Climate Change: Republicans go from one LIE to another.

From the New York Times:


WASHINGTON — When John Barrasso, a Republican from oil and uranium-rich Wyoming who has spent years blocking climate change legislation, introduced a bill this year to promote nuclear energy, he added a twist: a desire to tackle global warming.

John Barrasso is a liar.

THIS IS THE NEXT STAGE OF CLIMATE DENIAL. Lying republican politicians telling lies about how they want to combat climate change. It’s all a lie, they’re just trying to avoid the fact that they are to blame for how bad things are already.

Don’t let the liars who made the problem so terrible, have a seat at the table.

26 responses to “Climate Change: Republicans go from one LIE to another.

  1. and we stop them how? They own the table in the USA

    • No, they don’t. They don’t even have clear title to Congress any more. And they have a disaster of a President who has done much to tear their party apart.

      If Democrats can avoid the well-rehearsed ‘circular firing squad’ formation, we have a good chance at regaining control of the federal government and starting to undo the Trumpian damage. Work like hell to ensure that happens, and give thanks that Trump is inept in proportion to his evil.

  2. iirc. Nuclear energy is the most expensive non-CO2 emitting option there is. So he is doing his fossil fuel masters a great service if he promotes the worst alternative to fossil fuels as “the solution”.

  3. Not so much they are trying to a avoid being called out on it, it seems they are trying to figure out on how they can profit from what they see as a global stupidity, that is that man can effect the biosphere so drastically. Professor Ugo Bardi makes mention of a similar thing in his blog

    https://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2019/05/climate-science-deniers-start-feeling.html

    It’s just Machevellian politics, plenty of wealthy Australian politicans have tried the faux care for the poor in an attempt to justify mining coal in Australia and then doubled down by suggesting a care for global warming because its comparatively clean coal.

    But you also see the same thing from those in the enviormental sector, advocating for Gas as it’s ‘cleaner’ than coal.

  4. Barasso is just trying on another pork barrel for size.

  5. mrkenfabian

    As if their decades of failing to support climate action is all a consequence of green-left politics opposing nuclear energy rather than due entirely to their own choice to turn aside from top level expert advice! Nonsense dressed up as a desire for “better climate solutions”.

    If US Republicans really accepted the science and really believed that nuclear was the best solution they would have policies that reflect that and they would fight for it – instead, at the first bit of political blow back and they cede a game they don’t really want to win. They want all rhetorical roads to lead back to fear of extremist politics – and anti-nuclear climate activists to be blamed for their own lack of courage and determination to fight for solutions.

    The notion that the whole climate and energy issue is created and led by extremist ideologues is one they have invested a lot in – the last thing they want is for ordinary people who lean Right to start treating it like it was legitimate and serious, and worse again to have them see the solutions as both achievable without economic ruin and compatible with free-market democracy and the rule of law.

    As long as the conservative-right put NOT fixing the climate problem ahead of fixing it their primary use for nuclear is as a rhetorical blunt instrument for whacking at pro-renewables climate advocacy, not fixing the climate problem.

  6. gcitytimes

    Congressional republicans who continue to deny climate change don’t necessarily have to want to protect the environment, or “give in” to the science behind anthropogenic climate change. Republicans can simply vote for energy policies that represent a cost savings; which tend to be renewable energy investments, over coal.

    The cost of producing energy with a renewable fuel vs. fossil fuels is dramatically lower when just the cost of producing electricity (marginal cost) is considered. When the costs of the negative externalities associated with fossil fuel production are added in with the LCOE*, the relative cost of renewable energy sources vs. fossil fuels is lower still.

    “Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competitiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-MWh cost (in discounted real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. 4 Key inputs to calculating LCOE include capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant.” – quote from https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf

    *Examples of levelized costs of energy include: up-front capital costs/ costs of initial investment (which are much higher for renewable energy than fossil fuel energy), marginal cost of the fuel source (which is much higher for fossil fuels, and almost nothing for free, abundant sources of renewable energy like solar and wind energy, and very low cost for hydro, geothermal, and biomass), cost of maintenance for the power plant/ energy farm/ dam, etc…, cost of transporting the fuel (again, zero for most renewable energy), costs associated with transmitting/ distributing the energy, insurance costs for the energy producing facility, etc…

    For every single component of LCOE, nuclear is the most expensive form of energy. The “good” thing about nuclear energy production is that there are little to no negative externalities with regard to the actual energy production, i.e. little to no GHG emissions…and you just have to find Yucca mountains to bury the radioactive waste so people aren’t exposed to potentially cancer-causing radiation…oh, and we have to hope that there’s not a Fukushima-type catastrophe. That said, 4th generation nuclear promises to be safe (if it ever gets built):
    https://www.greencitytimes.com/nuclear-one-necessary-energy-supply-to-fight-climate-change/

  7. David B. Benson

    AndyM, unfortunately nuclear power is the only dispatchable source avoiding carbon dioxide emissions available other than hydropower in a few locations in Asia. Wind power requires backup, typically via gas burners. The clearest indication of this practice is ERCOT Texas with its growing supply of gas turbines matching the growth in wind farms.

    Solar power, while not dispatchable, happens to be available at the time of day that the most electricity is used. Nonetheless some form of backup is required because of clouds. In the American southeast this will again be natural gas burners.

    Finally, much of the operating cost of nuclear power plants in the USA could be lowered by more sensible NRC rules; for example nuclear power stations do not require security personel numbering in the many hundreds nor so many simply filling out NRC forms.

    • Not true as stated, David–there are several, most notably including geothermal, and ‘plus-storage’ options. But I’d agree that scale is a serious issue, which is one reason I’d support keeping extant reactors online wherever it is safe to do so (and hopefully not economically ruinous). And yes, I’d support continued nuclear R & D as well. On the other hand, battery storage appears to be on a Moore’s Law type of cost trajectory, and can be developed very rapidly, so there’s that.

      I also think you’re overstating the backup requirements. Yes, it’s necessary as levels of RE penetration increase, but with adequate geographical dispersion, it’s far from being a one-to-one proposition. Already many markets are far beyond levels of penetration which we were, just a few years ago, being assured were the practical ‘limits’ beyond which lay the horrors of grid instability.

      I don’t think the main issue with nuclear power is operating cost; here in South Carolina, we spent $9 billion on the Summer expansion and never even got to ‘operating.’ And that’s not unique, though it is extreme; see recent experiences in Georgia, the UK, and Finland, where ongoing projects have not collapsed but nevertheless merit the description “hideously expensive.” (And way behind schedule.)

      But for what it’s worth, and off the top of my head, I’m not so sure that in a land where all manner of combat-style small arms (and sometimes not so small arms) are pretty readily available, and where terrorists are known to operate, and known to be seriously interested in acquiring nuclear weaponry, that the large security presence you describe at reactor sites is such a bad idea.

      Bottom line, to me: nuclear power is too slow and too expensive to develop to represent a viable solution to the crisis we face. But it will likely remain a component of the energy mix going forward.

      • gcitytimes

        New reactors can run on spent uranium and even thorium. 4th generation nuclear has entirely safe, cost efficient designs-
        https://www.greencitytimes.com/nuclear-one-necessary-energy-supply-to-fight-climate-change/

        Actually, the levelized cost of energy for new, advanced nuclear reactors is looking viable, as you can see in this chart-
        https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Components-of-levelized-cost-of-energy_fig2_322413239

        The only major problem with new nuclear plants, other than the potential for another Fukushima and/ or nuclear weapons proliferation, at least until 4th gen nuclear is ready to be produced and deployed, is the very high up-front capital cost of building new nuclear plants. The US Energy Information Administration estimated that for new nuclear plants in 2019 capital costs will make up 75% of the LCOE

      • 1) Where is the actual data that shows that nuclear costs can be reined in–let alone in time to build out a nuclear fleet that could address our current crisis? I don’t believe for a moment that we can come close to the French or Swedish track records, for multiple reasons, beginning with the fact that both are unitary states in which the central government has a lot more power than in federal systems such as ours. “State’s rights…”

        For that matter, it appears to me that the French example is mis-cited in the first place. The claim is that:

        France replaced almost all of its fossil-fueled electricity with nuclear power nationwide in just 15 years…

        However, that’s from start of construction on the first 3 reactors to completion of the ‘burst’ of 56 reactors:

        Work on the first three plants, at Tricastin, Gravelines, and Dampierre started the same year and France installed 56 reactors over the next 15 years.

        Before delving into the French record further, let’s establish the context of the US-French comparison. Currently, the US has ~99 reactors. So, if we in the US started construction today, and could match the French record, we’d have 105 reactors by 2036. That would increase the share of generation, presumably, from the current ~20%, to (generously) 32%. And literally, no-one knows what this might cost. There has not been a reactor built in the US in contemporary history; the SC Summer expansion cost $9 billion, literally for nothing, while Vogtle, in Georgia, is currently projected to run to $28 billion:

        https://finance.yahoo.com/news/southern-stock-bit-too-risky-153318589.html

        So, returning to France, why did I write above that I thought the 15-year claim was misleading? Read on:

        As a direct result of the 1973 oil crisis, on 6 March 1974 Prime Minister Pierre Messmer announced what became known as the ‘Messmer Plan’, a huge nuclear power program aimed at generating all of France’s electricity from nuclear power. At the time of the oil crisis most of France’s electricity came from foreign oil. Nuclear power allowed France to compensate for its lack of indigenous energy resources by applying its strengths in heavy engineering. The situation was summarized in a slogan: “In France, we do not have oil, but we have ideas.”

        (snip)

        …The plan envisaged the construction of around 80 nuclear plants by 1985 and a total of 170 plants by 2000.

        So, from the announcement of the Messmer Plan in 1973, it took 12 years to get to the construction stage–even though the plan called for the *completion* of ~50% more reactors than ever did get built, by the time that construction was started.

        That means, in turn, that if we start *planning* today, in the US, if we matched the French record, we’d increase our nuclear electric output by ~60% to that not-so-stunning 32% of total generation (assuming the counterfactual that nothing else changes, like, say, demand) in 2048–by which time, we’re already supposed to be carbon-neutral.

        I’d also note that the article seems rather behind the times WRT what is happening in RE today. They’ve caught on that “wind and solar are getting cheaper” (though that wording signally fails to capture the full force of that trend), but they seem oblivious to the emergence of battery storage as a real-world phenomenon:

        https://www.energy-storage.news/news/solar-and-storage-plants-chasing-down-gas-generators

    • gcitytimes

      Right, the initial capital costs with nuclear are expensive. During its operation, maintenance, and fuel (marginal) costs are relatively small components of the total cost with traditional-nuclear.http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2018/ph241/wang-k2/

      4th generation nuclear (theoretically) would be safe and the capital costs would be less expensive. 3rd gen nuclear and modular nuclear are safe(r) and also less expensive than traditional nuclear. 4th gen is still in development, but 3rd gen and modular nuclear have been deployed throughout the world. The World Nuclear Association reports the Europe, in particular, is moving ahead with fast reactor designs. WNA also reports that a few 4th gen nuclear demos will be deployed next decade-
      http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/generation-iv-nuclear-reactors.aspx

      • And I for one don’t object. But I think that if we think that the financial, political and infrastructural constraints–by which last I mean mostly labor force requirements–on building enough nuclear fast enough aren’t real ones, then we fall prey to a potentially dangerous delusion.

        The “nuclear is a silver bullet for emissions” case is always replete with “if only”–“if only US reactor design were more standardized,” “~we didn’t have such cumbersome safety regulations,” “~the public weren’t so irrationally afraid,” “~the political process were more rational, and the regulatory process less burdensome,” and above all, “~the financial risks weren’t so enormous.”

        One might well wish any and all of those things. But the facts are what they are, and while we can work to change some of them, it’s not going to happen over night. Or next year.

      • what doc said. yup

      • Michael D Sweet.

        The nuclear industry has not attempted to reply to Abbott 2012 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0096340212459124 in the Journal of Atomic Scientists where Abbott describes 15 reasons why it will never be practical to generate more than a small fraction of energy using nuclear. They must agree with his analysis.

        I have never seen a nuclear plan that includes the cost of decommissioning the plant. That is as much as building the plant. You can always make something look cheap by leaving off half of the cost.
        .
        The most optimistic nuclear plans only generate a fraction of electricity by 2050. All power is 4-5 times electricity. The rest of power must come from renewables. Nuclear does not work well with renewables. What is needed is storage not baseload.

        Most of the savings for modular plants appears to come from reduced safety features like the reduction of security to protect from terrorists described by David Benson above. What a great idea: reduce safety features on plants that can make large areas uninhabitable.(/sarc.)

        I have followed nuclear for 45 years and they always promise cheap plants but never deliver. Why are they working on generation 4? The other three failed. Do not believe their cost estimates. Nuclear is not economic.

      • hey, Michael. Are you just throwing up a bunch of facts to make nuclear look bad? It kinda felt that way. Pretty dismal situation for the proponents of nukes if you are going to resort to a bunch of facts.

  8. I am no fan of nuclear because of the arms proliferation issues, the health risks of mining the fuel and the long term storage issue with the waste, but if those items were addressed, then the small scale nukes look good. https://www.nuscalepower.com/ Looks like they could be built up rather quickly. Just address those minor issues I raised and I am onboard.

  9. Nuclear is a technological dead end. Neutron bombardment renders every reactor vessel brittle and radioactive over time. To go to greatly enhanced use of nuclear would result in our losing all our hafnium and niobium. This is true even for advanced nuclear, which still requires a reactor vessel.

  10. russellseitz

    BPL
    That makes little sense given
    1. The increased production of of zircon and zirconia refractories, which translates into increased hafnium supply

    2. the actual tonnage of niobium used in nucleonics, versus the accumulaion of Nb as a byproduct of tantalum production.

    3. the epanding supply of both elements as by-products of the burgeoning production of rare earth minerals to meet wind power and automotive magnet demand.

    4. The relativey high geochemical abundance of the elements in qustion. There’s a lot of heavy sand in the world.

  11. A link I missed previously, in connection with battery backup:

    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/florida-power-light-to-build-409-megawatt-solar-powered-battery-system#gs.91doud

    Says there that:

    Expected to be up and running by late 2021, the FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center will be a landmark project for the storage sector, four times the size of the world’s largest battery system currently in operation, FPL said in a statement.

    It’s the largest battery project unveiled so far in the U.S. on a megawatt basis, and among the largest on a megawatt-hour basis, said Wood Mackenzie senior storage analyst Dan Finn-Foley.

    The Manatee Energy Storage Center will have the ability to distribute 900 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power 329,000 homes for 2 hours. The facility will be charged by an existing FPL solar plant in Manatee County in southwest Florida, and will help the utility accelerate the retirement of two 1970s-era natural-gas-fired plants.

    So, solar plus storage driving natgas off the grid.

    No, Manatee can’t power New York. But it can put out roughly half the power of a nuclear reactor for two hours–or easily power my entire county for a full 24-hour cycle.

    More to the point, the article also says this:

    Gigawatt-scale solar-plus-storage facilities are quickly becoming the “new norm,” following similar announcements out of Arizona and Puerto Rico this year, Finn-Foley said.

    “Based on what we are seeing out of Arizona, Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, you can draw a line across the sunniest parts of the U.S. and find where solar-plus-storage has begun to outcompete natural-gas peakers,” he said. “As battery costs continue to drop and incentives are rolled out, expect that line to creep farther and farther north.”

  12. David B. Benson

    Columbia Generating Station is a paid-for nuclear power plant, considered to be one of the best run in the USA. The generated power is sold to BPA, Bonneville Power Administration, at cost which is just over $30/MWh. For comparison, Rosatom has just started construction of 4 VVER nuclear power plants in Turkey on a BOO, Build-Own-Operate, contract to the Turkish utilities for almost $124/MWh.

  13. David B. Benson

    Columbia Generating Station is owned and operated by the not-for-profit Energy Northwest. From their website one finds the yearly budgeting for the Columbia Generating Station. Line items include the addition to the reserve for decommissioning and the NRC required NIAL insurance. Every nuclear power plant in the USA has both such expenses.

    The decommissioning reserve is supposed to grow to large enough to fully fund the restoral of the entire nuclear power station to greenfield status. For some closures the nuclear reactor building is placed in safe-stor, sealed entirely, for some decades for the radioactivity to lessen and the decommissioning reserve to compound it’s interest.

    Would that old-fashioned coal burners had similar requirements. Then the utilities would not have fly-ash piles to safely dispose of.

    • “Would that old-fashioned coal burners had similar requirements. Then the utilities would not have fly-ash piles to safely dispose of.”

      Amen. I’m downstream from a couple such…