Skip to main content

Today, Al Gore and a coalition of leading environmental organizations are launching This is  Simply put, despite all the glowing ads that you've seen and bipartisan romancing of clean coal, "clean coal" remains not much more than powerpoint slides and technological dreams that might (MIGHT) work in 20 years or so, at a very high cost.  What is the reality today?

Simple fact:  COAL IS DIRTY! From mountain top removal, through distribution, burning, and the waste, whether fly ash deposits, particulates into our lungs, mercury in the oceans, or CO2 in the atmosphere.

From today's press release:

Environmental experts agree that coal is the dirtiest fuel America uses to produce electricity.

You don't need to be an "environmental expert" to agree to this.  This is simply, well, fact.

"The reality is that there’s not a single home or business in America today powered by clean coal," said Brian Hardwick of the Alliance for Climate Protection. "If coal really wants to be part of America’s energy future, the industry can start by making a real commitment to eliminating their pollution that is a leading cause of global

"The industry can ..."  But is there any indication that they are willing or interested in doing so?

Simple fact. The coal industry spent $100,000,000s seeking to influence the election and the discussion of coal over the past year. Santas distributed Clean Coal a year ago at the Metro stations near the US Capitol. (Quite appropriately, because the only way we're getting "clean coal", in terms of atmospheric pollution, in the near term is if the elves make it at the North Pole (as long as there is ice still there) and Sanata delivers it down coal plant smokestacks).

"The industry can ..."  

"It is high time for the coal industry to come clean and admit to the American people that today clean coal is not a reality." Hardwick continued, "No matter how much they say it in their advertising, coal can’t truly be clean until the plants can capture global warming pollution. With so much at stake, we can’t afford to hang our hats on an

And, let us be clear, that the "illusion" of clean coal is even worse than you think because the effects of coal on our planet and our health go well beyond simply Global Warming (and acidification of the oceans due to CO2).  There are the reduced levels of Acid Rain. (Yes, that clean-up mainly worked -- yeah, enviromental regulation and pollution mandates for helping improve our lives).  There are the 24,000 Americans (and more than 100,000 more globally) who die prematurely each year due to coal-fired electricity plant emissions.  There are the scars on the earth from mining. (By the way, a tip of the hat to Bank of America for ending any future loans for mountain-top removal yesterday.)  There is the radioactive and otherwise dangerous fly ash after burning.  And, ... And, the list is far too long.

As for the "illusion", the capture and permanent sequestration (storage for 1000s of years) of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants is being experimented on, at a small scale, in a few places around the world. We (the large WE) don't really have a clear idea as to whether this can work at large scale. The costs of doing it will be quite high. And, if it can be made to work, it won't be available and working at mass scale for decades.  We can't wait decades for this pollution to end.  And, those massive amount of resources that need to be spent to see whether CCS can work at mass scale can be used to deploy existing and develop/deploy new paths for breaking our addiction to coal.   By the time CCS would be deployable on mass scale, America could be basically fully off coal ... with much of the world not far behind.

Al Gore has laid out a 10 year plan for eliminating fossil fuels from America's electrical grid.  Google (and CEO/Obama Advisor Eric Schmidt) has laid out a path for doing this in 20 years. (As have I.)  Let's think of this this way:  Gore's 10 year should be our "objective target", what we'd really like to achieve. Schmidt's (and my) 20-year path should be our "threshhold" target, or the minimum that we can achieve.

Energy Efficiency (negawatts and negagallons) is a reality today and can have a major impact on our energy situation, QUICKLY and profitably.

Nuclear Power, whatever you think of it, is a reality today and a real option for tomorrow.

Wind Power is a reality today and an ever growing option for tomorrow.

Solar Power is a reality today and an increasingly viable option for tomorrow.

Hydropower, Geothermal Power, Biomass are all reality today and provide options for tomorrow.

Clean Coal is vaporware today and something that might ... MIGHT ... work tomorrow.

I am not ready to bet my children's future on an uncertain might.  Are you?

Originally posted to A Siegel on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 03:21 AM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tips / Mojo: 4 Dec 08 (211+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skybluewater, Devilstower, gpclay, Ed in Montana, Joe Bob, DeminNewJ, vicki, RF, taylormattd, ogre, Trendar, ScientistMom in NY, RunawayRose, Hoya90, Pescadero Bill, billlaurelMD, cotterperson, bellatrys, OLinda, eeff, polecat, marjo, shpilk, bluestone, bumblebums, mataliandy, Plan9, bronte17, MD patriot, eddieb061345, nudger, sayitaintso, stevej, mkfarkus, buckhorn okie, roses, javelina, BruinKid, oceanview, wonmug, Jesterfox, wader, shirah, emmasnacker, oldjohnbrown, Dr Colossus, Miss Jones, Can Tab, GW Chimpzilla, desmoinesdem, riverlover, alizard, inclusiveheart, outragedinSF, JayDean, boran2, Marc in KS, Timroff, Jersey Joe, weelzup, rapala, Fabian, Tinfoil Hat, ManOnTheBench, Doolittle Sothere, NoMoreLies, jrooth, greycat, HudsonValleyMark, PBen, sap, Simplify, NeuvoLiberal, Bill White, where4art, lotlizard, blue jersey mom, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, benny05, melvin, Asinus Asinum Fricat, Mother Mags, pico, esquimaux, buddabelly, BalanceSeeker, Pinko Elephant, RustyBrown, Prognosticator, smokeymonkey, KenBee, deha, fromer, NNadir, EthrDemon, MJ via Chicago, Ashaman, nilocjin, imabluemerkin, plf515, trykindness, chemicalresult, ER Doc, Dinclusin, dirtfarmer, MBNYC, Turbonerd, JugOPunch, doingbusinessas, Steve Bloom, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dianna, means are the ends, bstotts, Snarcalita, Picot verde, louavul, Temmoku, DrMicro, DBunn, tegrat, One Pissed Off Liberal, out of left field, dotsright, blue armadillo, Robear, BruceMcF, terryhallinan, moosely2006, Wino, profmom, SJLeonidas, CarmenC, Geek of all trades, davehouck, Seneca Doane, mudslide, jnhobbs, Joffan, keikekaze, JohnnyRook, gloryous1, TomP, bluesweatergirl, cville townie, trivium, jgilhousen, MKinTN, edison, limpidglass, Fiona West, Rick Winrod, lineatus, beltane, Haplogroup V, dewley notid, TokenLiberal, Serpents Sorrow, luckylizard, Uncle Bob, dont think, slathe, In her own Voice, wv voice of reason, Bule Betawi, multilee, Neon Vincent, ARS, undeclarednh, Stranded Wind, notrouble, Daily Activist, Mercuriousss, dRefractor, zbbrox, bfitzinAR, allep10, Dragon5616, longtimewatcher, fALk, LookingUp, My Stupid Opinion, p gorden lippy, patrickz, FritztheCat, dditt, El Ochito, CcVenussPromise, wvmom, Eddie L, creamer, sullivanst, ItsSimpleSimon, apip0115, DailyDrew, SoonerG, WattleBreakfast, Unenergy, Urtica dioica gracilis, Maverick80229, jonwilliamsl, kathleen518, nosleep4u, cany, dmet, north coaster, Olon, greenmama, itzik shpitzik, Poycer, Wicket

    Cheers for some reality in advertising spots?

    •  The politicians bought the clean coal lie. (52+ / 0-)

      Now it's time to fight back with the truth. There is no such thing as clean coal. The Bush admin just approved regs that allow mountain top removal mining to destroy streams and to pollute water. Coal leaves a trail of death and destruction from the mines to the wastes.

      The clean coal is like safe suicide.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 03:34:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've heard that an electric car that gets it's (11+ / 0-)

        juice from a coal-fired power plant is dirtier than one with a gasoline engine.

        •  Interesting question (0+ / 0-)

          Do you know the answer, a siegel? or anyone?

          •  Hydrogen fueled cars are another big lie (19+ / 0-)

            And GM and their ilk used the "vaporware" of hydrogen cars to put off work on electric and hybrid cars.  

            Hydrogen is mostly produced from natural gas, and however it is produced, 40% of the energy in the hydrogen is used to compress it for use as a mobile fuel!

            I suspect that the coal-powered electric cars spew more mercury, but you also have to look at the size of the car- electric cars or hybrid-electric cars the size of a Prius will be very efficient, and of course they recapture the braking energy.

            Any vehicle that does not recapture braking energy is essentially a dino-car, and the makers need to phase them out now.

            •  Dinos all the way down (14+ / 0-)

              Even at high efficiency, moving 2 tons of metal on 4 balloons with one passenger isn't the transport of the future.

              •  also many jobs do not require transportation (17+ / 0-)

                Many of the workers I know are in front of their computer screen 90% of the day- so why are they spending one to two hours and lots of energy commuting every day?

                Telecommuting could save billions of dollars every year- use the savings to build solar cells.

                Even at the present modest efficiency of solar electric panels, my house could be totally energy sufficient if the south facing roof was covered with grid-tied solar panels.   Why don't I buy them today?  Well the $60,000 is a little steep!  But the $700 billion that was tossed to the Wall Street leeches could build a lot of solar power!!

                •  Solar is about to come down (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gpclay, oceanview, Losty

                  At least judging from the stock prices of the companies. ESLR went from $20 to $2 over the last year; they still claim to be on schedule with their rampup. Remember how fast fiber optic cable went from scarce to glut 7 years ago?

                •  The Schlebs That Install It... (0+ / 0-)
                  •  Oops... (0+ / 0-)

                    Having had the pleasure of hiring 'professionals' to install furnaces, HVAC, etc., I would expect the same quality (complete lack thereof) having solar power installed.

                    That $60,000 installation would undoubtedly shit the bed within 5 years at best.  Replacement parts and servicemen would be unavailable because it would be obsolete within a year after installation.  An attempted retrofit would cost even more.  This I know because my dad can't find service for his solar hot water system to save his life.

                    Residential solar is not practical, this technology needs to be centralized and possibly nationalized (especially if my tax dollars are subsidizing it) where it's easier to maintain and bring lawsuits against negligent manufacturers and incompetent contractors.

                    •  Residential solar what? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      alizard, JohnnySacks

                      For the life of me, I cannot understand what seems like the complete fascination with photo-voltaic when there is so many places with opportunity to pursue solar hot water and passive solar heating.

                      For an off-the-grid setting, or in setting up a fall-back emergency power system, that's one thing, but for bang for the buck, the payback in a lot of the country on a good solar hot water heater and passive solar heating improvements is so much better than the bang for the buck for PV solar electricity.

                      •  Thanks I Was Referring to PV (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        MD patriot, BruceMcF

                        Photo-voltaic is what I referring to when I spoke of centralization.  PV looks like a feel goody niche product for general residential use and not so efficient for large scale.  When I see the reflector concentration installations in Nevada and the 11MW Seville Power Tower, that's what raises the hair on the back of my gearhead neck.  The bang for the buck in solar power generation.

                        The solar water heater my dad installed when Jimmy Carter subsidized it heated water for a family of 7 for a couple decades - ZERO gas used.

                      •  A perspective ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        1.  Efficiency! EFFICIENCY!! EFFICIENCY!!!!!!!!!!!!
                        1.  Solar Hot Water.
                        1.  And, a distant third, Solar PV.

                        But, that last is dependent on tax support/such. In Maryland, for example, very easy to have a payback schedule of less than 10 years directly on cost of electricity.

                        Now, there is another direct payoff space: setting up the system so as to never be out of power.  Home office, extended outages, etc ...

                        And, well, there is the 'psychological' value and visible statement. As for this last, only to be pursued if 1 has been aggressively pursued and 2 is in place.  (And, other options as well ... such as my soon to be put in high-efficiency fireplace, which will be heating the house with wood from trees cut down in the yard / neighborhood.)

                •  Just put in for them here in MD (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MD patriot, A Siegel, Just Bob
                  $37K 4kw system minus Fed 30% or $11.1K minus State of MD $10K (reducing in 2009, must be on wait list as of Dec 1st) and minus County prop tax reduction $5K = a little under $11K end outlay.

                  It will produce more than 50% of my elec needs, about $500/yr (before I find a plug-in car! and better windows/insulation) and the SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) are conservatively est. to bring in another $600+.  My payoff is calculated at 6.8 yrs with a ROI of 14.7%, with elec rates remaining stagnant - which they won't, they'll surely increase so that only improves my estimated numbers.  I thought this was economical - but only because there was room in the HELOC and the Credit Union was still letting us draw on it.  I'm super excited!!!  Maybe too hopeful, but I'm trying to be the change I want to see in the world.  :-)

                  •  Living near you ... (0+ / 0-)

                    in NVA, I would pay $26k for the system, which makes the payback period ROI of over 20 years (VA's electricity is half the price of Maryland's) and thus beyond life of cells.  

                    Soon ... but, in near term (next couple months), an experimental solar hot water system (I'm to be a beta tester, will blog) and high-efficiency fireplace insert.

                •  to encourage telecommuting (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MD patriot, A Siegel

                  we need to do a carrot-stick thing on telecommuting.

                  We need for DOL to go through the job descriptions in its Occupational Outlook Handbook and review the suitability of each for telecommuting, and note each description with

                  • "Telecommute OK"
                  • "Telecommute NO"

                  Employers get a small tax break for each "OK" job occupied by a US telecommuter and a substantial tax penalty for each "OK" job performed by an onsite employee.

                  For jobs that are "telecommute OK" with special circumstances that require the job be done on site, make an exemption request form available and an appeals board for exemption denials.

                  Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

                  by alizard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:44:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I disagree that hydrogen cars are a lie. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gpclay, oceanview, drache

              They can work, and work well.

              The problem as you point out is how we currently manufacture hydrogen gas for use.  No argument with the problems you highlight.  What is not rocket science, though, is manufacturing it via the different method of hydrolyzing water.  That requires electricity, and that capacity can be built from wind farms.

              There's a story on Ford's 2003 experiment with a hydrogen internal combustion engine hybrid car that got the equivalent of 45 mpg  here.

              From Ford's release about the U-Concept:

              Hydrogen ICE plus Hybrid Electric Powertrain - A 2.3-liter, four-cylinder supercharged, intercooled hydrogen internal combustion engine, coupled with a hybrid electric transmission, propels Model U. It offers enhanced fuel economy - the equivalent of 45 miles per gallon and about 300 miles of range - plus near-zero regulated emissions and a 99-percent reduction in carbon dioxide. The powertrain also features Ford's advanced Modular Hybrid Transmission System, a way to simplify hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology in manufacturing, while contributing to significant fuel economy improvements. This vehicle can meet PZEV emissions.

              Ford didn't prepare for production due to lack of hydrogen filling stations.

              •  Hydrogen now is a less energy efficient ... (11+ / 0-)

                ... energy store than batteries, and there is no sign that anything is going to change on that front. Its the "clean power" part that is the lie ... hydrogen is a power store, not a power source, so its precisely as clean as the original power.

                The less efficient the power store, the fewer miles we obtain from any given sustainable renewable power generation.

                •  And so it isn't as clean as the original power (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  It's dirtier to the extent that it's inefficient as a store, because it takes X times I of the original power, where I is the inefficiency, to store X amount of power in the battery.

                  Unfortunately, if you scale the power source down to something that would fit under a hood it becomes far less efficient as well. This is why I'm not particularly eager to move toward all-electric cars: The problem isn't that ICE propulsion is inefficient, the problem is that cars are inefficient. The solution is to move away from cars to the extent possible.

                  No laws but Liberty. No king but Conscience.

                  by oldjohnbrown on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:39:50 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  you can produce hydrogen in many ways (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gpclay, shpilk

              fuel cell technology will not be dominate like gasoline engines where, but then I suspect that for at least the next 10 years there will be no one engine, instead we'll see hybrids, electric cars like the Volt, pure electric cars that run on capacitors, solar cars and hydrogen cars.

              In esscence no one technology is really suprerior currently and we don't need one magic bullet, we need to use a shotgun.

              •  On the other hand, hydrogen cars need to be the . (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gpclay, count, Downpuppy

                ... magic bullet in order to cover the capital costs of the hydrogen filling stations.

                •  not really (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  It's unlikely electric cars are going to be plug in to a wall outlet and so either way we're looking at a massive converision effort.

                  Sides think of all the gas stations that will start to close.

                  •  But hydrogen storage is a very capital ... (6+ / 0-)

                    ... intensive process.

                    And electric cars can plug in at home, and plugs for long-cycle charge, such as parking places for commuters, are relatively inexpensive as well ... so for many drivers, quick charge or battery replacement stations are only really needed to go beyond the distance of a single charge in a day.

                    Hydrogen filling stations do not have the same inexpensive options for extending the range of a handful of stations.

                    •  eh the probelm with plugging in at home (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      gpclay, GW Chimpzilla

                      is at best you get 240 volts out of an outlet and low amps.

                      Now without more numbers the recharge time is hard to calculate but we're talking at least hours if not longer on just the wall outlet.

                      You could step up the voltage and increase the power but then where does that come into play? Inside the car? Do you plug in a minitransformer into the outlet and then plug in the car? What about the risks? There's a reason why only professionals deal with transformers. And that doesn't even touch on the strain you're talking about placing on the electrical grid by dispering it so widely.

                      I think ultimately the best thing is to centeralize such recharging stations for safety and for ease of use.

                      Further battery replacement won't be simple this isn't taking  AAAs out of your remote and pluging in new ones; we're talking moving 50-100 lbs if not more of batteries and that's after you've disconnected them.

                      Hydrogen's probelm isn't the range, as it's pretty incredible; hydrogen's probelm is storing it.

                      It won't liquify outside of some really extreme temperatures (~-266 C) and as a gas it tends to take up too much space. But that's a challenge that can be sloved and we should at least attempt as much.

                      •  Electric vehicle power use (7+ / 0-)

                        is typically between 2 and 4 miles per kWh. You can estimate the charging power needed from that and add a little extra for charger losses.

                        240 vac at 50 amps is a fairly common outlet (behind most electric stove/range units.) That is about 10.8 kW available for a continuous (greater than 1 hour duration) load. That will allow at least 15 miles per hour of charge, and with an efficient vehicle and charger as much as 40 miles per hour of charge.

                        I converted a small Pickup into an electric vehicle. It used about 300 watt hours per mile at 60 mph. I charged it overnight with only 120 vac 20 amp service (standard 120 vac plug.)

                        Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. - President Harry Truman

                        by notrouble on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:25:11 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I'd point out though (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          gpclay, A Siegel

                          that for your standard wall outlet it's 120 V 20 amps.

                          You could probably change  that but as I said there's still a safety issue and a possible probelm with the grid because of load issues too.

                          In the end when we move to large scale use of electrical vehicles I think we'll move to recharging stations like we currently have gas stations.

                          PS Props on converting your car, that's no small bit of engineering. What batteries are you using? Nickel Cadiumum? Li? Or one of the newer generation ones? And what's your max range, speed and acceleration? Sorry just curious.

                          •  Its not either/or between slow charge ... (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            gpclay, A Siegel, notrouble, drache

                            ... on the one hand and quick charge or batter replacement on the other ... people can rely on different mixes as fits their circumstances.

                            And of course, intelligent investment in dedicated transport corridors will increase the share of the population who can go weeks or months without exceeding the driving range of a nightly charge, as well as reducing the share of private motor vehicle dependency.

                          •  well of course (0+ / 0-)

                            I am merely pointing out one of the short falls of electric cars; namely recharge time.

                          •  EVs (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel

                            Yes, I was charging my Pickup with a standard household outlet. It put back about 5 miles range per hour of charge. The charger automatically shut off overnight when done charging. The charger could also be powered by a 240 volts AC outlet for faster charging but at the time I didn't have the need, or such an outlet in my garage.

                            There is not really any grid load issue charging an EV. When using the standard 120 volt outlet you can't draw more power than a hair dryer. Even with a nice 240 VAC 50 amp feed you are not drawing more than an electric range or a welder. Utilities generally have no problem with overnight electrical load, its their cheapest power. Its daytime peak loads that are a concern in some areas, and usually the highest cost power as well.

                            The Pickup runs 20 golf cart batteries (6 volt batteries that weigh about 60 lbs each.) Its the cheapest way to get the range. The performance is similar to an older 40HP Beetle or a diesel Rabbit. Peppy around town and kinda boring on the freeway. I don't know the top speed but it will do 70 mph. The range is about 55 miles but to maximize battery life its best to only use about 40 miles.

                            No production EV will use golf cart batteries. Lithium is most likely though lower priced EVs could use sealed AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries like the Optima or Genesis batteries that are currently available. The quickest street EV uses Genesis batteries (and leaves my EVs in the dust :-)

                            Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. - President Harry Truman

                            by notrouble on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:25:02 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  there's no load probelm for just you (0+ / 0-)

                            but what happens if you increase that to say 50 million households everynight? How about 100 million?

                            As I said, I'm not an eletrical engineer but as a physicist I have enough basic mastery to realize that the above questions are not a trival concern.

                            PS yeah those genesis batteries are nice, too bad i won't be able to afford anything like that for quite some time.

                        •  If someone is asleep for eight hours ... (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          gpclay, A Siegel, notrouble

                          ... 15 miles per hour of charge is 120 miles range. If they work eight hours, that is an additional 120 miles range.

                          120 miles range would obviously satisfy than 80% or more of the transport requirement of a majority of the population. 240 miles seems like it ought to satisfy more than 90% of the transport requirement for more than 90% of the population.

                          •  I'm not disagreeing with that in most cases (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            but you're forgetting about holiday travel, going to see family and so on.

                            There are prefectly normal acceptable cases where a vechile would be expected to do 1000 miles in a day.

                            And so the question becomes what then?

                          •  You are looking for a plug and play replacement . (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            gpclay, A Siegel

                            ... for an inherently energy efficient system of trying to rely on a one-size-fits-all-transport-needs vehicle?

                            That's a design mistake up front.

                            For those who opt to drive, very few people will drive 1000 miles in a day on back roads and city streets. Most of them would be driving on Interstate Highways. Obviously the number of Quickcharge or battery-replacement stations to support driving over 100 miles at a stretch is substantially smaller than the number of stations required to support driving any distance over 0 miles at a stretch.

                            And that is the difference in capital cost ... where the battery replacement station or quick-charge station needs to be within fifty to a hundred miles of the residence along the main lines of travel, the hydrogen stations would need to be distributed in every small town and along every country main road, like gas stations today.

                            Of course as the cost of energy rises, the price differential between driving, even with an electric car of some sort (whether a hydrogen/fuel-cell system as a battery pack or a conventional rechargable battery pack), and electric passenger rail will swing in the favor of the passenger rail, since the private motor vehicle is intrinsically more energy inefficient.

                          •  I don't think the price of energy will rise (0+ / 0-)

                            if anything they're decrease in the long term.

                            There might be a small increase at first but it will be only transitory.

                            You have a valid point in that I am probably over estimating the number of charging stations needed. But I still stand by the points I made about safety and the strain on the grid.  

                            I'll admit I am not an electrical engineer so I don't know if we could build the grid with enough stregth and flexiblity to handle such a widely dispersed strain but I would think it's better to centeralize the power to an extent.

                          •  A decentralized network is more robust than ... (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel, notrouble, Unenergy

                            ... a centralized network, and a smart grid will be more robust than the current network.

                            Indeed, given that most electric car drivers would have the car plugged in for more hours than they will need to recharge, there will be more flexibility in the demand response of an installed electric vehicle fleet than in most other electricity demands around the home.

                            As to the rise in the price of energy as we slide off the plateau to the downward shoulder of peak oil, there's no question that it will rise, the only question is by how much.

                          •  .... (0+ / 0-)

                            that makes sense for power generation, but I'm not so sure about the demand side. And as I said there'd still be a safety concern; then again there are plenty of things in your house that could kill you so what's one more I guess.

                          •  The safety concern raised seems like ... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel, notrouble

                            ... saying its unsafe to have electric clothes dryers or electric stoves.

                            Sure, large numbers of people doing their own wiring without knowing what they are doing is dangerous. That's why you hire an electrician to install it if you need a 240VAC / 50 amp plug and don't have one.

                            If the person does not need an electric Hummer and the EV has an efficient charger installed, its realistic to drive out of the driveway in the morning with 80 miles to 120 miles charge from eight hours on a 120VAC, 20amp plug.

                            And there too, if an extra one is needed, an electrician should be hired to install it.

                            But making the point that it would be dangerous for people to install electrical wiring who don't know what they are doing ...

                            ... it would also be dangerous for people to install the hydrogen storage tank at the hydrogen fill-up station who don't know what they are doing, so it seems like just quibbling for the sake of quibbling.

                          •  well i'm sorry it seems that way (0+ / 0-)

                            me, I've 'played' with high voltage before three times actually. I've even had the 'privilege' of seeing an industrial resistor t rated for something like 10 watts with a resistance of about 10 k ohms, if I remember right, blow up and we at least knew what we were doing in terms of eletrical engineering.

                            We got lucky with that one as it went off like a bomb.

                            My point is that depending on how you store the energy is a car and how you charge it there could be potential probelms. Especially if people aren't paying attention or do something dumb and while there are to an extent similair risks with gas I'd still maintain the risk is worse with electricity becuase you make one mistake even a small one and you could end up dead.

                            Which is why I personally would think that for dealing with the populace at large charging stations are safer.

                            I'd point out that it's important to remember that in terms of the populace you seem to have a lot of knowledge on electrical systems so the risks would of course be less for you. Which might be why it seems like I'm quibbling.

                          •  People plug into and unplug from 120VAC/20amp ... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel, notrouble

                            ... plugs all the time. I don't see the danger that you are pointing to. Its as if you talked yourself into the need for quick-charge systems, and then backwards to quick-charge systems at home, and then the very high voltage which would be required for quick-charge systems at home would be a danger.

                            But there is a much simpler solution to that problem ... don't do that. Rely on regular voltage, slow charging at home, or in commuter parking spaces, and then whether its a high voltage quick-charge station or a battery replacement station is a technology and commercial decision, and in either case, the charging at home is the same approach used in the 1990's in the Saturn EV trials.

                          •  I was talking about the dangers of stepping up (0+ / 0-)

                            the voltage and/or amps to charge faster.

                            I'm sorry if that wasn't clear.

                            Of course 120 V outlet is painful but rather safe.

                            And yes I think we have to have quick charge systems as something is going to have to take over the burden of over 150 mile travel, what do you propose?

                            Look I think I'm talking about oranges and you're talking about pears and we each think we're talking about the same thing.

                            Slow charge would be very safe, I was talking about the dangers of something entirely different.

                          •  But if you are 150 miles from home ... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel

                            ... what good would a quick charge system at home do you?

                            Its absurd to suggest that individual households would be interested in paying the cost of having a dedicated quick-charge station at their homes.

                            The difficulty of the electrical grid in supporting and the danger to the house of hosting their own quick charge station seems to be making up problems out of thin air, given that consumers will be no more interested in having a quick charge station in their house than they are interested in having their own gas station pump to fill up in gas before heading out in the morning.

                            After all, the ability to quick-charge a battery does not remove the ability to slow-charge it, and even if the charger is external, that's maybe $200 versus several tens or hundreds of thousands to have a quick-charge station installed.

                          •  .... (0+ / 0-)

                            Exactly what I was talking about.

                            And I've never said that the 2 systems had to be mutually exclusive, but at least you see my point now. You might not think it a good one but I really don't care about that becuase it was important to point out that recharge time would be one of the major draw backs right now to EVs unless we talk about ways to decrease that time. And envietably those methods would probably prove to be too dangerous to use at home.

                            That was all I was trying to say, nothing less, nothing more.

                          •  But there's only substance to the objection ... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel

                            ... if the 2 systems are mutually exclusive.

                            You're pointing out a safety objections that it would be unsafe for an individual household to be working with voltage levels for a hypothetical home charging system that would cost tens of thousands of dollars if not hundreds of thousands of dollar, when the cost of the electrical substation is included, and assuming that they are going to on the one hand be able to persuade the electrical utility to install their own personal substation while on the other hand not have qualified people do the installation.

                            Given an alternative option to have a home charged system that would cost of couple of hundred dollars at most, which would operate at normal household voltages and power output levels.

                            Its like objecting to the safety of gas-fueled cars based on the danger of having each household operate their own gasoline tank and pump.

                            And to solve a problem that is not experienced as a problem when electric vehicles are trialled in the field. The average car is parked 22 hours a day ... the "problem" that quick-charge is trying to address is not speeding up the charging at home, but providing range extension.

                          •  what? (0+ / 0-)

                            that makes no sense.

                            It doesn't matter whether slow charge and quick charge are mutually exculsive or not.

                            Quick charging will always be dangerous.

                            Your statement is like saying if we had gas pumps at home then there would be no safety risks; which is just absurd.

                            The location does not change the dangers, at best it helps mitigate them.

                            Further please stop quoting me averages or I'm going to start breaking out probablity distributions showing that 'average' 'median' and 'mean' are all different and that further the average means little when you're working with 200 some million drivers.

                            Yes the system you propose will work for your average driver but you have not addressed how we're going to completely replace the internal combustion engine and that is a probelm.

                          •  Have you taken a look at (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            Better Place?  It is a developing and moving forward effort to come close to doing just this.  A number of good discussions here in recent weeks.  Just last night:  Electric Cars for Everyone.

                          •  no ty though for brining it to my attention n/t (0+ / 0-)
                          •  Why will (0+ / 0-)

                            "price of energy decrease"?

                          •  I preobably shouldn't say will but instead say (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            will possibly decrease.

                            Why do I say that? Solar and wind farms require less maintaince and once you payback the initial investment are almost pure profit.

                            Not to mention that harvesting solar and wind is effectively limitless, I expect to see an effect on homeowners part to supplement with solar panels on thier own houses among other things.

                            Of course this increase in supply might just meet the increase in demand and we go nowhere.

                            But out side of the very short term I don't expect energy prices tro go up.

                          •  I'm hoping you are right (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            Even if it doesn't paying 9 cents for a kWh to go 3 miles is a pretty good deal.

                            Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. - President Harry Truman

                            by notrouble on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:39:32 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Near term ... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            there are many parts of the country likely to see electricity price increases. In VA, expected 40% increase (I think) next year, for example.  The new power systems, across the board, are more expensive power right now than existing (and capital cost paid off) coal and nuclear power.  While Google / others working to get renewables less expensive than existing coal, that is a hard target to hit.

                        •  details? (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          gpclay, A Siegel, notrouble

                          "I converted a small Pickup into an electric vehicle. It used about 300 watt hours per mile at 60 mph. I charged it overnight with only 120 vac 20 amp service (standard 120 vac plug.)"

                          Sounds intriguing.

                          If I had the mechanical know how, I'd love to put a 5th wheel on my Dodge Caravan, or even on my Civic, and use it in town.

                          2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

                          by shpilk on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:45:38 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I posted some above your reply (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel

                            here. I have since sold the Pickup and the current owner is driving it.  

                            I am slowly working on another EV. I can't really say much more about it - the vehicle is so unique that to say what I am converting would pretty much "out" myself. This conversion is being built with small pack of AGM batteries for less range and a more powerful motor controller so I will have almost 2 times the stock horsepower. The White Zombie will still kick my butt but at least the driver will have to pay attention :-)

                            Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. - President Harry Truman

                            by notrouble on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:36:42 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Yes, and the majority of cars in this country ... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        gpclay, A Siegel

                        ... are parked for hours at a time ... for hours at home when the owner is asleep, and for hours outside work when the owner is working.

                        So there really is no obstacle to having a substantial part of the charging involving the longer charge cycle.

                        The battery replacement option is, of course, the one currently be rolled out in several trials. The roll-in, roll-out system involves a standardized design for the battery pack, a charge-in-place system for the battery pack, and a payment system that is more like a cellphone than buying gas at a gas station.

                        Rapid charge seems to be not ready for prime time, and would indeed need its own substation connection to the grid if the charge cycle is going to be ten minutes or less.

                        Certainly we ought to be investing in research in a wide range of alternatives, but to date the primary role that Hydrogen has played is as an excuse to not invest in research in technologies that are presently more efficient ... so for development, the focus should be on the range of technologies that are currently leading, rather than a technology that is trailing and requires a larger market share to be a viable part of the mix.

                        And obviously, we should be targeting a reduction in passenger-miles provided by individual vehicles, so that they focus on tasks for which they are more suitable, and more energy and space efficient transport is relied on for tasks where individual vehicles are grossly inefficient.

                        •  of course (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          gpclay, netguyct

                          but there's also a probelm with long distance travel.

                          If your car only has a 100-300 mile range and then you can't use it for 12 hours what are you going to do if/when you need to travel further?

                          Rapid charge, eh it's getting better there was a couple of incredible developments in that field but I agree it's not completely mature. Of course that also depends on how you define rapid charge.

                          I do agree though, we need a shotgun approach. It just annonys me when fuel cell technology is down played.

                          It's good to hear about the battery replacement, though to be honest I'll always consider it a poor option.

                          •  The battery replacement has a lot to recommend .. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            A Siegel

                            ... it, given that the roll-on, roll-off system they have developed is quicker than filling a gas tank. The battery pack goes into a loop system so that the battery pack that has been in the longest is the one available for the next car, so there's no need for a quick-charge system.

                            Although so much of the focus has been on hydrogen fuel cells, I'm a lot more interested in the possibilities of direct carbon fuel cells and ammonia fuel cells. AFAIU, direct carbon fuel cells could ramp up much more quickly than a thermal power plant, making them much more suitable than a thermal power plant for providing back up power capacity with bio-coal ... and obviously ammonia is a much easier to handle hydrogen carrier than hydrogen gas, which unless they have redesigned the table of elements since I last saw it would have to be the intrinsically orneriest gas there is, in terms of avoiding leaks and storing in a reasonable sized storage container.

                          •  lol I don't know I think (0+ / 0-)

                            helium would give it a run for it's money ;)

                            But I do agree that perhaps it's time to start looking for other methods on fuel cells.

                            If anything I just look forward to seeing how technology progresses.

          •  Yup. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gpclay, mataliandy, Plan9, BruceMcF
            Because of conversion factors.  You have to turn the coal into electricity with a Carnot-cycle maximum efficiency of around 40%.  Then you have to charge the battery or produce the hydrogen by electrolysis and you lose another significant amount of the original energy.  The least you can say about gasoline is that it converts the chemical energy in the octane directly into thrust by combustion.  The main argument for coal-via-electricity-powered cars is that it doesn't use middle eastern oil.  Doesn't make it better for the environment and certainly doesn't reduce Global Warming.

            If the electricity came from hydro, nuclear, or renewables that would be a different story.

            Seek first and final principles at The Mean Free Path.

            by Cream Puff on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:51:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Electric vehicles .. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              alizard, trykindness, dewley notid

              are inherently more efficient than ICE. There are GW benefits, and not just oil independence, benefits of moving to electric transportation.

            •  But the energy efficiency of gasoline is ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel

              ... dropping as we run down sweet, light reserves and have to invest more energy in refining heavy and sour crude oil into gasoline and diesel.

              And the energy efficiency of the variable speed internal combustion engine is substantially below the combined energy efficiency of a thermal power plant and electrical engine, so substantial leeway for an electrical engine to come out a bit ahead.

              It is when we shift toward a sustainable energy economy that there is a substantial reversal in that, since most sustainable energy is harvested as electricity, and there is an additional conversion loss if it is to be converted to a liquid fuel to be burned in an Internal Combustion Engine ... when the original power source is sustainable harvested renewable electricity, the electric car totally kicks the ass of the ICE-driven car in terms of energy efficiency.

        •  This is not true at all. (23+ / 0-)

          Electric cars are so efficient at turning electricity into driving force that even if it got ALL it's juice from the dirtiest oldest coal plant in the country, it would emit less than a tenth of the carbon. This information is in the FAQs section of the tesla motors website. You can also search the internet for "the long tail pipe myth"

          And don't forget how an electric engine has essentially one moving part. No oil, no transmission fluid, no transmission, no catalytic converter, no exhaust, etc. You'd leave the dealer, and never need to come back except for tires, brakes and wipers.. and maybe some time ten years + down the road you would need to replace the battery. Total cost of ownership is WAY lower.

        •  it depends (6+ / 0-)

          In terms of CO2, an average car burning gasoline will emit about twice the CO2 per mile driven as an electric car that uses coal fired electricity.  But if your gas powered car got about 40 mpg then it'd be about the same.  

          In terms of other pollutants and environmental impacts, the coal-based electric car would generally be worse for the environment although it may not be much worse depending on the type of coal, mining approach, and power plant emission control technologies.  

          •  What is your source for this? I'd like to see (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MD patriot, KenBee, WattleBreakfast

            the just doesn't convince anyone just to state this, especially since there is a source that says electrics based upon coal (remember: 50% of electricity is based upon coal now, not 100%) emits about 1/10 the carbon. And if you get solar/wind to power up your car, we reduce it to zero.

            •  Electric Car: powered by coal = less pollution (6+ / 0-)

              Check out this link:

              EV World FAQ page

              From the link:

              Electric Cars and Coal Power Plants
              Yes, electric cars have no tailpipe emissions. They produce no local pollution or carbon dioxide, but they aren't entirely pollution-free, especially if they are recharged from an electric power grid that burns significant quantities of fossil fuels like coal.

              So, are they any better than a normal gasoline car? Absolutely.

              For starters, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, they generate a fraction that expelled by a normal gasoline engine car. For every gallon of gasoline burned, approximately 22 pounds of CO2, an important global warming gas, are created. If a car gets 25 miles a gallon it will emit 22 pounds of carbon dioxide over that distance, as well as other pollutants. By comparison, an electric car may travel the same distance consuming 5 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electric power at a rate of 200 watt hours/mile. Assuming the local grid is 100% coal-fired, roughly 5 lbs of coal would be consumed to create that 5kWh. Depending on the grade and carbon content of the coal, one kilowatt hour creates approximately 1.4 pounds of CO2. That's 7 pounds of CO2 vs. 22 pounds to travel the same 25 miles. But recall that the power grid isn't entirely coal-fired; it includes hydroelectric, natural gas, nuclear and a small, but growing segment of renewables.

              •  bad numbers (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GW Chimpzilla, Klaus

                This source is wrong.  The average emissions from coal plants in the US is 2.13 lbs/kWh.  See eGRID emissions data  You can find this number in the file eGRID2007V1_0_year05_aggregation.xls on the tab labeled US05 in column AS.  You can find similar numbers in many other places...  

                The source is also a little off in the amount of electricity required for the EV.  

                •  more than a little off (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  on that "amount or electricity required for the EV".  Actual experience with real-world EVs would put electric power consumption at two to four times that "200 watt hours/mile" (which conveniently also ignores heater/defroster or air conditioner).  That "200 watt hours/mile" figure is the idealized performance of a highly streamlined two seater flat and level on a 68 degree day, probably at 60 and certainly at no more than 70 mph.

                  For a fair comparison to a "25 miles a gallon" vehicle" you'd compare something like a Ford Ranger pickup (gas powered) with a Ford Ranger pikcup (electric) in the exact same service (hauling 5 sacks of concrete mix across town from Home Depot to a jobsite on a 90 degree day, for example).  Since Ford in fact did make an "electric Ranger" those numbers are available . . . (but you won't find them on a web site touting the benefits of all electric cars . . .).

                  •  yep, but... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    That Ford Ranger pickup was probably not getting 25 mpg either.  

                    I have read some studies on real world electric usage of RAV4s used as fleet vehicles by utility companies.  They used about 0.4 kWh/mile in real world conditions (although no real winter weather...).  So I think that something like 0.3 kWh/mile should certainly be achievable in the real world for smaller vehicles made with technology that is 10 years further along...  

                    •  well yes . . . (0+ / 0-)

                      I think that something like 0.3 kWh/mile should certainly be achievable in the real world for smaller vehicles made with technology that is 10 years further along...

                      Perhaps.  With the emphasis being on "smaller vehicles".  And then you should compare that with "technology that is 10 years further along", like a current Prius, which in the same service would give 50-60 mpg (or better).

                      Which still leaves the electric with no overall efficiency advantage . . .  

                      •  sort of (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        A Siegel

                        I agree that efficient gas powered cars compare well with electric vehicles that are powered by coal.  

                        The big difference is that the EV can be powered by other, cleaner, sources of power.  I'm not just talking about wind or solar but even CCGT gas plants running EVs would provide a very substantial reduction in CO2 emissions compared to a Prius.  

              •  OK, that's CO2 emission (0+ / 0-)

                What about everything else? Coal is filthy.

                No laws but Liberty. No king but Conscience.

                by oldjohnbrown on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:43:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  calculations (7+ / 0-)

              There is no source that says it's one tenth and the calculations are easy and trivial.  Here you go:

              Gas powered car:
              CO2 emissions from gasoline are about 20 lbs/gal (widely available number).  An average car gets about 20 miles/gallon.  So that works out to about 1 lb of CO2 per mile (.05 gallons/mile * 20 lbs/gallon = 1 lb/mile).  if the car got 40 mpg, the emissions would be half that == about 0.5 lbs./mile.

              Electric Powered car:
              Coal power plants (which is what the claim was based on) emit an average of 2.13 lbs of CO2 per kWh generated (see eGrid 2007 from EPA).  The Chevy Volt is projected to use 0.24 kWh/mile.  The Tesla Roadster was about 0.22 kWh/mile, the older RAV4 electric vehicle used about 0.4 kWh/mile.  If we use 0.24 kWh/mile, then that is 0.24*2.13 = 0.51 lbs CO2 per mile traveled.

              So the coal powered electric car has about half the CO2 emissions of a 20 mpg car and about the same emissions as a 40 mpg car.

              •  Actually ... (0+ / 0-)

                You need to take a systems of systems look at gasoline CO2 emissions. The 20 lbs is from the direct burning of the gasoline. With a full systems load, including the drilling and refining, believe that this goes to the range of 25 lbs CO2.

                Now, the same question with the coal, as well, then. Does the 2.13 lbs per kWh count the mining and transport CO2 load?

                •  no it doesn't... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel

                  The coal number is just the emissions from the power plant.  That's one of the reasons why I used the lower gasoline number.  But the main reason I used 20 lbs/gallon is that it doesn't really matter for answering the question at hand -- that a coal powered electric car has about the same CO2 emissions as an efficient gas powered car and about half the CO2 emissions of an average mpg car.  

                  If I changed the gasoline number to 25 then I'd have to come up with an estimate for how to shift the coal number due to it's embedded energy costs and I'd still have the same conclusions.  It's important to know what level of precision is needed for any calculation and what level is nitpicking that gets you lost in the weeds (what about the gas used by the gas station attendant when they drive to work? etc...).  

        •  It depends on the energy efficiency trade-off ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gpclay, A Siegel, Downpuppy

          ... but while shifting diesel truck freight to electric freight rail is a CO2 win even with coal power, that's more than five times more energy efficiency.

          However, AFAIR, coal is roughly twice the CO2 emitter that gasoline is, so an electric car would need to be twice as efficient just to break even.

          That's why the idea is to shift to electric vehicles with the electricity provided by energy efficiency gains and harvesting renewable energy sources ... shifting to electric vehicles powered by additional coal-fired capacity is very hard to justify.

          Its also why T. Boone Pickens plan is such a dodgy one ... natural gas producing electricity in combined cycle facilities would be a step down in CO2 emissions per unit of BTU from diesel or gasoline, and a massive step down from coal. So as a first preference, wind turbines should be displacing coal fired power, not gas fired power.

        •  Nope - although the auto as well (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, cany

          as the petroleum industries would like you to think so.  What it comes down to is that the internal combustion engine is incredibly inefficient.  Something like 80% of the fuel it uses is wasted (as in creates waste heat and isn't used to actually move the vehicle).  Even coal-fired power plants are much more efficient than that.  I don't remember exactly but it's in the area of 20% (as in only 20% waste heat created with the other 80% actually generating electricity).  There are different types of pollutants from a coal plant v. gasoline engine, but overall the coal plant is more efficient and cleaner (isn't that scary?) than running cars as they are currently powered.

          •  20% waste? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            Coal plants typically waste 65% of the heat energy content of the coal in generating electricity -- nowhere near the 20% waste you say.  All conventional thermal power plants have to reject lots of waste heat as Carnot cycle limits bite hard...

        •  no (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          Central station power plants are much more efficient than auto internal combustion engines. Basically, even including transmission losses, one burns a lot less coal per mile in an electric vehicle than the energy equivalent in gasoline per mile in a standard car engine.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:30:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Obama has not. (7+ / 0-)

        One, he talks about developing clean coal technology; two, he's made it clear that regulations will be put in place to ensure building new no-clean-coal plants will create a loss for the builder.

        The big questions are, can clean coal tech can actually be developed and built, and in what time-frame, and is it faster/cheaper to just build wind/solar/etc.

        Sadly, all the oxygen is getting sucked away from these real questions. The coal industry is spending a bajillion dollars spreading lies the tech already exists, and progressives are having to continually knock that down.

        The W ... it stands for Wrong.

        by nosleep4u on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:41:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure that politicians bought the lie. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpclay, limulus, A Siegel, moosely2006

        It's really difficult for me to know the difference between propaganda and honest opinion in this area. Certainly billions of dollars have been spent (wasted?) on R&D over decades - certainly since the 1970s when I was first involved in it, and perhaps before that. This has been taxpayer money, not utility money or coal company money. I think it's been a huge slush fund so far. One problem is that we have a lot of Coal Congresspeople and Coal Governors, just like we have Corn Congresspeople and Corn Governors. We know how disastrously the corn initiative has worked, and even worse couldd happen with coal. At the very least, we could easily waste many more billions of tax money that could be better used elsewhere.

        Obama supports developing "clean coal technology" because Illinois has a lot of coal, and many similar examples could be adduced. The Western Governors Association has done excellent work on all energy issues in recent years. Still, the agenda they recently presented to a co-chair of Obama's transition team emphasizes the importance of clean coal. I understand this. Several western governors are sitting on massive amounts of coal.

        Have they bought the lies, however? Let's consider just one example.

        Governor Brian Schweitzer, currently WGA vice-chair, has been a vociferous proponent of clean coal. In his case, he pushes Coal-To-Liquid cogeneration plants with carbon sequestration. Trouble is, he would use Otter Creek coal, which is high-sodiam subbituminous coal. No CTL or coal gasification plant has ever been built anywhere in the world that burns high-sodium subbituminous coal. The good gov's public solution is pretty amazing. He doesn't want to wait for lab work or pilot plant studies. He wants to build a multi-billion dollar full-scale, which would be the pilot plant. It would be re-engineered and rebuilt as necessary. By the time the plant worked, the cost could be hundreds of billions, money which would NOT be provided by Montana taxpayers, coal companies, utilities, engineering/constuction companies, or equipment manufacturers.

        I doubt that construction will begin on such a plant by the end of Schweitzer's second term, but I definitely can forsee the establishment of a mammoth slush fund to "develop" the "technology".

        Did Schweitzer buy the lie? I don't think so. In addition to being a very good salesman, he also is very technologically savvy. I think he knows that such a plant wouldn't work. I mean nobody in his right mind would advocate building a full-scale cogen plant based on non-existent technology. It would be even more of a disaster than the Beulah gasification plan.

        Color my cynical. I don't know anything about other advocates in this effort, but I think these coal-state politicians are themselves cynical, as well as greedy as hell. They didn't buy the lies, they are selling the lies. My two cents.

      •  It's more like the politicians were bought (0+ / 0-)

        by clean coal.

      •  No Surprise - They're Technical Dolts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpclay, A Siegel

        Ahh, Congress, will it ever change?  Listening to their hearts, wishing and hoping in complete denial about myths like 'clean coal', 'free market capitalism', 'deregulation', 'tax cuts stimulating the economy'.

        They have no technical knowledge whatsoever to use as a foundation so their delusional thinking on 'clean coal'.  The whitewashed 'facts' are being spoon fed to them by the industry and  overriding rationality.  Yet, the same 'industry' spends millions to lobby for overturning the pollution limits on existing power plants, go figure.

        We can't shut down coal power generation immediately, but we shouldn't be expanding it's useage, especially when we could be expanding wind and solar.  And as for eliminating the use of coal altogether, that's fairly delusional on the other side of the coin unless we're willing to eliminate the production of steel from iron ore.

      •  Coal ... coal ... coal ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

               ... must use more coal.

        Coal cheap. Good, cheap. Coal.

        Slap it. Shoot it. Kaboot it.

        by adios on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:11:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't sound to me (0+ / 0-)

        like it'll work even when/if it "works".  They're just shoving the carbon gas into the ground where it has to pop back out someplace.

        Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest... Gibbon

        by Dinclusin on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:33:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  They sure did- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, cany

        And this ad promulgates it...

        Read Why here-
        Memo to Gore: Don’t call coal ‘clean’ seven times in your ad

        Evidence that contradicts the ruling belief system is held to extraordinary standards, while evidence that entrenches it is uncritically accepted. -Carl Sagan

        by RF on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:07:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I've been really impressed with Tidal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpclay, moosely2006

      It seems to have comparatively few drawbacks and risks and a lot of potential, based on the trials they've been doing in the UK the past few years.

      "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

      by bellatrys on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:36:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd be a wee bit careful about that hydroelectric (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpclay, mataliandy, Plan9, Deward Hastings

      because those dams silt up pretty fast and they massively alter the environment.

      But I'm with you on this.  We need to do something about it NOW.  And if we're careful about how (and with whom) we spend the money, we can probably fix our economy, too.

      But the carbon fossil fuels are too valuable to burn.  Can you say "petrochemicals?"  Gee, I knew you could.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:24:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks much Adam; more coal facts (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpclay, moosely2006, Klaus

      We have two large-scale baseload-electricity providers in the US, fossil-fuel combustion and nuclear power.  

      Coal provides 50% of US electricity, nuclear power provides about 20%.

      --Coal combustion concentrates toxic heavy metals: arsenic, lead, mercury.

      --Fly ash is mildly radioactive. Annually it concentrates enough uranium-235 to power all 104 US nuclear plants for a year.
      --Radiation exposure from coal combustion: 1-4 millirem/year.
      Radiation exposure from nuclear power: .009 millirem per year.
      Mercury from coal combustion pollutes every US body of water.

      Waste from coal is stored in the environment:
      Annual US solid waste from coal combustion: 120 million tons. Would fill a coal train 9,600 miles long.  It is stored in ash piles and slurry ponds and leaches into the soil and water.  Coal waste in the form of fine particulates caused by SOX and NOX is stored in your lungs.

      --Annual CO2 waste from coal combustion: 2.2 billion tons.
      Annual net increase in global atmospheric carbon: 3.2 billion tons.

      --Annual total spent nuclear fuel from all US nuclear plants: 2,000 tons. The entire annual global accumulation of spent nuclear fuel from 440 reactors could fit in a large townhouse.
      Life-cycle of nuclear power produces about the same amount or carbon or less than the life cycle of wind, hydro, or solar.

      Annual deaths in US to downwinders from coal combustion: 24,000.

      Annual deaths to the US public from nuclear plants since 1950s: 0
      Excess mortality risk from living in vicinity of nuclear facilities: 0.

      The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

      by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:02:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpclay, Plan9

        Exactly. I applaud the diarist for insisting on only counting technology that works, technology that is not vaporware, so to speak. To that one should add solar and wind, neither of which at present levels of technology can realistically form more than 10% of actual electricity usage, as opposed to production, because of intermittency.

        That's the big one; intermittency. We need steady power, and solar and wind cannot provide that. It's that simple. Until cost-efficient power storage is here, there simply is no alternative to fossils or nuclear, and between those, nuclear is by far the lesser devil. Certainly not without its problems, but the amount of distorted beliefs people have in this regard is astonishing. Which is worse: Global warming or nuclear waste? It should be simple to answer.

        •  Couple things ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF, NRG Guy
          1. The general figure used is 20%, not 10%, without some form of storage and grid management.
          1.  With serious demand management and 'smart'(er) grid, there is a suggestion that that 20% can, roughly, double in penetration.
          1.  With moves forward in storage, we are talking even greater penetration.

          With a nation-wide HVDC smart(er) grid, with storage (hydro, underground constructed water storage, thermal storage, batteries), this penetration level could extend to a 100%. (Not suggesting that that happens overnight ...)

          Need to be developing smart(er) grid, HVDC lines, and power storage as we increase the renewables penetration.

        •  Note that the intermittency ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          ... is far more of a problem with a national system designed for fossil fuel fired power plants than it is with a national system designed to prioritize the harvest of sustainable, renewable power.

          Wind is obvious ... individual wind turbine output is more volatile than output in a wind farm, which is more volatile than output in a group of wind farms in a region, which is more volatile than output across a group of neighboring regions, which is more volatile than output of all major resource regions nationwide.

          For peak power, solar is just as obvious ... the sun is shining somewhere in the country longer than it is shining in any particular spot in the country.

          And a national HVDC grid is much cheaper than the existing distribution grids, because the lines are shipping power point to point between regional grids, rather than trying to get to each separate substation in each neighborhood in the country.

          To get to 100% sustainable harvest of renewable power would also require substantial on-demand storage and demand management, but then so would 100% nuclear, so that is not a point that favors nuclear over sustainable, renewable power.

    •  Well done, Adam. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      •  Thanks ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Amusing, of course, how easily it is to be attacked from both sides on the nuclear issue.

        What you have, clearly, convinced me of (actually, convinced me to go and try to lower ignorance) is that we must have an honest conversation and understanding of risk / opportunities / benefits of all of our energy options and opportunities. If we narrow down to nuclear vs coal, it is clear which is the option to pursue.

        Where we part ways, strongly, is whether we are necked down to that choice. I believe 'not necessarily so' while, to try to put my understanding of your opinions into words, you believe that this is exactly the choice and nuclear power is the only viable (central) solution path we have.

        •  "First they ignore you..." (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          You're an educated man, and I need not repeat the rest of Ghandi's quotation.

          But let me say that I have been ignored, then ridiculed and then fought, but I cannot "win."   It's too late for anyone to win.

          The assumption that there is any other option than to pursue massive nuclearization of our energy supply in order to save what is left to be saved assumes that there are unlimited resources to try stuff out.

          My clear opinion of which I grow more convinced each day is that there are not unlimited resources and wealth to try cute stuff out endlessly.

          The age of affluence is over.

          Solar and wind and all that other cool stuff would be fine if we had time or resources to diddle around, but we don't.

          We will not build 50 million McMansions with big south facing roofs serviced by wonderful plug in electric cars.

          I do not think nuclear energy can "save us."  Clearly it can't.    But it is quite clearly the best shot we have.

          If one is dying of cancer, one would not be wise or necessarily realistic to expect a cure, but, in fact, some treatments are better than other in terms of quality of life and survival time.   That is my position on radiation therapy.

    •  Keep hammering. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpclay, A Siegel

      We have potential solutions in our grasp.

      As I posted, electricity demand is dropping, which is a good sign, and I think further reductions are possible, as well. Reducing demand is the fastest way to make change in GHG and pollution output.

      The real trick is to fast track alternatives in an environment where demand [and prices] are necessarily lower. This is where the government should step in and offer loans to have people adopt green tech, and use every bit of influence they have on industry to mass produce energy reducing technologies.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:41:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reality ... (10+ / 0-)

    ... has a well-known liberal bias.

    "Life is a whim of several billion cells to be you for a while." - Unknown

    by edison on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 03:51:19 AM PST

    •  Clean coal, corn ethanol, hydrogen, etc (9+ / 0-)

      All vaporware, just another excuse for GM to keep building SUVs that suck down fuel and pollute the environment.

      Look at the mileage from the "E85" fueled vehicles- alcohol has 70% of the energy of gasoline- so the mileage tracks that number.

      Hydrogen fueled cars are another example of bushian idiocy.  Hydrogen is made from natural gas- so why not just burn the natural gas?   And of course no matter how the hydrogen is produced, 40% of the energy in the hydrogen is used to compress it for transportation uses.

      We are back to the world of reality now with Obama in office- just 46 more days of the bush nightmare!

      •  When you make hydrogen out of natural gas... (14+ / 0-) create another gatekeeper, another layer of profit taking, and of subsidies for big energy companies.

        Look at ethanol: ADM is the gate keeper here in the midwest, pulls in over $900 MILLION in subsidies of one type or another, and is one of the biggest on and off record political donors to both parties.  Oh, and since ethanol is being shown as at best an additive, time to switch gears to soy diesel.  So now the lobby money is trying to change the subsidy field there from end users like car fleets, to gate keepers like ADM.

        Things that make you go hmmm...

        And let's not start the misinformation campaign that coal is better than nuclear power.  Nothing, nothing is more dangerous than nuclear power.

        Fix the grid, open it to distributed generation, break down the gatekeeping, open power generation up to small companies and stand back.  Picking which big monopoly gets the next crack at fleecing us is not the correct path.

        •  Every form of energy is dangerous. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gpclay, Plan9, A Siegel

          If mishandled.

          Nuclear is potentially more dangerous but fossil fuels are directly damaging the climate in an ongoing basis RIGHT NOW!

          If we could replace all the CO2 spewing coal plants with nuclear today, I'd say go for it.  

          We need renewables and we needed them 20 years ago.  Corn Ethanol is a transitional renewable.  Cellulose-based Ethanol would be truly revolutionary, but it's like clean coal - vaporware for now.  

          We need to be developing every option that has a net reduction in greenhouse gases.  NOW!

          There may be no such thing as a free lunch, so make sure the guy who can afford it picks up the tab.

          by liberalpercy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:16:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Coal kills 24,000 Americans per year (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          from fine particulates alone.  Causes hundreds of thousands of cases of lung and heart disease.

          Nuclear power in the US from its inception has not caused a single death.

          Hydro and fossil fuels greatly overshadow nuclear power when it comes to danger to the public.

          So you are wrong in your assumption that nothing is more dangerous than nuclear power.

          The European Union has found that it is cleaner and safer than any other large-scale energy provider.

          The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

          by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:20:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Please, not soy diesel (0+ / 0-)

          I know, I know, it's all the rage out here. But soybeans have a very low oil yield per acre and it's useful enough in other contexts that it seems kind of silly to burn it.

          Hempseed, rapeseed (canola), bacterial... just about anything except corn would make more sense than soy.

          (So why is soy used? Because the infrastructure to make soybean oil in large quantities is already in place, and there are oceans of soybean in the Midwest.)

          No laws but Liberty. No king but Conscience.

          by oldjohnbrown on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:46:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  hydrogen fuel cells are not vaporware (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpclay, ravedave

        and I strongly object to that bit of misinformation.

        There are techinical challenges yes, but there are aspects of hydrogen that are safer then even our own current gasoline engines.

        There is no one solution, we need to pursue multiple possiblities in parallel.

        •  Hydrogen fuel cells are not 'vaporware' ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          drache, ravedave

          but a sensible path toward taking this technology / approach and making it the mass scale solution to problems within the next 10 years (let's say) probably is vaporware.  

          Could hydrogen (powered by renewables) be key in 30 / 40 / 50 years?  Quite possibly.  Just don't seen it as the best path forward for the next 10, 15, 20 ...

          •  I think anyone proposing any one approach (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            as the approach to slove our probelms is selling vapor ware.

            Our future will be pretty diverse and should be as putting everything in one basket is what got us into this mess.

            And as others have  pointed out there's other ways to power fuel cells, the point in the end is that fuel cells will and should be part of the solution.

            •  Hydrogen fuel cells ... (0+ / 0-)

              already have some very useful, niche applications.  In the near (and a critical near) term (10-20 years), I see it a far more effective and viable path to be focusing on (for example) energy efficiency, renewables, and moving transportation toward electricity.

              Now, for example, if we get very good at PHEVs (rather than, for example, Better Place 100% electric), there is no reason that in the future hydrogen couldn't move in to replace the liquid fuel systems as the range extender.  

      •  E85 in vehicles with low compression (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpclay, canyonrat

        engines cannot take advantage of the higher energy content of ethanol, you are correct. But Detroit could build engines that make E85 energy equivalent to gasoline or diesel.

        Saab has done it.

        Retrofitting existing vehicles to run on E85 can be done, and it will result in a drop in efficiency, but new technologies can be used to increase combustion efficiency of ethanol.

        2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

        by shpilk on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:37:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We're back to the (17+ / 0-)

    lipstick on a pig thing.  Even if they were able to prevent most of the pollution in the burning of coal, there seems to be little interest in making the mining of it either clean or safe.  If we were to truly make it as clean/safe as it could be, from discovery of deposits to the disposal of coal plant waste, the cost would be so prohibitive that people would scream bloody murder.  And that still wouldn't get us to my idea of "clean."

    -7.62, -7.28 "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 04:01:24 AM PST

  •  The old PR strategy (13+ / 0-)

    Clean Coal is to the environment as Filter Tip/low tar cigarettes are to healthy lungs. It's just marketing - sizzle without any real steak.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 04:17:19 AM PST

  •  "clean coal" is an oxymoron (9+ / 0-)

    if ever there was one.
    it's one of the most cost-prohibitive schemes ever devised, and good money is being thrown after bad in the form of advertising $.
    CCS is a myth.  i don't know how we get the masses to understand that, but that will be key to moving past it.
    wind and solar are ready to go - more publicity for that technology is sorely needed.  if we're gonna dump money, dump it there.

    "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach." - Upton Sinclair

    by kathleen518 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 04:35:25 AM PST

    •  Advertising (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpclay, shirah, A Siegel, kathleen518

      I think the coal companies may be feeling the heat (pardon the pun) and are starting to come out with BS advertising that clean coal is possible. Reminds me of a commercial I saw about a month ago where a couple were sitting in a park. The girl gave the guy a lollipop and he said something like, "whoa, that has high fructose corn syrup in it."  The premise was that a little high fructose corn syrup won't hurt you.

      In a way I was glad to see these commercials because it shows efforts to educate the public are working and the companies are hitting back through advertising.

      Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens.

      by FritztheCat on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:08:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No Need (8+ / 0-)

      i don't know how we get the masses to understand

      All we need do is get one man to understand.

      Maybe this will help:

      Ormat Technologies announced today at an American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) event the completion of phase two construction at the Olkaria III geothermal power plant in Kenya. The power plant has been synchronized to the grid, adding 35 MW of base load capacity to the existing 13 MW plant that has been in continuous operation since 2001 with availability between 97% and 99%.

      ..."This accomplishment was made possible by Ormat's belief in Kenya's economy combined with the hard work and dedication of our Kenyan employees and colleagues."

      Good thing Kenyans and Filipinos and Nicaraguans and Icelanders and Germans and Italians understand.

      If only Americans did.

      But we only need one American to understand.

      Best,  Terry

  •  Include the transportation process of fuel coal (6+ / 0-)

    in considering its energy inefficiency...

    Great diary.

  •  Reality (5+ / 0-)

    will not be readily accepted in the land of "Friends of Coal"Friends of Coal

    "I have never missed Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin and Abbie Hoffman more than I do today."

    by wv voice of reason on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 04:57:28 AM PST

  •  Transition (10+ / 0-)

    It's not the coal that is clean or dirty--coal and the way mining corporations operate is as dirty as there is in the economy.

    It's the fact that there are a hell of a lot of coal-fired power plants that will not go away overnight and which have not adequately cleaned up their emissions.  Having them clean up is a first step in a "clean coal" strategy.

    And it's understanding that you have to have jobs for folks in coal country before they can give up coal mining.  Until those jobs emerge from a green transition, Democrats are going to at least bow in the direction of "clean coal" as the frame in which to require coal-using industries to clean up their act.  By the time the technological limits on cleaning up coal-burning industries are real instead of excuses, there will be green jobs in the economy. By then whether it is vaporware or not won't matter.

    You don't campaign on "hope" and at the same time say that we will take your livelihood away tomorrow.  Any plan for eliminating the use of fossil fuels must take into account job transitions and, in the case of coal country, job transitions that don't force people to move from where they live.

    •  they're telling us the "green transition" IS coal (4+ / 0-)

      so there's little reason to believe the transition can be effective, economically or environmentally.

      BTW, "we will take your livelihood away tommorrow" is EXACTLY what the auto industry has just been told.

      It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

      by sayitaintso on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:10:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A misreading (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpclay, limulus, TJ, mataliandy, shirah, johnnygunn

        On the auto industry: No one campaigned by saying we will clean up auto exhaust by moving to rail transport.  Which is the equivalent of what campaign statements that threatened the end of coal jobs would do.  What is happening to the auto industry is happening outside of a campaign.  Failure to provide alternative jobs in coal country will mean the same sorts of decisions when coal does, as it will, go away as an energy resource.  Your point is sound but does not actually respond to the point I was making about the context of statements in a campaign.  The automakers waited until after the election to spring that little surprise.

        On "the green transition IS coal".  None of the linked references exclude anything from the "green transition".  And coal does have to be considered (for the reasons I stated in my comment above).

        The fact that the coal lobby is saying "the green transition is coal" does not mean that Joe Biden or others in the Obama administration is buying it.

        Expect a comprehensive energy package that includes plans for moving away from coal and oil by a specific target date and ramping up other sources of energy to replace them.  Also expect strong EPA regulations of power plants (nuclear and coal-fired) and strong regulations that end the practice of mountain-top removal.  And stronger mine safety regulation and enforcement.  Also, passage of the Employee Free Choice Act will permit miners in currently non-union mines to organize.  All of these will put cost pressure on coal.  Also expect the coal lobby to oppose every one of them.  The Obama administration is going to need us to do our job of persuading people to push for this legislation and regulation in order to move votes (even Democratic votes) to enact it.

        And if we don't create the grassroots politics to get it through Congress in the first year, it might get stalled again.  But to get that support, working folks in the energy industry must see that there is something in it for them.  Otherwise they will become job-scared and vote with the energy corporations in 2010.

    •  The cost of less dirty coal will be..... (4+ / 0-)

      astronomical. And the impact of storing trillions of tons of co2 in underground aquifers is unknown. We don't even know if it will eventually leak back out.

      The impact of getting off coal is real and we should help with the transition...but let's not pour money into an illusion that we can or will reduce co2 and associated pollution of "clean coal". It will cost us much less to rapidly develop true renewable energy and help those areas of the country that are impacted.

    •  How about ... (4+ / 0-)

      in the stimulus package if we would, for example, put $100s of millions for putting in wind power (with hydro storage) into coal country, to help create the reality and show the value of the opportunities.  Perhaps Coal River Mountain?

      •  There are a whole bunch of nice flat plateaus (0+ / 0-)

        where mountain tops used to be.

        Since the environment in those places has already been destroyed, and roads have already been built to those former peaks, there shouldn't be as much "don't wreck my pristine area" protesting as you'd get elsewhere....

        Using those areas to their fullest wind generation capacity could put a lot of people to work raising and maintaining the towers.

        You don't need to protect me from someone else's spelling, grammar, extra posts on a topic, or use of quotations.

        by mataliandy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:08:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I really don't think piling insult on this will (0+ / 0-)


          What needs to happen is that these areas need to be reclaimed, revegetated and local communities need to take leadership of some (to be) program to do that.

          We, the coal consumers, have left these communities heart broken, flooded, polluted etc.

          I will NOT, personally, add anything to that.  They need--as the effected--to figure out what they need/want to do.

          Then we need to support THEM along with stopping this from happening again.

          We are in this together, not apart.

          Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

          by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 01:51:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was being snarky (0+ / 0-)

            But also serious. These mountains cannot be rebuilt. They will remain flat for millenia, until erosion changes them back to the more pyramidal mountain shape.

            In the mean time, they are accessible, flat, high elevation locations - perfect for wind power.

            The local communities should, of course, have a say in the matter. I have a feeling they might appreciate a source of power and local income that does not require poisoning their children and destroying what remains of their communities.

            I'd also like to see them use eminent domain to remove the destroyed lands from the mining companies, putting it in local control, so any wind power production or other use of the land provides local income in the form of leases, even if they choose not to build wind farms as community-owned entities.

            You don't need to protect me from someone else's spelling, grammar, extra posts on a topic, or use of quotations.

            by mataliandy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:10:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are they perfect for windpower ... (0+ / 0-)

              And, if you check the link that I provided, it is the very citizens / residents who are trying to rescue the mountains / stop MTR who are the ones who developed and are pushing for the wind turbines to go into the mountains.

              •   I hadn't gone to the link (0+ / 0-)

                But I'm not surprised that the citizens are pushing for wind instead of mountain top removal.

                It's sad that the flattening of the mountains reduces their windflow (though I'm guessing there's still plenty of wind up there)...

                You don't need to protect me from someone else's spelling, grammar, extra posts on a topic, or use of quotations.

                by mataliandy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:31:32 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Like Coal (6+ / 0-)

    Nuclear Power, whatever you think of it, is a reality today and a real option for tomorrow.

    Both are dirty and neither can be cleaned up after.  Both destroy in the very act of extraction.

    What kind of a choice are we offered between Global Warming and Nuclear Winter?

    Hope some can see the equation does not balance.

    There are a world of options from generating power with waste heat through capturing methane emissions entering the atmosphere, from wave power to burning waste rather than letting it burn us.

    All those are real options today generating electricity. Some even reduce greenhouse gases.

    Nuking the planet is a bum idea IMO.

    Best,  Terry

    •  Couple things ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shirah, Joffan

      Comment is not a "pro" or "anti" nuke, but that there is that option for providing a cleaner electricity source when it comes to GHG emissions.

      Re wave / ocean, I think there is potential (serious potential) but this is behind wave and solar.

      CHP / waste heat.  Absolutely. Methane for electricity. Absolutely.  Couldn't list all the items within the diary.

      •  Does that take into account the GHC (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of creating and extracting the components? Those have to be substantial.

        •  The real challenge ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, shirah

          of low-GHG sources is that, writ large, they upfront the GHG emissions.  Solar / Wind balance this out, so to speak, against polluting systems within the first year or two after installation.  Nuclear power, off the top of my head, is something like a 7 year period. Additional problem, of course, is that the time cycle of production and deployment is also longer, so a nuclear power plant started today might frontload the majority of its GHGs in the next decade or so.

      •  Why Not? :-) (0+ / 0-)

        Couldn't list all the items within the diary.

        Understood, of course.

        Re wave / ocean, I think there is potential (serious potential) but this is behind [wind?] and solar.

        If some of the optimists are right, wave power farms could be generating significant power long before a single nuclear power plant can be built in the U.S.  I don't really share that view but MO is worth less than than the price of wind or a pound of nuclear waste.

        Appreciate very much your postings, as always.

        Best,  Terry

    •  "Nuclear winter" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, LookingUp, Wicket

      is not an effect of nuclear power production.

      When you say that nuclear power will "destroy in the very act of extraction", what are you referring to? Raw materials are required for all forms of power production, after all.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:53:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some Cynical Bastids Think (0+ / 0-)

        the Iranians are interested in more than pursuit of peaceful nuclear power production.

        "Nuclear winter" is not an effect of nuclear power production.

        Nuclear power and nuclear war do not exist only in parallel universes.

        When you say that nuclear power will "destroy in the very act of extraction", what are you referring to?

        Uranium mining.

        Nuclear waste from power plants is hardly the only evil byproduct of nuclear power.

        Raw materials are required for all forms of power production

        Most forms of green energy need no fuel and others use waste and even very potent greenhouse gases.  

        Best,  Terry

        •  Tha laws of physics are what they are. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Nuclear weapons are possible. Governments that want them can for the most part get them by sufficient focus of the immense resources of a nation state on that objective.

          Nuclear power production will not affect that. You might as well say that wind turbines and nuclear war do not exist only in parallel universes.

          Uranium mining is not remotely comparable in scale to coal mining. Mountains are not being removed for uranium. But as I say "raw materials" is the issue, not "fuel". All power production requires raw materials. Nuclear power's need for uranium might be set against wind power's huge need for concrete.

          This is not a sig-line.

          by Joffan on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:48:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  1/2 of US nuclear electricity: Russian warheads (0+ / 0-)

            As you of course know, 10% of US electricity is made using nuclear fuel produced from uranium from Russian bombs.  When the mixed-oxide fuel facility at Savannah River is up and running, it will be making fuel from plutonium blended with natural uranium.  So nuclear power is the only electricity source that actually reduces weapons stockpiles.

            Uranium is dense. 7 grams of uranium fuel=1,780 pounds of coal.

            The amount of uranium fuel needed to provide all the electricity for the greater New York area would fit in a small studio apartment.

            Waste from coal combustion:  about a million times greater in quantity than waste from nuclear power.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 01:41:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Nuclear power = nuclear war??? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Wow, that's a bit of a stretch.  Nuclear power is evil?  Dude, you've received some serious anti-nuclear programming... how about reading up on some of the science with more of an open mind?

          I know there is no perfect solution to energy production and nuclear has its issues, but so does everything else!  Are you aware that it would take A LOT more resources to build a 24x7 reliable wind-based power infrastructure than to build nuclear one?  It takes several times as many tons of concrete and steel per average continuous MW to build wind than it does nuclear, not to mention the grid stability problems and storage issues, which have yet to be figured out.  And if a supergrid and massive storage infrastructure are sorted out, it will take again a lot of concrete and other material resources to build THAT too... So, there is no perfect solution. All this construction will involve mining resources, releasing CO2 in the production of concrete, fossil fuels to power the mining, manufacturing and transportation, construction, etc.

          Electricity is the lifeblood of our civilization.  We must examine EVERY option realistically and try to refrain from ideological, blinkered, thinking.  Being the most concentrated form of energy known, nuclear has clear advantages in terms of resource inputs to build a 24x7 reliable infrastructure.  Next generation nuclear can also solve the waste,  proliferation concerns, together with inherent safety.  I'm not willing to turn a blind eye to the science that backs nuclear power because of fear mongering and hyperbole.  Nuclear will have to be a PART of our future carbon-free energy mix.

          The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

          by mojo workin on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:54:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How About You Doing Some Reading? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            how about reading up on some of the science

            Take some notes.  Maybe they will help you break out of your shell of ignorance.

            My son is a forner Navy "nuke," who has designed power plants as an EE.  

            As such, he has some acquaintance with nuclear power.

            It is his view that no matter what safeguards are built into nuclear power plant design, there will always be shortcuts taken.  Nuclear power is inherently unsafe.

            You know so much more do you?

            What about that nuclear waste?  What about the technology that can be used for war or peace?  What about the people that have been killed by nuclear power?  Means nothing to you because you have studied up on all that nuclear stuff?

            Geothermal power is the only safe form of nuclear power and is available all over the planet despite the usual denials.

            Best,  Terry

          •  How About Getting Real? (0+ / 0-)

            Are you aware that it would take A LOT more resources to build a 24x7 reliable wind-based power infrastructure

            I have posted at least a dozen diaries pointing out the problems with intermittent power sources.

            In plain fact, geothermal is the ultimate baseload power and it is nuclear.

            Don't need the waste and worry.  Don't need to mine fuel.  Don't even need a boiler.

            All you need is the intelligence to utilize such resources instead of the winger's wet dream.

            Best,  Terry

            •  Geothermal (0+ / 0-)

              Sounds good to me.  

              In fact small-scale geothermal heat pumps are one of the BEST options to heat, using low-carbon electricity sources, as it gives a gain factor of about 3-5:1, i.e. 1 BTU of electricity in, about 4 BTU of heat out!  

              So, can you point me to the resources explaining how we would build geothermal power for electricity production on a massive scale?  It sounds very interesting...
              BTW, it IS possible to debate and disagree on points and opinions without being disagreeable!

              The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

              by mojo workin on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:30:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  There was a front page (0+ / 0-)

                story about geothermal derived electricity on dailykos. Also check

              •  Geothermal (0+ / 0-)

                So, can you point me to the resources explaining how we would build geothermal power for electricity production on a massive scale?  It sounds very interesting...

                A current headline:

                Raser Retains Calyon Securities (USA) Inc. to Handle Growing Inquiries Regarding Development of Strategic Relationships for Rasers Geothermal Business

                RZ may arguably be the most hated stock on the NYSE.  The prophet from Utah who heads up this desert mirage must be some kind of spellbinder.  I would like to stress that I have no intention of recommending anyone buy, short or hold this stock.

                What RZ has been doing is buying up low grade, low temperature geothermal prospects with plans to utilize United Technologies' "reverse air conditioning" for power production.  RZ's very first project in UT is not yet on line but has already expanded from a likelihood of 10MW of power production to some 200MW.

                UTX's initial installation at Chena Hot Springs north of Fairbanks utilizes a low temperature spring for the only geothermal power production in Alaska despite vast very hot KGRA's (Knwn Geothermal Resource Areas) in the state.

                The same technology is being tested in a producing oil well in Florida, among other places.  Texas has leased depleted and operating oil and gas wells for geothermal power production.

                While Bellows, VT, decided it was too risky to develop their "magic pond" in VT, OIT is going full bore ahead with plans to go 100% green on their campus in Klamath Falls, OR, with a similar resource.

                Husavik, Iceland, utilizes a garbage-burning facility to add heat to low-temperature geothermal waters with an advanced Kalina cycle power plant.  Germany recently built the second Kalina cycle power plant and is aggressively developing very modest resources that are wrongly claimed to be EGS as far as I can tell.

                The constant refrain that geothermal power is available only in isolated regions in the Pacific Ring of Fire is a farce but every Kossack should know all too well about the power of mythology and repetition.

                BTW, it IS possible to debate and disagree on points and opinions without being disagreeable!

                Indeed so.

                IMHO all that is needed is to spike the lies and tell the truth.  

                Not so easy to do.

                Best,  Terry

              •  Geothermal Revisited (0+ / 0-)

                MIT did a major study recently, and determined that geothermal can be an excellent energy source for large scale electricity production, even here in the US:

                Excellent video here.


                A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.


                The study shows that drilling several wells to reach hot rock and connecting them to a fractured rock region that has been stimulated to let water flow through it creates a heat-exchanger that can produce large amounts of hot water or steam to run electric generators at the surface. Unlike conventional fossil-fuel power plants that burn coal, natural gas or oil, no fuel would be required. And unlike wind and solar systems, a geothermal plant works night and day, offering a non-interruptible source of electric power.

                You don't need to protect me from someone else's spelling, grammar, extra posts on a topic, or use of quotations.

                by mataliandy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:19:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Geothermal: radioactive material (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is brought up from the earth's crust.  So if you are worried about radioactivity, you ought to include worry about geothermal.

              And if nuclear power is "inherently unsafe" how is it that the US Nuclear Navy has operated 254 reactors without incident?  

              First, there’s a truly powerful pro-nuclear argument I’ve never seen given much attention before: according to the Keystone Center’s "Nuclear Power Joint Fact Finding" released last year, failing to replace existing nuclear power plants over the next half-century would actually increase carbon emissions by 12.5 gigatons. Unless we’re planning on replacing all the nuclear facilities set to go off-line with something other than coal or natural gas plants, we’ll be making climate change worse.
              A 2001 study by the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland (quoted in "The Revenge of Gaia") found that, beteween 1970 and 1992, nuclear power had the best safety record of all major energy sources, both in terms of total deaths and deaths per terawatt of energy produced each year. The results for the top four sources were coal: 6,400 total deaths, 342 deaths per terawatt per year; hydro power: 4,000 total deaths, 884 deaths per terawatt per year; natural gas: 1,200 total deaths, 85 deaths per terawatt per year; nuclear power: 31 total deaths, 8 deaths per terawatt per year.

              S.S. Gregory in Environmental & Climate Science

              The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

              by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 01:51:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Forget domestic coal use, what about foreign? (4+ / 0-)

    The real issue with coal is making alternatives available globally.  The amount of coal burned by China each year is staggering and it's impact on global warming will continue for decades to come.

    - "You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?"

    by Hoya90 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:11:39 AM PST

  •  The Cost of Nuclear (6+ / 0-)

    This is from a piece I posted a year ago:

    Now that nuclear power is on track to be the new Green Power, maybe we should consider costs other than narrow focus on carbon - so narrow it does not take into account all the costs of nuclear - including the real carbon contributions caused by nuclear power. But that is for another day and those equipped with the tools to do that accounting. For today, let's just look at the costs of cleaning up radiation from existing plants.

    We now have three plants under consideration - Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Paducah, Kentucky; and Portsmouth, Ohio.

    These three plants are being decontaminated and decommissioned after more than 40 years of use to enrich uranium for use by commercial nuclear power plants and for defense purposes. These are "large and complex plants, which are contaminated with hazardous industrial, chemical, nuclear, and radiological materials." Cleaning them up means "eliminating or reducing contaminant sources and contaminated soil and groundwater."

    This week, the GAO released its report on the level of funding allocated and necessary to do the job. The bottom line is that the amounts are inadequate.

    Bear this information in mind when you hear advocates for nuclear. The costs are longterm and high and are not co-incident with the generation of power.

    The full piece may be found here.

    •  Nuclear power shills must be confronted (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The information they spout is provided by the industry itself.  There is a great immediate and long term danger to increasing reliance on a technology whose well to wheel process can contaminate our environment permanently...well ok, only for tens of thousands of years.

      In the last ten years NP lobby has spent over $330 million in PR and campaign contributions-efforts to get NP back in the game.

      Fix the grid, open the access for distributed generation, get out of the Big Energy subsidy game.  That's what policy makers need to do.  The big baseline generators will always be there, the small generators will provide the rest for the peak demands, along with jobs.

      Coal and natural gas will always be needed to supply the baseline load to the grid, you can't get around that, but Medium Scale Wind and Medium Scale Solar are the future.

      •  Bullshit. The anti-nuke industry is OPENLY (0+ / 0-)

        funded by the dangerous fossil fuel industry.

        If you were literate, and there is no evidence whatsoever that you are, you would immediately check out who pays Amory Lovins and Gerhard Schroeder to live like fucking Gods.

        Ever hear of Gazprom?


        Why am I not surprised?

        How about Royal Dutch Shell?

        No fucking clue you uninformed, uneducated yuppie brat?

        Why am I not surprised?

        Your argument that "coal and gas will always be needed" suggest that you could be in the pay of the dangerous fossil fuel industry, however I am inclined to think that you are not paid off, but are merely an extremely uneducated dolt.

        Where, in your stupid little imagination is this coal and natural gas that you claim "will always be needed" come from?

        The fucking planet Neptune?

        Come to think of it, "dolt" is too weak a word.

        Have a nice stupid fluffy day.

      •  What in the world is the (0+ / 0-)

        legitimate basis for:

        Coal and natural gas will always be needed to supply the baseline load to the grid

        This is simply not factual ...

    •  Thank you for posting this. (0+ / 0-)

      Many fail to realize the whole cycle... plus the amended reprocessing cycle.

      Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

      by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:07:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Green Nukes? (4+ / 0-)

    You've probably noticed the big push for nuclear power generation in recent months. You hear that it is clean and green. If you raise concerns about storage of radioactive waste materials for many years, you are assured that the industry has matured and learned its lessons.

    One of those singing this song is Bechtel.
    . . .
    So when you hear this, I suggest you consider the Department of Energy Oct. 4 letter imposing a $165,000 fine against Bechtel National Inc. for nuclear safety violations.

    Recall that this is a fine imposed by the Bush Administration DOE, an administration that has otherwise been kind to Bechtel.
    . . .
    The DOE found that Bechtel had not properly reviewed design changes to ensure proper radiation shielding and preferred to buy supplies based on cost rather than quality.
    . . .

    More here

    •  Green Nukes - (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JuliaAnn, profmom, AshesAllFallDown, cany

      Is an obscenity.

      How some in the environmental movement have been sold that bill of goods is truly beyond me.  If anything, it is more obscene than any coal issues since it allows for a claim of "responsibility" in the present while placing unfathomable burdens upon future generations.

      •  "Relatively" green nukes. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, mojo workin, A Siegel, Joffan, LookingUp

        The relevant question is not whether nukes are as green as wind, solar, negawatts, etc. No, the relevant question is whether nukes are greener than coal. The only way we're going to get CO2 down enough in the next few decades is by getting rid of, or at least drastically scaling back, coal burning. We won't be able to do that -- enough, and in time -- with truly green alternatives. We should use nuclear power to buy us a few decades in which to scale up the truly green alternatives.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:39:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is NOT the question at all! (0+ / 0-)

          If your interest is slightly less, and different pollution, then go for it.  Since we CANNOT see, taste, hear, smell or feel radiation, that somehow makes it cleaner?

          Gads.  What a comparison!

          Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

          by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:09:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Slightly" less? (0+ / 0-)

            CO2 is about to harm billions of people. Other coal pollutants are currently harming at least hundreds of millions, probably billions. Nuke waste, MAYBE thousands.

            I'm not happy about nuke expense and nuke waste. But I don't see a realistic alternative.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 03:22:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The burdens are not unfathomable - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, A Siegel

        there is plenty of work that can and has been done to establish the future effects of nuclear waste. The key differences from coal is that the quantities are much much lower and the products are solids not gases.

        The European Union's ExternE project is a good place to look for real data on the comparative lifecycle costs of various power options.

        This is not a sig-line.

        by Joffan on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:49:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Talk About Externalizing Costs - (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, AshesAllFallDown

          Where are the CO2 costs in nuclear for mining and processing?

          Just as there is Peak Oil, there is also Peak Uranium.
          Uranium may be relatively plentiful - 4 parts per million, but mineable uranium is far less available.  Most mineable uranium has concentrations of less than 2% - much of it less than 1%.  That's a lot of rock to mine, crush, and process.  In situ uranium mining has profound environmental issues.

          In addition, the location of most uranium mines - such as the Athabasca region in northern Saskatchewan requires construction of industrial and housing facilities in remote areas.  Should those energy and CO2 costs be applied against nuclear?

          •  CO2 emissions from nuclear power life cycle (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            are about the same as those from wind and less than those from solar and hydro.  Remember: wind farms require huge concrete bases for the turbines, and concrete manufacture is powered by coal combustion.  Wind farms require 10x as much steel as a nuclear plant of comparable kWh output.  Steel manufacture requires burning coal.

            A life-cycle assessment by Meier Engineering Research . . . found that nuclear fission energy actually had a lower life-cycle greenhouse gas emission rate than solar (using an eight-kilowatt, building-integrated photovoltaic system for the assessment): 15 tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent per gigawatt-electric of electricity, compared to 39 tons for photovoltaic. Of course, those rates were considerably higher for fossil-fuel sources like natural gas (469 tons) or coal (974 tons).

            S.S. Gregory in Climate and Environmental Science.

            Uranium is common in the earth's crust and there is enough good quality uranium in known reserves to operate nuclear plants for hundreds of years.  If the fuel is recycled as is done in France, Japan, and Russia we have enough to power reactors for thousands of years.  "Peak uranium" and the notion that mining and milling uranium emits a lot of CO2 are the inventions of a consulting outfit hired by Greenpeace and have been frequently debunked.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:00:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Care to Buy - (0+ / 0-)

              A bridge in Brooklyn?

              I've researched Jeffrey City.
              The environmental remediation was massive.

              If you are honest about the full costs of nuclear -
              Then the CO2 footprint is immense.

              •  The Jeffrey City mine shut down in 1982 (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel, Joffan

                So your information is way out of date. Environmental remediation has occurred for mining of every type. It was mandated by EPA.  Until then mining regulations were lax for all mining, whether for lead or uranium or copper or coal.  

                Several independent national and international studies of comprehensive life cycles of different energy sources find that nuclear is a low-carbon source of electricity.  Japan, U. of Wisconsin, the UN's IAEA--to name a few.

                When the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing, those sources are not making electricity and so that electricity has to be supplied by something else.  Usually it comes from burning fossil fuels.  This should be added to these renewables' carbon footprints but is not.

                The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:47:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Do realize / accept ... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  that some (not enough) of the balancing is through hydro (and, less, compressed air) storage.

                •  Nope - (0+ / 0-)

                  You don't know what you are talking about.

                  Although the uranium mines were mostly shut down in 1982, Cogema, Western Nuclear and others continued to hold leases and have environmental remediation obligations.  Green Mountain Mining tried to work Jackpot in the 1990s.  

                  Most importantly, the leachate in the tailings at Split Rock continues to pollute groundwater - requiring ongoing remediation efforts.  LuckyMc was finally completed in the early 2000s.



                  So even though most mining ended in 1982 remediation is ongoing.  That's the trouble with nuclear proponents, they consistently fail to allocate full costs - financial, environmental, and carbon - to the entire process required to produce nuclear power.  Did you credit the CO2 costs of heavy equipment in 2006 against the uranium mined and milled in 1981??

                  Read the NRC data sheets.  Western Nuclear is asking for reduced standards because of long-term aquifer damage.  Again, how do you allocate CO2 for all that work?

                  I love it how people who know nothing about a subject are so free with advice
                  and that they get recced by the original diarist, too.

          •  That's what lifecycle means (0+ / 0-)

            get back to me when you've read the ExternE papers at the link.

            This is not a sig-line.

            by Joffan on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:40:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, totally obscene. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        I feel pretty confident in saying you don't know what you're talking about.

        Unfathomable burdens?  Yucca Mountain was chosen for its geological stability.  You bury the stuff a mile deep and then you don't have to worry about it, ever.  And yes, they've thought about groundwater seepage (fortunately not a huge issue in Nevada).  The transportation issue is being addressed by every single test Sandia can think of.

        Oh, and that thousand-year liability canard?  The only isotopes with really long half-lives are the ones that decay very slowly and hence aren't very radioactive.  Levels comparable to  soil in Kerala India, cosmic doses to airline pilots or the radon gas in some basements.  The nasty stuff decays quickly and there simply isn't that much of it.

        So your kids and great great great grandkids will have to ... do diddly squat about nuclear waste.

        Find me a documented case of a single human, plant or animal damaged by a commercial nuclear power plant in North America (no Greenpeace sources don't count, they fail at basic rigor and incidentally one of their founders quit over Greenpeace's mindless opposition to nuclear) and I'll take you're ravings seriously.

        Seek first and final principles at The Mean Free Path.

        by Cream Puff on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:46:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah? (0+ / 0-)

          Can you name me ONE government in the world that has survived for a mere 500 years?  For the moment, we won't even talk about physical storage issues - just political ones.  If ten people can wreak havoc on Mumbai, what can a highly organized and funded entity do during a period of political and economic upheaval?  Wars, revolutions, coups, civil wars, military occupation?

          Or is the United States divinely protected from such?
          Much as the economic gurus of toxic investment were saying that the classical economic cycle was no longer operative.

          I believe that the oldest continuous government is Britain's.
          From the Restoration to the present - 1660 to present - 348 years.
          (And they killed a lot of people, before and after.)

          France - 1945 to present - 63 years
          (With a few wobbles between the 4th and the 5th)
          Germany - 1949 to present - 59 years
          (If you ignore the DDR)
          Russia - 1991 to present - 18 years
          (Putin nonwithstanding)
          China - 1949 to present - 59 years
          (Ignoring the Cultural Revolution)
          Japan - 1952 to present

          Given the wars and genocides of the 20th century, I think it is a supreme leap of faith to assume that any nuclear storage facility can be as safe as you suggest.

          PS - Your terms "mindless" and "ravings" suggest your willingness to have a civil discussion.  It is indicative of the fractured nature of the American left.  You are so incensed at someone who is your near ally that you are willing to burn the bridges. (No CO2 pun intended.)  The reality is that as long as such a condition prevails, neither of our views will have a snowball's chance of success.  Just FYI.

          •  500-year problems. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If we don't get CO2 down, future generations will have bigger problems than containing old nuclear waste.

            That sucks, but that's the truth.

            See my comment, " 'Relatively' green nukes."

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:47:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Given how long it takes to build a new nuclear (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel

              plant, plus the fact that nearly all its CO2 emissions occur before the first watt is produced (from mining, processing, transport, and cement) - and it takes 7 years after it starts running before it will offset the CO2 it creates, how will an investment in nuclear power fix the problem of needing to drastically reduce CO2 within the next 6 or 7 years?

              Even if you somehow build in the next 6 months all of the estimated 10,000 nuclear plants that would be required to provide all the world's electricity, the huge increase in CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by the creation and fueling of the plants would sit in the atmosphere for many decades, while the plants wouldn't start to offset that CO2 until 6 months after the drop-dead deadline for reducing our atmospheric CO2. It would be additional years before it offset the CO2 already pumped into the air by other-fueled plants.

              From where I stand, it appears that only after we implement all the solutions with low upfront CO2 loads and all possible efficiency steps can we take a breather to look at nuclear for potential future production. Nuclear is not a solution for the problem we face right now, because the problem is too short-term for new nuclear capacity to effectively address it.

              You don't need to protect me from someone else's spelling, grammar, extra posts on a topic, or use of quotations.

              by mataliandy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:43:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  In 6-7 years, the problem cannot be solved. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                how will an investment in nuclear power fix the problem of needing to drastically reduce CO2 within the next 6 or 7 years?

                CO2 will not be drastically reduced in 6-7 years. Ain't gonna happen. If the USA and Europe play our cards right, we MIGHT reduce CO2 a MODEST amount in 6-7 years. That modest reduction will be dwarfed by the huge CO2 increases that are coming from China and India and other places like them in the next 6-7 years.

                The massive changes we (the world) must make to drastically reduce CO2 -- and we must make them, because it must be drastically reduced -- will take significantly longer than 6-7 years.

                "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                by HeyMikey on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:18:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Oh did I hurt your feelings? (0+ / 0-)

            Your original comment implied pro-nuclear environmentalists are stupid.  Your certainty is at odds with the grasp you demonstrate of the issue.

            There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of nuclear energy, but this is not one of them.  I'm "incensed" that you use hyperbolic language without doing your homework on how radioactive decay works and the incentive for a really unstable nasty government to dig up used fuel a thousand years from now (hint: none).

            Even for dirty-bombing purposes, the stuff wouldn't be particularly useful: too heavy to deliver if shielded and too leathal for bomb-makers if it isn't.

            The Righ,t unfortunately, doesn't own fearmongering as a tactic.  Far too many otherwise laudable organizations like Greenpeace use it to round up contributions and political activism.

            Seek first and final principles at The Mean Free Path.

            by Cream Puff on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 02:03:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Okay, here's one. And frankly your knowledge (0+ / 0-)

          about the issue speaks for itself.  

          Now I want YOU, the big defender of this dreadful industry, how cats living on a supposed "clean" site can, in fact, become contaminated.

          Then I want you to explain the hundreds of curies that are lost to the air environment every time they shut down and have to air out the pipes, etc., prior to maintenance.

          Where does that radioactivity go... into a lead jar?  No, it leaves the plant and through the wind is dispersed just like all other pollutants.

          Get a grip, would ya?

          Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

          by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:04:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Regular coal vs 'clean' coal (4+ / 0-)

    Is roughly the same as having a 5 ton elephant sit on you vs a 3 ton elephant. Neither has a very good outcome.

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:17:39 AM PST

  •  It's time for this one again: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, shirah, oldjohnbrown, A Siegel



    And remember:  the future. . . is later.


    "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

    by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:22:51 AM PST

  •  The only time I really consider vandalism... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluestone, MD patriot, shirah, cany when I pass those "clean coal" billboards on the highway.  I think we should just take a Swiftian approach and launch our own billboard campaign:

    Nuclear Power: Now with 15% less plutonium!

    Torture: Now with greatly reduced bleeding to death!

    Republicans: Now with somewhat less allegiance to racism and theocracy!

    -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

    by Rich in PA on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:23:03 AM PST

  • new the Sierra Club (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, shirah, figlet, A Siegel

    and other organizations who are fighting this illusion in real, tangible ways. We have stopped many new coal plants and delayed others. We have challenged the EPA to regulate carbon and won. We are working around the country to establish renewable energy standards and dispel the notion that coal is "clean".

    But we need help...join up, become a member, get active in your community!

  •  Don't forget the bad economics of dirty coal... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, MD patriot, shirah, A Siegel

    it costs more to build and operate the gasification plants, it costs more to separate out the dirty waste products of mercury, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxides and especially CO2, and it will cost massively to sequester or store the CO2 underground with unknown environmental effects. And the public cost of a regulatory structure will be astronomical.

    Every step of the process is neither technologically nor economically feasible at this point. No public money should go into this unproven approach.

  •  The baseload power dilemma (5+ / 0-)

    First, I agree that clean coal is impossible. There are always ways to make it cleaner, or less dirty, some of which have been implemented, but it is inherently dirty, and a major carbon dioxide producer.

    But second, I have a problem with this, from the diary:

    Nuclear Power, whatever you think of it, is a reality today and a real option for tomorrow.

    As long as there is no real, safe and sustainable way to deal with high level radioactive waste (and there isn't and I don't think will be) building new nuclear plants is not an acceptable option as far as I'm concerned. In the urgency to lower carbon emissions (and a nuclear plant itself doesn't produce any), it is disturbing how many people (and I include politicians as a subset) have abandoned, ignored or deliberately drawn the blinds on the reasons that initially impelled the need for renewable energy resources: finite and depleting energy resources, unsustainability, and pollution and public health and safety. These were the reasons long before most people ever heard of climate change, and they are as critical as they ever were.

    So in the mega-scale conversion to renewables that needs to be accomplished, we need to maintain some level of our existing major baseload sources during the transition. Coal will probably need to play a role in the transition, a diminishing one obviously. The nuclear industry is eager to be the "clean" baseload alternative and build us a bunch of new plants, but that's a big lie as far as I'm concerned. Radioactive waste is lethal for 100,000 years and we have no means of storing it, or reprocessing it safely.

    Let's not just swap evils.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:46:09 AM PST

    •  I think A Siegel is saying Nuclear Pwr is *an* (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MD patriot, global citizen

      option, which it certainly is, but definitely not the option.  Part of the mix, not the solution.  

      A. Siegel's not McCain, for sure.  I was just floored by McCain's creepy-ass fantastical Strangelovian world where we'd build something like 3,509,218,256 Nuclear Plants in 15 years (a 5 wind farms and 3 solar arrays . . . maybe) and everybody would be happy and Republican and love cottage cheese for dinner and think that Sarah Palin was wise and articulate.  Now that was so much "Please Enter My World Of Crazy".


      "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

      by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:52:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nuclear is and has been prohibitively expensive (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BenGoshi, cany

        in comparison to other, easier, and more green technologies.  The amount of Government subsidy required to generate nuclear power at a rate acceptable to consumers is astronomical to say the least.  

        If we are going to inject that level of subsidization into the energy development game, let it be in greener pastures, geothermal being a big one in my book.

        •  Again, it's *an* option and part of a *mix* (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Plan9, shirah, mojo workin, LookingUp

          According to a Mr. K. Goto, of the Japanese Embassy (in a series of lectures he did in the Southeast in November), to generate 1,000 MW of power, constructing and bringing online a:

            * Nuclear plant costs ~$2.8 billion;

            * Solar:  ~$39 billion (and an area .9 times the size of Manhattan);

            * Wind:  ~8.7 billion (and an area 3.4 times the size of Manhattan).

           Now, that's right now and, certainly, I support investing money "'til it hurts" into increasing the efficiency of solar and wind (and geothermal and solar thermal and wave) -generated power to bring down those costs and land area requirements.  But that's the current situation that we've all got to deal with on a political level.  Take Mr. Goto's numbers with as much salt as you want to (Japanese companies stand to make a lot more $$$ right now with nuclear power construction than with solar or wind, mind you), but I dare say that they're in the "ballpark".


          "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

          by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:10:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But building it is only a small part of (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mataliandy, 8000 Meters Up

            the whole picture. You have to consider costs of operation and end costs, at the very least, as well as externalities. For nuclear and coal, those other areas are where the real costs are found.

            •  Actually ... (4+ / 0-)

              In terms of cost through life cycle, nuclear power is closer to wind/solar than coal. A very large share of nuclear power cost is capital/upfront for construction. Obviously, the fuel is a cost and there are some operational costs, but the operational costs per kwh are far lower than for coal and natural gas.

              •  Does that factor in, the additional security (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shirah, A Siegel

                and development of reliable, safe reprocessing or storage costs for spent fuel and other waste?  Does it factor in the nuclear regulatory oversight costs ?

                Not being combative, I just want to understand if we are looking apples to apples.

                •  Don't have figures at hand ... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  shirah, 8000 Meters Up

                  and don't know extent and range of those costs that are engaged.

                  Again, nuclear power has more significant operating expenses than wind / solar / hydro: the fuel isn't free, security, waste handling, etc.  But, the vast majority of natural gas and the majority of coal costs are in the fuel. Relative to delivered cost of electricity, uranium is a surprisingly small (at least, to me, the first time that I saw it) share of nuclear power's costs.

                •  Yes, it does. (0+ / 0-)
                  In Canada, at least, licenses include decommissioning costs (arount $200M for a $2B plant).

                  Seek first and final principles at The Mean Free Path.

                  by Cream Puff on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:55:42 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Nuclear utilities pay for waste storage (0+ / 0-)

                  and for all of the safety aspects of their nuclear plants. The plants are self-insured. They pay for their fuel and for all the handling of the fuel from cradle to grave.  Even so, a nuclear plant that has earned back its start-up costs (usually within a decade) is a cash machine.  Uranium is relatively cheap.

                  If there is ever a carbon tax, nuclear will be hands down the cheapest source of electricity.  It's already competitive with coal in some regions.

                  The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                  by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:08:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  In the US, the Price Anderson Act assures (0+ / 0-)

                    that the public picks up the tab for events.  Utilities are indemnified.

                    Read, in the US, catastrophic events, even if the fault of the utility, are paid for by tax payers.


                    Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

                    by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:19:52 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not so. Nuclear is self-insured. (0+ / 0-)

                      Explanation of the Price Anderson Act, which has enriched insurance companies:

                      The Price-Anderson Act was established by the federal government in 1957 and has evolved into one of the best third-party liability programs in the world, with a minimum of $10 billion worth of insurance coverage in the unlikely event of a nuclear power plant accident.

                      The program was subsidized by the federal government in its inception, but even then the government made money on the premiums from electric companies that owned nuclear power plants. Under this framework, the public has paid nothing due to nuclear power accidents, while insurance pools have paid about $200 million in claims and the industry has paid $21 million to the federal government in indemnity fees.

                      The nuclear power industry must provide $10 billion in insurance coverage to compensate the public in the event of an accident. So even if an individual company declares bankruptcy has a result of an accident at its plant, the rest of the industry will provide funding from the pool to compensate members of the public. If $10 billion is not sufficient, Congress can require the industry to contribute additional funds to the pool.

                      In the worst U.S. nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island, about $71 million in claims and litigation costs was covered by the Price-Anderson Act.

                      The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                      by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:45:46 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Within a decade? (0+ / 0-)

                    No, the capital costs are much longer in payback. But, I agree with 'cash cow' once the capital costs are amortized/paid off.

          •  Don't have time to pull out the numbers (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mataliandy, 8000 Meters Up

            but these figures are at odds with basically every other analysis that I've seen re construction costs in the United States.  And, the real issue, in any event, is total ownership costs: inlcuding operations and maintenance, and disposal and the actual kWh costs.

            •  I'll introduce you to Minister Goto and you two.. (0+ / 0-)

              can argue among yourselves.

              He's not a liar.  Neither are you.  You're just looking at different calculations.  My guess is that, in this case, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.


              "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

              by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:54:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I realize the source and thus the hype... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BenGoshi, Plan9, A Siegel

              But some of the newer, smaller reactor designs do look intriguing:

              Until Hyperion, nuclear power and the many benefits it offers: clean, emission-free, affordable energy — was only available from large, expensive nuclear power plants that took 10 years or more to build. And, many locations that could have benefited from nuclear power were not appropriate — the land was not available or the population was not large enough to warrant a huge power plant.

              Invented at the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory, Hyperion small modular power reactors make all the benefits of safe, clean nuclear power available for remote locations. For both industrial and community applications, Hyperion offers reliable energy with no greenhouse gas emissions. Hyperion power is also cheaper than fossil fuels and, when you consider the cost of land and materials, watt to watt, Hyperion’s innovative energy technology is even more affordable than many developing “alternative” energy technologies.

              Small enough to be transported on a ship, truck or train, Hyperion power modules are about the size of a "hot tub" — approximately 1.5 meters wide. Out of sight and safe from nefarious threats, Hyperion power modules are buried far underground and guarded by a security detail. Like a power battery, Hyperion modules have no moving parts to wear down, and are delivered factory sealed. They are never opened on site. Even if one were compromised, the material inside would not be appropriate for proliferation purposes. Further, due to the unique, yet proven science upon which this new technology is based, it is impossible for the module to go supercritical, “melt down” or create any type of emergency situation. If opened, the very small amount of fuel that is enclosed would immediately cool. The waste produced after five years of operation is approximately the size of a softball and is a good candidate for fuel recycling.

              Perfect for moderately-sized projects, Hyperion produces only 25 MWe — enough to provide electricity for about 20,000 average American sized homes or its industrial equivalent. Ganged or teamed together, the modules can produce even more consistent energy for larger projects.

              Again, I realize the source - Hyperion itself - but I think something like these might be worthy of looking at. Something like this looks marginally acceptable to me considering the alternatives.

              This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

              by Snud on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:14:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Would you like to tell me the cost of storing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:


            And would you care to list one single so-called low-level waste site that does not leak (they are all well documented as leaking, so go ahead, take a stab at THAT), and would you like to include clean up and proposal costs?

            You are on the losing end here, so have at it.

            Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

            by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:17:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Enhanced and low temperature geothermal (4+ / 0-)

          are things the upcoming Obama administration should strongly consider. My understanding is that it has the following advantages: uses existing technology and integrates into existing infrastructure such as the electrical grid, lasts for centuries (at least), is "always on" so energy storage (which is currently a major problem with wind and solar) is not an issue, can be implemented in most areas of the world, does not contribute to global warming, and does not produce any toxic byproducts.

          If we go the geothermal route, we should also encourage other countries, such as China to implement this technology instead of burning more coal.

        •  No, it isn't. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          If it were, no one would be operating nuclear plants.  If you're referring to the billons the government dumped into nuclear power and weapons research in the past half-century, well that's already been spent.

          Nearly all the subsidies nuclear power gets today comes in the form of liability guarantees.

          Seek first and final principles at The Mean Free Path.

          by Cream Puff on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:59:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Renewables get bigger subsidies than nuclear (0+ / 0-)

          these days.

          And definitely in terms of number of Watts generated, wind and solar are hugely subsidized  to a far greater degree than nuclear by the private and government sectors.

          The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

          by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:12:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  great point, and absolutely. (0+ / 0-)

          if the blood sucking, life killing fossil fuel industry subsidies had been, over the last decades, given to green energy, not only would we not be in the position we are now, but they wouldn't either.  Read, good.

          There should never be one penny of subsidy for nuclear energy or fossil fuels, period.

          Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

          by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:15:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Palin still a big draw in crazy land (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Look at the crowds of kooks in Georgia- there are parts of this country where the people live in total denial of reality.

        Fortunately 10,000,000 more people voted for Obama than the deluded old drooler.

      •  I agree he wasn't fervently advocating nukes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Just wanted to put my 2 cents in and help nail this one closed.

        This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

        by itzik shpitzik on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:04:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your Can't Get from A to B - (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dgil, SpamNunn

          Without bigtime nukes.
          So, yes, he is.

          •  Stop stating untruths ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
          •  You can get from A to B w/o nukes (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mataliandy, MD patriot, cany

            But you have to walk away from huge donations and a concerted, organized lobbying effort whose sole goal is to convince you that NP is the default go-to option.

            All lies.  It is working.  You have bought into it.

            PS I gave you a rec because the TR is unwarranted.  you just don't know you're being used.

            •  I Agree - (0+ / 0-)

              But is using nuclear for the next generation better, worse, or the same as using coal?

              I am saddened that the poster gets so angry with me when I advocate a range of energy options that included fundamental responses such as negawatts and urban design.  Downthread the diarist admits that his basic proposal envisions an increase in the nuclear mix to 30% - i.e. a 50% increase in nuclear if one does not include the need for replacement of aging older nuclear facilities.

              I agree that nuclear is not necessary - in fact, I have argued that it is a diabolical deal.  But I also recognize that by taking new nuclear off the table (while retaining current production) it places additional constraints on reaching our goals and will, most likely, extend the timeline unless the political and social will exists to move rapidly and - - fairly.

              The diarist also references mountaintop removal twice.  Although the practice is disgusting, it represents only a fraction of coal production in the United States.  The vast majority of coal comes from Western surface operations that have a far better environmental record - not perfect, but far better.  Appalachia only accounts for 33% of U.S. coal production.  

              Why not discuss things with as dispassionate a presentation as possible?  Why not balance out the advantages and disadvantages of each power source, the structural, political, and economic hurdles, and differing views on the issue?

              Unless, of course, it is an article of faith.

              •  Merde ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Where do I not advocate negawatts (and negagallons)?  Where have I advocated against a move to smart growth and better urban design?  And ...

                While I have, within my general concept, allowed for a "50% increase in nuclear power", there is what ... a multiplication of renewables predicated that are orders of maginitude (multipled by 10s, rather than 10s of %).  And, the generalize plan has massive negawatts as the very first item.

                What is my article of faith? Oh, yes, that faith coming from / shared by scientists like Jim Hansen that we must stop growing emissions and start to reduce them ASAP. And, amid all the items, coal burning is the single most major source of CO2 that merits quite serious focus.

          •  Uprated for HR abuse (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

            by SpamNunn on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:40:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You might think so ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              he has, consistently, twisted and misrepresented my words and claimed to know what I 'believe' and 'think' over multiple diaries.  Look through the history of comments through multiple energy diaries ... strong advocacy of Mid-West coal.  I troll-rated for a distortion of what I wrote.

              •  I BEG YOUR PARDON !!!!! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                And, I'm sorry, yet again, there are three discussions linked to (Gore, Schmidt, myself) as to how to get off coal within 20 years or less. Mine has the most significant increase in nuclear power, from 20% to 30% of the total electrical grid.  And, even so, that is not "required" within the concept piece, as there are 'excesses' in options that could make that nuclear power increase unnecessary.

                In this thread you admit that your proposal envisions increasing the proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power from 20% to 30%.  That is a 50% increase in nuclear - not to mention replacing older nuclear plants scheduled to go off line.

                So your own proposal argues for more nuclear; yet, you trollrate me can call me a stalker for one who misrepresents you.  How dare you.  You trolled me for saying "bigtime nukes" - and your proposal calls for 50% more nuclear plants.  How is that a lie on my part??????

                My views are consistent with many others.  Coal is certainly not ideal, but with safeguards and new technologies is preferable to nuclear.  We should aim to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate both.  But that will not take place overnight.  I contend that despite the risks that both technologies have, that coal has reduced its pollutant levels 90% since 1972.  Coal has a track record of dramatic environmental improvements.  Nuclear does not.

                You have lost me Mr. Siegel.
                Whether you like it or not - there is a huge proportion of the environmental movement who remain opposed to expanded nuclear power.  You may not like it.  You may rail against it.  But it is a given.  Recent events in Germany and Britain underscore that view.  (France, too.)

                A commenter said above that he didn't care about Greenpeace.  Fine.  But they remain opposed to expanding nuclear.  And screaming, "I can't hear you!" won't do any good.  Because the division in the environmental ranks is palpable.

                Now, if you DO want to see some results in your lifetime, it might behoove you to consider allying with those who are your most logical and best partners - even if that means compromising on your views of nuclear power.  But if you continue to trollrate people like me and to trivialize their concerns, then you will just be placing the larger environmental movement in jeopardy.

                Is that your goal??

                PS - Midwest coal?  Evidemment you are not aware that I have worked in the history of Western energy and it is the Western province that accounts for 50%+ of U.S. coal production.  And I find it humourous that you would call me an "advocate" when the folks in Gillette see me as a screaming environmentalist.  Or course, they hate it when I point out that coal prices, like oil prices, can tumble.  And that Western communities dependent on a single mineral usually have failed.

                •  MERDE ... (0+ / 0-)
                  1.  Comment that you were reacting to said "fervently advocating".  Where have I been a fervent advocate? There are plenty of 'fervent advocates' in this discussion space, in comments.  Compare my writing and words with those of those voices.
                  1.  In my 'generalized concept' for retiring coal from the electricity grid, there is 'extra capacity' of greater amount than the level of increased nuclear power. Writ large, that gives space for something not working out and/or making choices as things work out.  If geothermal (low-temperature, enhanced) or solar or wind or negawatts or X can outperform what I laid out, then that nuclear power increase can be laid to the side.
                  1.  Again, there were three plans linked to -- two of three don't have significant increases in nuclear power.
                  1.  Yes, I'm aware of some of your work.  I agree it is humorous the contrast of perspectives and views, but you have been a constant voice here supportive of western coal (in comparison to, of course, MTR).
          •  Are you saying that nukes are some kind of (0+ / 0-)

            transition energy?  I sure hope not.

            Whose marriage do we get to vote on next?

            by cany on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:22:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Update: B of A funds clean coal study, link (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shirah, A Siegel

    It's not enough for us to be right. We have to be right and we have to win.

    by RickinDallas on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:55:49 AM PST

    •  They need to do something with all that bailout (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, cany


      They've been investing in vapor for years, but the old vapor (derivatives) has dissipated, so they need a new non-productive funnel for providing our tax dollars to Bush/Cheney cronies.

      You don't need to protect me from someone else's spelling, grammar, extra posts on a topic, or use of quotations.

      by mataliandy on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 01:13:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dear Diarist - maybe something for an update... (7+ / 0-)

    . . . or just leave it here as part of the thread only, whatever.

    Dept. of Energy Rpt on Co-generation Potential


     "The report asks "What if 20% of generating capacity came from CHP?" If the United States attained this goal by 2030, benefits would include:

       * A 60% reduction of the projected increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030—the equivalent of removing 154 million cars from the road

       * Fuel savings of 5.3 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) annually—the equivalent of nearly half the total energy currently consumed by US households . . . ."

    The article contains links to the full Report and other supporting documents.  Very interesting.


    "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

    by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 05:57:55 AM PST

    •  CHP is of high value and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldjohnbrown, mojo workin, SteamPunkX

      high potential value.   Have written on it in the past and will do so again.  Don't see it as critical to this diary.

      •  Uh... o.k., then. -nt- (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

        by BenGoshi on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:30:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  By the way ... (0+ / 0-)

          I appreciate the highlighting of this particular study, because CHP is (along with efficiency) one of the fastest payoff options before us.  From my concept as to how to eliminate coal from the electricity grid:

          Combined-Heat-Power (CHP)

          One of the interesting challenges before us, before the US are all of the regulatory and such barriers that need to be changed so that "making the right choice is the easy and preferred choice" when it comes to energy issues. One of those obstacles are the obstacles that ’small’/'medium’ producers can face in selling to the grid. Many industries require significant amounts of heat. The energy burned for heat could be making electricity as well as that heat. But, other than it ‘not being how business has always been done’, selling excess electricity (and moving it around) isn’t necessarily easy. If we could change this non-technological barrier, these "heat" requirements could be combined with electricity generation (not just in industry, but in many large institutions related to, for example, their hot water heating).

          With sensible regulatory change, CHP could provide 5% of today’s electricity (low-end of potential).

          By the way, the material you're linking to suggests that I was highly conservative re the 5%.

  •  Clean coal is an oxymoron (4+ / 0-)

    promoted by morons.

    It's the last gasp, so to speak, by the fossil fuel industry that is going to go down kicking and screaming as we convert to alternatives.

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:16:41 AM PST

  •  Please Explain - (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    canyonrat, TJ, oldjohnbrown, SteamPunkX

    How we replace 50% of our electric generation power.

    Your logic implies that we simply make no attempt to find better ways to use coal in electric generation; therefore, it is incumbent upon you to explain how and at what cost this transition will occur.

    Please also address the political implications of long-term nuclear waste storage - even though the physical aspects of nuclear waste storage remain far more questionable than coal sequestration.

    Can you name me a government that had existed for a mere 500 years and has not been overthrown by war, revolution, civil war, or military occupation?  Not millions of years.  Not thousands of years.  Can you assure 20 generations, not to mention 100, that nuclear waste is politically safe?

    •  Okay ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, MD patriot, SteamPunkX

      There are links in the diary to three alternative pathways to eliminate coal.  I know that you support coal. We have had these exchanges multiple times. I do not plan to repeat the extensive discussions and material that you can see at/via those sites/discussions.

      •  Nope - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You have NEVER been able to offer either a cost analysis or a transition in generation that does not include massive increases in nuclear.

        There is the issue of intellectual honesty.  If coal is such a problem and must be replaced how is this to come about and at what costs financially and environmentally?

        In the face of $140+ barrel oil (and heading higher), Peak Oil, and Global Warming, an ever-growing definition:  Freedom from Oil!

        It seems that in the prediction department, you were extremely wrong.
        That gives me reason to believe that your numbers in other areas are more wishful thinking than dispassionate analysis.  

        BTW - Does freedom from oil also imply freedom from natural gas?  That's another 20% of generation capacity - esp. peak load.

        I am not prepared to discard an entire industrial sector - one that has a demonstrated track record of reducing other emissions since the passage of the Clear Air Act by 85% - for dole prognostications.  You have an intellectual as well as a moral obligation to show what the costs will be, how we might pay for this and what costs there would be to the end consumer.

        I contend that coal has a strong record of removing other pollutants since the 1970s.  It is not an ideal fuel source, but it is far superior to nuclear and far less costly even when CO2 mitigation costs are added.  I am not hoodwinked by some of the shenanigans of the coal industry, not do I believe that Congress is.  But for you to be hoodwinked by the more obscene shenanigans of the nuclear industry is beyond humorous.

        Unless you are living in Alice's world, you need to show how to get from A to B.

        •  Evidently ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          you do not believe in peak oil and that there is a physical limitation to oil production.

          I was surprised by the extent and speed of the fall in the price of oil -- the extent of the global hit on energy use and the impact of so many financial houses needing to sell off oil to raise funds in collapse both went beyond what I (and others) saw. Unless there is an utter absence of a recovery, which is possible, I (and am not alone) see the price of oil going up in the future -- not falling to $10 barrel again and staying there.  

          And, I'm sorry, yet again, there are three discussions linked to (Gore, Schmidt, myself) as to how to get off coal within 20 years or less. Mine has the most significant increase in nuclear power, from 20% to 30% of the total electrical grid.  And, even so, that is not "required" within the concept piece, as there are 'excesses' in options that could make that nuclear power increase unnecessary.

          •  NNadir was up late last night (0+ / 0-)

            He's probably still asleep.  Hope he joins in later.

          •  Of Course I Recognize - (0+ / 0-)

            That oil is a finite resource.
            But, no.  I do not believe in the current iteration of "Peak Oil" if that means it ignores other fossil fuel sources in order to predict imminent doom.  The Cassandras actually do more harm than good to creating an environmentally sustainable world.  Just as the oil price collapse in the 1980s wiped out alternative energy projects then, it will do the same again.  Just check the Bloomberg Wind Index and see.


            Many of your links are to "Get Energy Smart! NOW!!!"
            Since that is your website, such links are self-referencing - one of which does not work.

            The Gore Plan you mention is extremely general and does not factor in much of the replacement cost - esp. for individuals.  The relevant passage - -

            It is unclear how long the transition will be to a plug-in passenger fleet or what operational strategy the vehicles will eventually settle on (there is ongoing research, development, and demonstration for full electric cars, plug-in hybrid cars with gasoline, and plug-in hybrids with diesel).

            Yeah, right.
            Again, no careful cost analysis.
            Just wishful thinking.

            I am not opposed to replacing gasoline-powered automobiles.  I just want the discussion to be one which includes real costs.  Otherwise it is smoke and mirrors.

            But I digress.
            I see little reason to respond to you as long as you trollrate me.
            I will, however, challenge your assumptions at every opportunity.

            •  We don't eliminate sources we can't replace (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DeminNewJ, johnnygunn

              and we don't eliminate what we haven't replaced.

              It seems for my purposes there's some logical nuances to the argument that's not being explored. The structure of the energy policies we are talking about is as far as I'm concerned the creation of incentives to give some certain energy sources priority over certain others. So that for instance solar and wind, having the least negative environmental impact, go to the head of the line. Other energy sources that create systematic environmental harm cease to be able to externalize that harm, economically. And that pays for the clean priorities.

              So if, as many people pessimistic with respect to these resources say,  the ability of solar and wind and other sources to scale up to the levels necessary to meet our energy needs is very limited, then fine. Then we persist in using at least some fossil fuels for at least as long as necessary. And the scale argument simply doesn't invalidate the idea that we should support and scale up these clean energy sources however much possible.

              But I don't think what anyone serious is arguing, and certainly not Al Gore, is that we set a date certain and that if we have not transitioned away from coal by that point, the lights go out.

              Also, precisely because what we're discussing is subsidies to create proper incentives for responsible energy production, you can't just say that because of commodity instability in the current system of free-market driven economic incentives we have we should disregard these energy sources. In fact, this is why we should take steps to permanently adjust the incentives to make sure solar and wind come before fossil fuels no matter what the prices of the latter are. It is not in the slightest an argument for us to cease using solar and wind, because the rationale behind them is much more than issues relating to commodity prices.

              "It's like we weren't made for this world, But I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was." --Of Montreal

              by andydoubtless on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:49:11 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  bingo (0+ / 0-)

          "either a cost analysis or a transition in generation that does not include massive increases in nuclear"

          You have just hit on what the real agenda is, I suspect, behind much of the anti-coal fanaticism and hysterical "time is running out, we only have ten years before peak oil blah blah" doomsday cultism we have been hearing of late:

          Nuclear power.

          No thanks.  I'll stick with coal thank you.  No more Chernobyls.

          •  Stick with coal? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            javelina, A Siegel

            Then move to southern West Virginia. I'll bet you can buy a piece of land pretty cheaply - after it's had the mountain top blown to smithereens and the valley filled in. You didn't want that pretty little stream at the bottom, did you? You don't mind using nothing but bottled water, right? What's a little heavy metal pollution when you can get the land for a pittance?

            Oh, and those huge transmission lines overhead? Well, they would have spoiled the view before we blew up the mountain, but now - who cares? Health concerns about the lines and the defoliants sprayed on the lines to keep them clear? Bah, wait a couple of generations.

            We must develop new energy technologies now instead of waiting for the last lump of coal to be hauled away. And while we're developing, REDUCE OUR CONSUMPTION!

            "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

            by WV Democrat on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:32:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Just imagine ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WV Democrat

              however, how inexpensively I could put in a putt-putt course on my perfectly flat new yard? And, the astroturf for the putt-putt would be great. After all, plants won't grow so well.

              Sigh ...

            •  Those Huge Transmission Lines - (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WV Democrat, cany

              Come with any form of electric generation.
              One of the problems with industrial wind power is that the sources of most wind power are in remote locations far from the end users.  Same goes for hydro built in the mid-twentieth century.  Places like West Virginia, Wyoming, and Yucca Mountain are selected because the local populations have little political and economic influence.  (Although Vegas' growth and the role of Sen. Reid may have discouraged the dumpers from targeting  Nevada.)

              Power Lines, Red Desert, Wyoming

              Although it is nearly 20 years old - Bullard's Dumping in Dixie defines the process in a slam-dunk.  Erikson's Everything in Its Path presents the same pattern in a local setting in West Virginia.  I know.  I've been in nearly every county in WV and in rural communities throughout the nation.

              Coal is only one facet of the problem of resource exploitation of rural communities.  It happens with uranium.  It happens with logging.  It happens with feedlots and slaughterhouses.

            •  one, (0+ / 0-)

              I live in northern West Virginia.  Two, I oppose mountaintop removal.  Three, the people demanding that coal be phased out aren't talking about ending mountaintop removal mining, they're talking about eliminating coal, period, including underground mining (which is relatively environmentally benign).  When Devilstower wrote a knowledgable, wise, well-reasoned front page post on how to save the coal industry while eliminating mountaintop removal mining, the purity trolls descended on it in hysterics over "noooo, we have to eliminate all coal now because we're doooomed otherwise!!!!"

              I call bullshit.

              But I do think we should eliminate all nuclear power, now.

              •  Okay ... (0+ / 0-)
                1.  MTR should end.  Period. Full stop.
                1.  We should be phasing out coal, ASAPP (as soon as practically possible), due to the carbon / mercury / asthma, and other impacts.  The ASAPP needs to recognize and deal with many things, including coal's role in things like making steel.
                1.  "Relatively benign" ...  Slag heaps, leaks from mines, etc?  Yes, against MTR, but "relatively benign", really?
                1.  FYI -- Whether providing significant and substantive funding for creating 'sustainable' employment (in reality) in coal communities or other 'compensation' to not just maintain the local communities, but help them thrive, valuable to recognize and value these communities and how (for generations, in coal mines, especially) people have literally sacrificed their health and (often) lives to help power the nation.  "Eliminating coal" should not lead to eliminating the economic/otherwise prospects of these communities. Anyone targeting leaving behind ghost towns where mine communities exist isn't thinking holistically.
  •  Next, the coal companies will be pushing (5+ / 0-)

    "Clean Black Lung Disease."

    Then again - A massive die-off of humans might slow the progress of catastrophic climate change somewhat.

    "I'd like to be a president [known] as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace." -- George W. Bush

    by SecondComing on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:23:02 AM PST

  •  By all means research the possibility (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnnygunn, A Siegel

    of clean coal and if it works we can replace existing coal plants with clean coal plants, otherwise we should just phase them out as they age.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:33:58 AM PST

  •  What about "Green Freedom" coal process? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From DocGonzo:

    Green Freedom costs energy, but it's a pretty efficient process that uses the huge air throughput of nuke plants' cooling towers to suck CO2 from the air, extract the carbon, and sequester it in something usable like gasoline or alcohol. The energy consumed by the process is a little larger than what's left in the gasoline barrels it creates, so it consumes energy - it doesn't produce it.

    However, the energy cost is a lot less than the energy that's in our coal. So if we ran the coal plant to power the system, and ran the coal exhaust through the system, we'd convert the coal to gasoline, with most of the energy left in the gas, and a lot of CO2 cleaned up from the air. The net effect would be to neutralize the carbon emitted from the coal burned, at a cost of about 20% of the coal's energy. We could even power more of the "Green Freedom" apparatus to reverse the CO2 concentrations back to a balance that doesn't threaten our climate with catastrophic changes.

    We have a whole lot of coal. More energy in coal than thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of times what we've had in oil. If we could trade 20% of its energy for making it Greenhouse-clean, we'd have a vast amount of fairly clean energy. A little more of the remaining 80% could clean the other dirty parts of coal, like the radioactive residues from its deposits and the small particles that to date  we've just pumped into the sky. The amount of cleaner energy we'd have would dwarf the rest of the world's energy reserves, the US with a greater share of it than Russia and Arabia's combined share of the world's petroleum.

    My thoughts: this would help with our sending-our-energy-dollars-overseas problem, but not with our carbon-emissions problem. The carbon from the coal just moves to the gasoline or alcohol, which then gets burned, releasing that coal carbon into the atmosphere. Am I missing something?

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:34:35 AM PST

    •  Wait -- maybe I am missing something. (0+ / 0-)

      What if the gases we run through the "Green Freedom" process are, say, 95% atmospheric air and 5% exhaust from the coal-burning that powers the process? Would that result in a net decrease of CO2 in the atmosphere?

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:43:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Contingent Valuation Theory :) (8+ / 0-)

    Economics teaches us that when faced with multiple, competing, investment choices one should allocate funds according to the individual choices chances of bearing dividends multiplied by the dividends it would bear.

    The renewables are all ready to go online, with great benefits.  So we should value them highly.  However, before we dismiss "clean" coal (Admission: I did work on the original legislation authorizing it) we need to evaluate why we keep using coal.  The answer come down to the stranded investment in the plants that we would retool to burn coal "cleanly," the amount of energy that we would have to produce cleanly to replace the 50% of our current electricity produced by coal, and the need to not send a system shock through the coal industry that leaves West Virginia unemployed.  So there is some need to invest in this as well.

    Plus we would need to evaluate the evironmental damage of ALL extraction (mining) which is required for ALL industrial processes.  For instance, solar does require some pesky minerals that can only be extracted using "cyanide acid" ponds, a process that many anti-hard rock mining environmental groups consider this side of awful.

    So what does this all mean?  That it's a complex picture, and dismissing research that may have other unforseen benefits may not be our best policy choice.

    Thanks A Siegal, I always find your diaries interestign and informative.

  •  If coal is clean (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tommymet, A Siegel, imchange

    then how can sex be dirty?

  •  Coal power plants in Pennsylvania emit mercury. (5+ / 0-)
    About two years ago hearings were held on this topic, and I attended one in Pittsburgh.

    Pennsylvania was about to put into law stronger standards against mercury emissions than those from the federal government.  The coal industry naturally opposed these.

    I made two points.  The first is that I had been watching many comercials from the coal industry on clean coal, as if it was happening or at least around the corner.  I looked into this and said that there were in fact no plans to use any advanced technology in any of the 6 or so coal plants proposed for construction at that time.  The comercials were the worst form of bait and switch.  In fact the industry was lying to the public.

    The second point dealing with the possibility of needed to close some plants if the higher standards prevailed was that the children downwind from those plants can't move - first because only their parents can make that decision and second because many of their families are too poor to have that option.  On the other hand, if more and cleaner plants really were to be built, the workers would have the option to move.

    What I learned from this experience and listening to the representatives of the coal industry is that they are happy to polute if they can make money.  Their concern for the environment or for the health of our children is practically nonexistent.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:57:20 AM PST

    •  I hold no brief for the coal industry (0+ / 0-)

      but they aren't actually running the power plants.  You really should be blaming the utilities.  And if emissions are that dangerous, you should be demanding an immediate cleanup with existing tech.

      •  In writing "coal industry" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, A Siegel

        I was including the utilities that own and operate coal power plants.

        These along with the owners of coal mines were lobbying for weaker mercury emission rules.  They work together where their profits are linked.

        "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

        by LookingUp on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:20:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My diary on a new coal test plant in Germany (0+ / 0-)

    "I don;t need to , because I don't give a shit who YOU are" MAORCA ***mean people suck***

    by indycam on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:08:58 AM PST

  •  Gore's pie in the sky (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    canyonrat, TJ, SpamNunn

    What the hell is going on--can't anybody understand math anymore? Look at the numbers! The United States generates more energy from burning coal every day than the entire daily oil production of Saudi Arabia. Daily global coal consumption is the equivalent of 63.8 million barrels of oil per day. And Al Gore says we're going to replace the energy production of six and a half Saudi Arabias in 10 years with alternative "noncarboniferous" sources. Bullshit! Ain't gonna happen. He's on the pipe. We aren't ever going to make any substantive progress on developing a sustainable energy policy until people are willing to accept the hard facts and work with rational attainable goals. Reality indeed! Like it or not, the world is going to be burning a lot of coal for years to come and we'd better get behind developing the technology to do it efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner.    

  •  Nuclear makes so much more sense (5+ / 0-)

    as a bridge to renewables like solar and wind.

    The people that endlessly whine about nuclear waste problems completely ignore the massive waste problems with coal, not even mentioning the millions of tons of air pollutants.

    Thanks for this diary.  It's time so-called progressives wake up to reality.  We are running out of fucking time.  We have some really hard choices to make and getting rid of coal right now has to be first and foremost.  Nuclear can do that within 10 years, especially in regions of the country where solar and wind make no practical sense.

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

    by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:21:26 AM PST

    •  Well ... (6+ / 0-)

      take a time lines re nuclear power for construction / such.  Very limited impact possible before the 2020s with nuclear power.  A lot of wind and solar and other renewables can be providing power before then.  FYI ...

    •  it does and it doesn't (0+ / 0-)

      nuclear  is pretty much 100% safe (or at least a properly designed plant is) but there is huge concern about the used fuel.

      And while coal is dirty, at least it won't be radioactive for the next 1,000+ years (depending on the waste products).

      •  Of course ... (0+ / 0-)

        how long is the carbon cycle?

        •  what point are you driving at? (0+ / 0-)

          there do exist chemical means to contain coal.

          If you know of a way to accelerate radioactive decay, let me know. I'd love to win a Nobel

          •  Well ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I am not asserting that this works, because I'm not in the lab with it, but here is an example.

            Point was that, to be clear, carbon emissions have long legs ... into 100s (and 1000s) of years.

            •  I'd have to see the data to get a real grasp on (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel

              the feasablity for industrial application.

              And yes naturally carbon emissions last a long time, but I know there are approaches that we can use to well move nature along.

              Up till now all my physics training (and it's considerable) has taught me that while in theory you should be able to speed up radioactive decay it's never been feasible outside of a lab experiment and so is more just a physics trick.

          •  You accelerate radioactive decay in a reactor (0+ / 0-)

            You speed up the chain reaction.  Nuclear waste can be burned up in reactors which are at the same time making electricity.

            The waste products from coal combustion are concentrated toxic heavy metals:  mercury, arsenic, lead, etc.  These NEVER decay.  Coal waste is not sequestered from the environment the way spent nuclear fuel is.  Coal waste gets into the air, water, and soil and into your lungs.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:21:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  speeding up the chain reaction (0+ / 0-)

              is not the same thing as speeding up the decay process.

              The chian reaction is just the engine that creates the energy for the plant. It's like how your car's engine revs up to give you greater speed.

              Accelerating the decay process is no easy task as you have to control the decay mode and that's not trival at all.

              Further all of that with coal can be controled, the probelm is with enforcement so it's not a valid comparison and you know those heavy metals? Yeah they can be reused, I'd love for you to tell me how we  can reuse waste products so radioactive they'd kill you if they were not shielded either by a huge tank of water or 10 feet of lead.

              •  You burn up the actinides in a fast reactor (0+ / 0-)

                This has already been shown to work.  One fast reactor can turn the waste from 5 PWR reactors into energy.

                You can also mix the Pu with natural uranium to make MOX fuel.  Thorium reactors can also burn up waste from the power reactor chain reaction.

                There are physicists and chemists working on ways to make medical isotopes from nuclear waste.

                The toxic heavy metals in coal fly ash are not isolated.  They are stored in the environment and in human beings.  Mercury being a notable example.

                The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                by Plan9 on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 07:13:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  uh no (0+ / 0-)

                  First it is my understanding that reprocessing (which is what I believe you're talking about) has it's limits.

                  Yes you can reprocess the fuel and reduce the waste to an extent, the trade off is that the remaining waste tends to be even more radioactive.

                  And yes people are working on ways to make the fuel usable but so far nothing is comerically avaible.

                  Contrast that with coal plants where chemically, you can deal with it all. The probelm is enforcement of the rules and that  unlike the current difficults with nuclear can be quickly corrected.

                  Don't get me wrong 10 years from now nuclear will still be around and will be safer (most likely) where as coal will be in the process of being phased out.

                  But that future doesn't mean we should kid ourselves about which is currently more dangerous.

                  •  No, the radioactivity in the SNF is reduced (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    via pyroprocessing, developed and tested successfully by Argonne National Laboratory.  The ultimate waste is shorter-lived and very small in volume.

                    Reprocessing of fuel is a key requirement of the IFR. However, IFR reprocessing is very different from processes which have been proposed or which are in use in other countries. Basically, reprocessing IFR fuel consists of two simple steps: 1. fission fragments are removed from the fuel, and 2. unused fuel is recovered, along with the transuranic elements (sometimes called actinides). Normally, the transuranic elements would go to the waste stream with the fission products, but in the IFR, they are kept with the fuel and sent back to the reactor to also serve as fuel. In the above description, note that the waste stream consists of only the fission products. The result is that instead of a waste that remains radioactive for many thousands of years, as would be the case if the transuranic elements were present, the radioactivity in the waste will decay to a value less than that of the original uranium ore in about 200 years. An additional advantage to the waste side of the IFR operation is that the IFR plant produces less low-level waste than today's nuclear plants.

                    Coal waste is far more of a threat to public health because it is not isolated and is killing Americans on a daily basis. And the sheer scale of the waste--120 million tons stored haphazardly around the country at 600 or more sites--makes remediation a gigantic and extraordinarily costly job.  Not gonna happen, especially if the coal industry has any say in the matter or is expected to cover the costs.

                    Thorium reactors can also burn up nuclear waste (that is, turn it into energy to make electricity):

                    Energy from Thorium:
                    Whenever the construction of a nuclear reactor is delayed because of a false hope in "renewable" energies that never materialize, a coal or natural gas plant has to be built instead, polluting the air we breathe and driving global warming faster and faster. But even conventional nuclear reactors produce waste, and because they use only a tiny fraction of the energy in uranium, that resource is also being depleted.

                    Enter Thorium. Half a century ago, a different kind of nuclear reactor was invented, one that burns Thorium - an inexhaustible supply of fuel, and much cheaper than the enriched-uranium fuel used by current reactors. It can even use the nuclear waste from other reactors as fuel! The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, or LFTR for short, operates at low pressures, so it could never explode like the reactor at Chernobyl, and its liquid-fuel design makes it physical impossible to overheat, like the reactor at Three Mile Island.

                    The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                    by Plan9 on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 11:06:47 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  to be clear though (0+ / 0-)

                      IFRs are not exactly as safe as the more typical reactors currently in operation. Mostly because they use liquid sodium as a coolant. Which is really dangerous.

                      Not to mention IFR project was cancelled by the goverment in the 90s, though it would appear given the date of your article it was started up again, the point is though we're still talking about 5 years before we could expect any IFR to be online.

                      Not to mention while it's a nice leap forward to move from 1,000 years to 200 that's still not what we were talking about in terms of speeding up the decay as that's still 10 generations.

                      As for thorium reactors, a quick search shows that we're not expecting any to be ready by 2025 again this is long term we're talking about and I've already said that I agree that long term nuclear will be safer then coal.

                      Look the probelm as I've repeatedly said with coal isn't containment or even reusing, it's actually enforcing the bloody laws and making the companies behave in a responsible manner.

                      That can be fixed in less then a year.

                      The probelms with nuclear will take far longer which is why I stand by coal for the short term transition and nuclear (including fussion) for the long term as the power fill in of choice.

                      Of course I'll always be for wind/solar/geothermal first but as a filler type nuclear has alot of promise.

                      Finally, let's be crystal clear here; even in your best case you're still talking multiple generations. I will concede that some of the confusion here is my fault because I thought you understood what I was talking about. Since that doesn't seem to be the case let me quote another to show you what I mean:

                      British scientists have "transmuted" iodine-129 into iodine-128 with a high-powered laser. Now, dropping one neutron might not seem like a big deal, but the half-life of iodine-129 is 15 million years while the half-life of iodine 128 is 25 minutes.

                      That's the scale I'm talking about and that's what we need to start thinking about how to achieve if we're going to keep using fission.

      •  Coal waste exists for thousands of years (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, A Siegel, notrouble

        Union of Concerned Scientists

        Solid waste

        Waste created by a typical 500-megawatt coal plant includes more than 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber each year. Nationally, more than 75% of this waste is disposed of in unlined, unmonitored onsite landfills and surface impoundments.

        Toxic substances in the waste -- including arsenic, mercury, chromium, and cadmium -- can contaminate drinking water supplies and damage vital human organs and the nervous system. One study found that one out of every 100 children who drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic from coal power plant wastes were at risk of developing cancer. Ecosystems too have been damaged -- sometimes severely or permanently -- by the disposal of coal plant waste.

        So, it seems to me that coal is dangerous at least as long as nuclear.  But, because it isn't "radioactive" we don't have to be concerned about it?

        How many deaths were attributed to nuclear waste last year?  None.

        And from coal?  Greenpeace reports it's about 15,000.  And, that's every year.

        Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have estimated that power plants are responsible for approximately 15,000 deaths per year
        (i.e. one quarter of an assumed 60,000 fine particle related deaths per

        Concern is ok.  I am concerned about nuclear waste as well.  But the same concern has not been given to coal waste, which is about a billion times greater in volume than nuclear waste.

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

        by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:46:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except (0+ / 0-)

          that you can chemically reuse that waste or at least contain it.

          Currently at best there's no way to industrially speed up radioactive decay. Maybe the technology will exist in the future but tell me what's the difference between betting on that and not betting on cleaner coal technology in the future?

          •  And coal waste may be nasty, but (0+ / 0-)

            cranky people who want to cause trouble can't do much with coal waste.

            They can make a big mess with nuclear waste, though: a real big mess.

            2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

            by shpilk on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:27:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Lots of coal waste is all around us.... (0+ / 0-)

              in wallboard and cement in our homes! Try doing that with nuclear waste!!!!

              •  Coal waste is mildly radioactive (0+ / 0-)

                So that wallboard is as well. Low-dose exposure, but less than you would get if you lived next to a nuclear plant, which contains all of its radioactive materials in thick-walled buildings.

                The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

                by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:25:04 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Reactors speed up radioactive decay all the time. (0+ / 0-)

            Currently at best there's no way to industrially speed up radioactive decay

            I suggest you learn how nuclear power works before you make these claims.

            And I suggest you look into the fact that toxic heavy metals from coal combustion will be around until the end of the universe.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:23:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  and I suggest you be careful with your claims (0+ / 0-)

              nuclear reactors do not speed up the radioactive decay of waste material.

              What they do is induce decays but in a random fashion.

              For example say you have a radioactive material now in general there exists multiple decay paths and given the energies we're talking about all of them are possible. Complicating matters is the fact that some of those decay paths take longer then others.

              So the question becomes how do you 'force' a decay in large predictable quanties that shortens the half life of the waste?

              And that my friend is not a trival question, it's something nuclear physics has been working on for quite some time.

              PS oh and stop being so arrogant, unless you either work as a nuclear engineer or you are a physicist I probably know more about nuclear reactions then you do because well I am a physicist.

              Next time you should be more careful in how strongly you word your comments.

              As for heavy metals, that's not a probelm per say, there does exist uses for those heavy metals and they can be reasonably contained. Contrast that with gamma active waste which has to be incased in at least 10 foot thick lead shielding.

              Think about that for a second.

        •  Well (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'm not sure I buy your argument.  Here's why.

          You're making an apples and oranges comparison.   In the case of coal waste, we have bad practices in dealing with it in some places.  In the case of nuclear waste, we haven't done anything with high level waste yet, nor have we really seriously got to work on decommissioning very many of the that were built in the 60s and 70s.  

          I reckon there are about a hundred major nuclear plants that have been built in the US, of which less than 20% have been decommissioned yet.    So the vast majority of impact of these plants have yet to be seen.    This is also in a situation where nukes produces less than half the power that coal does.  So if we imagine a situation where coal is replaced by nuclear power, we'd be having on the order of 250 or more operating plants as opposed to 80 or so, and we'd be dealing with a much larger flow of spent fuel and a regular flow of debris from old plants.

          So while it is right, in the comparison, not to discount the impact of coal, it is also necessary to question the impact of deferred waste handling in nukes, and the scalability of handling those wastes.

          Overall, I don't want to see any crash programs on quick fixes;   I think we need to increase the mix of nuclear at the same time attempting to reduce the impact of coal, and see where these changes lead us.   In the mean time we can develop new conservation and renewable energy technology.

          I've lost my faith in nihilism

          by grumpynerd on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:27:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Recycle the spent fuel as they do in France (0+ / 0-)

            The spent fuel is too valuable to be called "waste".  After one trip through the reactor it still retains 98% of its energy.  You can reprocess it and put it through the reactor again.  Rinse and repeat, over and over.  The ultimate residue is tiny.  For a family of four in France (nuclear provides 80% of electricity there)their share of the waste after 20 years: a glass cylinder the size of a cigarette lighter.

            A great deal of thought has gone into dealing with spent nuclear fuel, I assure you.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:27:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Nukes have not been built recently (0+ / 0-)

        It's not the wicked environmentalists who turned nuclear power from energy "too cheap to meter" to being financial non-viable.   It's cheap fossil fuels.

        I think the answer is to make people pay for costs that they impose on others, or on the future.     Coal plants should pay a tax on any pollution the emit, some of which should go to carbon sequestration, the rest should go to bringing cleaner energy sources on line.   If they don't like underwriting new competition, they can install better technology on their existing plants.

        New nuclear plants should also post a bond to pay for future decommissioning.  In fact, any kind of operation that leaves a huge mess afterwards should do this, such as gold mining operations.

        With respect to the thousands of years the waste will be radioactive, well that is is a concern.  But it's not as if natural radiation is unheard of.  I think it should be possible to process and store the waste in such a way that the hazard it presents future generations is not that different from things like ground radon.   If we don't have too much of it.

        The more important point about nuclear is that it isn't a path to anything like energy self-sufficiency.  We don't want to recapitulate the political and environmental evils of petroleum using uranium.   I think new nukes have a limited place as a bridge technology which quickly addresses the lack of diversity in our energy sources.  By not putting all our eggs in the nuclear basket, we limit the size of the future problem, should that prove impractical to solve entirely.   However, by putting a few of our eggs in that basket, we relieve the pressure on the overloaded fossil fuel basket.  

        I don't think we'll get ALL of our energy out of fossil fuels in 20 years.   For one thing, there'll still be a few cars that are sold in the next five years or so on the road that won't be convertible to electricity;  I doubt we'll be wanting to shut down new natural gas plants that have just gone on line in twenty years either.   But I think we can get our fossil fuel dependency into marginal figures;   a modest nuclear program could make that happen faster, although a crash program to build as many nukes as possible would be a very bad idea.

        I've lost my faith in nihilism

        by grumpynerd on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:09:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sorry but there's nothing 'natural' about (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          nuclear waste.

          Most of which has to be contained in thick lead least you die from radition poisoning. Contrast that to the completely negible amount of background radition we naturally are around.

          Further the most radioactive isotopes don't really exist in nature. Think of it as natural selection.

          As for converison, you may have a point but at that point we'd be talking the last 10-1% before we have complete conversion and that's rather besides the point.

          •  I never said it was natural (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            However, I think that the hazard can be contained to within levels comparable to that, say, of radon exposure.

            "Natural" is not automatically a synonym for ecologically benign.   For chemical contamination,  there is a strong relationship, because natural compounds are metabolized into other compounds, whereas compounds such as DDT, although they may be metabolized and returned to the environment as intermediate products, lead to a biochemical dead end.

            As it so happens, low to not-so-low levels of radiation is natural.  However, as in the case of exotic organic molecules, normal biochemical processes don't do anything to radiation, whether it is from natural or "unnatural" sources.    The question is environmental toxicity: whether the radiation somehow bioaccumulates.      These two factors: overall radioactivity and bioaccumulation, set the benchmark we'd  need to aim for in any kind of storage facility.

            So you really need to be specific in your arguments about which radioactive elements you are concerned with.

            I don't think that the problem is technologically impossible to solve, but I am assuming that scale may be a limiting factor in practicality and performance.  Therefore a crash program in nukes is not called for.  On the other hand, we've got to do something about the waste we've accumulated already.  Given this, a modest use of nuclear power doesn't seem likely to put us in a qualitatively different situation than we are already, although a crash program would.

            I've lost my faith in nihilism

            by grumpynerd on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:49:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  .. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel, grumpynerd

              Understandable and agreed.

              I am sorry I thought you were implying that in some way because radition exists that the radition from the waste is okay when it's not.

              As for bioacclumulation, that would depend on how you define it. Raditation damage is permament mostly especially once you reach cell damage. Of course low levels the body tends to be able to repair itself but there's still damage done.

              So as I said, you have to be careful and explicit in how you define bioaccumulation when talking about radiation.

              As for specificity, actually there's no need to, all the waste products tend to be so radiactive that they're either spitting out beta or gamma radiation or both. And those are the hardest to contain, gamma radiation especially.

              The probelm with speeding up radiation is the lack of control, it's not hard to induce a reaction but as I was taught you can't always control the products are even predict them.

              In the end though, I think nuclear will probably become the fill in power where we need to supplement solar/wind/geothermal. At least that's what I think would be ideal.

              •  That's pretty much were I am. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                I figure we have to deal with the plants we have now anyway, and the waste we have accumulated.     So we have to think about the impact of marginal changes, which is a very different matter than deciding to start down an entirely new road.

                I think that building a modest number of new plants will not only fill in some gaps in our movement towards renewables, but will keep interest and resources focused on solving the waste problem we've already stored up for ourselves.  Therefore we can aim to reduce the net long term impact of nuclear waste by avoiding the abandonment of the problem.  At the very least, a modest program would add only marginally to our problems while reducing problems elsewhere.  

                If we were talking about creating an entirely new problem, then we'd have to look at this differently.  But we're not.   A large crash program to put all our eggs in the nuke basket would amount to a whole new problem, because we'd be generating an order of magnitude more waste, and the merry go round would be going around to fast for us to jump off.

                A modest nuke program might give us time to develop alternative energy and conservation technologies, and should the waste disposal situation become a lot more attractive we could decide to dial  up the nuke program.  If photovoltaics becomes a lot more attractive then we don't end up with a landscape full of toxic white elephants.

                Of course, that's assuming it's economical to build new nuclear plants.  Which currently, it isn't.   However,  I wouldn't stand in the way of replacing the older plants that have to go off line with newer designs, if industry wants to build them.

                I've lost my faith in nihilism

                by grumpynerd on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:25:30 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's where I am too.. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Plan9, A Siegel

                  I didn't mean to imply a crash program to go all nuke was what we needed.

                  But as I said, nuke plants can have a place in the transition to other power sources like solar and wind.

                  For instance, look at the northeast.  What do they heat their houses with?  Lots of them are heated with heating oil.  Several well-place nuke plants could provide relatively cheap electricity to wean those homes off of oil and into electric heat - at the same time as shutting down some coal plants (oldest and dirtiest first).

                  As far as economical feasibility goes, one has to factor in the cleanup costs of continued energy production from coal.  Coal is only cheap if you ignore the costs to the environment, which, strangely enough, most progressives against nuclear power are quite willing to do!

                  "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

                  by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:58:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Go directly to the new technologies. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, shpilk

      Avoid wasteful detours via creaky bridges.

      •  how long will it take you to get there? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And what "new technologies" are you referring to?

        Wind?  not new..  and I have read estimates it will take just under 100,000 commercial wind turbines to produce enough energy for this country, with a massive remaking of the energy grid infrastructure.  Time frame: 30+ years

        Photovoltaic? They've been around along time, but they are still very expensive and only work in a small area of the country.

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

        by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:02:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "wind not new" (0+ / 0-)

          Yes, my grandparents and parents used windmills when they homesteaded in Minnesota and Montana. You are correct in a nitpicky sense. In the 21st century sense, we are very early in the deployment of what are essentially technology industries. We need to ramp up manufacturing capacity for solar and wind components so we can derive economies of scale that aren't available right now because the components are scarce and therefore more expensive than they will be in the future. The primary benefit of heavy investment in modes which can be though of as technology industries is the guaranteed continued efficiency improvement and  and decreasing cost.

          Wind will be only part of the mix, so don't pay attention to estimates of how long it would take, or how many turbines it would take to supply all of our needs with wind. That's a straw man.

          Similarly, PV will be part of the mix, but thermal solar will be increasinly important, especially concentrated thermal solar. Technology is developing quickly in both these areas, and the more we commit to real-world implementation, the faster prices will come down.

          Whatever we do, increased grid capability will be required, and building it will be expensive. The great thing is that the new corridors can DC instead of AC. The systems are initially less expensive to build, and transmission power transmisssion is much more efficient (less waste). Again, DC transmission isn't new, but commercial implementation is new for us.

          Right now I'm not concerned with supplying all demand with clean power. Suppling eough clean capacity to obviate the need for construction of new coal and nuclear plants is entirely practical given sufficient commitment, with future replacement of existing sources as we imcrease capability.

          I really think that coal and nuclear could be near-dead industries in 20 years. Gore's 10-year goal seems somewhat ambitious, but he might be right and I might be wrong. We'll never know unless we jump in with both feet, however.

          Thanks for your input. You made relevant points.

          •  Straw man? No, it's a reality check. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Wind will be only part of the mix, so don't pay attention to estimates of how long it would take, or how many turbines it would take to supply all of our needs with wind. That's a straw man.

            Why not if it's a good estimate?  If you think wind will end up being half the mix, then cut that figure in half.

            The reason I cited wind as not being new is because there is very little more "technology" that can be squeezed from wind.  It's just plain very expensive and very resource intensive, with a very large carbon footprint before you get the first watt out of it.

            And I don't agree about the increased grid capacity being necessary.  Nuclear plants can be plugged into the grid anywhere without any need of increased grid capability.  Mini and micro nukes can actually relieve the grid.

            Wind and solar are going to take too long if nukes aren't a good portion of the mix.  We have to start reducing carbon yesterday.

            "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

            by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 06:18:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Okay ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              1.  Yes, wind can be improved technologically and we're seeing many improvements from better control of turbines, predictive technology about wind shifts, new blade/turbine designs, larger turbines, etc ...
              1.  "Plain very expensive ..." In terms of new electrical power generation, wind power is competitive if not lower cost for decent (not even 'great') sites than any other option.
              1.  "Wind and solar are going to take too long".  How much nuclear power will go on line by 2020? A few gigawatts, maybe?  Wind / Solar could easily see 50 gigawatts, and I'd think 100+ is very reasonable to plan on.
            •  grid expansion (0+ / 0-)

              You are the only person who has ever told me that increased grid capacity won't be necessary.

              Here is what the Western Governors Association projects for their region. I don't know the timeline.


              •  Sorry.. I meant at today's levels (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Nuke plants can be plugged into the grid in place of coal plants.

                The thing about wind is that it's not economically feasible everywhere you need electricity.  Wind will require a massive remaking of the grid infrastructure if we place wind farms in the wind corridor.

                "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

                by Skeptical Bastard on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 05:45:29 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  I get the feeling you probably don't live close (0+ / 0-)

      to a nuclear plant. The storage problem is hardly minor and possibly could eclipse even the harmful effects of global warming. Don't dismiss the problem as trivial.

      •  North eastern Illinois (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Plan9, FishOutofWater

        the bulk of the nuke plants are within 50 miles of my house.

        Illinois ranks #1 in energy production from nuclear plants.

        The storage problem is hardly minor and possibly could eclipse even the harmful effects of global warming.

        Really!  Could you provide some links for that statement, please?

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

        by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:06:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Links? Just think....corroding storage (0+ / 0-)

          tanks bulging with radioactive waste all over the country, terrorist attack that uses nuke material, transporting the stuff and accidents...It is possible, not to mention a meltdown downwind of Chicago or a major city.

          We're talking about potential FUTURE disasters so proof is not available. You have minimized all of the dangers. They just shut down the Cook plant in Michigan due to mechanical failures.

          •  Spent nuclear fuel is not stored in "tanks" (0+ / 0-)

            I suggest you actually learn something about the nuclear fuel cycle before making all these assumptions.

            Spent nuclear fuel is being stored at nuclear plants in thick concrete silos.  They do not leak.  They would be extremely difficult targets for terrorists.

            That fuel is probably going to be recycled.  It's too valuable to bury inside  a remote mountain in Nevada.

            The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

            by Plan9 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:32:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Plus, currently nuke plants mayuse as much carbon (0+ / 0-)

          to produce and run as coal plants. Did you ever think how all that cement was made, how the uranium was mined, how all the materials were transported. Nukes are NOT carbon-free at this point.

  •  Gore should be Energy Secretary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    Unless we have a real advocate for change in the Energy Secretary spot, we won't make progress.

    Obama is betting the economic, environmental and national security ranch on increasing energy efficiency (cutting US energy use by 50%) and increasing alternative sources. This a good thing and it is the correct thing.

    BUT we need an advocate for the most aggressive approach as the person heading up the effort. With Obama and Gore pushing for 10 years we might actually achieve Schmidt's goal of 20 years.

  •  New stream rules from Bush (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Fiona West

    Hopefully, Obama will reverse them on inauguration day....

  •  Then so is doing something about global.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    China starts a coal plant every week.

    Unless we find a way to capture carbon (CSS) and make coal better in other ways - idea that we can do something about global warming is also vaporware.

    There is no way we can replace all the coal plants in the world with alt. energy in the next few decades.

    We GOT to do something about coal. Otherwise the planet is going up in smoke.

    The problem is coal industry has just talked about clean coal - we have to force them to start doing something about it.

    I'd say give $10B in grants to universities and startups and come up with viable clean coal in the next 10 years.

    •  Where did the number $10B come from? n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  Set of challenges are quite wide ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      1.  If renewables fall to lower cost than electricity from coal, why would anyone stay with the higher cost source?
      1.  India does not have the geology for doing CCS.  India is, along, with China, the major 'new' source of coal emissions. If we can't do CCS in India (which looks to be a very serious challenge, to be polite) and have to find better solutions there, shouldn't we look to better options for China as well.
      1.  We likely should invest to see if we can do CCS, for a variety of reasons. We should, however, plan on and work as if CCS will turn out not to work. Rather reckless to place the entire bet of the future on an uncertain (to be polite) technology developing into reality.
      •  India doesn't have much coal ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        let alone geology to do CSS.

        India is going nuclear.

        •  And ... (0+ / 0-)

          the PRC is going major nuke power, as well, along with renewables.

          India is building coal plants, although in the rough order of magnitude as the US has been with the PRC order of magnitude/plus more new coal each year.  This does not, however, mean that India does not also have coal infrastructure that should be of concern.

          What is going on with the plans for Tata mega-sized coal plants?

          •  PRC and India are advancing .......... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel
            .... on all fronts,  not just the dirty fossil/nuclear technologies.  Huge investment in new photoelectric technology.  Remember that they still produce a fraction of the energy produced in the west and they are entering a recession too.  We must all avoid replacing dirty fossil fuels with even dirtier (in the long run) nuclear.  This is no longer a competition.  We all need each other.

            "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

            by gerbilmark on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:17:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly, your claim about coal in India is not true (0+ / 0-)

          It would be great if India did not have much coal. And even better if the USA and China, which combined account for more than 60% of world coal consumption each year, did not have much left either.

          But a quick check of the stats shows that India, which ranks 3rd among the world's nations in coal consumption, has about half as much coal as China proved reserves - that's enough to place it about 5th in reserves (only behind USA, Russia, China and Australia). And it's enough that while China's current reserves/production ratio is less than 50 years, India's is well over 100.

    •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

      Many billions of dollars have been spent on "clean coal" R&D since at least the 1970s, with little result. And that's just in the U.S.

      We are in the early stages of implementing existing clean energy technology. Replacing existing coal plants won't happen near term, but obviating the need to build new ones - we can do that. We need to ramp up manufacture of wind power components - pylons, turbines, vanes, etc. We need to increase solar capacity. We need to minimize energy waste with DC transmission systems. All totally practical. Right now wind and solar, just to mention two, are hampered because we lack the manufacturing capacity to derive economies of scale.

      Additionally, I see the 21st Century power generation modes as technology industries. Given a committed market, technology will improve, production efficiency will increase, costs will fall, and I definitely can foresee coal as being a dead mode in 20 years.

  •  Absolutely! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, A Siegel, imchange

    To add a bit, coal companies are completely ignoring the entirety of the carbon cycle by leaving extraction out of the conversation. Mountaintop removal mining has had a devastating effect on communities across Appalachia. 1 million acres of some of the most biodiverse forests in the US, 1200 miles of streams buried and polluted by toxic waste from mountaintop removal sites.

    President Obama can end mountaintop removal, and we in Appalachia hope that he will.

    Thanks for this post!

    Oh, the hills are groaning with excess, like a table ceaselessly being set.

    by faithfull on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 07:40:23 AM PST

  •  in a perfect world (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    count, CcVenussPromise

    I'd like to see electrical generation be regionalized becuause the power loss by transmitting power hundreds of miles is pretty bad even with incredibly efficent wires (that's why those high voltage lines have to be so freaken big).

    I'd also like to see us move exculusively to wind/solar/geo thermal with regional storing stations either mechinically, electrically or in someother fashion.

    Coal is going to get phased out but not for a while and while we have it, it doesn't hurt to pursue ways to make it cleaner and more efficient.

  •  How "Clean" can it be? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, oregonj, Magnifico, A Siegel

    I mean, how clean can anything be that starts off with Mountain Top Removal? So even if the technology to burn it cleanly were possible right this minute, it's still pretty dirty.

    We must reduce our energy consumption!

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

    by WV Democrat on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:15:38 AM PST

    •  Mountaintop Removal - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Is indefensible.
      However, it accounts for only a small fraction of coal that is produced.
      Appalachia now only accounts for 33% of U.S. production.
      About 60% of that remains underground production.
      Thus, at most, mountaintop removal accounts for only 13% of coal produced.

      My best guess is that it is half that - 6.5%.
      That is unacceptable - absolutely.

      But hear me.
      I bring a fundamentally different analysis.
      It is one thing to suggest that all/most coal production comes from mountaintop removal and that coal production has to cease.  Such an argument will ultimately run up against the reality that it is not.  Not to mention that it will engender the opposition of the entire coal industry with other fossil fuel allies.

      To suggest that mountaintop removal accounts for only a small portion of coal production and can be ended without impeding the coal industry will play far more effectively with the public and with the coal industry.  Also it will play far more effectively in West Virginia and Kentucky. In fact,those producers not using mountaintop removal will, most likely, support restrictions - albeit for self interest.

      One way of viewing the issue is far more likely to produce real, on-the-ground results.  Which is more important?  To rage against coal ineffectively or to stop mountaintop removal?

    •  This is WAR - coal is dirty, not clean (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      Make no mistake about this - this is an industry battling for its very survival, and ability to seel its product.  Just like cigarettes.

      This is war.  We must discredit the "Clean Coal" lie as often and as forcefully as possible.  The coal lobby is in for the long battle.

      Hats off to Gore, A Siegel, and everyone for fighting this hard.

      "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

      by oregonj on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:15:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It may have to be "clean enough" until (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we get some more nukes on line.  

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 08:36:57 AM PST

    •  "Nukes" are the dirtiest fuel of all .......... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      canyonrat, limpidglass
      .... in the long term.  We must stop mortgaging our future for present comfort.

      "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

      by gerbilmark on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:06:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you, yet I think nukes are going to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, greenmama

        have to be part of the energy mix in the transition period, which is going to be longer than 20 years.  

        First, we have to cut down carbon emissions as fast as we can, hence Gore's 10 year plan -- which assumes continued use of nukes. THen we have to replace nukes with other energy sources so we stop producing toxic waste that lasts essentially forever.

        Clean coal, if it turns out to be possible, might be part of that second phase. I'm willing to spend money researching it. I think we have to keep exploring all possible options, because the threats we face are dire.

        I hate the thought of producing more nuclear waste. (And the vulnerability to terrorist attack and other issues that nukes raise.) But the problem of nuclear waste is already with us, and we're going to have to keep making more for a while. Carbon is our most pressing problem, with methane hot on its trail.

  •  You left out combined cycle, single and co-gens (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, ravedave

    My husband operates AEP's combined cycle plant in Oologah, Oklahoma. The upgrade equipment he needs for higher efficiency will not come because regulations are set up that any percent in efficiency AEP comes up with they will not recover their millions or billions of dollars investment on, the "savings" in that efficiency according to regulation must be passed on to the consumer.

    So, yesterday, as he gave a tour to the "stakeholders" from around the country, he said it again. Efficiency can't happen without AEP recovering it's cost. He pointed out the loss of heat that could be captured for x percent of higher efficiency by intalling x, y, and z. But AEP can't invest without recovering funds. So round and round it goes.

    AEP is America's largest generator of electricity.

    Right next door to the co-gen plant in Oologah is the dirty coal plant.

    AEP's coal-fired plants account for 73 percent of AEP's generating capacity,

    while natural gas represents 16 percent and nuclear 8 percent. The remaining 3 percent comes from wind, hydro, pumped storage and other sources.

    In a nutshell, to see real change Americans must cut back on usage I believe. I can't say it enough.

    73 percent coal and the cleaner more efficient combined cycle next door remains the red-headed stepchild when it comes to investment in cleaner-than-coal, more efficient energy TODAY. I agree with the other options, nuclear too.

    TODAY we could run more efficient combined cycle plants if we promised return on investments to the the generation plants like AEP. Otherwise, they simply tool around with coal and you and me complain.

    Thanks for the diary.

    •  Amazing ... (4+ / 0-)

      the number of counter-productive policies, regulations, practices that we have throughout the energy arena.

    •  WIth all due respect, AEP opposes all of our (0+ / 0-)

      efforts to develop signifcant efficiency programs, renewable energy portfolios, etc. in Indiana. I'm sorry, but you are wrong about AEP. They are one of the WORST utilities in the nation for thinking ahead. They have pathetic efforts for energy efficiency BECAUSE THEY see themselves as making money on generating electricity.

      WE need to decouple utilities from profits based on electricity generation. They produce "cheap" coal and will be a big obstacle to cap and trade.

      •  They are proposing very aggressive (0+ / 0-)

        plans with conditions essential for the government to meet. Otherwise it's status quo.

        Want them to be more to your liking, make them a government owned utility. They're not. Right now it's money for nothing according to them.

        AEP is asking for relaxing of the regulations for coordinating transmission and generation planning because wind farms are in remote locations for one thing.

        They must also have government assurance for cost recovery for investors. This has failed in the past. They want to ease the regulations that make it cost prohibitive when crossing state, company, and operational boundaries -- the right-of-way requirements.

        This proposal is part of the DOE's 20% Wind Energy by 2030 Report. 21 pages.

        The Oologah combined cycle plant runs in the red. More profitable plants keep it afloat. The other day a new alarm system (i.e. investment with no return on a plant running in the red) was installed. Night shift was given no training. Alarms were missed, hell broke lose, equipment ALMOST got busted to the tune of several million dollars. Next day, a previously unknown steam pipe (engineer dug up old plans) is attributed with saving the equipment. Nevertheless, some damage had to be paid for.

        Think about the crews who keep unprofitable aging plants in the AEP fleet running in what I call band-aid fashion. Think about it when they patch a pipe literally with duct tape waiting for money to fall out of the sky.

        •  I wouldn't believe what AEP tells you.... (0+ / 0-)

          they aren't even trying really to deal with the problems. And they will vigorously oppose any efforts to deal with GW. Watch. Yes, I'd love to take them over. Other utilities around the country have  a real commitment to conservation. They see it as a real return NOT to build another plant. Not AEP. They are building more generation like crazy but won't devote ANY resources to helping people reduce use. And they don't want government controls, just gov't. funds and de-regulation. I don't buy what you're selling.

          •  I'm not selling anything. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel, ravedave

            The plant AEP owns in Oologah needs upgrades or retirement.

            They make interconnectivity difficult in Oklahoma. I had to push to get the information. It's not easily accessible from their website.

            I live in a recycled home. It was brought to this sight from Tulsa. I don't use A/C or central heat. I'm working on passive solar attributes. I'd like solar eventually and to be off grid. It takes money and commitment to keep the equipment functioning.

            Americans have to make radical personal changes in our usage while simultaneously pushing for regulations that benefit other-than-the-coal technology.

            Otherwise saying AEP sucks doesn't get them any money to move into wind, nuclear, et al and reduce the fleet of coal plants.

            •  So we should pay AEP to undertake efficiency (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              A Siegel

              measures and such? They have an old mindset and will oppose all of our efforts to further regulate the industry and regulate CO2.

              Look, if they just looked at energy efficiency as a money-maker, funded people to insulate their homes and reduce their energy use, rather than build more plants to produce elect. I'd look at them more kindly. But, as you say, they are for profit, cater to their investors, oppose any regulation and no amount of fiddling with their costs will change that.

              They kill people and are destroying the planet.

              •  Need to have structure ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                IndySteve, CcVenussPromise

                such as profit decoupling, that incentivizes energy efficiency equally (or more) to power production. The plant owner, however, is unlikely to be interested in funding efficiency to reduced sales. No?

              •  The government is giving incentives (0+ / 0-)

                to upgrade the existing fleet of coal plants but very little motivation to make it viable for them to move into the other sectors, such as wind for instance.

                About killing people the food system is doing a far better job of it as well as polluting far beyond the scope imaginable. The EPA makes a big deal of song and dance over particullates but does not enforce waste sanitation requirements on CAFOs. And Americans eat cheeseburgers at chain stores which waste electricity, destroy the landscape, expand low wage jobs, and to use your euphemism, kill people, while railing against power plants. Right.

                The investors share the same mindset you have. Why should we give AEP any money? (If they can't guarantee a return.)

                They can't guarantee a return due to regulatory edict.

                Specific regulations. Below is AEPs wind power regulatory edict change request:

                First, look around you:

                The United States continues to experience transmission bottlenecks that compel the excessive use of older, less efficient power plants.

                They will move the grid into other-than-coal sectors when:

                Transmission grid capacity constraints must be eliminated to ensure a fair, vibrant and open market that gives us the flexibility to deliver economic and environmentally friendly energy to consumers.

                I am for regulation.

                Certain regulations currently in place keep companies like AEP from investing in alternative energy. That's not asking you and me to give them money or to radomly deregulate.

                Follow the path of wind energy from the perspective of AEP:

                One of the biggest long term barriers in the adoption of wind energy to meet this growing demand is the physical limitations on the nation’s current electric transmission system.

                The nation's bulk transmission system is
                currently inadequate to deliver energy from remote wind resource areas to electrical load centers; located mainly on the East and West coasts.

                Because the southeastern United States is deficient in significant, developable wind resources, no 765 kV lines have been proposed for that region.

                "Transmission infrastructure is a critical component in the development of wind generation."

                And here are the two words encompassing why they won't do more than a conceptual proposal, regulatory edict.

                It is also difficult to advance from incremental transmission planning to a larger long-term, multi-purpose strategic plan that crosses jurisdictional and corporate boundaries. One of the singular difficulties with wind generation is the remote location of the resources. Because of this, transmission and generation planning cannot be divorced from each other and limited to only few years in to the future, yet joint coordination of such requests is difficult and sometimes prohibited by regulatory edict.

                You want to change AEP? Do it by looking at those regulatory edicts and make changes there. In the meantime do not support the nation's largest polluters, CAFOs.

                •  CAFOs are bad but they are hardly the (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel

                  nation's largest polluters. That would be coal plants and refineries. They produce toxins which directly kill people. Coal kills in a number of ways, and people aren't even aware of it. Not to mention developmental problems. Then add CO2.

                  As Adam said, decouple profit from electricity generation to make it profitable to conserve.

                  •  CAFOs are the nation's largerst polluters (0+ / 0-)

                    when you take into account all the aspects, the retention ponds, the petroleum-based feed which pesticides and fertilizers run off causing communities to issues drinking water alerts, the trucking to slaughter, the trucking to distribution networks, the packaging and the food grown in those CAFOs kills slowly over time.

      •  If they don't make money they can't invest (0+ / 0-)

        If their fleet is three quarters coal and the government is making it easier for them to invest in it then they will, they use the money to keep the aging unprofitable plants running -- because there's demand from Americans who will not cut back. People insist on building homes that are not energy efficient with more square footage than reasonably necessary for example.

        You wish for AEP to retire some coal plants? Make it easier for them to get return for investors in their other plants.  

  •  Thanks for keeping this in the forefront (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fiona West, CcVenussPromise

    for all to see.  We've all been hoping Obama would change his tune on "clean coal", once elected.  Glad to see Al Gore is starting an info blitz--good to have the link--thanks!

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:17:45 AM PST

  •  great diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Fiona West

    Linked at MyDD and at the Iowa progressive community blog Bleeding Heartland.

    My only concern with the campaign is their suggestion that carbon-dioxide emissions are the only thing making coal dirty. There are other health and environmental problems with coal too.

  •  Illinois was 1/2 way to building the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    first clean coal plant in the world, with the best technology, and 2 yrs ago, before the Nov. Elections, Bush Admin pulled all funding.

    Never said why. I suspect Big Oil & Cheney
    and I also suspect the technology was far harder than originally thought.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:45:43 AM PST

    •  Number of things ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IndySteve, RunawayRose

      uncontained cost increases, I believe (though it has been awhile since I've looked at).  

      •  An energy PhD I know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        has repeatedly bashed her head over our funding, then defunding promising fusion technologies and experimental efforts right at the verge of success. She said the coal plant was a huge, very welcome experiment, one that would teach how to make them work, cheaper, better, faster and cleanly. The funding cut reminded her of fusion technology.

        Now that tokamacs are done for, and other promising technologies continue to advance, I wonder if Bush will cut funding for them in the next 48 days.

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:55:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pointing to a huge problem ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the uncertain and uneven funding profile for energy research (and development) over the past 40 years ... along with scrambling for surviving, rather than thriving, funding for the research elements.

        •  Bull. That coal plant was boondoggle.... (0+ / 0-)

          and even Bushco. realized it was pouring funds down a rathole. Public funds are NOT unlimited. Pouring billions into a public project as risky and unsettled as dirty coal means those funds are NOT available for renewables. Lots of energy Phd. folks are in the funding pipeline for their pet projects. Doesn't mean we should fund them. There are tradeoffs. Be glad they cancelled that boondoggle.

          Let private investors fund the construction of the plants if it's so promising. Don't forget they also want US (the public) to assume all liability. Highly compressed CO2 in underground caverns MAY have a tendency to leak up into basements and houses. CO2 does kill you.

    •  Not only far harder, but not ready for prime time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      and extremely costly. Now a private utility is trying to do it in Indiana, Duke Energy at Edwardsport, only they have no technology and no economically feasible way to separate the carbon and to store it. Cost has nearly doubled to $2.3 billion for a fairly small coal plant.

      Of course, they couldn't get the private funding for such a risky venture so our wonderful Gov wants to give them millions of our public funds while cutting education and other social services.

    •  There's no such thing as clean coal. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, flecktones

      Tell the people in WV that coal is clean, when they watch as mountaintops are blown to smithereens, and the toxic wastes poison the countryside.

      It's an abomination, from the time it's mined to the time it's burned. Leave it in the ground.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:23:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cut oil first. Econ, Enviro, National Security (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Unfortunately, cutting oil is US No. 1 priority.  For use to increase energy efficiency by 50% to match Europe and Japan, we need to focus first on cutting oil use by 50%.

    1. National Security - no Middle East oil wars, terrorism.
    1. Economic - no $500B oil trade deficit, new jobs and industry.
    1. Environmental - it will cut US green house gas emissions by 50%.

    Cutting coal use is important but it has to take a back seat to cutting oil use.

    •  Coal kills more people than oil does, at least (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, A Siegel

      in the hospital settings. Coal causes acid rain, mercury in fish, asthma, COPD, and cancer in countless thousands of people every year.

      Getting rid of coal should be a top priority, the CO2 produced is just one small part of its deleterious effects.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:21:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Getting rid of the toxic food system (0+ / 0-)

        is another simultaneous priority. It kills more people than any coal plant.

        To paraphrase Michael Pollan, we need to bring the food system into the 21st century and return it to solar.

        All this railing against coal is understandable and correct but we are not doing very much to end the petroleum-based food system and we should be. I'll add that food from the toxic food system is even served in hospitals.

        •  Any reason we can't (0+ / 0-)

          just kill all 3 at once?

          •  Yes, we have a slight chance with food (0+ / 0-)

            depending on who Prez-elect Obama chooses for Ag Secretary. So far, it's been a somewhat disappointing list. But there's good news:

            While the Secretary of Agriculture sets the tone of the entire Department, it is the programs within USDA that can go far to push forward or inhibit sustainability. These programs are run by Administrators, Chiefs, Regional Directors and Deputy Under Secretaries, and mostly answer to Under Secretaries. We need (and can get) awesome people in these positions.

            see the Ethicurean blogfor details and links.

      •  Oil wars, terrorism, trade deficit bigger threat (0+ / 0-)

        and more immediate threat to US national security.

        Oil needs to come first because it is a more direct threat to US national survival including health. All burning hydrocarbons produce the environmental and health problems.

  •  Best of luck, getting pragmatic Obama (0+ / 0-)

    to address the realities of coal and gas industries' influence in America. That would be change we need.

  •  When nuclear ..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, shpilk

    ...... is considered in the mix of energy sources it is VITAL that all the costs, including future, are factored in.  As yet this is not the case and we are developing yet another problem for future generations just to ease our present discomfort.

    "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

    by gerbilmark on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:50:53 AM PST

  •  Cleaning Coal Wastes Ecologically (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    John Todd, one of the founders of New Alchemy Institute and an expert in ecological waste treatment systems, won the first Buckminster Fuller Challenge for his proposal to use ecological systems to clean coal wastes.  He is currently raising money to do more experiments on the process, an expensive proposition as coal wastes are rated as toxic wastes and require special handling.  You can contribute (a great Xmas present to Gaia and the future) by contacting Ocean Arks International.

    John's proposal is at

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 09:51:12 AM PST

  •  If it is carbon based (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it has no future. Uranium is ok if we send the waste somewhere off the planet. We could rename Uranus to His Anus Cheney and send it there. Then, the big Dick will live in infamy. Now that is a real energy plan.

    "This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure." W.C.

    by Wicket on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:10:45 AM PST

  •  What about Coal Gassification... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think this is not vaporware and is doable as part of an energy independence strategy...

    Obama/Biden'08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

    by dvogel001 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:13:58 AM PST

    •  Both coal and oil .... (0+ / 0-)
      .... contain a multitude of really useful chemicals which CAN be safely exploited .....  just don't BURN the f***ers!

      "If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself." - Bakunin

      by gerbilmark on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:28:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Coal gasification is the basis of the "clean" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, limpidglass

      coal myth. It still uses dirty coal which is destroying mountains and streams, and while it does reduce the mercury and other pollutants going up the stack, it does not eliminate them. Of course, they still exist and must be "disposed" of.

      And a coal gas. plant doesn't do anything about the CO2. That involves another technology which is not economically available. Then you've got to store the CO2 somewhere -- another expensive, unproven technology. IT is all a pipe dream from start to finish.

      Finally, it is much more expensive. The utilities want us to pay for them in advance rather than finding private capital to fund it. Why won't private investors fund it? For all the risky reasons above. And the coal proponents also want us to burn coal in our autos through coal to liquid gas programs. They are relentless liars.

      •  In the short run this is a national security... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        issue so I would respectfully disagree that Coal Gassification should be off the table...when we get to the point where say 50% of our electricity is non-carbon based then we can start converting/closing some coal fired plants...

        Obama/Biden'08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

        by dvogel001 on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:50:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You say that coal gas doesn't do anything (0+ / 0-)

        about CO2, but that completely misses the enormous increase in efficiency gasification enables over a fluidized bed.  So, in fact, you produce considerably less CO2 per watt, along with less pollution.

        Gasification is also a lot more proven than CCS.  Yes, it is expensive, but so is solar and wind.  Like all clean and renewable energy options, private investors will fund it when it starts costing more to emit carbon into the atmosphere.

        It is best to stop bickering over this and get to the business of pressuring the government to create a cost penalty for CO2 emissions.

  •  Given a choice between (0+ / 0-)

    nuclear fission based power and coal, I'd take nuclear fission based power, anytime.

    But thank god, the answer does not have to be 'binary'. Reduction in electrical demand has taken lowered the pressure to build new power plants.

    We have a golden opportunity with the 3 automakers in crisis in Detroit. Rather than bail them out, Congress should simply ante up and buy them out - all 3 of them for the values posted on the exchanges today.

    Fire every last executive from all of the big 3 and break up the plants into work units.

    Change the production lines from SUVs to building hybrids and vehicles that run on biodiesel and E85.

    Mass produce stills to sell to small businesses and consumers to make their own ethanol and biodiesel from waste plant materials. The government should offer loans to buy these, to consumers and businesses.  

    Mass produce passive solar to capture solar energy to hear water for potable use [reducing US electrical demand by about 10%] and heating [reducing US electrical and oil demand by another 10 to 15% at least]. Again, the government should offer loans to buy these, to consumers and businesses.  

    Detroit stays employed [I'd wager they'd be so busy, they'd have to hire a hell of a lot of people], we reduce electrical demand and importation of oil and gas.

    Plants currently burning coal should be mandated by the government to cofire a certain percentage of biomass, ethanol or biodiesel with it, with a goal towards phasing out the coal industry by 2030.

    2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

    by shpilk on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:16:47 AM PST

  •  vaporware (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    and so much worse!  at least if vaporware doesn't materialize, it's just a pipe dream, but if clean coal doesn't materialize and we continue to use coal, it's a very dirty and ugly future.

  •  No Nukes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    canyonrat, taraka das

    Nuclear Power, whatever you think of it, is a reality today and a real option for tomorrow.

    That's typical of the insistently blind mindset of pro-nukes people. In fact, if you think that nukes are much too expensive, risky and dirty, then it is not a real option for tomorrow, or even for today.

    That is a cold, hard fact.

    But pro-nukes people will say anything, however it violates any logic, to keep nukes on the table. It's left to sensible people to see that, and turn a half century of experience with lies about nukes into straight thinking about never doing it again.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 10:47:43 AM PST

    •  Nukes are expensive, too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      To this day, nuclear power is federally subsidized.

      And use of it has still made electricity more expensive!

      •  Nukes Make More CO2 than Natural Gas Does (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        taraka das

        According to Mike Diesendorf:

        Mining, milling, uranium enrichment, atomic fuel production, power station construction and operation, storage and reprocessing of spent fuel, long-term management of radioactive waste and closing down old power stations all require the burning of fossil fuels, he says.

        "Most of the energy inputs to the full life cycle of atomic fuel come from fossil fuels and are therefore responsible for CO2 emissions," Dr Diesendorf writes in this month's edition of the Australasian Science magazine.
        For lower grade uranium ores, greenhouse gas emissions outweighed those produced by an equivalent gas-fired power station, Dr Diesendorf said.

        Now, the rest of the natural gas lifecycle from mining to emissions surely also sends more CO2 into the atmosphere. So the nuke overall likely do contribute less CO2 to the atmosphere than natural gas system does. But even being in the same range as natural gas CO2 means that all these lies about "nukes are CO2-free" must be resisted along with all the other lies about nukes, like "too cheap to measure" and "don't increase weapons proliferation".

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:46:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Whatever you think of it ..." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Nuclear power plants actually produce power and are low GHG.  I am not asserting them as preferred or first in priority, but they are a reality ... and, if it comes down to either / or (which is not the choice I want/see/advocate), nuclear power wins clearly over coal.

      •  Not An Option (0+ / 0-)

        You just said that no matter what one thinks of nukes, they're an option for the future. That is false. Only people who are pro-nukes think that they are necessarily an option, even if other people think they must be eliminated.

        Nukes are also not low GHG. But that's not at all what I'm talking about; you're changing the subject.

        The cost:benefit tradeoffs of nukes are arguable on either side, though only one side is correct in net effect. But the assertion that people who are against nukes don't matter in whether they're an option for the future is just plain wrong. In the same way that all the unilateral assertions by nukes boosters are typically wrong.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 11:49:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fossil fuel follies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    The idea of expanding our use of coal for energy production is not feasible even if we can eliminate or greatly reduce the environmental problems created by it's mining, use and waste products.

    Why? Because the renewable sources that we can and should tap will require expanding our industrial capacity to build windmills, rails, infrastructure, etc. We are going to need steel for that, and for steel, we need coal.

    Tapping further into coal for energy will make coal more expensive and thus, hamper the industrial methods to create a truly renewable infrastructure.

    There are technological advances which could revolutionize materials production and replace our dependence on coal for steel. But that's likely further off in the future.

    While I'm at it, why does Pickens think using natural gas as an alternative to gasoline is a viable alternative? Anyone who has received a winter heating bill has to know the idea is crazy. Can you imagine how expensive natural gas would be if we used it for transportation as well as heating and cooking?

    •  You're right that we need coal for steel. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taraka das

      Isn't it needed for working with other metals and for some other industrial processes as well?  So we can reduce coal use but not eliminate it in the near future.

      Pickens is focused a lot on getting away from foreign owned oil, so the fact that natural gas is available in this country is a big argument for him. It would be grotesque, however, to switch to natural gas for transportation.  I agree with you on that.

    •  In the PRC ... (0+ / 0-)

      they are rapidly, in many plants, reducing the GHG footprints of cement and steel manufacturing with ever more CHP associated with the coal used for the manufacturing process.

      While I see a path to eliminate coal from the electrical grid, I don't understand enough the manufacturing process and where the carbon / such from the coal itself, rather than simply the heat/power from the burning coal, matters for the production processes.

      •  If we need steel (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        And we intend to make steel the same way we have made it previously, then I suggest two things:

        1. Some kind of filering system to reduce the emissions
        1. Co-generation. If we're going to create all that heat to make steel, then we might as well use it to generate electricity at the same time.
  •  "Clean Coal" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Woman, A Siegel, Fiona West

    From what I understand, sequestration would involve polluting the ocean and the groundwater instead of the air.

    Capturing the carbon waste from burning coal or other things isn't a bad idea, though, if we're going to use the carbon instead of dumping it.

    Nanotech advances utilizing fullerene could create abundant, cheap materials that mimic the properties of other elements. Basically, the technology involves doping fullerene chains with a small quatity of the desired element, creating a larger quantity of "mimic" material that does the job of the element with a smaller quantity of it.

    I don't favor "clean coal" for this purpose or for energy. But, we might find a use for soot and ash created by incinerators this way.

  •  Energy independence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    If we make homes and businesses net energy producers, then we create an abundance of energy close to market and eliminate the waste from shipping energy long distances over wires.

    This approach is more desirable than creating big wind farms, big solar arrays or big biomass plants.

    •  Well ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoenix Woman, taraka das

      Potentially / viably want to be doing both.  Moving HVDC greatly lowers the lost rate and enables CSTP from the southwest to power the upper Midwest when the wind isn't blowing and renewables from both to power the East Coast. But, distributed is powerful and worth pursuing/increasing.

      •  Yup. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, taraka das

        Putting a solar panel on every house/garage might work, but I doubt you could power a big apartment complex or condo that way.  Also, most people can't afford to own enough panels to power their homes, much less their homes AND cars.

        There is no single "silver bullet".  Wind farms are the most commercially feasible bullet that works everywhere (solar gets less feasible the further from the equator one gets, though with 3D solar tech that could soon change).

        Visit for Minnesota news as it happens.

        by Phoenix Woman on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 12:21:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why not? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel

          I doubt you could power a big apartment complex or condo that way.

          Don't they have lots of roof space?

          most people can't afford to own enough panels to power their homes, much less their homes AND cars.

          That's why the government has to subsidize the change. Just like they did for the present infrastructure. The utility companies like to pretend we are paying for the use of property they own, but that ain't exactly true.

          I have a novel proposal. Cancel all mortgages. Send everyone the titles. They just have to agree to pick up part of the cost to make their home energy independent.

          There's more to that mortgage cancellation idea, of course.

  •  Clean coal is totally fantasyland - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    for one thing, even if you could burn it cleanly, there is no way to get it out of the ground cleanly.  The idea of sequestering the carbon from burning coal is much like the idea of a perpetual motion machine - coal IS sequestered carbon.

    Now there is actually a more than less clean way to utilize coal - bioconversion with the BRI Energy technology.  A BRI Energy plant takes whatever feedstock it is using, converts it to a plasma, cools it (generating electricity from the waste heat), and feeds it to a bacteria that converts it to ethanol or syngas - coal is one of the many carbonaceous materials that can be used as feedstock.  However, last I heard, they only broke ground on the first commercial plant this year.  (Having been turned down by the R-controlled Congress of 2005 for loan guarantees.)  And there's STILL no clean way to get coal out of the ground.

  •  Issues of decommisioning coal fired plants (4+ / 0-)

    We have a 50+ year old coal burning power plant in our area. There has been a movement to decommission it but there are issues that make it difficult.

    1. Coal generated electricity is about 1/2 the price, at the power plant, than gas.
    1. The plant employs 100+ persons.
    1. The plant pays taxes to the city.
    1. It has been needed to meet peak power demand, but that has decreased over the last few years.

    The plant has made a statement in the local newspaper that it intends to remain open forever.

    The case for closing the plant is strong.

    1. The plant emits CO2, an enormous amount.
    1. The plant is a cause of health problems from the toxins emitted from the smokestack.
    1. The plant is past it's useful life and is a hazard for its workers.
    1. It sits on prime deep-water harbor land. There are much better and appropriate uses for the site.

    Getting movement on this issue is proving to be difficult. This plant has been contributing to global warming for over 50 years. As sea levels rise, the plant itself will be flooded and the boilers extinguished, but not until it has done significant damage to the ecosystem.

    I suspect that the relatively cheap coal fired electricity will be overwhelmed by the cost of the damage of sea level rise. Furthermore, I suspect that the fraction of global contribution of CO2 emitted by this plant will cause ultimate damage that is way in excess of the value of the power generated during the life of the plant. Can we prove this?

  •  Far too many people here have been.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, FishOutofWater

    influenced by the "clean coal" advertising campaign of the industry. It's unbelievable. The industry pours millions into a bogus PR campaign and you start seeing their message parroted here.

    Think. Do research. Don't parrot the message.

  •  Coal is going to be (0+ / 0-)

    a part of our energy mix for a long time.  Many of you who criticize "clean coal" seem to think that it is simply a monolithic creation of the coal companies and utilities.  But it is not.

    Coal gasification can be thought of as cleaner coal. It greatly improves the use of coal and should be supported by anyone who is interested in cleaning up the air and impacting global warming.  You can learn about it here.

    I would advise that people at least keep capture technology distinct from gasification in their criticisms.  Don't try to kill a promising technology that can really impact the environment.

    •  gasification doesn't remove the I (0+ / 0-)

      think your statement that it impacts GW is off base. Gasification plants are much more expensive to build and operate than trad. dirty coal plants. To build a bunch of them on the "promise" of capture and storage technology (which isn't economically available now or likely for the next decade, if ever) is dangerous. I'd accept that gasification is "less dirty" but even it isn't clean. And if you consider CO2 a pollutant, it isn't even less dirty.

      •  Coal gasification produces less CO2 per kW. (0+ / 0-)

        It is a more efficient process than a fluidized bed, because you can use combined cycle instead of a simple steam cycle.  You can also put fuel cells into the picture, and increase the efficiency even further.

        If you produce less CO2 for each unit of energy produced, you favorably impact global warming.

        Gasification is more expensive than traditional coal, but so is everything else.  The answer to that is to make it more expensive to emit CO2 into the air.

        •  The cost of electricity produced by wind (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is already approaching trad. coal. And solar is coming down fast as coal gasif. is rising. Add to that capture technology and storage (with huge pipelines and pumping miles underground) and you've got high rising costs of coal. It is a rathole down which we should not be pouring public funds.

          The legal and liability issues of storage haven't even been discussed but they are also barriers.

          As Gore said today on NPR, "clean coal" is an industry mirage.

          •  There is a difference between upfront costs (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            and generating costs.  The upfront costs are the expensive ones for IGCC.  (And for wind, if you consider the power grid an upfront cost.)

            Also, don't conflate IGCC and CCS.

            Look, I think that coal is on its way out, but IGCC could be a decent step on its way out the door.  Neither you nor I nor Al Gore is certain about the economics.  Best thing to do is to simply make it more expensive to emit CO2 (or to simply cap the total amount of CO2 that can be emitted), and let the power generators figure out where the economics work best.

            In the meantime, suggesting that research funding ought to be cut off for a promising technology that has the potential to massively cut our CO2 production is shortsighted.  Let's focus on what's important and get the government to cap CO2 emissions.

        •  Actually ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to be clear, gasification is not a process to "favorably impact global warming" but to reduce the damage from each additional kWh relative to traditional coal-fired electricity.

          •  To be fair, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            what I said was:

            If you produce less CO2 for each unit of energy produced, you favorably impact global warming.

            which doesn't mention any particular technology.  But I agree that the phrasing is clumsy, and I'll try to be more specific next time.

  •  Nice to see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    an enviro diary on the rec list.

    Every time I see one of the "clean coal" ads, I immediately think of Santa Claus and nuclear fusion.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 02:19:36 PM PST

  •  My problem with coal, clean or otherwise, is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    not especially with the technology. It is that we are mobilizing carbon that has been in the ground for millennia upon millennia INTO the atmosphere where it has NOT BEEN PART OF THE CARBON CYCLE. We are adding carbon continuously into the atmosphere that's never been there before and we need to remove it if we are to bring the atmosphere back to a sustainable level. It is depressing that so far we haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.  And there is enough coal in the world supply to last a few hundred years but we will probably asphyxiate for lack of oxygen from burning all that coal given the level of deforestation we have reached.

    I wish we could put a complete moratorium on coal burning of any kind anywhere. And if we end up destroying ourselves in the process then we sure as hell deserve it.

  •  I agree with your views on coal, but (0+ / 0-)

    I strongly disagree on nuclear. You have no reason to give my views any weight so how about the NRDC?

    •  On nuclear power ... (0+ / 0-)

      point is not whether I like or dislike it, that I am supporting or opposing it, but that it is an actual/existing low GHG option that can be acted on as part of an overall power mix.  Putting aside all the very serious issues of waste and cost, nuclear power is not vaporware.

      •  More on nuclear power (0+ / 0-)

        From your answer I have the impression you didn't read the NRDC statement, so this is how it starts:

        New nuclear power plants are unlikely to provide a significant fraction of future U.S. needs for low-carbon energy Until building new nuclear power plants becomes economically viable without government subsidies, and the nuclear industry demonstrates it can further reduce the continuing security and environmental risks of nuclear power—including the misuse of nuclear materials for weapons and radioactive contamination from nuclear waste—expanding nuclear power is not a sound strategy for diversifying America’s energy portfolio and reducing global warming pollution. NRDC favors more practical, economical, and environmentally sustainable approaches to reducing both U.S. and global carbon emissions, focusing on the widest possible implementation of end-use energy-efficiency improvements, and on policies to accelerate the commercialization of clean, flexible, renewable energy technolgies.

        For other objections I'll refer you to a comment I made about 5 months ago:

        •  Sigh ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          1.  I am aware of NRDC, NEI, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, McCain, Heritage, etc ... on nuclear power.  I am not a "supporter" but am, to be honest, slightly agnostic in the face of coal's threats. Check out my conceptually plan.
          1.  As for your linked comment, there is great work by Joe Romm laying out the very high costs of new nuclear power, using FPL as an example.
          1. Even so, again, nuclear power is -- unlike clean coal -- a reality and is legitimate to be part of the discussion space as to a low-GHG power source. For many reasons, it may not be an option that merits pursuit but, again, unlike "clean coal" it is an actual reality.  
          •  It's going to take more than a sigh (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            to discourage me. ;-)

            I lived in New Mexico in the '70's. They deal with the front end and the back end of the fuel cycle there. I've seen the 30 million ton piles of tailings that dot the landscape in the Four Corners region and that have been blowing in the wind and washing away in the rain for decades. I studied the draft EIS for WIPP (an impressive pile of paper about 14 inches tall). I worked briefly at Hanford and Idaho Falls and I'm aware of the problems they have had there. I've made tech support calls to LANL and I attended a community seminar there after TMI. In fact I had a Q clearance from LANL for some years. So let's assume that I have some slight grounding in the subject. I claim no more than that.

            But I'll go easy on you. I'll not talk about the front end or the back end of the fuel cycle for now. I'll talk about Palo Verde instead. It's the only nuclear power plant licensed since TMI. We were assured that the industry had learned important lessons from TMI that would be incorporated into Palo Verde. Seems they didn't learn enough.


            In an Arizona Republic article dated February 22, 2007, it was announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had decided to place Palo Verde into Category 4, making it the most monitored nuclear power plant in the United States. The decision was made after the NRC discovered that electrical relays in a diesel generator did not function during tests in July and September 2006.

            The finding came as the "final straw" for the NRC, after Palo Verde had several citations over safety concerns and violations over the preceding years, starting with the finding of a 'dry pipe' in the plant's emergency core-cooling system in 2004.[9]

            So there lies the crux problem with nuclear power. I don't care how much the technology has improved. I don't care how good the design is. The plants will still be run by imperfect people who are quite capable of turning a minor problem into a catastrophe.

            Yeah, I'd have to travel some extreme distance to be agnostic on nuclear power.

            Now then, could you give me a direct link to your conceptual plan?

            •  My 'agnostic' ... (0+ / 0-)

              is that I know enough to know that I do not know enough to claim expertise, either 'strongly' supporting or viscerally opposed.  All things being equal, I would prefer to have (relatively) benign renewables rather than any nuclear in the process. But, if I throw coal into the mix, my understanding of the risks / costs / benefits places nuclear as a preferred option over coal.  But ... as laid out in how America can break its coal addiction, a reasonable (achievable) plan has nuclear power playing only a portion (perhaps 20%) of the role in ending coal in the electricity system. And, well, if other arenas (energy efficiency, CHP, renewable energy sources) 'out perform', then perhaps even that additional nuclear power might be necessary.  But, my priority, looking at GHG, is retiring out fossil fuels ASAPP (as soon as practically possible), which for the electricity grid, I believe, falls somewhere between Gore's 10 year and Google's/Eric Schmit's (and my) 20 years.

              •  Thanks for the link (0+ / 0-)

                Caveat...I have a strong aversion to flat assertions with no documentation or references. That having been said you have the start of an outline, that when fleshed out, could be a valuable resource if you have the time and energy to do it. There is at least one energy source you have overlooked.

                1. Resource Size: The MIT report calculated the United States total EGS resources from 3-10 km to be over 13,000 zettajoules, of which over 200 ZJ would be extractable, with the potential to increase this to over 2,000 ZJ with technology improvements - sufficient to provide all the world's current energy needs for several millennia[2]. The report found that total geothermal resources, including hydrothermal and geo-pressured resources, to equal 14,000 ZJ - or roughly 140,000 times total U.S. annual primary energy use.
                1. Development Potential: With a modest R&D investment of $1 billion over 15 years (or the cost of one coal power plant), the report estimated that 100 GWe (gigawatts of electricity) or more could be installed by 2050 in the United States. The report further found that the "recoverable" resource (that accessible with today's technology) to be between 1.2-12.2 million MW for the conservative and moderate recovery scenarios respectively.
                1. Cost: The report found EGS could be capable of producing electricity for free. EGS costs were found to be sensitive to four main factors: (All of which could be government subsidized) 1) Temperature of the resource 2) Fluid flow through the system measured in liters/second 3) Drilling Costs 4) Power conversion efficiency. This technology has the potential to power the world at little or no cost to the population.
                •  Re EGS ... (0+ / 0-)

                  When I orginally wrote this, the EGS (and low-temperature geothermal) looked to be a decades-out option. A number of things (including Google's investment, some hints out of UTC's low-temperature activities at Chena Springs, Alaska, etc) have made it seem as if EGS and low-temperature geothermal might be a real/viable option in the near term.

                  Yes ... by the way, I am not necessarily thrilled at the no footnotes/documentation, but it really was (is) meant as what you noted:  an outline as to plausibility, rather than claims that this is THE specific path forward.

                •  free??? (0+ / 0-)

                  That supposed summary of the MIT report is such an absolute crock -- it should be scrubbed from wikipedia.  

                  Please explain how we get "free" geothermal power?  I see one potential scenario:  magic elves drill the super deep wells using equipment that built from fairy dust, they then create the water out of good wishes and pump it into these wells, they build the heat engines, and the oompah loompahs operate the whole thing.  Am I getting warm?  

                  p.s. The actual MIT report projects that EGS can become cost competitive or perhaps even slightly cheaper than existing alternative generation sources once the technology matures.  they would never claim anything as ridiculous as saying it will be free.

                  •  Okay, but (0+ / 0-)

                    I don't think anyone implied "free" in the sense that you're using the word.

                    It is "free" in that no fuel is consumed.

                    I would agree that the phrase "little or no cost to the population" is highly questionable.

                    The Chena Springs project cited by A Siegel is remarkable in that off the shelf components could be used, but I don't expect that would be true for most sites. Still, it is interesting and has me wondering how far that concept can be extended. Perhaps multiple and modular 400 KW plants?

                    •  read the quote (0+ / 0-)

                      You are right -- no one "implied" it would be free -- they said it would be free directly --

                      The report found EGS could be capable of producing electricity for free

                      This is not out of context.  This is the misleading quote that caused my comment.

                      Chena hot springs is completely different than the deep (3-5 miles) well geothermal the MIT report is talking about.  I've been to Chena and got to soak in their spring fed natural outdoor hot tubs in mid-December -- it was 30 below zero outside but the water almost too hot to sit in -- that's a resource...

                      •  LOL! (0+ / 0-)

                        At the risk of repeating myself, I'll repeat myself.;-)

                        Free as in no fuel is consumed.

                        So stop being pedantic. I'm trying hard to agree with you, in part at least.;-)

                        I think we share the same values and there's no reason to make trouble between friends.

                        So tell me, was the Chena Springs plant in operation while you were there and did you get to see it?

                        •  No (0+ / 0-)

                          I was there is 1993 and was actually working on training contractors for efficiency upgrades -- not that they need energy efficiency there since all of the buildings are heated with free hot spring water.  Their real issue was moisture problems as the humidity levels were very high due to hot wet crawlspaces.  Really cool place to be in mid winter though...

                          In terms of this disagreement-- I wasn't being pedantic at all -- I really think most people would read "free" to mean costing nothing or virtually  nothing.  Just read it -- they say it could be capable of producing electricity for free.   If the meaning was "fuel free" then why would they say "could" - isn't it a certainty?  And why would you place it under the heading "Cost" if it doesn't have to do with cost.  It is a very misleading statement.

                          I most certainly wouldn't say that PV cells or wind turbines produce electricity for free and no one should claim that EGS does either.  You could say "fuel-free" but that is really quite different.   Language does matter.

                          •  In the universe of this dialog (0+ / 0-)

                            there are only the two of us and neither of us think it costs nothing.

                            I really think most people would read "free" to mean costing nothing or virtually  nothing.

                            Of course it could be that the two of us aren't a representative sample of "most people".

                            Language does matter, as does attitude.

                  •  Thanks for calling out the "free" line (0+ / 0-)

                    I was 'put off' by that as well (in both the original report release, greeted with excitement here at DKos with a massively overrecommended diary treating it as Silver Bullet; and subsequent quoting).  Too many things to comment on throughout this diary ... didn't engage on material inside a quoted box.

                    I don't think either you nor Just Bob have any illusions of free electricity (would EGS provide electricity too cheap to meter???).

                    And, through thread, thanks for your perspective on Chena Springs.

            •  By the way ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Just Bob

              the "sigh" was because we were not fully communicating, seeming to talk past each other. To try to explain in a different way: the issue, of how I wrote the phrase in the diary, was not to be 'for' nuclear power but that it is an actual, existing option for (over decades) reducing GHG emissions. It might not be (for any number of reasons, from cost to mining risks to proliferation risk to ...) the preferred choice but, unlike "Clean Coal", it is not the fantasy of "vaporware".

              And, PS:  If you don't gather, I appreciate your bringing substance to the discussion (both your background / expertise and the links/material you've provided).

  •  I love the canary-in-a-coal-mine logo n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel
skybluewater, Bob Johnson, Mark Sumner, RichM, gpclay, myriad, Ed in Montana, zeke L, vicki, tmo, dwellscho, RF, Aeolus, Phoenix Woman, taylormattd, ogre, Fran for Dean, teacherken, Trendar, glitterscale, ScientistMom in NY, theboz, RunawayRose, Wintermute, billlaurelMD, Planet B, rhubarb, eeff, willyr, Page van der Linden, marjo, theran, shpilk, BenGoshi, bumblebums, mataliandy, silence, Plan9, sardonyx, Scott in NAZ, raines, bronte17, powerplay40, nyceve, SecondComing, MD patriot, OCD, Jeffrey Feldman, eddieb061345, nudger, peace voter, sayitaintso, Scoopster, retrograde, buckhorn okie, roses, javelina, itsmitch, CodeTalker, bincbom, BruinKid, oceanview, wader, Melanchthon, shirah, emmasnacker, danthrax, oldjohnbrown, fightorleave, by foot, Dr Colossus, Miss Jones, 2laneIA, GW Chimpzilla, desmoinesdem, HeyMikey, attydave, Neighbor2, count, airshipjones, WV Democrat, Curt Matlock, JayDean, Albanius, rickeagle, kd texan, BigBite, Timroff, faithfull, maggie sarah, pontechango, decitect, Jersey Joe, weelzup, rapala, Fabian, ManOnTheBench, pattyp, NoMoreLies, greycat, baccaruda, HudsonValleyMark, PBen, sap, ajsuited, Gary Norton, Mz Kleen, oregonj, Bill White, mojo workin, where4art, GreyHawk, lotlizard, blue jersey mom, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, benny05, bunsk, melvin, Asinus Asinum Fricat, xaxnar, CJnyc, begone, Mother Mags, Tin hat mafia, pico, buddabelly, danmac, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Pinko Elephant, RustyBrown, BlueInARedState, tobendaro, andydoubtless, Prognosticator, RoyT, smokeymonkey, buhdydharma, KenBee, The Wizard, NNadir, Magnifico, a gnostic, play jurist, campdurning, MJ via Chicago, global citizen, Ashaman, jasonbl, gatorcog, nilocjin, taraka das, imabluemerkin, plf515, ER Doc, Dinclusin, dirtfarmer, Andy30tx, TayTay, Turbonerd, Steve Bloom, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dianna, means are the ends, bstotts, Snarcalita, Picot verde, Temmoku, DBunn, tegrat, ammasdarling, One Pissed Off Liberal, catadromous, YoyogiBear, out of left field, Fredly, oklacoma dem, blue armadillo, dmh44, momoaizo, BruceMcF, terryhallinan, moosely2006, Marcus Graly, Downpuppy, FishOutofWater, SJLeonidas, CarmenC, londubh, Unbozo, davehouck, Strabo, bnasley, netguyct, mudslide, Junglered1, jnhobbs, gchaucer2, Joffan, madgranny, JML9999, keikekaze, JohnnyRook, gloryous1, Terra Mystica, TomP, cville townie, jgilhousen, MKinTN, chilipepper, chapter1, edison, parakinesis, limpidglass, Fiona West, Cat Servant, Rick Winrod, lineatus, wagdog, Mother of Zeus, Archangel, wvablue, beltane, monkeybrainpolitics, tofumagoo, dewley notid, TokenLiberal, rubine, Serpents Sorrow, Sierra Club, Uncle Bob, BYw, SteamPunkX, dont think, slathe, In her own Voice, forgore, wv voice of reason, Bule Betawi, multilee, Neon Vincent, An Affirming Flame, Stranded Wind, Tuscany, imchange, notrouble, Partisan Progressive, Daily Activist, Mercuriousss, dRefractor, zbbrox, bfitzinAR, hyper, allep10, nhDave, longtimewatcher, My Stupid Opinion, patrickz, dditt, Blue Blood, fidellio, El Ochito, CcVenussPromise, biggiefries, BlueColoradoSky, wvmom, msmo1918, marsokhod, Eddie L, Klaus, sullivanst, ItsSimpleSimon, DailyDrew, SoonerG, WattleBreakfast, Twoflower, Urtica dioica gracilis, elengul, kathleen518, nosleep4u, north coaster, raymichael, itzik shpitzik, Chuck Cook, TheNextDylan, elisathon, BicycleDave

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site