Coal has been important to lift people from poverty to good lives for about 150 years. The Developed world made great progress from 1900 to present day thanks to reasonable cost coal power. The Electric Utilities once educated the public on power generation and “Living Better Electrically” Any of us born before 1950 can remember the Edison Electric Institute Mascot, “REDDY KILOWATT”. What a wonderful benefit that was for Humankind. As a high school student I actually knew where electric power came from and the basics of Thermal Power Plants.
Then ironically, about the time of the 1973-74 Arab Oil Embargo, I was working for Carolina Power and Light Company. A responsible and efficient Electric Utility headquartered in Raleigh, NC. I remember as a fact, CP&L cut the Public Relations Budget which included killing programs in schools to teach Home Economic Students the benefits of “Living Better Electrically”. Also, TV and Newspaper articles to explain the importance of electricity. So, what filled the void? The Environemntal Extremists filled the void. Then in the 1990’s Bill Clinton’s Presidency began the “War on Coal”. Later the war on coal morphed into the war on carbon.
Thank you Ron Clutz for writing your article. I will post a couple pictures of life without Fossil Fuels. As John Kerry flies around the world professing to save the Planet, I suppose this is what he and the Biden Administration wish for us to do, return to muscle power. This is preposterous considering we are well into the Digital and Space Age!
This is copied from the Tennessee Star Tribue Newspaper Opinion page, Nov. 11 2021. Full credit is given to the author, Mr. John Windschill. Thanks also is given to my friend Don Spellman for forwarding to me. I thought this is well researched and well written. As for myself, I believe Climate Change is mostly from natural forces, but if a reduced carbon society is desired and our quality of life and freedom is to be continued, then nuclear power must be included along with all other fuels.
The perceived dangers are overestimated.
By John Windschill
A summer of destructive flooding, fires and drought across the planet, coupled with a sobering update from the United Nations climate panel, indicates that we are likely not making adequate progress addressing climate change. And our climate change ambivalence is especially obvious when it comes to nuclear power.
Despite nuclear power having potential to greatly reduce the fossil-fuel emissions that are responsible for about 70% of U.S. transportation- and electricity-related carbon emissions, and despite nuclear power being among the safest means of electricity production we have (as reported in Forbes, the Lancet and the Journal of Cleaner Production), many well-run nuclear plants are being retired.
In the last eight years, 11 nuclear reactors were retired in the U.S. This year four more are scheduled for permanent closure. These plants collectively represent 14,700 megawatts of electrical supply — enough electricity for 10 million people.
Consider the experiences of Germany, France and Sweden. Germany’s decision to forgo nuclear power has resulted in its falling far short of its carbon emission goal. France, which receives 72% of its electricity from nuclear, has less than half the carbon emissions of Germany, and electricity prices that are 40% lower. Sweden’s electricity is 40% nuclear, with prices 35% below Germany’s and per capita carbon emissions that are 57% lower.
Critics of nuclear power identify fear of accidents and a belief that a solution for waste disposal does not exist as reasons to oppose nuclear power. Neither of these is valid. People are afraid of nuclear power because it pushes all the wrong emotional buttons. As a result, the very low risk that nuclear power entails is not appreciated.
At the core of the fear of nuclear power is a fear of ionizing radiation (hereafter simply referred to as radiation). Radiation is extremely common in our environment. It is a straightforward substance to monitor and control, and its impact on public health is well understood. Each second natural background radiation interacts with our bodies more than 10,000 times. These natural sources account for about half of the radiation dose the average American receives, with the remaining half coming from medical procedures. The 60 operating nuclear power plants in the U.S. contribute less than 0.01% from routine operations.
The two basic ways a nuclear power plant can increase public radiation doses are accidents and waste disposal. Three accidents have occurred that affected the public. These, in increasing order of severity, were Three Mile Island in 1979 in Pennsylvania, Fukushima in 2011 in Japan, and Chernobyl in 1986 in Ukraine. This history of nuclear power over 42 years proves how safe nuclear power is.
At the Three Mile Island accident there were no health effects. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports indicate the average radiation dose received by members of the public living near the plant was far below natural background radiation levels.
Fukushima released more radioactive materials than Three Mile Island, but because of effective emergency response efforts, public radiation doses were low. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that there would be no observable health effects in the public from the accident.
The Chernobyl accident was basically the most severe nuclear power plant accident that is possible. International Atomic Energy Agency and WHO reports indicate that the only cancer that has been detected from the accident is thyroid cancer, which has led to 15 related fatalities. Among initial responders, 28 tragically died of acute radiation poisoning at the time of the accident.
Based on conservative estimates, it is possible that a few thousand might die within 50 years of cancers not epidemiologically detectable among the background cancer rate. This puts a cap on the worst-case result. A few thousand people die each day in the world due to air pollution from fossil fuels and also from auto accidents. With more than 37,000 fatalities worldwide since the Three Mile Island accident, commercial air travel has about a 10 times larger impact on public health and safety.
For comparison among electrical generating sources, the fatality rate per billion kilowatt-hours generated is: coal, 25; natural gas, 2.8; global nuclear, 0.074 (includes an assumed 4,000 future deaths from Chernobyl); wind, 0.035; hydro, 0.024; solar, 0.019; and U.S. nuclear, 0.0001.
And the lessons learned from the three accidents described above have been effectively applied to make safe nuclear power even safer.
Regarding high-level nuclear waste, James Conca (who has Ph.D. in geochemistry from California Institute of Technology) says, “We know where to put nuclear waste, how to put it there, how much it will cost, and how well it will work.” An oft-repeated phrase is that high-level waste is dangerous for tens of thousands of years, but the fact is that high-level waste loses 99% of its toxicity within 600 years. And while high-level waste is very toxic material, it is less hazardous than gasoline.
The U.S. produces 50 times more lethal doses of gasoline each year than lethal doses of high-level waste; we carry our gasoline with us pretty much everywhere we travel, and it is stored much less carefully than nuclear waste.
The very small volume of high-level waste allows meticulous control to be achieved. Each U.S. resident’s lifetime share of high-level waste would fit in a single can of Coke. Kilowatt for kilowatt, solar power waste has 10,000 times greater volume than nuclear waste, and wind’s total is 500 times larger, each involving large amounts of toxic metals in panels and batteries. Also, nuclear waste is an inert solid within a metal casing (i.e., spent nuclear fuel), not green, oozing goo.
And yet, wind and solar get an environmental hall pass, but nuclear power is labeled as exceedingly dangerous.
The current concept is to secure the solid waste in highly robust steel containers, and to store the containers in an accessible manner that allows routine monitoring and inspection in a deep underground repository free of groundwater that has been geologically stable for millions of years. Yucca Mountain north of Las Vegas was selected for study.
Prof. Bernard Cohen of the University of Pittsburgh calculated that if all the electricity in the U.S. were provided by nuclear power, it would result in 0.3 deaths per year in the U.S. due to waste storage. Should we be concerned with tiny quantities of nuclear waste migrating from a very remote, highly engineered and easily monitored facility sometime in the far distant future, or with the millions of tons of carbon dioxide and harmful particulates we currently pump into the air to breathe and cause our planet to heat up?
Yet in 2011 President Barack Obama defunded the Yucca Mountain project. Again, faulty risk assessment and politics won out over science and sound public policy.
We should be insisting that our government more vigorously pursue this valuable technology that could be a difference maker for addressing climate change. Bill Gates has helped form a new company, TerraPower, whose mission is to bring nuclear power plant design forward to the next level of safety and economic performance. In a recent quote from Forbes, he said “there are only three ways to solve the electric grid problem: one is a miracle in [energy-battery] storage, the second is nuclear fission, and the third is nuclear fusion.”
Wind and solar have a vital role to play, but we should not be putting total reliance on a miracle.
A previous post reprinted later below raised the question Who to Blame for Rising CO? It provided synopses of three studies challenging the IPCC orthodox explanation that humans are the cause by burning fossil fuels. This post brings the research up to date with a 2021 publication by Edwin Berry.
The graph above summarizes Dr. Berry’s findings. The lines represent CO2 added into the atmosphere since the 1750 level of 280 ppm. Based on IPCC data regarding CO2 natural sources and sinks, the black dots show the CO2 data. The small blue dots show the sum of all human CO2 emissions since they became measurable, irrespective of transfers of that CO2 from the atmosphere to land or to ocean.
Notice the CO2 data is greater than the sum of all human CO2 until 1960. That means nature caused the CO2 level to increase prior to 1960, with no reason to…
Well, that is at least one reason we have such a mess of energy policy now.
Once a “War on Carbon”, Has now Morphed into a “War on Freedom”, “War on our Rights”, “War on Capitalism” and an assault on much of What “We the People” Have Worked Hard For. The clowns in Scotland are spending our tax dollars and restricting our freedoms as best they can. Essentially putting China and the rest of the world first, America last. All on our dime.
America has been a leader by example in reducing carbon. The U.S.A. has reduced our carbon emissions by over 50% since 2005. How? By releasing the power of free markets and American innovation. At the end of President Trump’s term, America was energy independent. He did that in four years only to have Joe Biden reverse his policies.
The War on Fossil Fuels is not new and the intentions have always been to raise energy costs so that “Green Power” will become competitive. Yes, the intentions of President Biden, John Kerry, Al Gore and the rest of the Green Extremists (Reminder, the War on Coal started in the Clinton-Gore Administration. Obama just continued and accellerated anti American energy policies Clinton-Gore began) The war on carbon is intended to make Exploration, Development, Production and use of oil, gas, coal and even nuclear, more expensive and harder to use. All of this as the world’s people still depend on Fossil Fuels and nuclear together for almost 90% of our total energy. How can our leaders be so ignorant and insensitive? Well, back in the 1990’s when bill Clinton started the “War on Coal”, I did my best to educate the public and the students of public schools and several Colleges on energy and electricity generation. I am proud of my efforts, small as they seem in the grand scheme of things. There is still a need for Energy Engineers to become active in PR for Energy!
I copied the Oct. 2011 Commentary(Below) from POWER Magazine’s web page. Kindly note my last line: I sure wish the readers of POWER and many other engineers took the suggestion to educate the public on energy and electricity generation more seriously. If we had, perhaps we would not have the mess we have in Washington today.
(From Oct. 2011)
Shaping America’s Energy Policy
America’s energy and environmental policies have been dysfunctional for decades. Obsessively moving toward “green” has made America weaker and has damaged our economy. During POWER’ s first 100 years (1882–1982), the magazine chronicled the U.S. growing into the strongest industrialized economy in the world. America designed and built products for the world using raw materials and energy from within our own borders. Now we are in a recession and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “War on Coal” continues. Does anyone get the connection? Ever-worsening regulations are killing jobs by the thousands.
Past Turning Points in U.S. Energy Production
Remember when America took risks and led the world in energy innovation? Let’s review some of the past milestones.
The pace-setting power stations Eddystone and Philo are ultrasupercritical power plants that were designed in the 1950s. Hailed as the most efficient coal power plants in the world when they were launched, these plants were designed for over-40% thermal efficiency.
Then Admiral Hyman G. Rickover and President Dwight D. Eisenhower followed through on the “Atoms for Peace Initiative” to commercialize the success of the Navy nuclear propulsion systems, which were to be applied to electricity generation for peaceful purposes. The Shippingport nuclear power plant began operations in the early 1960s, and larger commercial nuclear plants were on the drawing boards. By the mid-1960s, it was said that nuclear power was such a technological breakthrough that “electricity will be too cheap to meter.” America went on to build more than 100 commercial nuclear plants, most of which are still operational. U.S. nuclear plants remain economical and have earned an enviable safety record.
Then came oil embargos, followed by volatile natural gas prices. The high oil and gas prices resulted in a surge in building new coal plants from 1975 to 1985. The nuclear fleet grew until 1978, when the Three Mile Island accident created a major setback. In recent years, nuclear power morphed into the politically correct, carbon-free fuel. However, the tsunami in Japan in March and the resurgence of anti-nuclear groups around the world seem to have once more stalled future nuclear plant development.
The Need for Energy Policies That Promote Our Economy
U.S. energy policy should promote the use of all fuels. America is the Saudi Arabia of coal. If mining permits, EPA regulations, and common sense energy policies were practiced, then power engineers could replace our aging coal plants with new clean coal plants exceeding 40% thermal efficiency. This would be an efficiency improvement of about 7 percentage points above the existing coal fleet.
It is absurd that environmental activists can shape the U.S. energy policy based on ideology alone, with little concern for keeping electricity prices reasonable and our economy growing. Why don’t environmental activists embrace new, more efficient clean coal plants? America should be replacing our aging fleet with new, more efficient, clean coal plants. Will we ever learn?
My concern is that the same type of political correctness that nearly killed nuclear power after Three Mile Island may harm the future of clean coal plants. If the U.S. rebuilt the aging 300+ GW coal fleet with all new, clean ultrasupercritical coal plants, it would employ well over three million Americans. Jobs and a strong America are related to the utilization of homegrown energy, including the mining of coal and raw materials; construction; and the production of steel, cement, copper wire, generators, boilers, balance-of-plant equipment, and environmental controls. Compare the number of jobs created to build, operate, and maintain new coal plants with the “green jobs” of erecting foreign-built windmills or solar power facilities.
If we want to restore economic prosperity and renew manufacturing in America, then we need reasonably priced electricity to supply power to manufacturing plants. Keeping electricity costs reasonable for residential consumption is nice, but to restore manufacturing jobs in America, reasonably priced wholesale electricity, which is available on a 24/7 basis, is needed. This point seems to be forgotten in the national dialog on America’s energy future.
Educating the American Public About Electric Power Production
I think each of us who understands power production has a responsibility to educate our friends, neighbors, and elected officials. There are millions of citizens who believe reasonably priced, reliable electricity is an entitlement. The right thing for human advancement is to use the God-given natural resources that have made “living better electrically” a way of life in the developed world.
In my opinion, we should build green power where it is practical and economic to do so, such as on the roofs of buildings and parking garages. I support the building of nuclear plants and combined cycle gas plants, where economically justified. Energy engineers understand that when the sun sets and the wind is calm, the U.S. needs reasonably priced, dispatchable power to energize what is left of America’s manufacturing might.
I urge the readers of POWER to do your part in educating the public and our elected officials on the true facts of how we can continue to “live better electrically” and keep America strong. I promise to do my part. Will you?”
— Richard F. “Dick” Storm (was in 2011 ) CEO/senior consultant of Storm Technologies Inc. in Albemarle, N.C.
Climate Change has been going on since well before the Romans. Certainly well before coal was burned for power generation. Yet, the main stream news is fixated on Climate Change being the result of the Developed World’s use of Fossil Fuels over the last 100 years. The MSM has completely blown off the possibility that Climate Change is mostly Natural. I am a proponent for reasonable cost, abundant energy and the resultant improved quality of life. I am also interested in protecting the environment, and I love nature just as much as any environmentalist does. Reasonable cost Energy improves quality of life and is referred to by some as improving the “Human Developmet Index”. It concerns me that the most reasonable cost and proven sources of energy have become somewhat socially unacceptable. Such as coal, oil, gas and nuclear. Ironically, these four forms of energy are the one’s that provide about 90-96% of the Developed World’s energy. Many Financial Institutions are reluctant to loan money to Developers of mines, fossil fueled power stations or refineries. Even though there are still almost a Billion people on the planet that have limited or no access at all to electricity. Energy and Economic prosperity go together.
So, this begs the question: Why would so many in the MSM, Entertainment, Politics, Education and the General Public be against the very things that make our high quality of lives possible? As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that perhaps it would be helpful to remind folks of how we have arrived at this absurd place in history. Here are my thoughts and research of how the “War on Carbon” came to be. This is purely Politically Driven, not based on science or protection of the planet.
The UN Agenda 21
It was 1993 and Bill Clinton was President of the U.S.A. with Al Gore as Vice President. Executive Order #12858 was signed.(1) This is my understanding of the beginning of the “War on Coal”. The U.N. Agenda 21 began in a conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It brought together concerns for our environment, Socialism, Secular Humanism, and the world banking cartels. U.S.A involvement began in 1992, with then good intentions, by President George H.W. Bush. Bush #41 referred to Agenda 21 as encompassing “Sacred Principles”. Then the good intentions deteriorated into viscious, effective and well funded attacks on coal. The cost to Americans was blunted due to the near simulateous successes of the Shale Gas Revolution which greatly increased production of Domestic natural gas and drove natural gas prices downward. In the short term, the low natural gas prices actually hurt coal power more than the extremists and Democrat’s smear campaigns. However, the damage was permanent with no new coal plants being built in the U.S.A. since about 2012. Many older coal plants have been irreversibly decommissioned and hundreds demolished. Many of these plants could have been operating now had they been maintained. I hate to say the Environmental Extremists have won, but it looks like they have. But, who benefits from the Environmental Extremists apparent success? In my view, the only beneficiaries are China, Russia and other adversaries of the U.S.A.
Now, natural gas prices are escalating and even the Left Leaning MSM talk of expected high energy bills in winter and possible energy shortages. Therefore, given this scenario, I thought it was timely to review, from my vantage point, just how this madness came to be.
War on Coal 1993-2012
The Democrat’s have hated coal for many years. The only reason I can rationalize their hate, is because the well funded Environmental Groups usually support Democrat’s. Here below is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the “War on Coal”(6)
“A goal of the Sierra Club is to replace coal with other energy sources. Through its “Beyond Coal” campaign, the Sierra Club has set a goal to close half of all coal plants in the U.S. by 2017. American business magnate and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $50 million to the Sierra Club’s anti-coal work in 2011, and announced another $30 million gift to Sierra’s Beyond Coal campaign in 2015.The Beyond Coal campaign says 187 coal plants have been closed since 2010. Other funders of the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The CEO of Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company, donated $26 million to the Beyond Coal campaign between 2007 and 2010.
The Sierra Club is also opposed to nuclear energy. “
Then, piling on with the MSM and the environmental organizations comes the allying of the public schools and teaching (indoctrinating) extreme green policies to our teenagers many of which have now grown up to be adults.
The Democrat’s hated coal and then that hate has morphed into hate of all Fossil Fuels. The (D’s) are supported by Environmental organizations (4,5) that mostly, also hate nuclear. So, the Democrat’s and Environmentally (Like Bush 41, they have good intentions) conscious citizens tend to oppose the one carbon-free form of power that is efficient, reliable, proven and capable of Dispatchable operation at high-capacity factor. The generation (it has been 28 years since Clinton signed EO) of youth that were indoctrinated to hate coal and nuclear are now voters.
This is my summary of “How the War on Carbon” has brought us to Congress working on a Stupid and anti-American Path to Net Zero Carbon. A path that only benefits adversaries of the U.S.A. The best word I can think of to describe these policies is “Stupid”.
A better path would be to continue energy independence using Hydraulic Fracturing and production of all of America’s oil and gas, including pipelines for safe transport of oil and gas. Build many more new nuclear plants to produce more nuclear power generation for both electricity generation and for hydrogen production. Also, build new highly efficient coal plants with the future capability for CCUS (Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage) Called HELE (High Efficiency Low Emissions)
In closing, my view is that all forms of energy are important including; nuclear, coal, oil and gas. By the way, another reason that supports this is the fact that about 96% of America’s energy is provided by conventional energy as shown below. Disrupting the supply chain of Domestic energy will weaken America.
These views are my own and not those of any organization that I have been part of. I take full responsibility for these opinions and they are based on my personal experiences in the electric power industry over many decades.
Richard F. (Dick) Storm, PE
PS I just came across this post by the GWPF (Global Warming Policy Foundation) A reminder that all the meetings and hype are strictly Political, not about getting Results:
Living with Agenda 21, Surrendering Our Freedoms by Dr. H. Lawrence Zillmer, Copyright 2012
I have written before on the “Green New Deal” and why it is wrong for America. However, it is now September and as I understand it, the Princeton University Study, Net Zero Carbon by 2050 is basically about to become law.
Based on my career in power generation and including professional involvement in other countries of the world, my opinion is that “Net Zero Carbon” is wrong for America. Here are some reasons why I believe this:
Climate Change is mostly natural, not caused by human activity such as burning fossil fuels. Some references are listed below. These are some of the respected Scientists that specialize in Atmospheric and Climate Science that disagree with the “War on Carbon”.
The U.S.A. is a minor contributor to world emissions of CO2 when compared to Asian countries including China and India.
Economic prosperity and manufacturing is dependent on reasonable cost energy. The Net Zero Carbon Path will increase American energy costs and is impractical.
America uses about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s each year. This is total energy and it includes renewables as well as nuclear and fossil fuels. The total energy use of 100 Quad’s +/- 8 has been pretty steady for over ten years. In my view, America will continue to require 100 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy and more into the future.
Each American citizen on average uses about 800,000 to 1 million Btu’s each day. This is to simplify #4 above.
So, why is there such a rush to destroy America’s economy (and threaten our National Security) if Fossil Fuels do not pose a threat?
I just forund the answer to the question #6. The last lines of Dr. Rossiter’s excellent article in the WUWT Blog, “Follow the Money, It seems to me that the “science” will only be settled (or forgotten) when Mother Nature does exactly what she wants: the temperature may go up and the alarmists will rejoice in having sounded the alarm (even though it has little to do with CO2), or it will stay unchanged or go down, in which case they will either claim success in taming the monster or quietly fade away and find some new cause to dump on the long-suffering public. Whichever way it goes, the Climate Industrial Complex and all that supports it is now probably too big to fail.”
11. WHITE HOUSE BROCHURES ON CLIMATE (THERE IS NO CLIMATE CRISIS)
January 8th, 2021 This is from Dr. George Holliday Environmental Newsletter, January 17, 2021 and are posted on D. Roy Spencer’s website, which is listed above #5
“Late last year, several of us were asked by David Legates (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) to write short, easily understandable brochures that supported the general view that there is no climate crisis or climate emergency, and pointing out the widespread misinformation being promoted by alarmists through the media.
Below are the resulting 9 brochures, and an introduction by David. Mine is entitled, “The Faith-Based Nature of Human Caused Global Warming”.
David hopes to be able to get these posted on the White House website by January 20 (I presume so they will become a part of the outgoing Administration’s record) but there is no guarantee given recent events.
He said we are free to disseminate them widely. I list them in no particular order. We all thank David for taking on a difficult job in more hostile territory that you might imagine.
Introduction(Dr. David Legates)
The Sun Climate Connection(Drs. Michael Connolly, Ronan Connolly, Willie Soon)
Systematic Problems in the Four National Assessments of Climate Change Impacts on the US(Dr. Patrick Michaels)
Record Temperatures in the United States(Dr. John Christy)
Radiation Transfer(Dr. William Happer)
Is There a Climate Emergency (Dr. Ross McKitrick)
Hurricanes and Climate Change(Dr. Ryan Maue)
Climate, Climate Change, and the General Circulation(Dr. Anthony Lupo)
Can Computer Models Predict Climate(Dr. Christopher Essex)
The Faith-Based Nature of Human-Caused Global Warming(Dr. Roy Spencer)