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On Snake River Alliance vows to drive Areva out of Idaho

p.s. I'm not a big fan of NIMBYism for the record and don't support SRA's efforts. Just felt compelled to call the question as to the scale of the David vs Goliath battle here.
October 15, 2009    View Comment    

On Snake River Alliance vows to drive Areva out of Idaho

Dan, while I'm generally sympathetic to your posts, I think you may be trying to make the Snake River Alliance sound more sinister (and influential) than they are ... and you inadvertently tip your hand in your first paragraph:

A relic with knee-jerk anti-nuclear reflexes from the cold war has revived itself to oppose Areva's planned $2.4 billion "Eagle Rock" uranium enrichment plant in Idaho. The Boise-based Snake River Alliance (SRA) has a war chest of $300,000 from the Bullit and the Edwards Mother Earthfoundations and Patagonia outdoor clothing. With a staff of five and a claim of 1,000 members, it is planning to mount a major campaign to drive Areva out of Idaho.

So a relatively tiny grassroots group with $300k in it's "war chest" is going up against a multinational company ready to invest $2.4b in a single plant?  I'm not sure the odds are in SRA's favor!  Areva could outspend SRA 10 to 1 and it wouldn't even budge the $2.4b figure they already plan to spend on the plant.  It'd be a rounding error!  

If Areva wants to build a new enrichment facility, they'd do well to work on the community relations front.  If a small grassroots group with $300k and 1,000 members stops them, they're either not very good at what they do, or there's far more local opposition than just SRA at play here.  

All the best,
Jesse
October 15, 2009    View Comment    

On Ben Wessel: Small biz can have a big impact

Great to see Ben's writing here at the Energy Collective.  I've met Ben a few times and can vouch that he is a precocious and passionate young policy wonk and advocate.  Cheers,
Jesse Jenkins
Featured Writer, theEnergyCollective.com
October 12, 2009    View Comment    

On TEC discussion (con't) about "Nuclear power: An Inconvenient Solution"

What is it then about Gen IV reactors that make them more suitable to this kind of conversion than a Gen III/III+ reactor design currently under consideration/permitted by the NRC today?
October 9, 2009    View Comment    

On TEC discussion (con't) about "Nuclear power: An Inconvenient Solution"

(I'm cross-posting a comment and Charles' response on this post over at his site, NuclearGreen.com"

Jesse Jenkins said...

Charles, this is a very interesting idea. You speak here about using Gen IV reactors. But Gen IV technologies are quite a ways off, are they not? Perhaps decades. Would this be possible with modifications Gen III or III+ reactor designs? Or is that impossible for some engineering reason? And if Gen IV is a must, then what is the earliest date you could see this kind of conversion of coal plants to nuclear plants begin? Thanks,
Jesse


Jessee, Generation IV reactors are here and now. The Indians plan to have a commercial generation IV prototype reactor up and running and will be completing 4 more within the next decade. A fast track program would give th United States a IFR within 5 years. (I am no great fan of FBRs, but things that you do nothing to acomplish seem to be a long way off.) Production models of LFTRs could be rolling out of a factory within a decade, if we make itr our national priority to make it happen.

October 9, 2009    View Comment    

On TEC discussion about "Nuclear power: An Inconvenient Solution"

Hi Charles,
Thanks for the series of posts. I appreciate your candor and effort in tackling the challenge I posed to you and have read these three posts (third one coming to TEC soon) with interest. Cheers,
Jesse Jenkins
October 9, 2009    View Comment    

On Nuclear power: An inconvenient solution?

Charles and Rod, thanks for the comments and engaging with me on this.  Like Marc, I'd love to explore the potential of nuclear power more fully soon.  Charles, definitely send any posts my way and I'll forward them on to the TEC team to get them posted.  I remain highly skeptical that nuclear power - or any single technology - can provide 15+ TW of energy, but I'm certainly open to (and increasingly supportive of) nuclear as a major contributor to our energy supply mix (as it is today).
October 7, 2009    View Comment    

On Nuclear power: An inconvenient solution?

Hi Charles,
Do you write here for theEnergyCollective.com?  This would be a great forum for you to sketch out your vision for nuclear power expansion.  The trick will be providing on the order of 15-30 terawatts of carbon-free power by 2050 and 25-45 TW by 2100.  Can nuclear scale to that magnitude?  That would be my question for you.  Thanks for your honest answers.
Jesse
October 6, 2009    View Comment    

On Cap-and-Trade versus the Alternatives for U.S. Climate Policy

Hi Robert,

Thanks for replying to my comment.  I'm glad that you acknowledge the public good nature of clean energy R&D (and R&D more generally) and support funding of this critical task with carbon revenues.  I was the lead author of a report making that case recently published by the Breakthrough Institute and Third Way, which you can find here: Jumpstarting a Clean Energy Revolution with a National Institutes of Energy.  

The scale of investments necessary is on the order of $15b in new funding annually, bringing public clean energy R&D funding levels to roughly $20b annually over the next few years.  That also happens to be consistent with what President Obama has advocated.  But it's 15 times what the current House-passed climate bill is likely to invest in clean energy R&D, and that is a serious serious problem.  

We cannot hope to see to affordable and scalable clean energy technologies we need to support deep emissions reductions without an order of magnitude more investment in clean energy R&D.  I hope you'll join us in advocating these critical investments in the Senate's version of climate legislation.  I hope we can agree that this is not a secondary issue that we can afford to leave for later.  Rather, solving this key market failure and getting clean energy innovation policy right will be a necessary component of any effective climate policy.

Sincerely,

Jesse Jenkins
Director of Energy and Climate Policy
Breakthrough Institute - http://thebreakthrough.org
October 6, 2009    View Comment    

On Nuclear power: An inconvenient solution?

Charles, nuclear power cannot be the only viable option.  If it is, we will not see the world transition sufficiently to clean/low-carbon power sources.  To decarbonize the global energy supply and transition away from coal and oil over the next 50 years while keeping up with growing global wealth and energy demand, we will have to provide 2-3 times the total global energy supply entirely from clean energy sources. And that's assuming the world becomes 2/3rds more efficient overall (matching nation's like Japan's energy intensity of economic activity).  Nuclear power, while a viable and probably necessary component of that mix, cannot fill the entire gap.  No single technology can.  I'm open to and increasingly supportive of nuclear power in our energy mix.  I wish nuclear power advocates were not insistent on knocking down every other alternative in order to build the case for nuclear.  We're going to need a lot of energy from a lot of sources, and not all will be anyone's definitely of ideal.  Time to get the scale of our energy challenge clear, prioritize a portfolio of energy sources, and make the investments necessary to catalyze their development and deployment.
October 6, 2009    View Comment    

On Nuclear power: An inconvenient solution?

Alexander says: "Photovoltaic cells that turn sunlight directly into electricity require 14 square miles and wind is even more dilute, requiring 28 square miles."

I haven't read the Nature Conservancy report, but my guess is that 28 square miles is not limited solely to the footprint of the turbines and roads, which is usually just 1/10th to 1/4 of the total land area of a wind farm.  The rest of the area is typically retained as scrub habitat, useable farmland or forestland.  If that's the case, then this Nature Conservancy report is grossly overstating the land area impacts of wind turbines.  Sure, you don't want to put these in old growth forests or pristine habitats, but there are plenty of responsible siting locations for wind turbines throughout the country, including already farmed, clear-cut or otherwise impacted land.  

But I digress...
October 6, 2009    View Comment    

On How Republicans can save the climate bill

Rod writes: "The documents like the proposed federal budget for FY10 and the one in the works for FY11 indicate that those payments are an important strategy for paying for a lot of activities that have nothing to do with improving the environment."

Rod, what uses are you referring to?  The President's long-term budget outline released earlier this year called for $15b of cap and trade revenue for clean energy technology each year and the remainder of the revenues (roughly 85%) would be used to fund a tax cut for 95% of working Americans.  That seems pretty darned close - maybe as close as you're likely to see - to the tax/cap and return/dividend strategy you support.  (For me, it's far too little for clean energy technology innovation and deployment that will really make clean energy cheap and enable deep global emissions reductions). 

Now Congress of course completely ignored the President's outline for cap and trade revenues when crafting the House climate bill, and the Senate is unlikely to differ.  But there isn't a nefarious plan here to cap carbon and use it to pad the federal budget - if there is, it looks an awful lot like using revenues to fund rebates or dividends.

I should also add that there is very little evidence that the tax/cap and return/dividend strategy will enjoy any broad public support.  I've summarized polling and public opinion research on the subject here if you're interested. While this certainly isn't an exhaustive study, I've found exactly zero evidence to show dividends or revenue-neutral rebates increase public support for climate policy.  In fact, the only thing that seems to increase public support is utilizing the revenues to invest in clean energy technologies.  Funny thing is, the public wants the government to do something useful with taxes that solves the problem they are meant to address.  They're not so much fans of the idea that the Government is going to take money from one pocket and promising to return it to the other pocket at some future date, all in order to send "price signals" to change their behavior. That's a tough sell.
October 6, 2009    View Comment