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

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

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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)

EPA SETS NEW STDS FOR GASOLINE AND VEHICULAR ANTI-POLLUTION EQUIPMENT

5 Mar 2014
WASHINGTON, 03/03/2014: THE “TIER 3 EMISSION STANDARDS” WERE RELEASED TODAY for gasoline fueled vehicles. The Standard will also seek the production of cleaner gasoline that will significantly reduce harmful pollution, and prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses, while also enabling energy efficiency improvements in cars and trucks The cleaner gasoline, and vehicle standards are an important component of the administration’s national program for cleaner combusting  cars and trucks, Existing fuel efficiency standards currently in place are already saving new vehicle owners at the gas pump. The new Standards are based on extensive input from the public and a broad range of stakeholders, including public health groups, auto manufacturers, refiners, and states. Diesel fueled vehicles will be covered by a different new standard.

THE “TIER 3 STANDARDS” seek to reduce vehicular tailpipe emission pollution (smog)where people live and breathe, by reducing known harmful emissions along streets and roadways  A target reduction of 70 % in particulate matter (soot) and virtually eliminating fuel vapor emissions. Additionally, the standards will also seek to reduce vehicle emissions of toxic air pollutants, such as Sulfurous and Nitrous Oxides (NOx) emissions, and benzene by up to 30 %. The program will also reduce exposure to pollution near high traffic roads where more than 50 million people live, and work, or go to school EPAs ADMISSION OF EXISTING “RIVERS OF SMOG” ON/ NEAR HIGHWAYS AND BY-WAYS IS AN AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING.

WIN, WIN, WIN:  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.said:“These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment, and a win for our pocketbooks…By working with the auto industry, health groups, and other stakeholders, we’re continuing to build on the Obama Administration’s broader clean fuels and vehicles efforts that cut carbon pollution, clean the air we breathe, and save families money at the pump.”

ESTIMATED QUANTIFICATION OF EMISSIONS The final fuel standards should reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 % – down from 30 to 10 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. Reducing sulfur in gasoline enables vehicle emission control technologies to perform more efficiently. New low-sulfur gasoline will provide significant and immediate health benefits because every gasoline-powered vehicle on the road built prior to these standards will run cleaner, thus reducing smog-forming Sulfurous and Nitrous Oxides (NOx) emissions, and sundry other pollutants. by 260,000 tons in 2018. We noted no mention was made about Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions.  When we start by burning petroleum (Hydrocarbon) products we are on the wrong track – let us hope not for long.

EPA ESTIMATED HEALTH BENEFITS: In 16 years, (by 2030), up to 2,000 premature deaths, 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children,(HOW ABOUT ADULTS ?) 2,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits, and 1.4 million lost school days, work days, and days when activities would be restricted due to air pollution on high-traffic roadways. It is estimated the average American spends more than one hour daily traveling on such roads.(THESE PROGNOSTICATIONS SEEM HIGHLY UNDERSTATED)

ESTIMATED FINANCIAL BENEFITS The final standards are expected to provide up to $13 in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards, more than was estimated for the proposal. The sulfur standards will cost less than a penny per gallon of gasoline (on average) once the standards are fully in place. The vehicle standards will have an average cost of about $72 per vehicle in 2025. The Tier 3 Standards support efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot; and aids their ability to attain and maintain science-based national ambient air quality standards to protect public health, while also providing assistance / flexibilities for small refineries, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance. The final standards will quickly (?) and effectively cut harmful soot, smog and toxic emissions from (gasoline fueled) cars and trucks. The Obama Administration’s actions to improve fuel economy and reduce Green House Gases(GHG) from these same vehicles will also result in average life-time fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 The fuel economy and GHG standards covering model year vehicles from 2012-2025 are projected to save American families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs. Total financial health-related benefits in 2030 are expected to be between $6.7 and $19 billion annually.(PRETTY BROAD RANGE -FUZZY CRYSTAL BALL ?).

CALIFORNIA, A TREND SETTER The final standards will work together with California’s clean cars and fuels program to create a “uniform nationwide vehicle emissions program” that enables automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. The standards are designed to be implemented over the same timeframe as the next phase of EPA’s national program to reduceGHG emissions from cars and light trucks beginning in model year 2017. Together, the federal and California standards will maximize reductions in GHGs, air pollutants and air toxins from cars and light trucks while providing automakers regulatory certainty, streamlining compliance, and reducing costs to consumers.

EPA EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT “SMALL REFINERIES” To meet the Tier 3 cleaner gasoline standards necessary to reduce tailpipe emissions and protect public health, the agency has built in flexibility and adequate time-lines for refineries to comply. For those refineries that may need it, the program would provide nearly six (6) years to meet the standards; To provide a smooth transition for refineries to produce cleaner gasoline, the program is structured to allow the industry time to plan for additional investments; Additionally, EPA will consider providing special considerations to small refineries by offering compliance assistance in cases of extreme hardship, or unforeseen circumstances.

BROAD INDUSTRY SUPPORT EXPECTED EPA conducted extensive outreach with key stakeholders throughout the development of the rule, held two public hearings in Philadelphia and Chicago, and received more than 200,000 public comments. The final standards are based on input from a broad range of groups, including state and local governments, auto manufacturers, emissions control suppliers, refiners, fuel distributors and others in the petroleum industry, renewable fuels providers, health and environmental organizations, consumer groups, labor groups and private citizens. For the official EPA release see> http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/ce8984957ffefa6a85257c90004fe802!OpenDocument

NOTE: Above document was redacted from the original, in the interest of enhancing clarity and as necessary (in our opinion) to elucidate Tier 3 New Standards.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

The USA-EPA is saying to gasoline refineries, and new vehicle makers: You all come -,now hear! (in Texas talk) Or.What ? That is the question. We all know that to be persuasive it is sometimes necessary to “accentuate the positive” In this case, EPA has tried to quantify the benefits, and the necessity to human health for this changes to our gasoline refinery, as well as vehicular equipment but…OH WHERE, OH WHERE, DID EPA GET THEIR CRISTAL BALL ? In any event, some of the required changes can be regarded as lofty goals, others too slow in coming. It is clear that EPA is willing to “cut-slack” to some refiners (penultimate par.). but, who is a “small refinery”, or business enterprise, and who will decide if it applies? We all already know, don’t we? In all fairness, most world auto makers have contributed significantly, (under the circumstances), and are probably ready to improve their vehicular pollution controls ever more in the interest of competitiveness.

PETROLEUM REFINERIES WILL BE THE MAIN DETERRENT TO THESE NEW STANDARDS. When EPA speaks about their need for new “capital improvements” they read: “Spend more money” and folks these industrialists are exceptionally greedy, slow to change, and indifferent to the airborne , and other pollution they create. Pray say: what will they do with even more pollutants removed from the crude? What do they do now ?- As little as possible

Hell! remember the “Keystone Pipeline”travesty they are trying to impose on the USA mainland? It is no longer needed (we now have sufficient USA produced crude), and the heavy crude they offer is more like tar, more explosive, more toxic and much harder to refine. Add to this, the airborne pollution exacerbation to our Texas coast (Corpus Christi north to Beaumont TX). It is already intolerable, and adding the Keystone Tar-sands crude would produce toxins the likes of which Texas has never known. This is no exaggeration!. I resent having the USA become Canada’s (or anyone’s) gassy asshole. I trust Pres Obama will veto approval of the Keystone Pipeline. Mr. President:“The eyes of Texas are upon you” –literally. The USA EPA Admin Ms. Mc Carthy can be relied upon to do NOTHING! > http://energymaters.com/?p=1438

WE LIKE THE NEW STANDARD Tier 3 standards are a step in the right direction for the petroleum, and Automotive Industry, and should pay for their cost many fold. We certainly cannot argue with that, or the necessity for change; We further believe they will bring about many national health improvements, reduce health maintenance costs, improve national productivity, and set the USA as an example to the world of what must be done (among other energy considerations) to make a. significant contribution toward GHG reduction and our President’s Climate Action Plan.

Many emerging and heavily industrialized nations such as China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico all have experienced fist hand the noxious effects upon their population(specially in large cities) of unbridled air pollution. It is a people killer. We all need to do something – FAST

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


March 5, 2014 at 1:49 AM Comments (0)

KEYSTONE PIPELINE A “WIN-WIN”-SAYS WHO? T.BOONE PICKENS AND KEN SALAZAR

18 Feb 2014

WHO IS T. BOONE PICKENS?  T.Boone Pickens is a long time Nat Gas /water tycoon, whose company operates from Dallas TX. He is currently the chairman and CEO of “BP Capital”, which operates energy-focused commodity and Equity funds. He is also the largest shareholder in “Clean Energy”, the largest provider of vehicular natural gas (CNG and LNG) in North America, with a broad customer base in the refuse, transit, shuttle, taxi, police, intrastate and interstate trucking, airport and municipal fleet markets. Pickens is also a man with a half-million followers in “LinkedIn”. A valued opinion to be sure; however, regarding oil,–Not so, and not about the Keystone Pipeline either.

PICKENS IS A PROMOTER OF USA ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. In July 2008, Pickens launched a self-funded, $100 million, grass-roots campaign aimed at reducing this country’s then crippling dependence on imported oil. He has advertised in television ads, on his “Pickens Plan” website, and in personal appearances, he spelled out how our dependence on OPEC oil is an addiction that threatens the U.S. economy, environment and national security, and ties its hands as a nation. He has spent the time since 2008 spelling out how this country can drag itself out of this quagmire, if it acts quickly and reasonably, but his plan was made 6 years ago, and a great deal has changed in the petroleum dependence of the USA.

RECENTLY PICKENS SPOKE GLOWINGLY ABOUT KEN SALAZAR: “Last week, Ken Salazar made one of the smartest statements I’ve heard come out of Washington in years”. Speaking at an energy conference, Ken Salazar (the Obama Administration’s first Secretary of the Interior), said: “building the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a “win-win” project. ..It would be in the national interest to build the pipeline for our energy security, and enhance that national interest with the preservation of the Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area and the Prairie Potholes Region. In so doing, the carbon sequestration functions of these conservation areas will be preserved, wildlife and ranching heritage is supported, and energy security is enhanced….At the end of the day, we are going to be consuming that oil, so is it better for us to get the oil from our good neighbor from the north, or to be bringing it from some place in the Middle East?”

MR. PICKENS COMMENTED:Thank you, Secretary Salazar. There aren’t many people who can combine two topics that close to my heart – energy security and conservation – but you just did. Hear the man out: I couldn’t have said it better myself. The truth is I’ve made that exact point over and over again. The Canadians are good and patient people. They’ve waited on us long enough. They want to give us a gift, and we should have enough sense to take it. …Mr. President (Obama), we’ve had enough studies and enough different departments weigh in on this decision. Approve the Keystone pipeline NOW. Recall House speaker Bohner also echoed those sentiments:”let’s get that Blackstone Pipeline approved!”

PICKENS IS HAPPY It is clear Mr. Pickens is very happy to see former DOI Secretary Ken Salazar echo his energy views. We have often shared Mr. Pickens’ views regarding the need to enhance the use of our Nat gas resources; However, Oil exploration /exploitation technology in the USA have overcome his concern. “FRACKING”, a word not yet in his lexicon, has surprisingly/ rapidly changed the energy posture of the USA, which is now (if not very soon) the world’s biggest producer of Nat Gas and petroleum. The “Eagle-Ford” Oil Fields (Play) just south of San Antonio, TX alone, may do just that, and there exist other like plays in their beginning stages throughout the USA. Pickens might be shocked to realize that such “Energy self-sufficiency” for the USA has taken place since 2008, when he began his advocacy, and that such a bonanza renders both his, and Ken Salazar’s  TransCanada Keystone Pipeline advocacy rationale moot.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

KEYSTONE PIPELINE (From Wikipedia) >http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Pipeline We thought it convenient to abbreviate the Wikipedia information below for your elucidation.

The Keystone Pipeline System is a crude oil pipeline (36 inches in dia.) and 2151 miles long, owned and operated by the TransCanada. It runs from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States in Steele City, Nebraska, Wood River and Patoka, Illinois, and in the Gulf  Coast of Texas. In addition to the synthetic crude oil (syncrude) and diluted bitumen(dilbit) from the oil tar sands of Canada, it also carries light crude oil  from the Williston Basin (Bakken) region in Montana and North Dakota, USA.

Three (3) phases of the project are in operation and the fourth is awaiting U.S. government approval. When/If completed, the Keystone Pipeline System would consist of the completed 2,151-mile (3,462 km) Keystone Pipeline (Phases I and II), Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion (Phase III) and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline Project (Phase IV). Phase 1, delivering oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Wood River, and Patoka, was completed in the summer of 2010. Phase 2, the Keystone-Cushing extension, was completed in February 2011 with the pipeline from Steele City to storage and distribution facilities at Cushing, Oklahoma. These two phases have the capacity to deliver up to 590,000 barrels per day (94,000 m3/d) of oil into the Mid-West refineries. Phase III, the Gulf Coast Extension, which was opened in January 2014, has capacity up to 700,000 barrels per day (110,000 m3/d). The proposed controversial Phase IV, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, would begin in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada and extend to Steele City, Nebraska, USA.

The Keystone XL pipeline proposal has faced much criticism from environmentalists and some members of the United States Congress. In January 2012, President Barrack Obama rejected the application amid protests about the pipeline’s impact on Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region. TransCanada Corp changed the original proposed route of Keystone XL to minimize “disturbance of land, water resources and special areas” and the new route was approved by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman in January 2013. However, as of Feb 2014, the USA construction permit is still not issued, and has been threatened with a USA Presidential veto.

OUR COMMENTS:

ENVIRONMENTALISTS STRONGLY OPPOSE THE PIPELINE. The reasons are many, and validated by many years of bad experiences with overland pipelines in mainland USA, and in Alaska. Whenever a 36 inch diameter pipeline conducts crude oil overland, it is subject to many unpredictable vagaries, ranging from temperature extremes to mechanical failures in pumping systems, earthquakes, potential leaks causing massive contamination of streams/rivers. Add to that the now real possibility of extreme weather, and flood caused precisely by the continued use of oil/coal with clear weather changing impact Green House gasses (GHG). It should be considered that the air toxicity in oil processing refineries such as those proposed for Port Arthur/Houston area are normally the “killing kind”, or at least life altering. ALL AIR POLUTION BLOWS SOMEWWHERE, but more so to those producing it. Refineries have never shown any concern for their employees. (OSHA where art thou?).  Regrettably the Texas coast from Corpus Christi north to Beaumont is already heavily polluted by Industrial or petro-chemical pollution/or both. Another fact that most such polluters never take into consideration in their Business Strategic Planning (talk about environmental threats) is the fact that most of them lie in low-lying coastal regions which are already frequently flooded while the sea level continues to rise inexorably. So much business knowledge seeking unbridled profits with a “dare-devil attitude!”

Former DOI Secretary Ken Salazar knows from his past tenure that many of these arguments for the Keystone pipeline (and other of his unfinished projects) are now dated – Overcome by fracking and other technologies; and yet he continues to support them. We cut slack for Pickens’ attitude given his past advocacies; regrettably, we cannot do so for Ken Salazar. He knows better, and is now clearly using his past DOI Secretary prestige to work as a Lobbyist. POINT IS: Since The USAs energy self-sufficiency is no longer in doubt, Keystone Pipeline is no longer essential, or desirable to our and economy, and potentially very detrimental to our environment. It is a shame to see how a well planned, business/politically executed web has been destroyed by unpredictable events. Those who bear responsibility for this business fiasco should hire better Business Strategic Planners. – “ALONG CAME A SPIDER”…THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE SHOULD BE VETOED BY PRES. OBAMA. Neither congress nor the Senate, are inclined to do so. Note: “Keystone pipeline” is a misnomer.  The project should have been called what it is: The CANAM(Canadian-American) Crude Oleoduct.

NEWS UPDATE 1.- 19 Feb 2014 -Reuters

A Nebraska court on 19 Feb 2014 invalidated the governor’s decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass through Nebraska, casting new uncertainty over the controversial pipeline to link Alberta’s oil sands inn Canada with refineries in Texas. Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled that the recent law passed by the state’s legislature, which gave Gov. Heineman the decision on the Keystone Pipeline route instead of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, was:unconstitutional” and “void.” See>http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/20/us-usa-keystone-court-idUSBREA1I24520140220

NEWS UPDATE 2. – 20 Feb 2014 – Al Jazeera

Canadian Tar Sands Heavy Crude is bad news when shipped by rail also. More explosive, more toxic, more frequent derailments in the USA. This time in Pennsylvania.  Read all about it:  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/13/-train-carrying-canadianoilderailsspillsinpennsylvania.html Who needs this stuff post fracking? Perhaps Canada should write-off/abandon their Tar Sands.  If you think we exaggerate, read this Aljazeera article.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

We “Tell it like it is”


February 18, 2014 at 1:53 AM Comments (0)

THE SWISS CONNECTION – KEY TO WORLD-WIDE CORRUPTION AND FRAUD

7 Feb 2014

Bloomberg reported on 6 Feb 2014, that a Swiss asset manager was charged in the U.S. with helping Americans hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the USA Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to the article> http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-06/swiss-asset-manager-charged-with-tax-fraud-in-u-s-.html  Asset manager Peter Amrein, 52, conspired with Americans from 1998 to 2012 to help them evade taxes, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday in federal court in New York City. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:“From his post in Switzerland, Peter Amrein aided and abetted U.S. taxpayers in their efforts to skirt the tax code and conceal their assets in offshore accounts,…” Peter Amrein, a Swiss citizen, faces as many as five (5) years in prison on the conspiracy charge. with Swiss lawyer, Edgar Paltzer, who has now been cooperating (he “ratted out” )in a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion that has led to criminal charges against more than 100 people, including about 70 American taxpayers and more than 30 bankers, lawyers and advisers. Fourteen banks are under criminal investigation, including Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, U.S.A. authorities have said.  Peter Amrein has not yet been arrested, or located for comment. The case is U.S. v. Amrein, 13-cr-972, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

UNDECLARED ACCOUNTS According to the indictment, Peter Amrein “opened, maintained, and managed undeclared accounts at Swiss banks for various U.S. taxpayers holding millions of dollars in undeclared assets, often working with Edgar Paltzer…The men conspired to set up undeclared Swiss accounts at Wegelin & Co., which pleaded guilty in New York to tax charges, and four other Swiss banks”,. None of those banks are referred to by name (to protect the guilty) FOLKS, THIS IS A LONG AND CONVOLUTED STORY, AS ARE MOST STORIES OF CORRUPTION AND FRAUD. WE BELIEVE IT IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE “SWISS CONNECTION”CORRUPTION ICEBERG.

Thanks to Bloomberg for exposing the Swiss connection.

EPA GRANTS TEXAS PERMITS TO POLLUTE OUR AIR (EVEN MORE!) HOUSTON, TX, USA 4 Feb 2014 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) gave The State of Texas authority over greenhouse gas permitting today, ending a long, often bitter battle between the US-EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Ron Curry, US-EPA’s Regional administrator in Dallas, said he signed the permits on 4 Feb 2014, delegating authority over the program to the TCEQ. The transfer of responsibility comes after months of negotiations concerning what the program would look like. There will be a 30-day public comment period on the program’s outline (FOR ALL THE GOOD IT WILL DO!-THE DIE IS CAST).

US-EPA’s RON CURRY SPEAKS TO ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP. Curry, speaking a luncheon sponsored by “Air Alliance Houston” (an environmental group).said the US-EPA and the TCEQ’ have had an often contentious relationship, and still have many unresolved issues between the two; including a backlog of 80 greenhouse gas permits currently in the process of being approved. Curry added: “that is big news!” when announcing the program had been approved. (HE IS NOT WOOFING! – BIG MONIES BENEFITED; PUBLIC’S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING WILL SUFFER).

TEXAS IS THE USA’s LARGEST GREENHOUSE PRODUCER Unsaid at the Air Alliance Houston luncheon, is the dirty-air fact 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, has been directly issuing permits since 2011, and assuming a role that has historically belonged to States.

TEXAS STATE LEGISLATURE APPROVES  During 2013, the Texas State Legislature passed a law giving the TECQ the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Curry said: “That is when the US-EPA and the TECQ 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? Your guess is as good as mine, but we suspect we know who.

TECQ STILL DISSATISFIED The TECQ said in a statement: “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 SHOULDERS).

AIR ALLIANCE HOUSTON DISSATISFIED While some are pleased to see the US-EPA and Texas begin to resolve issues that have sparked lengthy legal battles, Air Alliance Houston, Executive Director Adrian Shelley said:”I fear the state’s primary goal will be to issue permits quickly to ensure smooth sailing for their industry customers. My hope is that US-EPA will balance TCEQ’s goals with environmental protection,” HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL!

Thanks to AP for their story 4 Feb 2014.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

GINA MC CARTHY TO DAVOS  US-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy went to Davos Switzerland on 22 to 25 Jan 2014.  > http://energymaters.com/?p=1414 ostensibly to address the World Economic Forum” regarding World Economy (really?)- They just needed to make her a guest- any topic. Remember that last 16 Jan 2014; following her Statement to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the President’s Climate Action Plan, Committee Chairperson, Sen. Ms Boxer tasked Gina to provide written reports to all unanswered questions, and to re-appear before the committee in 15 days.  Well… If that happened it was never publicized by US-EPA , or in the mainstream media. Fact is, Gina has been extremely busy dispensing her wisdom on sundry (even unrelated) topics and making financial grants to programs of her choice. Now, remember the Swiss Connection in our first article? But what does that have to do with the US-EPA (Yes, That’s Gina) granted the State of Texas authority over greenhouse gas permitting to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Now Texas will be able to say: What about that there Keystone Pipeline bearing Canadian tar-sand dirty oil for processing in the Houston area?.Bring it on! Even House speaker Bohner says:”let’s get that Keystone Pipeline approved!” albeit in a tongue-in cheek manner, because he knows where Big money is headed, and is trying to steer it there. If president Obama does not veto the Keystone Pipeline,we are all screwed, and Pres. Obama will be on a slippery slope that will threaten to ruin his legacy. Events are getting very critical this close to Congressional election campaigning, and control of the House of Representatives.

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH…Texas Gov. Rick Perry quietly made a trip to Davos (AH! There is that Swiss connection again) Perry went there soon after Gina Mc Carthy ostensibly to speak about Marihuana – Yes, marihuana. Our press did not remark on his comments about Marihuana, or question his real need to go to Davos.  But…We know don’t we? The press did not indicate who flew him there either, but then, he has a lot of friends with private transoceanic aircraft. We bet he too returned with a big smile. We need to remember that Perry no doubt had a great deal to do with the Texas’Legislature approval of the empowerment of the TECQ, over the US-EPA.

MORE ON THE SWISS CONNECTION (see par 1.) Note that it is the USA Internal Revenue System (IRS) that is taking the crooked Swiss bankers with USA connections to task. It reminds one of the Alphonse Capone days (c. 1930) in the USA. Capone was a well known criminal figure who had so many “buffers” that the government could not pin a specific crime on him (at least that’s what was said); so in the end, he went to Jail because of you guessed it !-Income Tax Evasion.  Powerful crime that one! Following the money seems to succeed in ferreting criminals where other laws cannot. Just imagine the magnitude of Swiss Bank involvement in crime and corruption. THE WORLD NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE SWITZERLAND AS A LAND OF CROOKS – EVEN WHEN IT IS TOUTED AS THE”WORLD’S BEST PLACE TO LIVE” An old saying says: “Grass always grows greener over the septic tank” It took me many years to comprehend its real meaning. The grass may look greener, but it stinks to high heaven.

MEXICAN PRESIDENT, ENRIQUE PENA NIETO ALSO WENT TO DAVOS RECENTLY Handsome man/wife, and who sounds so honest, that his visit there was hard for me to understand. However, he is instrumental on the granting of permits to foreign oil interest, notably in the deep-ocean exploration/development. Well…He too went to Davos, and appears quite haggard lately. It is notable that Mexico has not granted such exploration/exploitation permit since 1936. That is a long time ago in the energy world.  Has anyone you know been to Davos? Hmm!-food for thought!

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

We connect the points, even when they lead to ugly places/conclusions.

UPDATE ON THIS STORY 19 May 2014

SWISS BANKING GIANT CREDIT SUISSE PLEADED GUILTY to a criminal charge that it helped wealthy Americans dodge income taxes. A milestone following years of criticism that regulators have failed to crack down on huge financial institutions. The USA Department of Justice (DoJ)filed a criminal charge against the company in federal court on 19 May 2014 signaling that a plea arrangement has been reached. Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to aid tax evasion and to pay a fine of more than $2.6 billion.

Credit Suisse executives have previously admitted that their bank helped Americans shield as much as $12 billion from taxes, and acknowledged the practice was a “mistake” and “unacceptable.” However, they argued that Swiss bank-secrecy laws prohibiting them from revealing the names of tax-dodging U.S. citizens to American regulators.

Critics say the unwillingness to bring the hammer down on major banks and their top executives effectively fans wrongdoing on Wall Street. Even so, the criminal charge against Credit Suisse will apparently only go so far. Its chief executive, Brady Dougan, is not expected to lose his job, according to report

Thanks to the LA Times 19 May 2014

COMMENT

So, Credit Suisse got caught with its hand in the cookie jar, and Brady Dougan (an American).will get a slap on the wrist, while the USA tax evaders avoided $9.4 billion in income tax payments. How sweet it must be! One has to wonder if the higher-ups in the USA-DoJ who accepted the plea-bargaining will receive compensation for their “pragmatism”. Just to think there are other institutions like Credit Suisse in the USA, and the world. This case is “prima facie” wrongdoing, illegal, and corrupt. Corruption is like a societal cancer that invites lesser wrongdoers to do likewise.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


February 7, 2014 at 9:30 PM Comments (0)

GINA McCARTHY-EPA ADMIN WAS GRILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT

16 Jan 2014

                                                                                            US-EPA WANTS US TO KNOW

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Statement to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the President’s Climate Action Plan

WASHINGTON – Remarks of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as prepared for delivery on 16 Jan 2014:

1. Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Vitter, members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

2. In June of last year (2013), the President reaffirmed his commitment to reducing carbon pollution when he directed many federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to take meaningful steps to mitigate the current and future damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions and to prepare for the anticipated climate changes that have already been set in motion.

3. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Based on the evidence, more than 97% of climate scientists are convinced that human-caused climate change is occurring. If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends.

4. Responding to climate change is an urgent public health, safety, national security, and environmental imperative that presents an economic challenge and an economic opportunity. As the President has stated, both the economy and the environment must provide for current and future generations, and we can and must embrace cutting carbon pollution as a spark for business innovation, job creation, clean energy and broad economic growth. The United States’ success over the past 40 years makes clear that environmental protection and economic growth go hand in hand.

5. The President’s Climate Action Plan directs federal agencies to address climate change using existing executive authorities. The Plan has three key pillars: cutting carbon pollution in America; preparing the country for the impacts of climate change; and leading international efforts to combat global climate change.

6. Cutting Carbon Pollution EPA plays a critical role in implementing the Plan’s first pillar, cutting carbon pollution. Over the past four years, EPA has begun to address this task under the Clean Air Act.

7. Our first steps addressed motor vehicles, which annually emit nearly a third of U.S. carbon pollution. EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with the auto industry and other stakeholders, worked together to set greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for Model Year 2012 to 2025 light-duty vehicles. Over the life of these vehicles, the standards will save an estimated $1.7 trillion for consumers and businesses and cut America’s oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons.

8. EPA’s and NHTSA’s standards for model year 2014 through 2018 heavy-duty trucks and buses present a similar success story. Under the President’s Plan, we will be developing a second phase of heavy-duty vehicle standards for post 2018 model years. Building on this success, the President asked EPA to work with states, utilities and other key stakeholders to develop plans to reduce carbon pollution from future and existing power plants.

9. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. In March 2012, the EPA first proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants. After receiving over 2.5 million comments, we determined to issue a new proposed rule based on this input and updated information.

10. In September 2013, the EPA announced its new proposal. The proposed standards would establish the first uniform national limits on carbon pollution from future power plants. They will not apply to existing power plants. The proposal sets separate national limits for new natural gas-fired turbines and new coal-fired units. New large natural gas-fired turbines would need to emit less than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to emit less than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would need to emit less than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. Operators of these units could choose to have additional flexibility by averaging their emissions over multiple years to meet a somewhat tighter limit.

11. The standards reflect the demonstrated performance of efficient, lower carbon technologies that are currently being used today. They set the stage for continued public and private investment in technologies like efficient natural gas and carbon capture and storage. The proposal was recently published in the Federal Register on January 8 2014,> http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/e405e8e3ca85093d85257c46006d9ff5!opendocument> and the formal public comment period is now open. We look forward to robust engagement on the proposal and will carefully consider the comments and input we receive as a final rule is developed.

12. As noted, the proposed rule would apply only to future power plants. For existing plants, we are engaged in outreach to a broad group of stakeholders who can inform the development of proposed guidelines, which we expect to issue in June of this year. These guidelines will provide guidance to States, which have the primary role in developing and implementing plans to address carbon pollution from the existing plants in their states. We recognize that existing power plants require a distinct approach, and this framework will allow us to capitalize on state leadership and innovation while also accounting for regional diversity and providing flexibility.

13. The EPA’s stakeholder outreach and public engagement in preparation for this rulemaking is extensive and vigorous. We held eleven public listening sessions around the country at EPA regional offices and our headquarters in Washington, DC. We have participated in numerous meetings with a broad range of stakeholders across the country. And all of this is happening well before we propose any guidelines. When we issue proposed guidelines in June, the more formal public process begins – including a public comment period and an opportunity for a public hearing – which will provide yet further opportunity for stakeholders and the general public to provide input.

14. Cutting Methane Emissions The Climate Action Plan calls for the development of a comprehensive, interagency strategy to address emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that also contributes to ozone pollution, but which has substantial economic value. EPA is working with other agencies to assess emissions data, address data gaps, and identify opportunities to reduce methane emissions through incentive-based programs and existing authorities.

15. Curbing Emissions of HFCs The Plan also calls on the US to lead through international diplomacy as well as domestic action to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases whose emissions are otherwise expected to nearly triple by 2030. Moving forward, the EPA will use its authority under the Clean Air Act to encourage the investment, purchase, and use of climate-friendly alternatives.

16. Preparing for Impacts of Climate Change Even as we work to avoid dangerous climate change, we must strengthen America’s resilience to climate impacts we’re already experiencing and those that can no longer be avoided. The President’s Plan calls for a broad array of actions on this front. EPA is incorporating research on climate impacts into the implementation of our existing programs and developing information and tools to help decision-makers – including State, local and tribal governments – to better understand and address these impacts. Further, EPA is working closely with our federal agency counterparts on several other aspects of building our national resilience, including developing the National Drought Resilience Partnership, ensuring the security of our freshwater supplies, protecting our water utilities, and protecting and restoring our natural resources in the face of a changing climate.

17. International Efforts Our changing climate is also a global challenge, and the President’s Plan recognizes that the United States must couple action at home with leadership abroad. Working closely with the State Department, EPA continues to engage our international partners in reducing carbon pollution through an array of activities. These include public-private partnership efforts to address emissions of methane and other short-lived climate pollutants under the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Global Methane Initiative, as well as bilateral cooperation with major economies.

18. Conclusion  The President’s Plan provides a roadmap for federal action to meet the pressing challenge of a changing climate – promoting clean energy solutions that capitalize on American innovation and drive economic growth. EPA looks forward to working with other federal agencies and all stakeholders on these critical efforts.

19. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify, and I look forward to answering your question

                                                                                        OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

Gina McCarthy’s EPA Administrators Statement to US Senate Committee on 16 Jan 2013 above was provided by their own site> http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/FE40A46647A6007F85257C6200564C15 , and is provided for your convenience.  We added Paragraph numbers 1-19 for easy referral purposes, and added emphasis where we thought it was needed.

“A SNOW JOB” IS AN APT DESCRIPTION OF THE EPA STATEMENT TO THE SENATE. Light, fluffy and non-controversial, but deeply lacking in substantive content and evidence of statement. It is a classical  “statement by committee” addenda of “meaningful steps “ (see par 2.).  The prime and immediate concern was partially addressed in par. 9. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. That heavy issue was treated only for future power plants

Gina’s Statement, and the many senatorial questions that followed, were aired live on C-Span 2 TV, and re-run subsequently and…Folks, the questions posed were mainly: “Hardball” questions asked by now impatient Senators (on both sides of the Senate); that went largely unanswered by a Gina McCarthy, who seemed nonplused, unresponsive, and at times seemed to say: Are you talking to me?!-Senators do not take such unresponsiveness lightly.  It was quite clear that Senators in the Committee wanted knowledgeable answers, and statement of EPA policies, We feel sure many a Senator felt like knocking on Gina’s forehead and saying “anybody home ?”. THAT WAS NO WAY TO HOLD A HEARING ! In the end, Chairperson Sen. Ms. Boxer (D-CA), summed-up the Committees’ general dissatisfaction by charging Gina with another Hearing within 2 weeks (30 Jan 2014), and to provide written answers to the many unanswered questions. One Senator commented that EPA’s rulings impact public health. A pointed question by a Senator was: YOU DO REALIZE THAT EPA DIRECTIVES IMPACT BIG MONIES FROM THE UTILITIES AND INDUSTRIES?  Implicit was, Gina, you would not take money for favors granted? Would you?

WOULD GINA DO IT?. Well.  It could happen. It has happened many times in the past, involving well known, highly placed governmental figures such as then VP Cheney.  But how do these things happen ?  One well trod road to future riches is Davos, Switzerland. Point is: Gina McCarthy has planned a trip to Davos Switzerland on 22 to 25 Jan 2014.  > http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/41860523ea6f0b2985257c63004c5992!opendocument  She is ostensibly going there to address the “World Economic Forum”. question is, how can Gina know so much about World Economics, when she obviously knows little about the USA EPA Administration ? Also, why would she make such a trip when she is in hot-water with the USA Senate Committee on Environment,  and pending the grilling of her life? Oh well, traditionally all government officials who travel to Davos, leave there with a big smile.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT DAVOS SWITZERLAND? Although its population is only about 11,000 of the world’s elite, and richest people; whose only real flag is MONEY, it also has Swiss banks (As of 2008, there were 327 authorized banks and securities dealers in Switzerland), as well as the POST OFFICE which handles some financial transactions, and use an electronic payments system known as Swiss Interbank Clearing (SIC). The system is supervised by the Swiss National Bank, and is operated via a joint venture. SIC handled over 250  million transactions in 2005, with a turnover value of 41 trillion Swiss francs. Its world offices are located in New York City. All that is required to open an account at one of Davos’ Banks, is to visit one, sign on the dotted line, and obtain a unique alpha numerical code to which money may be added by another party(s) who was given the code.  Money can then be electronically transferred to another account by the the owner(s)-ALL IN SECRECY OF COURSE!  Now, does Gina’s visit to Davos make sense?  It does to me. In my opinion, Gina McCarthy has found her US-EPA position untenable, and is ready to cash-in her chips for favors granted.  We’ll see.

COMMENTS ON REFERENCED PARAGRAPHS FOLLOW:

4. The response given in the last sentence is simply a “many times told outright lie”, and that does not make it true.  The USA is  not now, and has never been, “environmentally sweaky-clean”  And yet, even now, Gina Mc Carthy  has deferred action on plans for existing fossil fueled utilities to a future date (not given).

10. (Proposed Standards): They will not apply to existing (fossil fueled) power plants”-That’s so, more foot-dragging is anticipated/expected regarding existing fossil fuel power plants..

11. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). “The standards reflect the demonstrated performance of efficient, lower carbon technologies that are currently being used today. They set the stage for continued public and private investment in technologies like efficient natural gas and carbon capture and storage. The proposal was recently published in the Federal Register on January 8 2014″.  Incredibly, EPA Released on 12/19/2013 a statement: Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that helps create a consistent national framework to ensure the safe and effective deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. >http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/e405e8e3ca85093d85257c46006d9ff5!  Accepted view is that CCS IS NOT a “demonstrated technology”  This is an outright lie. EPA solicited public comment.  Our comment to US EPA follows.  No response to day.

 OUR COMMENTS TO US-EPA

16 Jan 2014

You can already locate/quantify the greatest existing coal-fired polluters in the country. Why don’t you take immediate action to require these Power plant owners/operators to submit a plan to reduce emissions ASAP? What are you waiting for?

Ms. McCarthy’s optimism/reliance on Carbon Sequestration Compression and Disposal is ludicrous.  It will never be technically possible and/or socio-politically acceptable,  NIMBY ! Just “Pie in the Sky”, and you know it!

Speaking of “Clean-Coal” is also ludicrous. – There is no such;  Only partially “de-sulfurized coal’, the production of which itself will produce lakes of long term-pollutants with nowhere to go, and only slightly better than Nuclear waste.

Rapid transition to Nat Gas appears for now the best thing to do to accomplish cost-effective, rapid GHG reduction; Even then, we must encourage rapid development of Green Energy.  Fortunately, our Industry/governments are swiftly going there.

I know coal-burning is not the only issue on your plate , but, given our Nat-gas abundance it may well be the most quickly remediable.

www.energymaters.com

12. EXISTING FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS: “We recognize that existing power plants require a distinct approach, and this framework will allow us to capitalize on state leadership and innovation while also accounting for regional diversity and providing flexibility”. Given that this is the prime source of noxious and other Green House Gasses (GHGs), this is a painful cop-out !

16. (last sentence): “National Drought Resilience Partnership, ensuring the security of our freshwater supplies, protecting our water utilities, and protecting and restoring our natural resources in the face of a changing climate”- Pray tell more! – What is EPA doing? Our throats are parched in TX CA, and many other places.

17. International Efforts: Ms. McCarthy failed to report the results of her recent bi-lateral conference trip to China > http://energymaters.com/?p=1343  Four days in China and no trip report ?  Not good.

18. Conclusion  EPA looks forward to working with other federal agencies and all stakeholders on these critical efforts.” We think it is not just stakeholders (financially involved) such as Power Plant Owners, shareholders, operators, but also the utility public (users), academia, and other countries who see the USA as  an example – Imagine that!.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

LATE BREAKING NEWS / COMMENT, 24 JAN 2014

Texas Governor Rick Perry too (also) is invited to Davos, Switzerland.  Another outgoing politician who gets an invite to address the WEF there. He too must have friends just waiting to show their gratitude for favors granted. What do you bet he will open a “Swiss bank account” while there ?  Just to think that he is making this Junket look as “official business”, he is very good at that.

We connect the dots, and tell it like it is! – We wish to be relevant in these days of hoopla / disinformation and misinformation.

P.S. We are happy to report that our readership during 2013 was about 40% higher than in 2012.  Even so, without RSS we ask you to please pass out the word about this blog, place us among your “favorites, and look-in on us from time to time.  One never knows when very important articles may be forthcoming.

We do welcome your comments on recent articles, but please stay on point. 

 

 

 


January 19, 2014 at 9:03 PM Comment (1)

EPA ADMIN TO PARTICIPATE IN US/CHINA BILATERAL TALKS ABOUT AIR AND CLIMATE

06 DEC 2013

                                                                                              US – EPA WANTS US TO KNOW

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to Travel to China to Discuss US-China Clean Air and Climate Cooperation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will be in China on Monday, 09 Dec 2013 thru 12 Dec. to discuss US /China cooperation on air quality, climate pollution and environmental issues. She will travel to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong during her four-day visit.

WHILE IN CHINA, Administrator McCarthy plans to underscore steps China has already taken to address air pollution, additional steps to come, and how the United States and China can continue to work together. Highlights of her visit include co-chairing the U.S.-China Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation; delivering a keynote speech at Tsinghua University; and meeting with senior officials, business leaders and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

The U.S. and China represent the world’s largest economies, consumers of energy, and emitters of carbon pollution. Climate change is a shared challenge, and building on more than 30 years of successful cooperation and partnership, the United States and China must work together to build a clean energy economy for a healthier, safer planet.

Earlier this year (2013), President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan that outlines commonsense steps to cut carbon pollution from power plants, the biggest individual source of carbon pollution in the United States. In September, the EPA proposed standards for new power plants that are flexible, drive economic growth, and spark the clean energy innovation needed for a low-carbon economy.

China is taking action to address climate change while reducing traditional air pollution and promoting economic growth, and the U.S. stands ready to help.

All times local

Monday, December 9 (2013)

BEIJING
WHAT:  Opening Remarks at International Workshop on Fuel Desulfurization
WHEN: Monday, December 9, 9:40 am
WHERE: Ballroom 1&2, Regent Beijing Hotel

WHAT:  U.S. – China Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation
WHEN: Monday, December 9, 5:40 pm
WHERE: Villa 10, Diaoyutai Guesthouse

Tuesday, December 10

WHAT:  Keynote Speech and Town Hall Meeting at Tsinghua University
WHEN: Tuesday, December 10, 10:45 am
WHERE: Tsinghua University, School of Environment

Wednesday, December 11

SHANGHAI
WHAT:  China Council Green Business Roundtable on Corporate Social Responsibility
WHEN: Wednesday, December 11, 2:30 pm
WHERE: Sheraton Shanghai Pudong Hotel

Thursday, December 12

HONG KONG
WHAT: Media availability with Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government
WHEN: Thursday, December 12th, 2:00 pm
WHERE: Berlin Suite, Basement Level, Regal Airport Hotel

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

OUR TAKE

THE PUBLISHED AGENDA CLEARLY INDICATES that Ms.McCarthy’s planned trip intends to focus on ways and means to reduce the emission toxicity of “Coal-Burning Industries/Power Plants; For instance: Day one intends to address “Fuel Desulfurization”; Surely the real concern is Coal as a fuel for industries/Power Plants because in many areas of the world, the available coal is what in the USA is considered “low quality coal” because it contains many particulate and chemical components.  Sulfur is one of the most prevalent and lethal, because when coal is burned, sulphur gas is given up into the atmosphere, where it combines with water (or rain) to form sulfuric acid, or “ACID RAIN”; Acid rain immediately attacks trees/forests, and reacts chemically with any limestone (alkaline) subterranean water aquifers (most of them are), and destroys them in the long run. Least we underestimate the toxic effect of acid rain on trees/forests, let us remember that trees are the only natural defense we have against carbon dioxide, because they clean the air and actually consume the carbon dioxide; If these are gone, so are we. Also affected by sulfur in the air, are most of the world’s sculptures and building facades, as well as very important Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other Architectural Treasures.

Today, great contributors to ill health among humans and fauna are two coal combustion gasses: Sulfurous, and Nitrous oxides,. Unfortunately –these are already highly prevalent in many urban areas, and more so in China >http://america.aljazeera.com/multimedia/photo-gallery/2013/12/photos-smog-blanketsshanghai.html, Mexico, and other places, where the air is some days actually “sickening”. Problem is that such gasses trend to remain at ground level on windless, or humid days, thus becoming even more noxious to humans. My City of San Antonio, TX is no exception, and on such days, I stay indoors, fortunately for me, as a retired person I can afford to do so.

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST at the conclave, topics are: Environmental Cooperation, Corporate Social  Responsibility. Green Business, and a Town Hall Meeting (Probably polite questioning by local media (media availability), and hopefully, some timely questions/comments by students/faculty ? at “Tsinghua University, School of Environment”. Let there be no doubt that China has always known how to fete, and welcome their guests; This will be no exception. We did notice the glaring absence (in the agendas provided) regarding CLEAN AIR AND CLIMATE CHANGE COOPERATION per-se.

OUR COMMENT:

There is no doubt on my mind that EPA Chief, Ms. Mc Carthy, is a great defender of the Coal industry in general.  Perhaps because her Chief, US DOE Secretary Ernest E. Moniz, has even promised $8B for improvements to that Industry. Even so, Ms. Mc Carthy defends the coal Industry with natural zeal.  At a recent Congressional Hearing, she defended technical advances of the experimental technology known as “Carbon Sequestration, Compression and Disposal” (CSCD)  as the answer to Carbon Dioxide Production/elimination. Folks, she defended this technology with a fervor not found in any scientist/ or prudent Politician.  You may recall that CSCD, also implies the underground burial of carbon dioxide from Power Plants and Industry. Just consider the technical and socio-political challenges involved. Such technology has been under study for several years with no progress to date. When a town was approached several years ago about experimenting under their back yard they said: “Not in MY Back Yard !” MINE NEITHER !- Hell, fracking is enough!; Still, Ms McCarthy insisted to a US Representative that there are two (2) such experiments underway. One (somewhere) in the USA; the other in Canada, with US resources. The Conservative US Representative who asked the question knew she was talking “Pie in the Sky”.  McCarthy is probably funding them. It was clear to us that “Coal-burning” IS NOT her favorite subject: However given its weather/climate change potential, and other VITAL HEALTH CONCERNS, IT SHOULD BE!  She should be replaced, but won’t, because she wittingly, or unwittingly, protects regional energy barons’ interests.  And then there is the sad matter of our Nuclear Waste Disposal at Richland WA., But that is another story.> http://energymaters.com/?p=1331

Now is the time for Dan Utech, Pres. Obama’s new “Advisor on Energy and Climate Change”, to make a difference.  Do you suppose he was invited to the China /USA Bilateral talks ?  We suspect he was not, but should attend, even if only as an observer.  Given normal protocol he should be accorded a title of co-chairperson. > http://energymaters.com/?p=1305

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

#20-2013


December 6, 2013 at 2:12 AM Comments (0)

RICHLAND-“AMERICA’S FUKUSHIMA”, A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN IN OUR N.E.

30 Nov. 2013

RICHLAND, Wash. On a wind-swept plateau, underground steel tanks that hold the nation’s most deadly radioactive waste are slowly rotting. The soil deep under the desert brush is being fouled with plutonium, cesium and other material so toxic, that it could deliver a lethal dose of radiation to a nearby person in minutes. The aging tanks at the former Hanford nuclear weapons production complex contain 56 million gallons of sludge, the by-product of several decades of nuclear weapons production, and they represent one of the nation’s most treacherous environmental threats.

US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY(US DOE) OFFICIALS have repeatedly assured the public that they have the advanced technology needed to safely dispose of the waste. However; an industrial city at the Hanford nuclear weapons complex has been under development for 24 years, designed to transform the sludge into solid glass to prepare it for permanent burial. Even so with $13 billion already spent, there are serious doubts that the highly complex technology will even work, or that the current plan can clean up all the waste. Alarmed at warnings raised by outside experts and some of the project’s own engineers, DOE officials last year ordered a halt to construction on the most important parts of the waste treatment plant. One would produce highly radioactivity resistant glass destined for a future geological repository, and the other a lower radioactivity rated glass that could be buried at Hanford. Over the last two (2) years, technical problems on the project have multiplied. Concern has grown that explosive hydrogen gas could build up inside the treatment plant’s pipes and tanks. Some project engineers now say that. lumps of plutonium could form inside the plant’s mixing tanks potentially causing a spontaneous nuclear reaction. A federal oversight board found that employee safety concerns had been disregard, while the DOE’s Inspector General reported an estimate that more than a third of the plant’s nuclear safety reviews required on every pipe, valve and device were never conducted .(BECHTEL- WHERE ART/WERE THOU ?).

PREOCUPIED POLITICIAN Sen. Ron Wyden(D-Ore.), chairman of the “Energy and Natural Resources Committee”. Said about Bechtel: They are missing one important target after another…It feels like we are going around in circles”.

FEDERAL CHIEF-ENGR. AT HANFORD, GARY BRUNSON WANTS BECHTEL GONE. Brunson recommended a year ago that the prime contractor, Bechtel National, be removed as the plant designer, citing 34 instances of serious safety and engineering errors. Two other senior managers have also publicly said the project’s technology is flawed and that safety concerns have been disregarded.

BECHTEL PROJECT MANAGER-NOT WORRIED. Bill Hamel who is managing construction of the waste treatment plant, said: “I am 100% sure that whatever the tests show, the mixing hardware or the chemical processes can be adjusted to allow the treatment plant to fulfill its mission…This entire design is based on safety,”  On a recent tour of the plant, Hamel navigated around walls 6 feet thick designed to protect workers from radiation. Massive stainless steel tanks that can hold up to 375,000 gallons of sludge were lined up in areas that will someday be sealed off from human entry ( HAMEL, DOES YO’ MAMA KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?).

BECHTEL NATIONAL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AT HANFORD, Russell Daniel said: The probability of an explosion is no greater than 1 in 1 million…even if 20 feet of hydrogen gas accumulated inside a pipe and detonated, it would not cause a rupture or any damage…This is a very large, very complex facility…We continue to make progress”.  US DOE disagrees. Nov 2013 they formally offered a more cautious prognosis.  It notified Washington State officials that it might miss some of the most important project deadlines, promised three years ago under a “consent agreement” reached to address earlier lapses; Now, 14 of 19 key milestones are in jeopardy

ENDLESS DELAYS –NOT ACCEPTABLE – not when a million gallons of sludge from about a third of the 177 underground tanks have leaked into the soil, and some of it has reached aquifers under the plateau. The Columbia River, the West’s biggest waterway, is seven miles downhill from the waste and, under a worst-case scenario, it could be hit by the radioactive plumes in as little as 50 years, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology. Suzanne Dahl, who runs the Ecology Department’s Hanford office said:”It is really disappointing” In late Sep 2013, DOE Secretary Ernest J. Moniz tried to intervene with a vague plan for accelerating the project. He offered options that included the development of a new treatment plant and a change in the chemical process for treating some of the liquid waste. (JUDGING FROM MONIZ’S PAST PRONOUNCEMENTS “VAGUE” IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT).

BECHTEL’S BASIC PLAN is to pump the waste into a “pre-treatment plant”, a factory larger than a football field, and 12 stories tall, that would filter and chemically separate the waste into two streams: One high, another, low-level radioactivity. Then, two (2) other plants would “vitrify,”(mix the waste with molten glass), One would produce highly radioactive glass destined for a future geological repository, and the other a lower radioactive glass that could be buried at Hanford. But Sen. Ron Wyden(D-Ore.), among other critics, dismissed it, calling it “a plan for a plan”. (HMM…!  BECHTEL SURE SOUNDS LIKE JAPAN ‘S CENTRAL GOVT. ABOUT FUKUSHIMA) The questions concern Bechtel’s decision not to use traditional mechanical mixers with paddles driven by electric motors, as have been employed at other nuclear processing plants; Instead, the company chose pulse jet mixers, which function like giant turkey basters powered by vacuum and air pressure, they would suck waste into a cylinder within the tanks and then spit it out under high pressure. Such a system has never been used in such large tanks. The decision was based on the concern that mechanical systems could break down in highly radioactive “black cells,” as the tanks are known, over the 40-year design-life of the plant. Even so, doubts have grown about whether the pulse jet mixers can adequately agitate the waste and prevent the formation of hydrogen gas and clumps of plutonium at the bottom of the tanks and in pipes.

SERIOUS PROBLEMS WERE EXPOSED LAST YEAR by Walter Tamosaitis, one of the scientific chiefs of the project. He disclosed that the innovative technology for mixing the waste in processing tanks could cause dangerous buildups of explosive hydrogen gas and might allow plutonium clumps to form. ” Tamosaitis was fired for telling it like it is, but his candor made him a “whistleblower, and there is now Senatorial action afoot to protect him.

ENTER – THE US DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD, an independent Federal Agency that oversees nuclear weapons sites, validated Tamosaitis’ concerns about the mixing technology and found that Bechtel’s safety culture at the project was flawed. Construction on the project’s two (2) most important components: The pre-treatment plant, and the high-level vitrification plant, were substantially slowed. The Safety Board has demanded that US DOE conduct a full-scale test of the mixing system, using nonradioactive sludge, before going any further. The test facility is under construction near Hanford, but the test completion date is uncertain.

ACADEMIA WORRIED Some of the nation’s top independent experts say the Bechtel technology is far from proven; Rich Calabrese, a University of Maryland professor (considered one of the world’s top experts in chemical mixing technology) said: “We are all out there at the frontier, trying to assess the technology…I am neutral about whether it will work or not…DOE has to demonstrate that it will do the job…people are working to make sure the right tests are done to answer that question.”

NUCLEAR ENGINEER IS PESSIMISTIC. Donna Busche, a nuclear engineer, and health physicist said: “The pre-treatment plant will not operate as it was originally intended….the facility would never be able to pass a licensing review because so many crucial tests had never been conducted and so many documents are missing…Even if concerns about the mixers are resolved, the very earliest construction could resume on the high-level plant is now set for 2014, and the pre-treatment after that…even if all of the technical doubts are overcome and if the lack of nuclear safety documentation can be resolved, there are serious concerns that the treatment plant will wear out before it can process all of the 56 million gallons of waste.. Busche leads the project’s safety team at “URS Corp” a Bechtel sub-contractor. (OOPS ! – LOOK OUT DONNA – YOUR JOB IS IN JEPARDY)

Many of the problems seem to stem from the decision to launch construction of the plant even before engineers had completed the design. The job of turning nuclear waste as thick as peanut butter into glass is at the leading edge of nuclear chemistry, a job made difficult by the complex mixture (Transuranics) of wastes that were fed into the underground tanks by some of the nation’s largest industrial corporations under a cloak of government secrecy. US DOE officials acknowledge that possibility, and say they will need a second low-level vitrification plant to complete the job. If/When that will happen is unknown -it is a project that Congress has not yet authorized. (SOUNDS LIKE MONIZ’S “PIE IN THE SKY”). And then there are budget constraints to contend with.

Thanks to the L.A.Times for their excellent story 29 Nov 2013

OUR TAKE

Just as in the 1984 movie: “GHOST-BUSTERS”, we (the USA) have been “Slimed”, and now we need to put the EVIL GHOSTS back in the GHOST TRAPs.  The analogy is deeper and more menacing than it looks. It is clear to us that Bechtel National. has taken us for a 24 year, $13 billion ride so far; with no measurable results, and given the passage of time, for plant deterioration which marks Hanford as a clear and present danger, requiring immediate attention at all levels of government, and our Industries.

It should be clear to those Federal employees who authorize the checks, that Bechtel National should be fired ASAP for “Breech of Contract”, and/or “Lack of Due Diligence”; So, why don’t they?- You know…those in authority have received (or will receive) a sizable compensation for favors granted. It could be proven by “following the money”, but that will not happen because that would be scandalous, and might reach “Untouchable” political figures.

IN OUR OPINION, what is needed is an immediate Request for a Proposal(RFP) to Nuclear Waste Remediation segment of Industry to be reviewed by, an independent organization, such as the THE US DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD. Regrettably, the US DOE seems to be lacking personnel capable of providing such advice. It may be necessary for our President to appoint an Independent “Blue Ribbon Committee” and I mean answerable to no one, but our President. There is a fitting Spanish saying: “A grandes males, grandes remedios”(“great ailments, require great remedies”).

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


November 30, 2013 at 11:09 PM Comments (0)

UKRAINE-NEIGHBOR TO RUSSIA, ENTERS INTO A CONSORTIUM TO LOOK FOR OIL/GAS

23 Nov 2013

Royal Dutch Shell (Shell), co-signed a $10 billion shale/gas exploration/development deal with the Ukrainian government Jan 2013.  Shell expects to start drilling in the Yuzivska field in 2014  Ukranian  Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky said: “$10 billion would be invested if the geology meets expectations   Ukraine (neighbor to Russia, and a former member of the Soviet Union),Has for many years depended on expensive/unreliable  Russian gas imports to cover more than 60% of its consumption, is now pushing to develop its own reserves, both onshore and offshore, in the Black Sea.

Graham Tiley,  Shell’s country manager in the Ukraine,  in an interview in Kiev, on 6 Nov 2013 said: .Shell will need to drill as many as 15 wells to complete the initial exploration appraisal of the 8,000 square-kilometer (3,100 square-mile) Yuzivska field in the eastern part of the country, ”…If you look across all these different projects, and if you look at interests of not just Shell, but major oil and gas companies, you would say Ukraine has a good chance to boost its output…The sector has been under-invested and I assume over time the domestic production will increase.”Mr. Tiley added: “So far all of Shell’s projects remain in the exploration phase…Until we get out there, drill some wells and test them, we simply won’t know how much of the area is going to be commercially productive…Right now the testing phase will take some months before we have some results, and that will be only from one well…Separately, the consortium has also completed drilling its first well in the Kharkiv region together with Ukranian state company DK Ukrhazvydobuvannya, a unit of NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy, and is preparing to drill two more wells in 2014.

The Ukranian government also signed a production-sharing agreement with Chevron Corp. on 7 Nov.2013 for exploration/extraction of shale gas; and plans to complete its negotiations by the end of 2013 with an “Exxon Mobil Corp-led group”(consortium), which includes Shell, to explore off Ukraine’s western Black Sea coast.

Thanks to Bloomberg for their 8 Nov 2013 story.

 

OUR TAKE

ENTER –“HYDRAULIC FRACTURING” (Fracking)  The relatively new and still controversial  Oil/Nat gas exploration/exploitation technology has produced a shale-gas boom in the USA, such that it has quickly outproduced Rusia as the world’s largest Nat gas producer. It is no wonder many other countries are looking at fracking as a potential solution to their energy problems. Ukraine could hold as much as 42 trillion cubic feet (1.2 trillion cubic meters) of shale gas, the third largest reserve in Europe, according to a 2011 U.S. Energy Information Admin. report.

RUSSIA HAS USED NAT- GAS FOR POLITICAL CONTROL of its former republics..  By forcing Nat gas pipeline-deals, port concessions for Black-Sea access, etc., Putin has successfully used Gazprom, to assert Russia’s political control of its former Republics during the past decade.; However, fracking in many places, and  domestic competition in Russia, is causing Gazprom to lose Nat gas primacy worldwide. We wish Russia would treat its neighbors as themselves, because “what goes around, comes around”, and The Russian people, as most of Eastern Europe, have endured/suffered enough since WWII.  One would hope they would be more politically understanding and helpful. Equal treatment would suffice.> http://energymaters.com/?p=1052

NATURALLY, UKRAINE SEEKS ENERGY INDEPENDENCE Another worry for Gazprom, is the urgent desire of Ukraine to free itself of dependence on Russian imports of Gazprom’s Nat gas. Over the past decade, the two countries have frequently clashed over gas prices/availability at peak-usage times. In the past, that has resulted in disruptions to the Nat gas flow through Ukraine to Europe.  Pres. Putin granted Gazprom a Nat gas export monopoly, and helped secure the “Nord Stream pipeline project” to Europe.  Significantly, Gazprom gained control over Belarus’s pipeline network, and negotiated a Nat gas price deal with Ukraine that extended Russia’s lease of a Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol used as a Russian naval base (KEEP IN MIND RUSSIA HAS NO SEAPORTS IN THE BLACK SEA. In other words, Putin et-al, has made its former Republics “A deal they could not refuse” if they wanted Nat gas.  AS WE SAY IN AMERICA: “WITH FRIENDS LIKE THAT, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES.

ABOUT UKRAINE: A country in Eastern Europe.  Its Capital city is Kiev (pop. about 3 mil.). It borders the Russian Federation to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively. IT HAS A LAND AREA of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe. It is also home to the now infamous  Soviet Nuclear Power Plant disaster of Chernobyl, near Kiev.  Ukraine last became independent when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.  GRAIN PRODUCER/EXPORTER Throughout its history, Ukraine has been one of the powerhouses of world agriculture due to the fertility of its land.  The country was the world’s third-largest grain exporter( as of 2011).  POLITICALLY: Since the dissolution of the Soviet union(1991),Ukraine is a Republic under a semi-presidential system with separate  Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government.  POPULATION: The country is home to 46 million people,- 77.8 % of whom are ethnic Ukranians, with sizable minorities of Russians (17%), Belarusians Romanians, and other nationalities  RELIGION The dominant religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has strongly influenced Ukraine’s architecture, literature and music.

UKRANIAN AERONAUTICAL PRODIGY, Oleg Konstantinovich Antonov (1906-1984) was a world renown Soviet cargo aircraft designer, and the first designer/chief of the Antonov world-famous aircraft company in Ukraine, later named in his honour. Antonov was personally responsible for designing a very successful line of Soviet cargo aircraft from the Antonov AN-2 (Anne) single prop, bi-plane (1946), and up to what may well be the world’s best ultra-large cargo plane, the AN 124 ( in many variants ); similar to the USAs C-5A. It has been used by many countries(including the USA) to ferry heavy,oversize cargo, over long distances at very competitive prices.

ABOUT NATURAL GAS. It is a wonderful fossil fuel because it produces about half as many greenhouse gasses as anthracite coal, when used to generate electricity. It is also very versatile as home heating fuel etc. It can also be used as a fertilizer precursor; and as such, we will someday wish we had not “burned-up” so much of it. We must view it as a “transition fuel” perhaps for 50 years; however it is a fossil-fuel, and as such, a non-renewable resource. The world should see Nat gas use as the last chance to prepare renewable (Green-energy). Fortunately, many nations can see far enough ahead to realize that we must ultimately develop/emplace sustainable green energy means, be they whatever best suits each country.

RENEWABLE ENERGY OUTLOOK IN UKRAINE The share of “renewables” within the total energy mix of Ukraine is still very small, but growing fast. In 2011 it stood at 397 megawatts (MW). Also in 2011, several large “solar power stations” were opened in Ukraine, among them Europe’s largest solar park in Perovo, (Crimea). Ukranian “State Agency for Energy Efficiency and Conservation” forecasts that combined installed capacity of wind and solar power plants in Ukraine could increase by another 600 MW in 2012. According to Macquarie Research, by 2016 Ukraine will construct and commission new solar power stations with a total capacity of 1.8 GW, which is almost equivalent to the capacity of two nuclear power plants.

UKRAINE AND OTHER EX-SOVIET REPUBLICS WANT DESPERATELY TO JOIN THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU). > http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/world/europe/thousands-of-ukrainians-protest-scrapping-of-trade-pact-with-eu.html?_r=0 Many of them are still clamoring for their governments to leave the Russian sphere of influence; However, Russia’s  Pres. Putin has been able to suppress those longings thus far.  Energy independence from Russia holds the key to do so; Hence, Russia must be looking apprehensively at their efforts to “frack” their way out of subjugation. We wish them all well, and may their efforts be rewarded with good energy exploration/exploitation partners, and energy self-sufficiency. Ukranians are a very diligent, talented, industrious, and tolerant people who deserve no less.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

 


November 23, 2013 at 11:35 AM Comments (0)

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