Saturday, April 1, 2017

An Amazing Week - March 27-31 of 2017

Subtitle: A Week That Changed History - Climate, Nuclear

The events of this week were of profound importance for the climate change or global warming debate, also for nuclear power in the US and worldwide.  In no particular order, 

Climate Change

On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed the "Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth."   This Executive Order revoked Obama's:

(i)    Executive Order 13653 of November 1, 2013 (Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change);

(ii)   The Presidential Memorandum of June 25, 2013 (Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards);

(iii)  The Presidential Memorandum of November 3, 2015 (Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment); and

(iv)   The Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (Climate Change and National Security).

and rescinded Obama's:

(i)   The Report of the Executive Office of the President of June 2013 (The President's Climate Action Plan); and

(ii)  The Report of the Executive Office of the President of March 2014 (Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions).

The Energy Independence and Economic Growth executive order has many more provisions that can be read in the entirety here:  see link

Next, a Congressional hearing on climate science was held in Washington DC on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, titled "Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method."  Four scientists testified at the hearing, Drs. Judith Curry of Georgia Institute of Technology, John Christy of University of Alabama at Huntsville, Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, and Roger Pielke, Jr. of University of Colorado. see link to the proceedings and written testimony.  The live testimony is also online. 

The Congressional hearing will have its own article here on SLB, with the summary as follows:

1.  Dr. Curry emphasized the fact that "the climate community has prematurely elevated a scientific hypothesis on human-caused climate change to a ruling theory through claims of a consensus."  Also, that claimed consensus results in stifling dissent from those not in the consensus and harm as uncertainties are not given proper consideration. 

2.  Dr. Christy emphasized the complete disagreement between the climate models' results and measured data that show there is no warming in the atmosphere.  Essentially, the scientific method has the model output (that shows a warming should already be evident) as the hypothesis, and actual temperature measurements that show no warming as the experimental results.  Where the data disagrees with the hypothesis, the hypothesis must be rejected or revised.  Essentially, greenhouse gases increasing in the atmosphere (at the tiny amounts of 280 ppm increasing to 400 ppm over 57 years) did not create any warming. 

3.  Dr. Pielke, Jr. emphasized the negative impacts of abuse of governmental power in shaping scientific research and results, giving his own very negative history of being falsely accused by Obama's Science Advisor John Holdren and investigated publicly (some say persecuted) by Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), an Obama crony.   Dr. Pielke Jr. had earlier testified (correctly) that extreme weather events are not getting worse even though atmospheric CO2 has increased.   Dr. Pielke Jr. was also falsely accused (and later vindicated) of having received funding from fossil fuel interests (ExxonMobil and Koch Foundation).   The result was he as a leading scientist that published the actual data and results (no increase in extreme weather) was ostracized and forced to switch research interest to a field unrelated to climate. 

4.  Dr. Mann emphasized what he believes is a consensus in climate science, stating "at least 97 percent of scientists publishing in the field have all concluded, based on the evidence, that climate change is real, is human-caused, and is already having adverse impacts on us, our economy, and our planet."  Incredibly, Dr. Mann used his testimony to recite a litany of criticisms against himself and his work.  

Nuclear Power

Next, the nuclear power industry received a huge shock as Westinghouse Electric Company LLC filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in New York Southern Bankruptcy Court on March 29, 2017.  Westinghouse is famous for having designed and built several of its much-touted AP-1000 nuclear reactors for power plants.   These reactors are so good that Toshiba, a Japanese corporation, purchased Westinghouse Electric Company LLC a few years ago.   Huge losses in the US$ billions resulted, and Toshiba is in serious financial trouble.   There are four of the AP-1000 reactors under construction in the US (Vogtle and Sumner) with articles on SLB describing the litany of construction problems, delays, and cost overruns.  The bankruptcy filing places these four projects in serious jeopardy.  However, Obama extended the US government backing in the form of loan guarantees.  It is unclear at this time if the guarantees are sufficient to finish the four projects.   More information will likely be available in the coming weeks and months.  

NRC To Begin Full Certification Review of NuScale Small Modular Reactor - announced 3-15-17

Nuclear plant subsidies to keep unprofitable plants operating continue, although there are legal challenges.  

LNG exports from US will lead to increased natural gas price and provide a small measure of support for US nuclear power plants that are struggling to compete. 


These topics are all worthy of separate articles on SLB, which are presently being written.  In addition, California set what appears to be a solar power production record this week at 9,700 MW.   The March 2017 average sunspot number was published, at a very low 17.7 spots; this is very early in the sunspot cycle for such low numbers. March also had more than two full weeks of zero sunspots    NASA's EPIC satellite photos of Earth from 1 million miles away (toward the Sun) show amazing cloudiness over both polar regions and Canada. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2017 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

Topics and general links:

Nuclear Power
Climate  and here
Fresh  and here
Free Speech.................... here

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