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THIS JOURNAL WILL "TELL IT LIKE IT IS" REGARDING DIFFERENT FORMS OF ENERGY AND THEIR GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS/PROBLEMS

INDIA TAX EVADERS IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF P.M. MODI VS THE SWISS CONNECTION

13 JUN 2014

On 27 May 2014, India’s ’s new Prime Minister (P.M.) Narendra Modi on one of his first acts (on his first day in office), was to make it a priority to recover billions of dollars (in Ruppies) stashed overseas to avoid taxes. P.M. Modi immediately created an investigative team of former judges and current regulators to find the concealed financial assets, known in India as black money”, to return them home. At stake is what’s estimated to be as much as $2 trillion, more than India’s annual gross domestic product. P.M. Modi enthusiastically said: “It will send out a loud and clear signal to all tax evaders” But will it?

ARUN KUMAR, AUTHOR OF THE BOOK “THE BLACK ECONOMY IN INDIA” and an economics professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, calculated the $2 trillion figure said: “There was always a lack of political willpower, and I hope it will be different this time. India is joining countries including the U.S. and Britain in cracking down on rich people who haven’t reported offshore funds”. India ranked third in the world (for money illegally moved overseas in 2011), behind China and Russia. According to Kumar, India (Asia’s third-largest economy) loses an estimated 60 trillion rupees ($1 trillion) each year from its formal sector, such as banks, and almost 6 trillion rupees of that is moved out of the country, Kumar analyzed independent studies and World Bank and International Monetary Fund data on trade flows. His $2 trillion estimate is the total amount Indians currently have stashed abroad illegally, without paying taxes or disclosing the funds to authorities. Kumar added: Tax revenue on those assets could exceed $600 billion, based on a 30 % rate plus penalties, that’s six (6) times the amount India’s federal government estimates it will need to borrow this year to meet expenses. India’s (GDP) yearly fiscal deficit will widen this year to the highest among BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) — in part, because taxes, as a proportion of GDP are low.  A May 29 International Monetary fund (IMF) estimate showed. “The black money within the country is easier to get at than that stashed abroad…Probing money moved abroad is a rather convenient way of diverting public attention from addressing the larger issue of unaccounted money within the country”- Well…maybe.

SEPARATELY, IN A 2013 REPORT BY “GLOBAL FINANCIAL INTEGRITY”, a Washington-based group researching cross-border money transfers, said that high-net-worth individuals, and private companies are the “primary drivers of illicit (money) flows”. Indians had moved $644 billion to tax havens as of 2011, according to their estimates. (note the wide variance with Arun Kumar’s estimates). One has to wonder if this organization is on the payroll of the tax evaders, and only trying to minimize the extent of the problem.

INDIA’S PRESIDENT Pranab Mukherjee TOLD LAWMAKERS ON 13 JUN 2014, that India will proactively engage with overseas governments to hunt black money, while outlining goals of the two-week-old government, which is also seeking to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, simplify investment rules and abolish obsolete laws. The government defines black money as assets that haven’t been reported to authorities at the time of their generation or disclosed at any point during their possession. A large portion is converted into gold and held in households domestically. It’s legal for Indian residents to hold money in foreign bank accounts as long as they disclose it and pay taxes.

P.M. MODI’S SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE TEAM, Will Focus On The Black Money held In Offshore Accounts, and was set up to comply with a Supreme Court directive. The new investigative panel headed by M.B. Shah, a former judge in India’s top court, who has yet to figure out its scope and methods. The panel held its first meeting on 2 Jun 2014, and decided on a “road map” for implementing the court order, according to a government statement.

ENTER: THE SWISS CONNECTION Paulson-Ellis, who used to run the Bank of India business’, said: “This is a particularly good time to collaborate with international agencies chasing unaccounted cash…Private banking systems are being exposed and forced to share client details with U.K., U.S., EU and Swiss authorities. If India can be a part of that dialog, it will get better access to information than was possible historically…P.M. Modi, needs to back words with action”. But …Ellis is now co-head of “Global Emerging Business” at Banco Espirito Santo SA (Inc) in London, so how sincere can he be? Question is: Is he a part of the problem? or, a part of the solution?

SWISS SAY “HSBC does not condone,” the bank said (in an e-mailed response) last week.  Mario Tuor, a spokesman for Switzerland’s State Secretariat for International Financial Matters in Bern, said: “Individuals are responsible for their own tax affairs”. Adding that his government can only cooperate within the framework of Swiss law, and it doesn’t allow cooperation based on stolen data, referring to data stolen in 2011 by a former Bank employee. See there!- our hands are tied – Sure, we know!

TAX HEAVENS Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the British Virgin Islands were among tax havens where illegal funds were stashed, A.P. Singh, then director of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, said in 2012.that Indians were reported to be the largest depositors in Swiss banks, without providing details.

Siamak Rouhani, an official at the Swiss embassy in New Delhi, said on Jun 2014 (in an e-mail):“Switzerland understands and shares India’s wish to fight tax evasion and is committed to complying with the relating international standards”- Yes, we know!- carefully worded language that only seeks to obscure the facts.

SOME INDIANS ARE SKEPTICAL ABOUT RECOUPING THE BLACK MONEY. According to Ashutosh Kumar Mishra, New Delhi-based Executive director of “Transparency International India” (a group that monitors corporate and political corruption) said India needs to raise the issue in international forums and put pressure on foreign banks to disclose information about those who are evading taxes through their branches, he said. “The problem of black money cannot be solved in a day…Lack of proper implementation is what has derailed all well-intentioned announcements like this”  Others said…

Bizay Sonkar Shastri, a spokesman for the BJP (Party) said: “The few steps the previous Congress government had initiated was all eyewash…It’s a priority for us, and we will pursue it with all sincerity and seriousness…Unaccounted money reduces the tax base and the ability of the government to tackle the fiscal deficit.

Ashima Goyal, a member of a panel that advises the Bank of India on monetary policy said:“This probe team is very timely. It can also draw upon international treaties drawn up for this”.

MONEY TRANSFERS THRU “HOOK OR CROOK”- hawala. Some undisclosed money is moved out of the country through the global transfer system known as hawala The system is based on trust or family connections and can involve mispricing of goods, financial loopholes and hidden accounting procedures to deliver cash in one country and pick it up in another. Using hawala is illegal in India. Shell companies (in paper only) are set up Tax Heavens to route some of the cash back to India by investments in stock markets, through participatory notes, foreign direct investments, and other instruments. We suppose that is also a method of “spreading the wealth”.

Thanks to Bloomberg for their 13 Jun 2014 story

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

We said it before. Switzerland Banks are the key to world-wide corruption, and fraud. Our previous article on this subject dealt with USA banking firms doing business with their Swiss counterparts to evade paying taxes for earnings in the USA. Unfortunately, either by USA Internal Revenue System (IRS) collusion, or their legal inability to prosecute such slick trans-national banks, the tax evaders got away by paying a few cents on each dollar, and then only against those tax evaders who surfaced then.

In May 2014 India’s new prime Minister Modi started his tenure by declaring war on those who stashed profits overseas to avoid taxes by appointing a new Investigative Panel headed by Mr. M.B. Shah, a former judge in India’s top court; Unfortunately, he too seems to be scratching his head, wondering how to successfully recoup monies owed to the Indian government by these super-slick tax evaders who are making it very difficult to defray India’s governmental expenses. It seems quite clear Mr. Shah, and other judges/businessmen, in India agree that the Swiss connection is deeply involved. Problem is: How to “pin the tail on the donkey”. Many fear that P.M. Modi’s initiative may be not really “A loud and clear signal” to tax evaders, but rather “political-posturing” so that he may later say: Well…we tried from day one. The proof to his strength of purpose will be the resolve he shows in the days to come. We wish him the best!An anecdote: A man said to another: “I never turn on the light in the kitchen at night, because the roaches all come out”.  HMM! No wonder it is “lights out” in India too.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail > gonzedo@yahoo.com

RELATED ARTICLES: THE SWISS CONNECTION – KEY TO WORLD-WIDE CORRUPTION AND FRAUD    Feb 2014 http://energymaters.com/?p=1429


June 13, 2014 at 7:46 PM Comment (1)

USA EPA ADMINISTRATOR “TELLS IT LIKE IT IS” TO FOSSIL-FUEL FIRED POWER PLANTS, BUT…

2 Jun 2014

Washington-2 Jun 2014 - While awaiting Pres. Obama Executive Order on new EPA Regulations later today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Gina McCarthy offered a blunt defense of the Obama administration’s new rule to cut carbon dioxide pollution, touting its benefits against mounting criticism from the coal industry and some members of Congress. Arguably the most important step any country has taken to combat climate change, the new rule focuses on fossil fuel-burning power plants. They account for 40% of U.S. emissions, making them the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions, the main driver of global warming. The proposed rule seeks to reduce power plant emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. Carbon dioxide emissions have already fallen more than 10% since 2005, which would make the effective reduction more like 15% to 17%, experts said.

On 2 Jun 2014 Speaking to a a room full of staff members, and environmental allies, at the EPA headquarters in Washington. Ms. McCarthy said: “Given the astronomical price we pay for climate inaction, the most costly thing we can do is to do nothing…There are still special interest skeptics who will cry the sky is falling. Who will deliberately ignore the risks, overestimate the costs, and undervalue the benefits. But the facts are clear. For over four decades, EPA has cut air pollution by 70% and the economy has more than tripled.”

MS McCARTHY STUCK TO THE SAME THEMES. She opened her speech with an anecdote about seeing Parker Frey, an active but severely asthmatic 10-year-old boy, on a recent trip she took to a Cleveland clinic. McCarthy said Parker’s mother lamented that on some days, the air quality is so poor that it was dangerous for the boy to play outdoors. “In the United States of America, no parent should ever have that worry,” she said. “That’s why EPA exists. Our job, directed by our laws, reaffirmed by our courts, is to protect public health and the environment. Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks not just to our health, but to our communities, our economy and our way of life…Special Interests who warn of severe economic consequences of the rules have historically decried all environmental protections have cried wolf to protect their own agenda. And time after time, we followed the science, protected the American people, and the doomsday predictions never came true. Now, climate change is calling our number. And right on cue, those same critics once again will flaunt manufactured facts and scare tactics.”

The EPA has proposed individual state targets based on each state’s fuel mix, with coal states starting and ending at a higher emissions level than those that use more of cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable (green energy). The states can then pick from a menu of options in order to achieve the cuts. The Obama administration has long held that combating climate change is about protecting public health and economic growth, and to underscore that, the president will make his own comments later in the day in a press call with the American Lung Assn.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL, himself from the coal-heavy state of Kentucky, called the new regulations: “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class.” Before the rules came out, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it would cost the economy $50 billion annually and hundreds of thousands of jobs. We suppose that is what Ms. Gina McCarthy was talking about when she said: “same critics once again flaunt manufactured facts and scare tactics”.

Thanks to the LA Times for their timeliness and excellent quotations.

OUR COMMENTS

We were happy to see the EPA administrator sound emboldened by Pres. Obama’s use of Executive Powers to bring Fossil-fuel fired power plants to the realization that their days of wantonly polluting our air/water always, placing profit above the health of our citizens, are at an end. BUT! this proposed plan is just hoopla, and EPA CYA propaganda. Ms. McCarthy talks the talk, but does not walk the walk!

After reading the new 2030 Plan Proposal > http://www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change  I’ve come to the conclusion that EPA has an excellent grasp of the primary polluters, where they live , and how bad they are (they have always known), Problem is: EPA IS NOT YET MANDATING ACTION ON A SPEEDY TIMELINE. Hence they are once again “Proposing” pollution abatement but based on a 16 year timeline, while soliciting voluntary action “By 2030″. Why? no boy! that is too little too late!

Letting each State seeking its own solutions is “pie in the sky”. Hell! here in Texas ( the country’s worst air polluter) not a darn thing will happen because the offenders own the State legislature, and our Governor proposed the law to make Texas independent from EPA, and to defer all such actions to the Texas Commission Environmental  Quality (TCEQ).  This proposal is ONE MORE “LOOK GOOD ACTION” by Ms. McCarthy et-al.  She promises a lot, but delivers little. Ms. McCarthy should be replaced ASAP. We have recommended that many times in the past.

We expected President Obama to provide serious and specific action concomitant with his Executive Powers, but he wasted a wonderful opportunity to bring about swift action. Pre. Obama had public opinion, the supreme court, and Executive Powers under the Clean Air Act (a trifecta); hence the obligation to take meaningful action, and he squandered the opportunity; Further, by even failing to make the announcement himself, after promising to do so, he opened himself to Republican critics in the House, and the Senate. It is an understatement to say we are greatly disappointed. In the meantime, the Fossil-fuel industry has revved-up it propaganda machine into survival mode.  It angers us to see how gullible they think we are.

Respectfully,

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail >gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. We are happy to announce that the month of May 2014, This publication had the largest readership in its history, and was read in 65 countries; that alone, enjoyed about 9,000 views/visits; that too was a high water-mark for our publication. Another encouraging fact is that many of our readers are “visitors” people that “make a difference”, and frequently return to look in on us. We encourage you to place our publication among your “favorites”, and look in on us from time to time; we average about two (2) posts per month. Thank you for your viewership; most specially, to viewers in other languages for tolerating the inevitable cultural translation glitches This publication attempts to “make a difference”, and modestly feel that we do.  Sometimes it may feel like that we are not making an impact on developments, but let history be the judge of that. I am not discouraged! The truth always triumphs in the end. Thank you once again.

gonzedo

 

 


June 2, 2014 at 2:50 PM Comments (0)

PRES. OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE EPA REGS TO CURB POLLUTION FROM COAL-FIRED UTILITIES

27 May 2014

WASHINGTON - 26 May 2014 -President Obama is expected to announce on 2 Jun 2014 an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants; In a speech that government analysts all over the world will probably scrutinize to determine how serious the president is about fighting global warming. The regulation will be Pres. Obama’s most forceful effort to reverse 20 years of relative inaction on climate change by the United States, which has stood as the greatest obstacle to international efforts to slow the rise of heat-trapping gases from burning coal and oil that scientists say are the cause of climate warming. Scientists have also warned that collective action, with carbon cuts by all the major economies is essential to achieve the drastic reduction in carbon pollution necessary to stave off the most destructive impacts of global warming.

PRES. OBAMA EARLIER TRIED, WITHOUT SUCCESS, to move a Climate Change bill through Congress in his first term, but even now such legislation would not stand a chance of getting past the resistance of Republican lawmakers who question the science of climate change. So, Pres. Obama is taking a controversial step: He is using his executive authority under the 1970 the Clean Air Act by means of an E.P.A. regulation taking aim at coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. The new EPA rule comes at a crucial moment in the fraught international effort to slow global warming. In March, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, released a report warning that human-caused climate change is leading to food and water shortages, extreme heat waves and droughts, rising sea levels, and stronger storms.

IN CHINA THERE IS GREAT ANTICIPATION Mr. Qi Ye, director of the Climate Policy Center at Tsinghua University in China said: “I am closely watching this. This standard is the real test of how serious the Obama climate action plan really is…If the standard is really stringent, that will make a difference in the domestic debate in China,” Mr. Qi added that while he did not expect the Chinese government to publicly comment on the E.P.A. rule, a strong regulation — like one that led to a 20 % cut in coal plant pollution — could stimulate policy changes. “It will have an impact,” The Tsinghua university is one of about half a dozen institutions that the Chinese government has tasked with immediately analyzing the new rule, according to Chinese experts.China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies and greenhouse gas polluters, are locked in a stalemate over global warming. While today China pollutes more than the United States, Chinese officials insist that, as a developing economy, China should not be forced to take carbon-cutting actions. China has demanded that the United States, as the world’s historically largest polluter, go first. Chinese policy experts say that Pres. Obama’s regulation could end that standoff.

IN RUSSIA CLIMATE CHANGE IS SNUBBED Vladimir Milov, former Russian deputy minister of energy and president of the Institute of Energy Policy, a Moscow think tank said: “It (Russia) is a very climate-change-skeptical society.” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is an open skeptic of climate science; of course, Russia, is one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas, and so has generally been dismissive of efforts to forge a climate change treaty. Sorry to say, Russia appears to be living in an “isolationist bubble”.

EUROPEAN UNION’s GÜNTER HÖRMANDINGER, Environmental counselor to the European Union delegation in Washington said: “We’re very excited to see the new rule on existing power plants. We see this as absolutely the backbone of U.S. climate strategy…Once it’s out, I will be rushing to understand it and report back to Brussels,” Mr. Hörmandinger, is an Austrian who has spent the past four(4) years studying the Clean Air Act. The European Union, enacted a carbon-cutting policy after the Kyoto Protocol (1997), has been among the critics of the United States’ Climate Change Non-Policy

IN MEXICO SENIOR CLIMATE POLICY ADVISER, MR. MARIO MOLINA said: “I think it can be done legally, going back to the Supreme Court decision that led to US-EPA.’s authority to regulate carbon emissions” Mexico enacted an ambitious climate change law in 2012, and has urged other Latin American nations to pass similar legislation.

IN PERU’S ENVIRONMENT MINISTER, MR.MANUEL PULGAR-VIDAL commented about US Senator Marco Rubio (Florida Republican who is viewed as a potential presidential candidate): “Senator Rubio shows us that there are still people who are skeptical of the science, even though we are already suffering the consequences of climate change…The government faces resistant actors, skepticism from political leaders it’s the same in the international arena”. It is true that Senator Rubio questioned the science of climate warming in May 2014 on ABC News’s “This Week.” (The things an intelligent man will say to follow party line!).

IN SAUDI ARABIA, WORLD”S LARGEST OIL PRODUCER/EXPORTER is paying close attention; They have sought to block global action on climate change; Naturally, all economies that are deeply dependent on producing fossil fuels fear that lowering the global demand for oil and gas presents a grave economic threat.

IN LEBANON, MR. WAEL HMAIDAN, DIRECTOR OF “CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK” said: “Everyone knows that the U.S. is key to achieve any solution to the climate change crisis…Many OPEC countries, who do not want to see the world wean itself from fossil fuels, realize this.”

“THE ALLIANCE OF SMALL ISLAND STATES” ISSUES AN URGENT PLEA Ronald Jean Jumeau, the UN ambassador from the island nation of Seychelles, and a spokesman for the Alliance of Small Island States said: “We are anticipating the rule with more urgency than those in the small island nations that could be threatened if sea levels rise. A series of scientific reports have concluded that as the planet warms, melting polar ice will drive up sea levels two to four feet by the end of the century, threatening the very existence of some of those islands. The path we’re on right now is that our country will disappear…This (ruling)will slow things down and give us more time to adapt and restructure our economies. Taking action now gives us more breathing room”. Sadly, they seem resigned to what many countries will not. Sea-level is rising inexorably, and will continue to accelerate. Entire Island communities, with many centuries of tranquil lives, have already been evacuated. The map of the earth land mass will look very differently 100 years hence. It is already changing dramatically; still, many think that is a transitory phenomenon.  Sorry, it is not.

IN THE USA, KING COAL STRONGLY OPPOSES NEW RULING Chiefly the nation’s coal industrialists, are preparing to fight with lawsuits, and global analysts are assessing/waiting with baited breath to see if the “Clean Air Act US-EPA rule will stand against such attacks.

UNITED NATIONS SUMMIT PLANNED FOR DEC 2014 IN LIMA PERU, leaders from many nations will gather in Lima, Peru at a meeting aimed at drafting a treaty, to be signed in 2015, which would legally bind the world’s major economies to cut their carbon pollution. The goal is to avoid the debacle of the “1997 Kyoto Protocol”, the world’s first attempt to forge a climate change treaty, was effectively rendered null when the United States Senate refused to ratify it. Now, as Pres. Obama exercises his authority under the “Clean Air Act”, governments around the world are taking notice, and are eagerly awaiting to see the new USA EPA coal burning standards.

Thanks to the NY Times for their 26 May 2014 article

 

OUR COMMENT

FINALLY! Pres. Obama will mandate action in compliance with the authority given him under the Clean Air Act. We hope/anticipate EPA will issue standards and regulations to abate airborne and other pollutants released by the some 600 coal-fired utilities in the USA. The shame of it is EPA has known all along who these utilities are but has been unable to elicit voluntary action by these folks to clean up their act. -NO! NO! Not if it costs money, has been their mantra.  There are many technologies available that they could institute and have not. Profit is their only motivation.

Now it is not only the “eyes of Texas”, it is the entire world waiting to see what we (the USA) will do. It is crucial that we do the right thing because carbon output reductions by all the major economies is essential, to begin to impact climate change. Many world economies look upon the USA as a leader. I only regret that by rejecting the Kyoto Accord, we have provided such a bad example for many years. Oh! Yes, all humanity lives upon “spaceship earth” (the blue marble), let us hope we can keep it looking good.

BIG COAL/OIL DON”T CARE  It is to be expected that many coal/oil producing/exporting countries choose to place profit ahead of their social responsibility. They need to reconsider their socio-political stand. Their children (and ours) will ask questions in the future that cannot be answered without a sense of shame. In the USA the Coal cartel is ready to put up a huge legal/political fight; that is too bad, because they will waste money on lawyers, and corrupt politicians in a futile attempt to reverse Presidential and Supreme Court designs, plus the clearly expressed desires of most Americans (see Gallup Poll). The coal Industry would be better-off to spend their profits on extreme coal-fired plant improvements, or transition to Nat Gas, or better yet, start investing in green energy.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail> gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However, if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

RELATED RECENT ARTICLES

USA SUPREME COURT FINDS AGAINST 27 COAL BURNING STATES’ POLLUTION—30 April 2014;http://energymaters.com/?p=1489

ENGLAND SEVERE AIR POLLUTION SPECIAL DANGER TO CHILDREN AND OTHERS—3 Mar 2014 — #6-2014; http://energymaters.com/p=1471

Gina McCarthy- EPA Admin Was Grilled By Senate Committee on Environment—16 Jan 2014; http://energymaters.com/p=1414

EPA SCHEDULES 11 PUBLIC MEETINGS ON COAL-FIRED UTILITIES NEXT 2 MONTHS —18 OCT 2013—#16-2013; http://energymaters.com/p=1287

US SEC OF ENERGY E. MONIZ “INTERPRETS” THE WHITE HOUSE ENERGY PLAN (NOT REALLY)—31 AUG —#15-2013; http://energymaters.com/p=1278

US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY SECRETARY MONIZ SHOWS HIS TRUE COLORS IN VIENNA—2 JUL 2013—#13-2013; http://energymaters.com/p=1238

GALLUP POLL – UP WITH GREEN ENERGY; DOWN WITH COAL—02 April 2013; http://energymaters.com/?p=1185

And many, many, earlier articles related to coal-fired utilities and the damage they cause to our environment.


May 28, 2014 at 1:11 AM Comment (1)

GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) LAMBASTES NITRATES INDUSTRY

21 May 2014

WASHINGTON - The USA government has no way of fully knowing which chemical facilities stock ammonium nitrate, the substance that exploded in 2013 at a Texas fertilizer plant and killed 14 people, congressional investigators say. Outdated federal policies, poor information sharing with states, and a raft of industry exemptions point to scant Federal oversight. About half of the facilities that are in the federal database were located in six states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. They include chemical plants or any location that stores ammonium nitrate, a widely used fertilizer, such as farm supply retailers or fertilizer distribution warehouses. The report found regulatory gaps in environmental and worker protections, and urged broad changes to USA safety rules. Pres Obama pledged to stiffen enforcement following the explosion on April 17, 2013, in the town of West, in Texas. These GAO findings come as a federal working group established by Pres. Obama prepares to submit its report later this month that outlines ways to improve oversight

AMONG GAO’s FINDINGS ARE:

The GAO faulted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for decades-old chemical safety regulations that have failed in large part to cover ammonium nitrate. Facilities that store ammonium nitrate are rarely inspected by OSHA, including the one that blew up in Texas, in part because the agency relies on EPA regulations that do not list ammonium nitrate as a hazardous material. OSHA had put in place some requirements for storing the fertilizer back in the 1970s, but prior to the Texas explosion the agency did not widely publicize them to the fertilizer industry.

HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT’s database captured only a fraction of the ammonium nitrate storage facilities in the U.S. The federal database shows that 1,345 facilities in 47 states store ammonium nitrate. But spot checks of similar state records found that the federal list missed as many as two-thirds of the storage sites, said the report, which faulted companies’ noncompliance, legal loopholes or poor federal coordination with states.

THE NITRATES INDUSTRY often views the rules as applying only if the material were used to make explosives. The audit said the agency may be unwisely granting exemptions to retailers that store and blend fertilizer for direct sale. As a result, prior to last year’s explosion, OSHA had cited just one facility for violations of its ammonium nitrate storage requirements in its more than 40-year history,

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are at fault for decades-old chemical safety regulations that have failed in large part to cover ammonium nitrate. Facilities that store ammonium nitrate are rarely inspected by OSHA, including the one that blew up in Texas, in part because the agency relies on EPA regulations that do not list ammonium nitrate as a hazardous material. OSHA had put in place some requirements for storing the fertilizer back in the 1970s, but prior to the Texas explosion the agency did not widely publicize them to the fertilizer industry.(SO – OSHA BLAMES EPA, EPA BLAMES OSHA).

GAO CONCERNED MANY PEOPLE NOW LIVING CLOSE TO EXPLOSIVE DANGER The government audit tracked a month-long reporting effort last year by the AP that drew upon public records in 28 states. The AP investigation found that schools, nursing homes and hospitals were within the potentially devastating blast zones of more than 120 facilities storing ammonium nitrate. In addition, the investigation concluded that the existence of other facilities nationwide remained a mystery due to poor information sharing. (More like “Hush-money” at work).

The EPA, OSHA and the Homeland Security Department generally agreed with the GAO findings. They emphasized that states are not required to report their data to federal agencies, and that new efforts to improve coordination will be spelled out in the coming task force report. OSHA officials also said they were re-evaluating ways to target high-risk facilities for inspection, even with their limited financial resources.

The GAO report noted that U.S. safety standards typically fell short compared to those in Canada, France, Germany and Britain, which in many cases bar the use of wood or other combustible material in ammonium storage facilities.

GAO CONCLUDED:Without improved monitoring, federal regulators will not know the extent to which dangerous conditions at some facilities may continue to exist”.

David Michaels, an assistant Labor Department secretary said defensively: We believe that we have already made significant improvements to reduce the likelihood of ammonium nitrate incidents” (OH YEAH! Does your Mama know where you are?).

FOUR IMPORTANT DEMOCRATIC SENATORS AND TWO REPRESENTATIVES ARE CONCERNED; on 20 May 2014 called the safety lapses “unacceptable”, and in a letter urged Pres. Obama to take action to address GAO’s findings. Signing the letter were chairs or senior members of the relevant congressional committees on labor, environment, or the budget: Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.; Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.; and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. The letter to Pres. Obama said: “Almost every state has communities that are at risk of experiencing a similar disaster…Last year’s devastating ammonium nitrate fertilizer explosion in West, Texas, is a tragic example of what can happen when there are inadequate protections.” GAO also urged Congress to eliminate an annual budget provision that exempts from safety inspections facilities with 10 or fewer employees, which make up about 4% of the 1,345 locations, and others not yet registered.

We are grateful to AP for shining the light of scrutiny on the Nitrates Industry.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

The nitrates industry just does not want to see the dangers they impose on nearby populations to save money. The town of West, in Texas is proof of that. What they need is for the EPA and OSHA to knock on their forehead and say: “Hello, anybody home?” Then warn them about their community responsibilities, and threaten them with stiff fines for non-compliance, and liabilities to nearby communities/people; but that, will require the enactment of Federal laws, and EPA/OSHA regulations /standards that are clear, and unambiguous. Democratic Senators and Congressmen have expressed concern, and the Obama administration wants to do something (whatever that may turn out to be) to skirt Republican “Do nothing” intransigence. It would be futile to expect State governments to enact such rules/regulations because clearly they have been lobbied to do nothing for over 40 years.

So, once again it is up to the White House to attempt to get the Nitrates industry monitored/standardized. We wish them good luck!

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail> gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

 

 

 


May 21, 2014 at 10:38 PM Comments (0)

US-EPA PROPOSES STEPS TO CURB PETROCHEMICAL REFINERIES TOXIC AIR OUTPUT

16 May 2014

WASHINGTON – On 15 May 2014, The USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to update the toxic air pollution standards for petroleum refineries to protect neighborhoods located near refineries. After receiving input from stakeholders including community groups, industry and the States. EPA’s common-sense proposal aims to (further) reduce toxic pollution from “flaring” and other processes, and includes new monitoring requirements. PROBLEM IS, AND HAS BEEN that exposure to toxic air pollutants, such as benzene, can cause respiratory problems and other serious health issues, and can increase the risk of developing cancer at/near the approximately 150 petroleum refineries around the USA.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “This proposal will help us accomplish our goal of making a visible difference in the health and the environment of communities across the country”. The common-sense steps we are proposing will protect the health of families who live near refineries and will provide them with important information about the quality of the air they breathe”

EPA’S PROPOSAL WOULD (FOR THE FIRST TIME) REQUIRE: (1) monitoring of air concentrations of benzene around the fence-line perimeter of refineries (YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT NEIGHBORHOODS LOCATED NEAR REFINERIES.) to ensure that emissions are controlled, and that these results would be available to the public. (2) upgraded emission controls for storage tanks including controls for smaller tanks; (3) performance requirements for flares (continued burning of waste gases) to ensure that waste gases are properly destroyed; and (4) emissions standards for delayed coking units (fractional distillation units for crude oil that are currently a significant unregulated source of toxic air emissions at refineries).

EPA ESTIMATED TOXIC AIR EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS If/when these proposed updates are fully implemented, including benzene, toluene, and xylene, would be reduced by 5,600 tons per year. Volatile organic compound emissions would be cut by approximately 52,000 tons per year. EPA says “no noticeable impact on cost of petroleum products” These cost-effective steps will have no noticeable impact on the cost of petroleum products at the approximately 150 petroleum refineries around the country. (oh yea! – wait till we hear the petrochemical industry tell it).

EPA IS ISSUING THIS PROPOSAL AS PART OF A PROCESS OUTLINED IN THE CLEAN AIR ACT that requires the agency to evaluate the emissions standards currently in place to determine (1) whether there is any remaining risk to public health or the environment and (2) whether there have been any new developments in practices, processes and control technologies. In a series of recent enforcement cases, EPA has compelled the use of innovative pollution control practices such as flare gas recovery and flare efficiency that are reducing toxic air pollution in communities. These efforts demonstrate that the proposed standards are practical and achievable today. More information about these cases: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/national-enforcement-initiative-cutting-hazardous-air-pollutants  QUESTION: IF EPA IS ALREADY “COMPELLING” SOME REFINERIES, WHY DO THEY NEED ONE MORE YEAR OF FOOT-DRAGGING TO ENFORCE THE “CLEAN AIR ACT” ON THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY NOW.

EPA will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The agency plans to hold two (2) public hearings, near Houston and Los Angeles (dates still in consideration) and will finalize the standards in April 2015 (that is nearly a year from now).

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS:

EPA cannot reasonably expect that the petrochemical industry will look kindly at any change that adds cost to their production. When the EPA says: “steps will have no noticeable impact on the cost of petroleum products” they must mean to the consumer, but that is questionable. Surely it will add many costs to the petrochemical industry.  It should also be considered that the air toxicity in crude oil processing refineries such as those existing/proposed for Port Arthur/Houston area are normally the “killing kind” (or at least life altering); Unfortunately, more so to those producing it. Refineries have never shown any concern for the long term health of their employees, let alone the residents of nearby neighborhoods these industrialists are exceptionally greedy, slow to change, and indifferent to the airborne, and other pollution they create. Pray say: what would they do with even more truly nasty pollutants removed from the Keystone heavy crude? Probably what they do now – As little as possible. Regrettably the Texas coast from Corpus Christi north to Beaumont is already heavily polluted by Industrial or petrochemical pollution, or both.

TEXAS IS THE USA’s LARGEST GREEN HOUSE GAS PRODUCER. The dirty-air fact is that Texas was the only state in 2010 that refused to meet New US-EPA greenhouse gas emission rules, placing some of the nation’s largest refineries in operational limbo. The US-EPA, in an effort to ensure those facilities could continue to operate, had been issuing permits piece-meal since 2011.

Regrettably, EPA has already granted the State of Texas authority to regulate its own green house gasses (GHGs) in 2014 when they conceded authority to the “Texas Commission on Environmental Quality  (TCEQ)”. In 2013 Texas state legislature approved a law giving the TCEQ the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking for the EPA, on 4 Feb 2014 Mr.Curry said: “US-EPA and the TCEQ began working to develop a program that would meet federal requirements. Initially, Texas had wanted to have a six-month turn-around on all permits, but the US-EPA refused to put a cap on how long it would take to issue a permit; Curry added: “The state also wanted to include a hearing process in its program, but the federal agency declined; In addition, Texas had to establish appropriate emission thresholds. Once those and several other issues were resolved we were able to shift authority to Texas, though the US-EPA will periodically review this program It’s a program that the state(Texas) will have forever as long as it operates correctly” As long as it operates correctly?-  Say what?; Who will determine that?- Oil/other Industrialists, of course!

TCEQ RUBBED IT IN: “We do not agree with the US-EPA’s move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but will follow the direction of the (Texas) Legislature so that permits can be issued in a timely manner, and to continue the successes of the strong Texas economy”. Naturally, they do not want anyone looking over their shoulder as they connive with their mentors.

SO WHY IS EPA GOING THROUGH THESE MOTIONS? We suppose they are just following a preconceived plan even when they know what to expect. Still, we hope a sufficient number of citizens impacted will attend the forthcoming hearings. Frankly it seems to us EPA is foot-dragging on this very important health issue to give the Big-Oil/Industrialists a break for as long as possible, with no real regard for the immediacy of the toxic air pollution to our people; specially in California, and Texas. It will be interesting to see the differences expressed between California (a leader in pollution controls), and its antithesis: Texas.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail> gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

 


May 16, 2014 at 4:22 AM Comments (0)

US-DOE ANNOUNCES OFF-SHORE WIND AND HYDRO-POWER ENERGY PROJECTS

9 May 2014 

PIONEERING OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY PROTOTYPE DEMONSTRATIONS

Washington, On 7 May 2014 the US Department of Energy (US-DOE) announced the selection of three (3) pioneering offshore wind demonstrations to receive up to $47 million each over the next four (4) years to deploy innovative, grid-connected systems in federal and state waters by 2017. These projects – located off the coast of New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia will help speed the deployment of more efficient offshore wind power technologies. In USA waters by 2017. The projects selected are:

“FISHERMEN’S ENERGY” will install five ea. 5- megawatt (Mw) direct-drive wind turbines approximately three (3) miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. This project will utilize an innovative, USA-developed “twisted-jacket foundation” that is simpler and less expensive to manufacture and install than traditional offshore wind foundations.

PRINCIPLE POWERwill install five (5) ea. 6-Mw direct-drive wind turbines approximately 18 miles off the coast of Coos Bay Oregon. The USA-developed WindFloat semi-submersible floating foundation will be installed in water more than 1,000 feet deep, demonstrating an innovative approach to “deep water wind turbine” projects and lowering costs by simplifying installation and eliminating the need for highly specialized ships.

“DOMINION VIRGINIA POWER”will install two (2) 6-Mw direct-drive wind turbines 26 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach(an independent city located in the U.S. State of Virginia – population about 500,000, and located on the Atlantic coast ) utilizing a USA-designed twisted jacket foundation. Dominion’s project will demonstrate installation, operation and maintenance methods for wind turbines located far from shore. Additionally, the Dominion project will install and test a hurricane-resilient design.

DOE’s efforts to incentivize innovative “offshore wind technologies” support the Obama Administration’s comprehensive National Offshore Wind Strategy to develop a sustainable, world-class offshore wind industry. As part of that strategy, the DOE continues to work with partners within the government, including the Department of the Interior (DOI), to conduct further resource assessments, streamline the issuance of permits, and overcome technical and market challenges to installation, operations, and grid connection.

US-DOE REPORT FINDS POTENTIAL TO DOUBLE USA HYDROPOWER GENERATION

DOE at its Oak Ridge National Laboratory on April 29, 2014 released aNew Stream-reach Development Assessmentrenewable energy resource (green energy) assessment detailing the potential to develop new electric power generation in waterways across the United States. The report estimates that over 65,000 Mw of potential new hydropower development opportunities exist. (Just think of it! That amount of power is the equivalent output to about 55 Nuclear Power Plants ,or a heap of Coal-fired generators) more USA rivers and streams (nearly equivalent to the current USA hydropower capacity). Hydropower currently makes up 7% of total USA electricity generation, and continues to be the USA’s largest source of renewable electricity. The New Stream-reach Development Assessment” capitalizes on recent advancements in geospatial mapping (datasets), and represents the most detailed evaluation of USA hydropower potential of underutilized streams and rivers to date.

ADVANTAGE OF HYDRO-POWER is that it provides reliable “baseload” power (day and night) providing greater flexibility and diversity to the electric grid and allowing utilities to integrate other renewable sources such as wind and solar power; as such, greatly complements other green energy sources.

GREATEST POTENTIAL FOR HYDROPOWER IN USA was found in western states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming led the rest of the country in new stream-reach hydropower potential.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

FOLKS, WE HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THIS APPARENTLY GREAT INITIATIVE based on past experience with government “stimulated” projects. The worst case scenario was the great “Solyndra Fiasco”, where the then new Obama administration forked out about $535 Mil on a huge solar power-plant initiative that went “belly-up” without showing any appreciable results. The G.W. Bush Administration’s intentions were great, but I fear that the contractual language left a great deal to be desired. The Contractor just kept-on milking the project, even when they had nothing to show for their efforts.

WHEN DEALING WITH CONTRACTORS, Government Contract Administrators /Agents must be made accountable for their decisions /results; That is not so hard to do if they require timelines, milestones charts, and include added incentives for timely/expedited performance, and penalty in payment for delay/failure to show results. The contractor’s song and dance is usually: Well…we are treading new grounds/waters, and prototype development is uncertain at best”, then they will seek “time and materials” (that is the pits) such terms usually produces nothing but studies and expenses by the Contractor, and his friends who get invited to the “money trough” and is an assurance of failure, remember Solyndra ? These days of financial austerity we cannot afford such  fiascos. I only wish we were party to the contract language. Then our public would know if these noble intentions are in earnest. Truth be told, our country, and the world is in great need of such green energy developments. The contractual die is already cast, I only hope it is a good one.

ANTICIPATED TECHNICAL CHALLENGES

Aside from the yet unproven turbine anchoring technical challenges, other concerns such as how do we connect wind energy to land? It will take (in the Coos Bay Oregon an 18 mile underwater cable of sufficient amperage to conduct the energy generated. Then there is the task of integrating that energy to the grid. Problem is the grid is not always accessible where needed. That challenge has stymied land-based wind turbines that are almost always far from the grids. A very similar problem can be anticipated by Hydropower developers – where to hook up to the grid. Hydropower development is simply a must because it provides power 24 hours a day (“baseline” power generation). Hydropower was our first form of power generation, and a proven winner; however, there is the “Grid”problem…

WHO SHOULD PAY FOR THE GRID? Problem is: no one sees it as their responsibility to enhance the grid for the benefit of others. Like India, we are hurt by regionalization of dissimilar interests. That challenge is why the German government found it necessary years ago to centrally require grid improvements which are already beginning to bear fruit. Of course, Germany’s land mass is a lot smaller than that of India or the USA; Even so, The USA must act now. “Green energy” brings with it the need for our party government to work together. That is not going to happen quite simply because our Republican led Congress is more interested in the tragic events of Bengazi more than 2 years ago. I find it a testament to Republican party lack of personal integrity in government. House majority Leader John Boehner will be judged very harshly by history for his obstructionism. We should start a move to erect a statue to Boehner and TX Gov Rick Perry here in Texas, where the pigeons are certain to sh-t on their head. I nominate San Antonio, TX, and promise to feed the pigeons.

Even so, we commend the Obama administration for attempting to circumvent our Washington government gridlock (pun-intended). We need this, let’s make it work. The eyes of Texas, and the world are upon us, we cannot fail! for the sake of doing all we can, both large and small, to combat global warming and air pollution. It is killing us slowly.

Your Friend in Texas,

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. - I worked for the USA Gov. as an AF contract administrator for many years.


May 9, 2014 at 12:01 AM Comments (2)

USA SUPREME COURT FINDS AGAINST 27 COAL BURNING STATES’ POLLUTION

30 April 2014

WASHINGTON In a major victory for the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the USA Supreme Court on 29 April 2014 upheld the authority of the EPA to regulate the smog from coal-fired utilities that drifts across state lines from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast. The Supreme Court 6 to 2 (one abstaining) ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: A series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants (utilities and similar).

SUPREME JUSTICE GINBURG WROTE THE DECISION “In reining-in interstate pollution, regulators must account for the vagaries of the wind…Some pollutants stay within upwind states’ borders, the wind carries others to downwind states, and some subset of that group drifts to states without air quality problem” She quoted the Christian Book of John: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” The Supreme Court decision is only the latest blow to the coal Industry, and to coal users. Also on 29 April 2014, a Federal District Court ordered the EPA to propose by 1 Dec 2014 a new nationwide regulation to rein in smog pollution from coal-fired power plants and other major polluters. This rule would come on top of the regulation covering cross-state air pollution. Two weeks ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld another major EPA Clean Air Act rule that would reduce coal-plant pollution from mercury.

ACADEMIA AND LEGAL EAGLES SATISFIED Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard U said “It’s a big win for the E.P.A., and not just because it has to do with this rule, It’s the fact that it’s setting the stage and creating momentum for what’s to come If the Supreme Court had decided against the Obama administration in Tuesday’s decision, Ms. Freeman said it would have been a shot across the bow to the EPA as it takes the next steps  Legal experts said the decision signals that the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could withstand legal challenges. In June 2014 the EPA is expected to propose a sweeping new Clean Air Act regulation to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping greenhouse gas that scientists say is the chief cause of climate change. Coal plants are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

EPA Administrator Gina Mc Carthy said:“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a resounding victory for public health and a key component of E.P.A.’s efforts to make sure all Americans have clean air to breathe…the court’s finding also underscores the importance of basing the agency’s efforts on strong legal foundations and sound science.”

EPA ARGUMENTS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT: Stated the rules were necessary to protect the health and the environment of downwind states. East Coast states in particular are vulnerable to pollution blown by the prevailing west-to-east winds of the United States. The soot and smog produced by coal plants are linked to asthma, lung disease and premature death.

DISSENTING JUSTICES, ANTONIN SCALIA AND CLARENCE THOMAS AGREED when Justice Scalia said:”the regulation is unwieldy and suggested it was Marxist…As written, the regulation will require upwind polluting states to cut pollution in relation to the amounts of pollution each state produces, but also as a proportion of how affordably a state can make the cuts. In other words, states that are able to more cost-effectively reduce pollution will be required to cut more of it…I fully acknowledge that the proportional-reduction approach will demand some complicated computations where one upwind state is linked to multiple downwind states and vice versa…I am confident, however, that E.P.A.’s skilled number-crunchers can adhere to the statute’s quantitative (rather than efficiency) mandate by crafting quantitative solutions. Indeed, those calculations can be performed at the desk, whereas the ‘from each according to its ability ( paraphrasing Communist Karl Marx) approach requires the unwieldy field examination of many pollution-producing sources with many sorts of equipment” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. recused (abstained) himself from the case.

REPUBLICANS AND THE COAL INDUSTRY have often blasted the proposed regulations, which use the “Clean Air Act” as their legal authority, as a “war on coal”. The coal industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules. The interstate air pollution regulation, also known as the “good neighbor rule” has pitted Rust Belt and Appalachian states like Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky against East Coast states like New York and Connecticut. The utilities and 15 states opposed to the regulations argue that the rules, as written by the Obama administration, gave the EPA excessive authority, and placed an unfair economic burden on the polluting states; the decision will force coal-fired utility owners to install costly “scrubber” technology to curb smokestack pollution of smog-forming chemicals.

NATURALLY, COAL-FIRED UTILITY OWNERS ARE OPPOSED. Stating the regulation would be so expensive to implement, that many expected to shut down their oldest and dirtiest coal plants. Rep Fred Upton(R-Mi), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep Edward Whitfield, (R-Kt) said in a joint statement. “This is just the latest blow to jobs and affordable energy…The administration’s overreaching regulation will drive up energy costs and threaten jobs and electric reliability. We cannot allow E.P.A.’s aggressive regulatory expansion to go unchecked. We will continue our oversight of the agency and our efforts to protect American families and workers from E.P.A.’s onslaught of costly rules.” Both Reps. Upton and Whitfield represent states that rely heavily on cheap coal-fired utilities.

EARLIER EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT THE CLEAN AIR ACT FAILED: In 2011, the Obama administration issued the “good neighbor rule”, which was to apply to 27 states east of Nebraska (half of the country); but the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck it down, ruling that the EPA had not followed the Clean Air Act when it calculated how to assign responsibility for “cross-state air pollution”. The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned that decision.

EAST COAST STATES HAVE TOUGHER AIR POLLUTION STANDARDS Governors from East Coast states have for more than 15 years been subject to tougher air pollution requirements than other parts of the country, and have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal plants, factories and tailpipes so that their state economies to profit from cheap energy while their smog and soot have been carried eastward by prevailing winds.

Thanks to The New York Times for their 29 April 2014 story, here redacted in the interest of brevity.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

FINALLY! THE EPA HAS THE LAW BEHIND ITS “CLEAN AIR ACT” ENFORCEMENT - None too soon the coal fired industry can see that Americans, and our laws, are fully supportive of any , and all efforts needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our our coal burners. Even so it will take time for the USS COALBURNER to change its act, and change its course. Shareholders even mention the necessity to clean up their dirtiest utilities, or shut them down! It is about time. They know there are many technologies they could use to reduce emissions, and yet they have not done anything simply for greater profits. The best of all would be to transition to Nat Gas use where it is available. Fortunately, in America Nat Gas is available to many now, as a result of Fracking. Coal burning is not the only way to generate high temperature steam. Yes, changes cost money to implement, but they will also save potentially millions of lives from the pain and suffering inflicted by smog, and mercurial pollution now rampant. One would think these Shareholders live elsewhere, but we are all on Planet Earth. Yes, their children too!

Another very interesting development in American politics last week was the announcement by Pres. Obama that he would withhold his decision regarding the Keystone (CANAM heavy Oleoduct) to Texas, until after the upcoming congressional elections in the fall. Pres. Obama knows full well that most Republicans, and a few sellout Democrats would prefer not to be accountable to their electorate before the election about such vital issues as energy, its development, and its use. Such vital issues need to get injected into our electoral process. We must demand that our political candidates make their position known on such vital issues as energy, and water during their campaign. The world’s largest democracy, India, is teaching us all a lesson about the politics of the future >energymaters.com/?p=1484. They must include all vital concerns such as clean air, clean water, and sufficient energy. Yes we can do these things, but we must start now!-Every country in their own way, but always looking for our vital needs first.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

e-mail:  gonzedo@yahoo.com

 


April 30, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comment (1)

INDIA -WORLDS LARGEST DEMOCRACY SEEKS GREEN ENERGY CONGRESS REPS

12 April 2014

On 7 Apr 2014 India kicked off, its electoral process for its lower chamber. Over 800 million people are eligible to vote to elect their representatives to the lower house of the Indian parliament (equivalent to the USA Congress). Appropriately, the major political parties, and an attractive newcomer, sought to address the critical issue of renewable (green) energy in their Manifestos (Party Platforms). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have been closely scrutinized by political pundits and the general public; While neither of the present any specific actions regarding expansion and promotion of renewable energy, it is heartening to see that the issue has found a place in their respective party manifestos.

BJP THE FRONT RUNNER IN THIS ELECTION has stated that it would promote development of hydro power infrastructure without disturbing the local population and environment. BJP (party) has also stated that it would expand an ambitious National Solar Mission even more aggressively than it is being currently implemented. Their promise has some weight too. Their Prime Ministerial candidate Mr Narendra Modi launched the most aggressive state solar policy in the country a year before the central government (led by the INC) announced the national solar mission. Five years on, among all states in India.

INC PARTY SUPPORTS MORE SOLAR AND WIND POWER The “Indian National Congress” party boasted that it has aggressively implemented the National Solar Mission, and would continue to do so with a the target of 22,000 MW capacity by 2022. INC also promises to promote/implement a National Wind Energy Mission which has been in the works for few months now, and also to promote the expansion of wind energy infrastructure in the country. The INC claims that it led the implementation of the National Solar Mission. Riding on the success of this mission, the party promised even more progress; however, its impetus has slowed down over the last few months.

AAP PROMOTES DECENTRALIZATION OF GREEN ENERGY. The “Aam Aadmi Party” has promised policies to promote decentralized renewable energy infrastructure. The policy proposed by the AAP mirrors its underlying principle, decentralization of governance. The party promises to work towards promoting off-grid and decentralized renewable energy systems which would prove to be a boon for the rural as well as the urban population. Apart from party-specific reasons behind including these promises, there are other national realities that these parties had to address not only of renewable energy but electricity as a whole. The AAP, for instance raises the issue of increasing electricity rates; that, of course, is an election issue at the assembly elections in national capital Delhi. This newly formed party forced its competitors to state policies directed at lowering electricity tariffs for the household consumers. These policies included implementation of net metering and rooftop solar power systems.

WHY ARE PARTIES NOW ADVOCATING GREEN ENERGY? There are many probable reasons: For instance: India endured the largest blackouts in global history in July 2012. The blackouts affected a population of more than 620 million. That event was ostensibly caused by several transmission lines being down for maintenance, and a rather common occurrence of state governments not heeding the directions of the central regulators. Be that as it may, the blackouts were a real eye opener, because they highlighted the collapse of not only the energy infrastructure in the country, but also the failure of governance, across party/state lines.

CONTENTIOUS ISSUES REMAIN rising electricity tariffs will remain for the foreseeable future as the state utilities are now required to file for tariff revisions every year. Renewable energy, especially solar energy, gains significance in this aspect because solar energy tariffs have been rapidly declining over the last few years while electricity based on coal and natural gas have been increasing.

TO EACH HIS OWN Naturally, the political parties mentioned above have advocated those campaign promises that suit them best, and project them in favorable light to their constituents (voters). Even so, it is heartening to see a new awareness among Indian congressional politicians of the need to promote green energy because it directly/indirectly impacts other critical issues of energy independence, energy equality, and economic growth.

Thanks to cleantechnica.com

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

We have condensed the story above for clarity, and for brevity.

India, has come a long way in a relatively short time with regard to energy generation. Just about 5years ago, during the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plants massive civil protests, the Government in power virtually controlled all media, and made it “unpleasant” to discuss the subject publicly. Not now-Not any more!. The subject of green energy is now a “platform” of most of their political parties’ “manifesto”; THAT, IS PROGRESS INDEED! For any democracy.

The AA Party recognizes/advocates that because of their lack of electrical power distribution infrastructure (grid); their constituents would be better served by many Solar cell parks throughout its huge sun-drenched land mass. We could not agree more. Even with day only energy solar energy, many steps may be taken to extend power usage hours. BRAVO FOR INDIA! WISH MORE COUNTRIES WOULD RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN REALITIES!, and expect their governance to accede to their needs/desires. INDIA, YOU HAVE COME A LONG WAY BABY !(an old American saying).

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail> gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

 


April 12, 2014 at 11:37 PM Comments (0)

ENGLAND SEVERE AIR POLLUTION SPECIAL DANGER TO CHILDREN AND OTHERS

3 Mar 2014

Prof Frank Kelly, Chair of the Department of Health’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, and a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Air Quality Expert Group said: “Schools in areas affected by severe air pollution should keep pupils indoors at lunchtime to avoid them having asthma attacks and potentially lifelong lung damage…(they) should be stopped from using the playground during school hours to reduce their exposure to the smog that is affecting south-east England and is expected to spread to the Midlands and East Anglia”. Prof. Kelly’s advice comes after some schools in the capital decided to keep their pupils indoors on 2 Apr 2014 as a precaution. Asked to elaborate, Prof Kelly said: “As a general response this is a good approach as children tend to run around outside and therefore breathe deeper. Thus on days like this they will be inspiring(breathing-in) a lot more pollution if outdoors than when they are breathing normally (hopefully) inside…The policy should apply to morning and afternoon breaks, as well as lunchtime…Advice would be the same for recesses if pollution levels were increased at the school location…pupils with asthma may need to use their inhalers, while those with other breathing conditions could suffer serious harm if exposed to the high level of pollution being seen in London”. NOTICE THAT PROF. KELLY USED THE WORD “SMOG”.

LONG TERM DAMAGE OF AIR POLUTION IN THE YOUNG Prof. Kelly added: “Besides those children whose asthma may be exacerbated by pollution and who would then need to increase their medication, the main issue is related to pollution exposure on a chronic basis as current evidence indicates that lung growth is restricted. If there is no subsequent catch-up lung growth then this respiratory deficit is carried forward through life”. BAD NEWS! IN NORTH LONDON - Tom Sheldon, chair of governors at Bowes and Chesterfield primary said: “When schools are faced with conditions like these, we have to decide what is best for children. In the absence of any formal advice from government we decided to keep children inside today (2 Apr 2014) as a precaution…But we can’t do this forever, and in London we face the much wider problem of poor air quality every day. The Saharan dust will pass, but London will continue to fail its citizens on air quality. Children’s developing lungs are at particular risk, both long- and short-term”. His last sentence echoed Prof. Kelly’s warning.

ONE CITIZEN’S COMPLAINT/WORRY Leanne Stewart said: ”We urgently need an intensive program of pollution reduction in the capital (London)”. Accompanying my son to school is usually quite an easy half-mile walk, but yesterday, I could feel my chest getting tighter and tighter, I went light-headed and had to get a bus back. …I’ve never had that problem before” Leanne’s son, George (age 8) had an asthma attack, and had to stop and use his inhaler. He felt like the air wasn’t getting into his lungs during his half-mile walk to school in Eltham, S.E. London.

ADULTS TOO MUST OBSERVE BREATHING PRECAUTIONS “The British Lung Foundation” urged people in affected areas who cycle, walk, or run to work to avoid doing so at rush hour, and to use backstreets if possible. People with lung conditions such as asthma, should avoid doing strenuous exercise outdoors. Dr Keith Prowse, the charity’s honorary medical adviser said: “Heavy air pollution, of the kind we’re seeing in several places across GB at the moment, can have a significant impact on people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, worsening symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness…When levels of air pollution are high, people with these conditions, or anyone else who finds themselves coughing or wheezing in times of high pollution, should avoid strenuous exercise outdoors, particularly around pollution hotspots such as busy roads. If the option is available, exercising in an air-conditioned gym or sports hall is preferable…If they cycle, run or walk to work, commuting at times other than rush hour or along back streets is also advisable. People with lung conditions who use a reliever inhaler should make sure that they carry it with them. If they feel their condition is worsening at all, they should contact their Physician”. Enough said for the wise!

Thanks to “The Guardian”-(GB) for sharing this story. We have condensed it, but commend it to you for its accompanying photos, and illustrations.> http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/02/pupils-indoors-lunch-smog-uk-government-adviser

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

Alas! De je vu all over again! While this story is centered on the nefarious effects of Smog in children; unfortunately, it applies to all air breathing creatures (including adult humans). Smog is not new to London, home of the Industrial revolution (c. 1830). Fortunately, or unfortunately, Brits have always excelled in the design of engines of all kinds, and have produced some of the world’s finest machinery of all sorts. What may well have kick-started the industrial revolution was the invention of the Watt stationary steam engine, and subsequent derivative external combustion engines used in factories, locomotives, ships, etc. Unfortunately, all such engines were most easily fueled by coal, thus contributing to improved coal mining, improved production and leading to GB dominance in the world markets for finished goods during the Victorian era. All this required ever greater amounts of coal being burned as the best available source of energy. London had always relied in coal for home heating, only then, it was a much smaller city.

THE USA TOOK A SIMILAR ROUTE TO PROGRESS The same process took place in USA a few years later. Bottom line is the birth of KING COAL there here and everywhere. As we have learned since, not all coal is of the same quality, but its combustion is a huge contributor to air pollution; furthermore autos/trucks also make significant contribution to air pollution; notably in cities. Today air pollution (smog) is characterized as “Particulate matter (dust)”, noxious gasses: Sulfurous oxides, nitrogenous oxides, industrial by-products. Stationary sources” such as: Coal-fired Utilities, Petro-chemical refineries, other heavy industrial s such as steel, metals, and even corn/foods processing plants. PROBLEM IS: These greedy folks won’t do a dammed thing to clean-up their act.

ENTER: REV. ROBERT MALTHUS A sad chapter in GB, and world history, was the credence given by Industrialists of the Industrial revolution to the socio-economic theories of Rev. Robert Malthus.(1766- 1834). He was the 7th son of a well-to-do family who became a cleric, and was reputed to be a great orator despite a hereditary harelip condition. Said Malthus: “Yet, in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition”. Malthus argued in his Essay (1798) that population growth generally expanded in times and in regions of plenty, until the size of the population relative to the primary resources caused distress, often interpreted as: “Give the lower classes enough to eat, and they will reproduce until they outstrip the land’s resources; so it is best they be kept too tired and hungry to be amorous”. Apparently, Industrialists everywhere agreed with Malthus that it was beneficial for the working class to be kept over-worked, and underfed – “for their own good”. Malthus’ thinking lost credence among his peers long before his death (one supposes it was not longer “politically correct”); Even so, American Industrialists J.D. Rockefeller, and others in America, evidently adopted Malthus’ thinking, and mistreated/ overworked their workers – But not for long! It should be noted that such a philosophy toward workers has been was independently pursued by many others, including Mao Tse Tung, and that Malthusian thinking still echoes in the ranks of Conservative politicians in the USA today. IT IS CLEAR TO ME THEY SEE THE CURRENT WAGE DISPARITY AS NECESSARY TO THEIR DOMINANCE AND PERSONAL PROFIT. Thinking prevails, and not for naught, that power and privilege still abounds in America.

GETTING BACK TO “KILLER POLLUTION” It may be argued that London saw worse coal air pollution during the Industrial revolution, but that in no way benefits now highly industrialized London. In truth, today’s killer pollution is in many ways more toxic than any seen in GB before. It is dogmatic, that while all air pollution blows somewhere, it almost always affects most direly those who produce it. That takes us back to the citizens of London current preoccupation; specially, regarding their children and those with respiratory impairments. The comments by leading British authorities regarding steps to take to mitigate the smog damage to human health should resonate among those cities afflicted by similar smog conditions. Oh yes! There are too many to count. Let us all take counsel, and look for ways to cease/desist coal burning and limit petrol burning as well. It is killing us. There are technical advances looming that could eliminate fossil fuel burning in the future. We must steel ourselves, and our children, to survive until that brave new world arrives. Let’s hang in there! That is what we do in Texas too.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. We are happy to announce that our readership doubled in Mar 2014 over the previous month. Welcome to our new readers! Perhaps some of you are passing out the word about us. We will continue to strive to provide you with a fresh viewpoint you are not likely to find elsewhere. As always, we do not solicit or accept funding for this publication as a social service.

e-mail: gonzedo@yahoo.com


April 3, 2014 at 9:35 PM Comments (2)

CHINA PURSUING THORIUM MOLTEN SALTS MODERATED NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

15 Mar 2014

20 Dec 2013 (Reuters) – Scientists in Shanghai, China are attempting a breakthrough in nuclear energy: reactors powered by thorium (an alternative to uranium) and cooled by molten salts Project is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government body with close military ties that coordinates China’s Science-and-Technology strategy. The academy has designated thorium as a priority for China’s top laboratories and has a budget of $350 million budget. Surprisingly, it is pursuing this aspect of its technology game plan with the blessing/help of the USA.

China has enlisted a valuable American partner for its thorium push: Oak Ridge National Laboratory; That is where the USA government produced the plutonium used for the USA’s first A-Bombs, and laid important groundwork for the commercial and military use of nuclear power; As it happens, The Oakridge Tennessee lab helped pioneer thorium reactors. The Pentagon, and the energy industry later sidelined this technology in favor of uranium for political reasons (explained later on).Thorium’s chief allure is that it is a potentially far safer nuclear fuel for civilian power plants than uranium. The element also has military applications as an energy source in naval vessels. The technology’s immediate appeal is that both Chinese and American scientists agree that thorium reactors have the potential to be much more efficient, safer and cleaner than the Uranium fueled NPPs in service today.

A USA congressman unsuccessfully sought to push the Pentagon to embrace Thorium technology in 2009, In a further twist, despite the mounting industrial/strategic rivalry with China, there has been little or no protest in the United States over Oak Ridge’s nuclear-energy cooperation with China. Robert Hargraves physicist and thorium advocate. Says:“The U.S. government seems to welcome Chinese scientists into Department of Energy labs with open arms,” He and other experts note that most of the U.S. intellectual property related to thorium, is already in the public domain. At a time when the U.S. government is spending very little on advanced reactor research, they believe China’s experiments may yield a breakthrough that provides an alternative to the massive worldwide consumption of fossil fuels.

MOLTEN SALTS REACTOR (MSR)TECHNOLOGY EXPLAINED The Chinese plan to cool/moderate their experimental thorium reactors with molten salts. This is sharply different from the Pressurized light Water-cooling systems used in most uranium-fueled nuclear plants. Fang Jinqing, a retired nuclear researcher at the China Institute of of Atomic Energy.said: “If a thorium, molten-salt reactor can be successfully developed, it will remove all fears about nuclear energy…The technology works in theory, and it may have the potential to reshape the nuclear power landscape, but there are a lot of technical challenges.” Jiang did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement posted on the Chinese Academy of Sciences website, he said China and the United States “should boost mutual trust and carry out complementary and mutually beneficial cooperation in the study of thorium-based salt reactors, hybrid energy systems and other cutting edge science and technology.” At last year’s Shanghai thorium conference, Jiang described how clean nuclear power would allow China to make a “revolutionary move towards a greener economy.The bet on unconventional nukes, he said, explains why China is the first one to eat a crab” – citing an old Chinese proverb about the individual who dares to make a discovery important to civilization.

CHINA TRYING TO GO “BACK TO THE FUTURE” to the mid-1960s, when Oak Ridge successfully operated a reactor with fuel derived from thorium and cooled with molten salts. The lab also produced detailed plans for a commercial-scale power plant. Despite considerable promise, the thorium test reactor was shut down in 1969 after about five years of operation.

THE DIE WAS CAST AGAINST THORIUM MUCH EARLIER In the early 1950s, an influential U.S. Navy officer, Hyman Rickover, decided a water-cooled, uranium-fueled reactor would power the world’s first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. Rickover was instrumental in the 1957 commissioning of a similar reactor at Shippingport, Pennsylvania – the world’s first nuclear-power station. At the time Admiral Rickover was a towering figure in atomic energy, and became known as the father of the “U.S. nuclear navy”. With the launch of the Nautilus in 1955, a course was set that is still followed today, with most of the world’s nuclear power generated from this type of reactor. Rickover had clear reasons for his choice, engineers say. The Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) was the most advanced, compact and technically sound at the time. More importantly, these reactors also supplied plutonium as a by-product – then in strong demand as fuel for America’s rapidly growing arsenal of nuclear warheads.  

THORIUM IN USA POLITICS Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), introduced legislation in 2010 calling on the U.S. government to share its thorium expertise. The unsuccessful bill said it was in the USAs “national security and foreign policy interest to provide other countries with thorium fuel-cycle technology, because doing so would produce less long-lasting waste and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation”. Even though Oak Ridge has been free to proceed, Thorium research was effectively shelved when the Nixon Administration decided in the 1970s that the USA nuclear industry would concentrate on a new generation of uranium-fueled, fast-breeder reactors. for a range of technical and political reasons, not least the public’s fear of nuclear plants, these new uranium reactors had yet to come into widespread commercial use. More recently, Joe Sestak, a former USA congressman and retired two-star admiral, failed in an effort to get the Pentagon to reconsider thorium in 2009. “It is very hard to effect a change in something that has been established for a long time,” he added that he was unaware of the extent of cooperation between the USA and China on thorium technology.

WHAT DOOMED THORIUM RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT? Kirk Sorensen, president of “Flibe Energy”, a privately held thorium-technology start-up based in Huntsville, Alabama said: “The short answer is that uranium was good for bombs and thorium wasn’t,“. Sorensen, a former NASA engineer, has plans to build thorium-fueled reactors for commercial use in the USA. Sorensen has been instrumental in reviving global interest in the groundbreaking work of the late nuclear physicist Alvin Weinberg.

URANIUM CARTEL: KILL THE MESSENGER! American nuclear physicist Alvin Weinberg, led research into thorium and MSRs when he ran Oak Ridge from 1955 to 1973; Unfortunately, he was eventually fired for his persistent thorium advocacy, but he had some powerful supporters. In his last scientific paper (published shortly after his death in 2003). Nuclear-weapons pioneer Edward Teller called for the construction and testing of a small, thorium-fueled reactor. Oak Ridge remains the ancestral home of this technology. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) lab still has a small research project under way on the use of molten-salt coolants for uranium-fueled reactors. DOE is also funding related research at the Universities of California, Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

GREAT BRITAIN NOW WANTS THORIUM POWER FOR ITS NAVY During 2012, top British naval engineers proposed a design for a thorium reactor to power warships. Compact thorium power plants could also be used to supply reliable power to military bases and expeditionary forces.

USA MILITARY HAS WEAK REASONS TO STICK WITH URANIUM NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS (NPPs) Although Thorium also has military potential for the USA, the world’s most powerful military is reluctant to pursue alternatives to its uranium-fueled reactors, simply because it has operated them successfully for almost six decades.

USA/CHINA LIASSON Jiang Mianheng,( son of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin), and an Electrical Engineer trained at Drexel University in Philadelphia, visited Oak Ridge in 2010 and brokered a cooperation agreement with the lab. The deal gave the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has a staff of 50,000, the plans for a thorium reactor. In January 2011 Jiang signed a protocol with the USA DOE outlining the terms of joint energy research with the academy. Jiang told a conference on thorium in Shanghai last year that the China’s thorium project “is 100 % financed by the (China) central government…The protocol stipulates that intellectual property arising from the joint research will be shared with the global scientific community. It excludes sharing commercially confidential information and any other material that the parties agree to withhold. The pact also specifically rules out any military or weapons-related research…All activities conducted under this protocol shall be exclusively for peaceful purposes”. Jess Gehin, a nuclear-reactor physicist at Oak Ridge, says the pact allows the two sides to share information about their research added:“The Chinese are very aggressive, and very determined to move forward with this technology…Right now we agree that we should meet routinely, maybe a couple of times a year.”

CHINA’s THORIUM PROJECT IN A NUT-SHELL Project is very ambitious, and well underway Beijing’s long-term goal is to commercialize the technology by 2040, after building a series of increasingly bigger reactors. The Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics is now recruiting nuclear physicists, engineers, project managers and support staff, according to a regular stream of job advertisements it publishes online. Its team is expected to expand to 750 by 2015 and eventually include 1,000 researchers. A director at the Shanghai Institute, Li Qingnuan, and other senior researchers are wooing top young talent across China to join the project. After lecturing on molten-salt reactor technology at Sichuan University in April, Li invited students from the audience to apply for positions at the institute, according to a report on the university’s website. China’s sprawling network of nuclear-research and industrial companies, are gearing up to attend in early June 2014.

THORIUM AND SALTS CONTRACT ISSUED The China National Nuclear Corporation The body overseeing all Chinese civilian and military nuclear programs, has announced that state-owned China North Nuclear Fuel Company had signed an agreement with the Shanghai Institute to research and supply Thorium and molten salts for the experimental reactors. The push into thorium is part of a broader national energy strategy. The government wants to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power plants, which account for about 80% of the nation’s electricity but have darkened/polluted its skies. Nuclear energy is a big part of the plan: China’s goal is to generate 58 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2020, an almost five-fold increase from 12.57 gigawatts today.

CHINA SEES THORIUM POWER AS A HEDGE against the fact that it has 15 conventional nuclear reactors online, and 30 more under construction. Even so, energy authorities are also investing in a range of different technologies for the future, including advanced PWRs fast-breeder reactors, and pebble-bed reactors. China has little uranium but massive reserves of thorium, and are attracted to Thorium as a source of cheaper/safer nuclear power. The fuel could be used to power Chinese navy surface warships, including a planned fleet of aircraft carriers. China’s nuclear submarine fleet has struggled with reactor reliability and safety, according to Chinese naval commentators, and thorium could eventually become an alternative.

Thanks to Reuters 20 Dec 2013 story >

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-breakout-thorium-special-report-idINBRE9BJ0RH20131220

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

THIS IS A VERY GOOD STORY Mainly because it refreshes our memory of where the USA thorium program had its genesis, met its demise, and the people/politics at large that led to our 100+ Merchant Nuclear fleet of uranium fueled mainly LW-PBWRs From Admiral Rickover (1950s), to Oakridge Labs/1955-1973 (Physicist Alvin Weinberg), to 1970  Pres. Nixon, decision to choose Uranium NPPs as a rich source of plutonium for the cold war, to 2010, and the failed Hatch/Reid which was DOA. in the Senate. It has been a long time, and many fallacious reasons, used to derail a good project which might have already saved many lives worldwide. We should welcome China’s initiative to return to thorium, for NPPs, and wish them well for the sake of all humanity. On the other hand, we worry that their $350,000 budget is way too low for such an ambitious project. By comparison, in today’s economy, it takes about $10 bn. and 10 years to usher a Uranium LW-PBWR (the most common kind). Cost and time (cost of capital) are the main reasons these “transnuclear Spent- Fuel generators” are not being built as before. Speaking as an American, I feel envious the USA is not doing as much nuclear research as China. Sharing past thorium technology may count in important ways, but only if the brokered deal to share in developments prevails.

It is natural for all ambitious nuclear project managers to feel their approach to thorium NPPs is the best. It may be, but we won’t know that until other thorium technologies are tried and compared for their salient characteristics./relative economies. I believe the Chinese Government know that, and is leaving the door open to world and Intra-China competition.  They know that there are already working models of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactor (LFTR), in some variants.  India too has a dire need for more energy, and is a burgeoning technical talent/industrial capacity in bloom. Let us hope, that at least in this enterprise, our world needs and climate warming, will override the greed and corruption present in all societies. SUCH FOLKS SHOULD REMEMBER WE ALL LIVE IN THE SAME PLANET, AND IT IS THEIR DUTY TO HELP SAVE IT, OR GAIN ALL AND WIN NOTHING! THORIUM POWER COULD BE OUR SALVATION, BUT ONLY IF WE COLLABORATE TO ACHIEVE IT.

BREAKING RELATED NEWS 19 MAR 2014

The Chinese central government is accelerating completion of a Thorium cycle reactor to 2024 because of dire need. Smog is killing them. They have the advantage of free access to experimental results of the USAs Oakridge experiments (and an actual working reactor for five years) in the 1960s when Dr. Alvin Weinberg, was chief of Oakridge Labs. As the Chinese are finding out :These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers. Nor are different Thorium fuel cycles alone in China’s quest, they are also investigating some “futuristic” (never have been tried) steam generators. We commend this article to your reading because it illustrates colorfully the many benefits of thorium fuel over the U-235 reactors now on line everywhere. > http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1452011/chinese-scientists-urged-develop-new-thorium-nuclear-reactors-2024. (This is “must read” if you are interested in energy matters.).

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


March 15, 2014 at 9:11 PM Comments (0)

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