Slope in Harrison Bay, Alaska, on Feb. 17, 2017.
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

By Steven Mufson, The Washington Post

A BP oil and gas production well in Alaska’s North Slope blew out Friday morning, and on Saturday afternoon, the well was still not under control as responders fought subfreezing temperatures and winds gusting up to 38 mph.

Efforts to get the well under control were also being hampered by damage to a well pressure gauge and by indications that the well itself has “jacked up,” or risen three to four feet, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a situation report Saturday afternoon.

BP, whose Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out and caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history, has responded to questions about the well, but information was limited and there was no estimate about volumes of natural gas and oil released.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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I have said for awhile that the US would survive the Trump Era. Apparently it is going to be expensive for us and the planet. Hopefully this will limit Trump to one term.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2017/03/06/rolling-back-fuel-efficiency-standards-would-cost-americans-800-billion-add-six-billion-tons-co2/#54beb2e33642

Rolling Back Fuel Efficiency Standards Would Cost Americans $800 Billion, Add Six Billion Tons CO2

The Trump Administration has signaled its intent to roll back existing federal fuel efficiency targets of 54.5 miles per gallon for model year 2022-2025 cars and light trucks, a move endorsed by U.S. auto dealers and auto manufacturers. But going in reverse on fuel efficiency would be a terrible deal for American drivers that would cost the economy approximately $800 billion while adding nearly six billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2050.

Energy Innovation utilized the Energy Policy Simulator (EPS) to analyze the effects of lowering U.S. fuel efficiency standards. The open-source computer model estimates economic and emissions impacts of various energy and environmental policy combinations using non-partisan, published data. It is freely available for public use through a user-friendly web interface or by downloading the full model and input dataset.

Our analysis compared a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario (based on existing policies as of mid-to-late 2016, including the existing fuel efficiency standards) to a scenario that freezes fuel efficiency for new passenger cars at 2017 levels

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Oh my god. Is this my worse nightmare or what? A committed driller traveling the world for American Interests. What is the future of renewable energy, conservation and the sane use of scarce resources. I am sure he will encourage people to LEAVE their resources in the ground.

BUT he did say he believed in Climate Change.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/us/politics/trump-cabinet-confirmation-hearings-live.html?_r=0

Kaine challenges Tillerson on climate change views

Mr. Tillerson, facing questions about Exxon Mobil’s history with climate science, admitted to at least a measure of strategic obfuscation during his testimony.

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said that despite Mr. Tillerson’s view on climate change, Exxon continued to provide funding to groups that obscure the scientific consensus. He asked Mr. Tillerson to clarify what Exxon Mobil knew about climate change despite its public claims through the years.

“Senator, since I’m no longer with Exxon Mobil, I’m in no position to speak on their behalf,” Mr. Tillerson said.

Mr. Kaine reminded Mr. Tillerson that he was asking about Mr. Tillerson’s own experience, which included more than four decades at Exxon. “Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or do you refuse to answer my question?” Mr. Kaine asked.

“A little of both,” Mr. Tillerson said, to laughs.

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Go there and read so much stuff. More next week.

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Nuclear power is not green. To create it you have to destroy the environment. To run it you risk ruining the environment. To decommission it you destroy the environment. Nuclear power is not clean. How could anybody ever say that radiation is clean. But the Big Greens cut a deal with Exelon and then came to Springfield and crammed it down our throats.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois-gov-rauner-signs-bill-sparing-nuclear-plants/article_2714be00-b10a-5611-b8e2-6d0e47fe5830.html

Illinois Gov. Rauner signs bill sparing 2 nuclear plants

  • By JOHN O’CONNOR AP Political Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner approved a plan Wednesday that will provide billions of dollars in subsidies to Exelon Corp. to keep two unprofitable nuclear plants from closing prematurely.

The Republican appeared at Riverdale High School in Port Byron to sign legislation he said will save thousands of jobs by rewarding Exelon for producing carbon-free energy.

In addition to $235 million a year for Exelon to prop up nuclear plants in the Quad Cities and Clinton, the plan provides hundreds of millions of dollars in energy-efficiency programs and assistance to low-income energy users.

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Go there and see the picture of Rauner dancing in victory. I will be updating this for a couple of days.

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This is not the point of the article but it IS my point. If most mammals, like us, are going to survive then we are going to have to leave all of the carbon that we can in the ground. By the way natural gas is no “bridge” to the future. Methane is a lot more potent green house gas. It is carbon that must be left in the ground too. So expect the natural gas companies to follow suit. The sooner the better.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/13/news/companies/peabody-coal-bankruptcy/

The largest U.S. coal company just filed for bankruptcy

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal producer, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday in a U.S. court, citing “unprecedented” industry pressures and a sharp decline in the price of coal.

The company said it will continue to operate while in bankruptcy, while working to reduce debt and improve cash flow.

“Peabody has a new management team, outstanding workforce, unmatched asset base and strong underlying operational performance that represent a key driver in the company’s future success,” CEO Glenn Kellow said in a statement announcing the Chapter 11 filing.

In addition to plummeting coal prices, the company cited weakness in China’s economy, overproduction of domestic shale gas and ongoing regulatory challenges as reasons for its declining prospects.

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Go there and read celebratorily. More next week.

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He killed over 20 people, so I think he needs to die. This is one arrogant son-of-a-bitch.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2014/11/21/347725.htm

Blankenship Pleads Not Guilty to Charges Linked to Massey Mine Explosion

By Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk | November 21, 2014

Former Massey Energy chief Donald Blankenship pleaded not guilty to charges linked to the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 workers in the worst U.S. coal industry disaster in almost 40 years.

The former executive, 64, once a powerful figure in the coal industry and state politics, wore a gray business as he stood with four lawyers in federal court in Beckley, West Virginia, and said, “Not guilty.”

Blankenship is accused of hampering regulators’ safety inspections of the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County where the explosion occurred in April 2010.

The judge set a trial for Jan. 26. About 50 spectators were in the courtroom.

If the former chief executive officer is convicted of the four charges, he faces a maximum penalty of 31 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

Blankenship is accused of setting hyper-aggressive coal- production quotas and instructing subordinates to ignore basic safety measures, such as controlling explosive coal dust and providing proper ventilation in the mines

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Go there and read. More next week.

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Wisconsin Energy (abbreviated here as WE abbreviated on the SEC as WEC)  is buying Integrys Distribution Network which includes Chicago. So the 2 big questions this raises is 1) Will this have an effect on Chicago’s electric rates and  renewable goals. and 2) will the WE offer Chicago a new and improved natural gas deal? We shall see. Ameren must be wondering the same sort of things. Below are a short article link and then a longer treatment.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wisconsin-energy-to-buy-integrys-energy-in-91-bln-deal-2014-06-23-7911444?siteid=bulletrss

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-wisconsin-energy-to-buy-integrys-in-91-billion-deal-20140623,0,3548279.story

Peoples Gas parent Integrys being bought for $5.7 billion

WEC Energy Group the merged company will be headquartered in Milwaukee, with “operating headquarters” in Chicago, Green Bay and Milwauke.

It was just before Christmas that Gale Klappa, chairman and CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corp., asked Charlie Schrock, his counterpart at Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group Inc., out to dinner.Sitting in a restaurant in Chicago, Klappa didn’t mince words with the head of the parent company for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.

“The first thing on my mind that I opened with in my discussion with Charlie is when you look at what the combined company would become in what is clearly a consolidating industry,” he recalled. “Size, scale and the ability to take advantage of the economies of scale is becoming more important.”

On Monday, six months after that dinner, the two CEOS were together again, announcing a $5.7 billion merger agreement that will create an energy company with more than 4.3 million metered electric and gas customers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

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Go there and read. More next week.

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And if you do not believe me, then go to the links below and read what they say.

http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

http://theweek.com/article/index/261337/more-proof-that-fracking-is-dirtier-than-advertised

As for what I think:

Hydraulic Fracturing is a drilling process that drills oil and gas wells into shale formations and produces what is referred to as “ tight petroleum fluids”. Principally oil and methane. This process begins by drilling a typical vertical well.  The drill bit is then turned to drill horizontally and moves as far as 3 miles. Then the well is cased with concrete and a slurry of liquids are prepared. We will come back to that discussion in a bit because the fluids pumped into the bore hole are very special. Once the drill is extracted it is replaced with special pipe that is flexible enough to make the turn and has holes in it which are temporarily plugged with ping pong ball  like ball bearings. Once that is done, the fluids  are piped down the well under extremely high pressure. These fluids blast the bearings out of the way and the fluids escape from the pipe and pulverizes the surrounding rock. Then the danger of fracking begins. Because of the  physics of pressure, the fluids  which are now in front of the flow of the oil and methane burst back to the surface and must be contained. After that the dangers only grow. These risks include: Pollution risks, Health risks, Death risks and Financial risks.

The health risks are many. The groundwater risks arise from the fracking itself and the type fluids used. The fluids are extremely toxic.  While I can”t say what exactly are in the fluids because the drilling companies refuse to release them, everyone admits that toxics like diesel fuel, hydrochloric acid, silica, and antifreeze are involved.  For a list of the thousand of chemical used please see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_additives_for_hydraulic_fracturing .   Will the fluids remain in the area fracked and will the oil and gas flow towards the well head if other avenues are available? This is something no one can guarantee. If even small amounts of the fracking fluids do not return through the bore hole then ground water contamination is possible and well water contamination is all but guaranteed. Surface contamination comes in the form of produced water contamination on the ground and in the nearby waterways. Many wild catters want to just dump those waters in waste pits or worse yet dump them in larger stream and rivers. Even tank storage is problematic. Transportation to a disposal site risks many types of accidents. I believe that all these fluids should be recycled. They contain radioactive materials, heavy metals and poisons like arsenic. Finally there is air pollution. This come in the form of methane and benzene. Many wild catters want to flare the methane and only deal with the oil. This guarantees that methane will be released and methane is one of the most potent green gases around. Exposure to benzene can be lethal as will be discussed later and will lead to lung damage and many cancers.

Some of the health risks were discussed above but there are a set of studies to be considered. You can find these studies easily online but in their gist they ask the question, “Are children in fracking zones healthy”?  The answer is NO. In general children that live within a ten mile area of fracked wells have many more health problems than children that live farther away. Please see this list for a discussion of benzene on human health – http://www.allenstewart.com/practice-areas/gas-property-damage/chemicals-used-in-fracking/   If that is true then how healthy can the adults be? But fracking is so new that it is hard to tell. I know in my heart that taking that plunge over that cliff is not worth the danger. We need to stop now.

Then there are risks of death to the nearby humans. Is that extreme? Not in the least. The increase in the large truck traffic alone and the attendant violations of trucking laws will destroy roads and lead to a large increase in traffic accidents leading to increases in deaths. And of course there will be deaths directly relating to the increase in drilling activity. Drilling for oil is inherently dangerous and the industry has its own mortality rate. We have already seen large numbers of deaths due to train wrecks involving trains pulling tanker cars holding fracked oil. Because of the trapped gases in fracked oil it is a lot more explosive. Who wants to die a fiery death? While pipeline leaks could have been discussed anywhere, the problems of pipelining unconventional oil are clear. Since the oil must be heated under pressure to physically move through a pipeline, any leak means the oil cools rapidly and latches on to anything in its path. Especially if it falls into water it will not float and it must be dug out of the bottom. Wherever it lands it begins to release its toxic chemicals including the ever present benzene. While no deaths have yet occurred, fracking possess the possibility of causing major calamities. The first are earthquakes. Today there is no doubt that fracking can cause earthquakes. The questions is when will they cause a major one? So far no earthquake caused by fracking has been greater than a 4.5 earthquake, so we continue to pray they stay small. Then there is the question of Bhopal On The Prairie. This was not a concern of mine but many people who live near old coal mines raised it with me at events I attended. They said, “What if they frack near an old coal mine or an old uncapped oil well” both of which Illinois has in abundance? Well the answer is, all the stuff that should go up the nrw well bore hole will spew out into the general environment. If you are anywhere near that the methane will kill you. This is unlikely but just one incident could kill many people.

Ever wonder why oil men refer to their business as a “Boom and Bust” business? It is because of their Financial Risks. These risks are not limited to the investors and the drillers themselves. First and foremost any property owners near these wells will see their property values go to zero and if you hold a mortgage on any such property you will be in debt for a worthless property. There is also a growing push to send the fracked oil and its refined products overseas. This means that oil prices will rise and the cost of gasoline will follow along. But ultimately it is the case that  wildcat fracking is a Ponzi Scheme and that costs investors the most money. Small drillers raise money well by well but when the first one “comes in” they divert some of the profits to the next well which enriches themselves. Because fracked wells have such a short life expectancy (possibly as short as 3 years) eventually the level of those losing money on their investments climb and the driller declares bankruptcy leaving those newest investors holding huge losses. Not only that but it leaves the State of Illinois and individual property owners holding the bag for any damages that remains. This also leads to market manipulation on insider information because the upcoming bankruptcies are an open secret in the oil and gas industry itself.

I must end with a plea for Illinois to stop this. Fracking is nothing but a case of gluttony gone wild. These are not resources we need to exploit now. We could leave these resources for future generations that may need them. But in our general lust for fatter and fatter energy girths we will be looked on by future generations with mortification. Again, shame on everyone in Illinois.

Doug Nicodemus

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Go there and read. More next week in a more timely fashion,

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