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Governor’s State of the State for Energy 2019:

“And I will direct each state agency to participate in developing a comprehensive climate plan for New Mexico that responds to the threat of a warming planet by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution.” stated Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham. “I have committed to increasing our renewable portfolio standard — 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 80 percent 10 years after that, and I ask you to fulfill that commitment with me. Not as a ceiling but a starting point, with an ultimate goal of even greater renewable production. This is our promise to future generations of New Mexicans.”

What does that really mean? It means that the Gov. is proposing the low power density of wind and solar farms that requires large masses of land to generate a few megawatts of electricity. The Governor’s plan makes no mention of high density energy like nuclear or natural gas sources. Her focus is on spending money (subsidies) on construction jobs, building materials, hauling transportation and of course land leases for siting all this wind and solar equipment along with necessary road and power grid infrastructure to get a few megawatts of electricity to sell to other markets, like California.

The Governor is going along to get along with what is trending on the national scene for her energy policy. The Democrats in the new 2019 Congress are proposing a program dubbed the Green New Deal. There is nothing green about it except that it will cost a lot of hard green cash (or more likely, credit). The path of least resistance right now is to support renewable energy in the form of wind and solar farms to save the planet from the alleged climate change (aka: global warming). She is doing this to spite the hand that feeds her state budget – the O&G industry.

After the last election, we have a whole new batch of Democrats that are ill-informed about how safe and clean nuclear energy really is. Their knowledge is either left over from the 1960’s or they bought into the propaganda carried forward in your education system.

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Go along to get along:

This world of ‘go along to get along’ mentality to conform to general expectations so as not to disrupt or endanger one’s sense of security or belonging is not working out so well. Trumpism has completely changed that approach in just about every sector of society. The US has had a two party system for a long time but occasionally the party name and ideology changes. Today we have Trumpism versus the traditional Republican and Democrat Congress. Then, there is the rest of us.

Today’s decisive opposition within all three branches of our Republic is spilling over into science and technology also. When Government picks and chooses and makes the wrong choices, it is extremely difficult and very expensive to disrupt that path, be it energy, health, foreign policy, etc. In the years that I have studied the nuclear energy evolution, it is very pronounced that the Government picked the wrong nuclear power reactor design. It should have allowed competition so the better designs would have prevailed. Now, sixty years and trillions of dollar later, the government has finally decided to get out of the way for nuclear energy to prevail on its own.

The Government also needs to get out of the way of the Renewable (wind and solar farms) energy platform as well. Sixty years and trillions of dollar from now, we will be saying the same thing about Renewable too. The best logical reason for the Government to have picked wind and solar as their energy of choice is because it creates many construction jobs for the many decades it will take to completely decarbonize our economy. Yes, the is the goal of the Green New Deal being proposed by a few radical disrupters in Congress 2019. These disrupters are not part of Trumpism or even capitalism for that matter. It is part of the socialist evolution in the Republic of the United States of America.

As I said above, once you go down a particular path it will be very costly to everyone if that path was the wrong choice. The good news is that we always have the power to change.

AREVA/ORANO/WCS vs. Holtec/ELEA – used nuclear fuel storage:

Twenty nineteen is a brand new year with all the same old problems of 2018, but appears to be on an even more decisive path. Walls seems to be the trending word for the year, not only walls between countries, but there are walls developing between many ideologies without compromise. I have been writing endlessly about one great wall here in the US between the pro-nuclear and the anti-nuclear agendas. Maybe its time to take a moment and try to understand the other side. I have and it didn’t make a difference. We are who we are.

Therefore, I will continue my quest to educate as many that will listen of the risk and benefits of nuclear energy. There, I said it, yes there are risks with nuclear energy just like there are risk in everyday life like driving your car/truck, taking that flight to visit family and even the risk putting your new born down for the night in that store bought crib. The benefits always out weigh the risks when the individual person takes safety responsibility and the Government oversees safety through regulations.

Most recently (1/11/2019), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conducted an open meeting, first in a series, to review the application for WCS and partners AREVA/ORANO and NAC International that have submitted an application to the NRC for a license to construct and operate a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility for used nuclear fuel. WCS currently operates a number of low level radioactive waste disposal sites at its 14,000-acre facility on the West Texas border with New Mexico. That will be 35 miles southeast of the Holtec site, which is 35 miles northeast of Calsbad, NM

Also this month, (1/23/2019), the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will be hearing petitions for and against the Holtec Spent Fuel Storage Application. This is where at least twelve anti-nuclear (everything) groups will have their opportunity to state why the facility should not be built in New Mexico. None of the anti-groups are located in Southeast New Mexico, site for HI-STORE CISF (or WCS).

The NRC meeting on 1/23/2019 will be located in Santa Fe and is open to the public for comments as well. More information can be found on the NRC.gov web site.

UPDATE: Orano (previously Areva) is a French multinational group specializing in nuclear power and renewable energy headquartered in Paris La Défense.

Practical nuclear waste storage:

Ukraine is leading the world in spent nuclear fuel storage. It is actually not that unusual because the nuclear intellectual base has been in Ukraine as part of the USSR following WWII. many early nuclear reactor experiments took place in the Ukraine and one of those experiments went badly and end up with the Chernobyl accident. History has proven that every accident of any kind has always provided a wealth of information to make things better. Since 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear accident has provide tons of data on all aspects of radiation exposure on humans, animals and plants – the local ecosystem.

Today, there is still a major cleanup effort going on to restore the environment to it’s natural state. Holtec International is a key player of world wide companies in this effort by providing the storage facility for all the spent nuclear fuel left over from the decommissioning of the entire Chernobyl four reactor complex, not just the single reactor meltdown. Holtec-supplied equipment and systems for the country’s soon-to-be-operational Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) (which is known as the “Consolidated Interim Storage Facility” in the United States) has been validated by the culmination of a successful series of tests at the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) to be implemented in 2020.

The final test involved heavy load handling evolutions demonstrated by handling and maneuvering of the HI-TRAC transfer cask from the rail car to the main reactor hall of RNPP, with final destination to CSFSF. These modern casks developed by Holtec International have two barriers that meet and exceed international requirements on nuclear and radiation safety and are of dual-purpose genre’ as they are designed for both transportation and storage of used fuel. This closed-system will be in used for several years before it is used here in the United States for the HI_STORE CISF site in New Mexico.

“Ukraine’s nuclear power generation is critical to the energy security of the country providing as much as 60% of its power need. It is heartening to observe Energoatom emerge as a world leader in terms of reliability of its nuclear units and management of its used fuel,” said Dr. Kris Singh, President & CEO of Holtec International.

Thank God for Climate Change:

It is to bad the O&G could not see the light beyond the flame because if they had invested in nuclear energy when they had the chance, they would not have put themselves in a precarious position with world governments. While we can thank Big Oil and its unwitting US governmental accomplices for slowing down the rush to nuclear energy, Big Oil is far more of a killer than is the nuclear power industry, both directly due to massive pollution and oil wars, and as a result of oil-fueled global warming. Nature’s revenge for Big Oil’s activities will be far more lethal than for our use of peaceful nuclear energy.

Wind and solar farms are like cattle farms. They are unable to sustain the energy hungry human race. Unavoidably, then, improving the productivity of beef production through technology will be necessary to mitigate its environmental impacts. And so it is with wind and solar and their low productivity of electricity because of the low density of the capture devices: wind turbines and solar panels. To increase capacity, more and more devices have to be built out over more and more land surfaces. Like the cattle industry, compressing the density into smaller spaces allows for greater productivity. There is no greater energy density than uranium and thorium.

Unfortunately, there is a new crop of first time Congressmen/women that come from a perception that wind and solar can provide 100% of the clean renewable energy needed to solve the climate change issue. Hopefully the likes of Senator Cory Booker and Senator Lisa Murkowski are able to have some influence on them to consider nuclear in their mix of climate change solutions.

In the meantime, there is progress with small modular reactor (SMR) technology working it’s way through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval procedures. What these SMR provide is a smaller version of what we have today in Gen3+ version with a more passive operating environment. They are basically walk away safe systems with one flaw – they still produce spent nuclear fuel that has to be stored for 300 years. Until the Gen4 molten chloride salt fast reactor are available, we will have to continue storing the unused fuel. Remedy: HI_STORE CISF in Carlsbad New Mexico.

Radiation is everywhere:

Every time I mention nuclear, someone is screaming ‘NIMBY’ – (Not In My Back Yard). Well folks,
everything is radioactive and radiating us with alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and x-rays. Bananas, rocks, concrete, lightning, the sun, the cosmos, your dog, your spouse, your friends, the trees, and the air all have radioactive components to them. Your own body and eyeballs are emitting radiation. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for as long as the planet has existed and for as long as it will exist.

So, is nature radioactive? You betcha! And so are the big scary toxic nuclear waste pits (Hanford, Washington .. ahem) and nuclear power plants (451 and counting). And modern medicine is full of radioactive tools for imaging, testing, cancer treatment, etc…

The more that we learn about radioactivity, the more we come to understand that life would be drastically different without it. Technically, life wouldn’t exist without the Sun releasing torrential amounts of ionizing radiation, heat and light at us every day.

Modern medicine was revolutionized by the discovery of X-rays. Nuclear medicine is revolutionizing other critical medical imaging procedures. Gamma rays are being used to sterilize food and medical equipment and also used to destroy cancer tumors. Romaine lettuce and other fruits and vegetables would be safe, if they would just irradiate it before distribution.

But wait! I thought radiation was bad! Radiation in its most basic form is the movement of energy in the form of waves, rays or particles. Radiation is measured in time, distance and shielding. If you were accidentally exposed to a high dose of radiation for a short period of time, up close, without any cover, you would get very sick and may die. That kind of acute radiation is very unlikely to happen with all the precautions that are taken.

Acute radiation is what can kill. There was no acute radiation released at Fukushima (2011) and there was no acute radiation released at WIPP (2014) and no one died. The world has been managing high level radiation safely since the beginning of the nuclear energy age. So, where is this fear of nuclear coming from?

California fires fed by extreme environmentalism:

It always amazes me when the national media will take a single word like ‘rake’ and make such a big deal out of it. After raking the President over the hot coals for comments made at Paradise Valley, he was actually on point about the need for annual under brush spot burning and logging to properly manage the forest the way nature has always done. The untra-extreme environmentalism of California’s government in Sacramento has as much responsibility for the fires as PG&E’s lack of maintaining their electrical towers and easements through the mountain ranges.

The cost of this catastrophe in human lives and personal property is off the charts primarily because of the infringement of humans and all their ‘stuff’ into the beautiful valleys of California. From the Delta fires to the Napa fires to the Malibu fires, everyone was more intense then the previous because of the excess fuel on the ground. It cannot be blamed on ‘poor’ management of the wilderness but it can be the result of no management of the ground cover or the grasslands. When the natural biota has been violated, this is the what happens.

Extreme environmentalism is also hindering California’s transition to cleaner energy solutions to generate electricity. Starting with hydroelectric, CA banned damming the rivers of the Sierra Nevada for water management and clean power generation starting in the 1970’s. It was more important to save the habitat for the silvery minnow than to store water for the natural drought seasons. Nuclear was then the better choice over hydro until 1979 when the Three Mile Island accident happened and without any scientific justification, CA banned clean nuclear energy too.

With only one nuclear power plant left for 10% electricity and 16 dammed river sources for 21% electricity, the state is now relying on intermitted wind and solar with natural gas as a backup for clean energy, as well as purchases from electricity utilities from other states using high voltage transmission lines across the forested lands. It is those transmission lines that have cause several major fires in California. There is a need to decentralize the national electrical grid with localized nuclear power stations.