The Leftist Mentality In A Nutshell

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Cars is one of the few Pixar or Dreamworks movies that I have not seen (and with a two-year old, I’ve seen a lot).  Well it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing the sequel either.

Debuting in theaters this Friday, the seemingly innocuous Disney-Pixar film ‘Cars 2’ has become a tool to wedge a fight against fossil fuels in favor of alternative forms of energy.

When John Lasseter moved from executive producer to executive director last year, he overhauled major portions of the plot into a good vs. evil story against big oil.

Here is the part of his interview that caught my attention.

Why isn’t alternative fuel more… Why isn’t everybody jumping on that bandwagon? It makes so much sense: Electricity, solar, whatever. There’s ethanol. There’s all this stuff you could be doing. And so I thought, well, that could be really cool in that you could have big oil versus alternative fuel. That’s when we kind of crafted the bad guy’s story.

Yes, the reason that more people aren’t using “alternative” fuels is because of some evil cabal by the oil companies.  It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that technological advances have not yet made these alternative fuels cost competitive with traditional forms of energy, or because alternative forms of energy are not as reliable.

This statement is reflective of the leftist mindset.  Alternative fuels are good.  Oil is bad.  Therefore we should be doing more good, and less bad, and we should villify the bad people because, gee golly willickers, we need to make sure more people like the good guys.

It sure sounds good.  Obviously we should be using those other forms of energy.  If we just snap our fingers we can make it so.

Except that the real world is not so easy.  Take wind energy.  What a tremendous potential form of energy, right?  It’s a renewable resource that people seem to think could soon supply forty percent or even more of our electricity.  Why don’t we just build those windfarms right now?

Because the wind doesn’t blow when we need it the most.  This blog post details the difference between peak energy demand and wind capacity factor.  Long story short, times of peak demand are precisely the times when wind power is least reliable.  And this post discusses a winter peaking scenario.  Summer peaking utilities (and a significant  majority of American utilities experience peak demand during the summer months) must deal with even greater disparities. In order to visualize this all, picture peak demand as a bell curve.  You get relatively low demand in the morning and evenings, with electricity demand peaking in the middle of the afternoon.  Wind availability is a reverse bell curve – wind blows the most in the morning and evening, least in the hot mid-afternoon.  That’s the story of a day-time demand.  It’s largely repeated on a monthly scale as well.  The peak demand months are July and August, whereas the optimal times for wind generation are Fall and Spring.

Renewable resources are intermittent resources.  When the wind ain’t blowing, you need generation to back up the renewables.  Care to guess what fuels are used to back up renewables?  Natural gas and coal – you know, those dirty forms of electric generation.  Moreover, because these resources are being used as peakers rather than baseload, they are not being used as efficiently, and therefore are even more pollutant than normal.

And we haven’t even discussed the need to build new transmission infrastructure in order to transmit the electricity from the generation source to the end-use customers.

Oh, and on top of all that, renewable forms of energy are used for electric generation.  Oil is used for transportation.  So the two forms of energy are not interchangeable.

I joked on Facebook earlier today that I wanted to buy a Prius and then put a bumpersticker on it that said “Fueled by Coal.”  The point I was trying to make is that if we do start driving more electric vehicles, they’ll have to be powered by something.  And guess what fuel source generates nearly half of all electric generation in this country?  That would be big, nasty coal.  But hey, at least we get almost all our coal domestically, so that at least slays one type of bogeyman.

There’s more:

Lightning McQueen, the race car star of “Cars,” goes on a worldwide Grand Prix tour, sponsored by a new green fuel called Allinol. Allinol is produced by a character named Sir Miles Axlerod, described by Disney-Pixar’s website as an environmental champion:

Sir Miles Axlerod is a former oil baron who has sold off his fortune, converted himself into an electric vehicle and has devoted his life to finding the renewable, clean-burning energy source of the future—ultimately discovering what he believes is the fuel everyone should be using. Axlerod is also the car behind the World Grand Prix, a three-country race he created that attracts the world’s top athletes—but it’s really an excuse to show off his new wonder-fuel, Allinol.

Ah yes, what a wonderful plot device.  But that’s the thing – it’s not real.  There is no magical fuel that will make cars run.  It doesn’t exist.  Will there be some marvelous development in the future that displaces oil?  Perhaps.  But for now we have to confront reality.  But reality is not where people like Lasseter choose to live.  His movie at least implies that the only reason that these magical new forms of energy aren’t being used is because some mean men at the oil companies don’t want them to come to market.  If only we’d recognize the devil for who he was, we’d soon all be jetting around town on cars powered by pixie dust.

Lasseter hasn’t considered the alternative explanations because he’s likely too ignorant.  Like most Hollywood lefties his understanding of energy policy most likely stems from bumper sticker slogans.  So maybe I do need to produce those Prius stickers just to get through to Lasseter and his ilk.

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  1. This is vastly disappointing as Cars was a very good movie and I highly recommend it. So much of contemporary Leftism in this country boils down to a game of let’s pretend. Remember all those green jobs Obama was going to create?

    Neither does he. When it comes to being out of touch with reality, the Bourbons just prior to the French Revolution had nothing on the forces of the Left in this country. Those who studiously ignore reality tend to end up being trampled by it.

  2. No fan of greedy Big Oil here, but I still need gas to run my car and so do all the cars in the movies, which I haven’t seen. If Hollywood is so worried about fossil fuels, why not make a movie called “Trains” and push for high-speed rail. Here is WI, Gov. Walker turned down $800 million in federal aid for such a project. Last I heard, California took it.

  3. Folks,

    I have worked in the nuclear energy field for 30+ years, including submarine pressurized water reactors, and commercial pressurized and boiling water reactors. Regardless of the sad events of Fukushima Daiichi, in general nuclear energy is the safest means of generating low cost, pollution-free electricity (I slept within the same container that held an operating nuclear reactor and I am still alive!).

    Now as for Fukushima Daiichi, these were BWR/3 and 4 designs with Mark I containments that had not undergone all the design chages made to similar reactors in the US. If those design changes had been made, then it is possible that the outcome of the earthquake / tsunami would have been different. Yet in spite of the fact that four of the six reactors have been utterly destroyed, there has been (to the best of my knowledge) ZERO loss of life among members of the general public due to the reactor mishaps, unlike a dam which burst due to the earthquake and drowned more than 1700 people in a nearby village (so much for green power) and unlike the oil refineries in the Chiba Prefecture which exploded and dumped their toxins to the ground and air, never to decay away.

    I don’t have time here to go into the non-issue of TMI (which proved that when the worst happens to a US PWR, containment works), or into Chernobyl (a graphite moderated light water cooled RBMK is an accident waiting to happen due to its positive void coefficient of reactivity at low power levels). But the new Generation III+ designs being put out by GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse employ passive cooling features that prevent or mitigate the impacts of Loss of Offsite Power (LOOP) events such as what doomed Fukushima Daiichi. The Economically Simplified BWR (ESBWR) and the AP1000 both use features that passively cool the reactor core in the event of a reactor coolant system leak or rupture with no outside electrical power available.

    Additionally there are Generation IV designs such as High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactors (HTGCR), Molten Salt Reactors fueled with thorium (MSR), Liquid Metal Fast Breeder/Burner Reactors (LMFBR), Peeble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR – a form of HTGCR) etc., for which loss of coolant accidents are non-issues. These designs can generate electricity and produce hydrogen gas for fueling motor vehicles employing either with fuel cell technology or the standard internal combustion process.

    There is enough uranium and thorium in Earth’s crust to provide energy to every inhabitant of our planet at the same level as the average American consumes, and to do so for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years. We do NOT have an energy crisis. We have a greed crisis. It’s easier to stay reliant on mineral slime and mineral rock that pollutes the air and kills thousands of people annually from lung disease than it is to do the right thing.

    Will we have future reactor accidents? Yes. And the aftermath will still be a fraction of what coal pollution kills annually, or what a single hydro-electric dam break can cause. And as to the issue of spent nuclear fuel, using a fast burner such as GE-Hitachi’s PRISM or Carlo Rubbia’s Energy Amplifier makes that a non-issue. And as to nuclear weapons proliferation concerns, civilian reactors that breed plutonium-239 from uranium-238 generate too much non-fissile, non-separable plutonium-240 along the way that would make any bomb fizzle out (as North Korea’s bomb did) to make it a militarily useful weapon. Furthermore, the thorium-232 / uranium-233 cycle would obviate this concern (especially since thorium’s abundance is 30 times uranium’s).

    BTW, even though coal pollution kills 30000 annually, it’s still safer than having no electricity and thus being without refrigeration, lighting at night, air conditioning, hospital machines that work, etc. We need some realism here: wind and solar are a joke, coal and oil are bad but not the worst, and nuclear is the best choice. To all those who decry fossil fuel, let them stop using gasoline for their cars, and tell the electric company not to transmit any coal-generated electricity to their house.

    When I have time, then I can give web links to wwhat I wrote above. But right now my employer (whom we should call “Nukes ‘R Us”) expects some service from me, so I have my duties to attend to (and I am sure readers want me attending to my duties even though I am thankfully a boring desk-top engineer right now and rarely have to go into the field – seniority has some advantages!).

  4. BTW, even though coal pollution kills 30000 annually, it’s still safer than having no electricity and thus being without refrigeration, lighting at night, air conditioning, hospital machines that work, etc.

    Well said. After the TVA electrified the region where he lived, a Tennessee farmer was quoted as saying:

    “The greatest thing in life is to have the love of God in your heart. The second greatest thing is to have electricity in your house.”

  5. While I don’t claim to be a history buff, wasn’t Chernobyl an “intentional” accident? I thought the Russians were trying to see how far they could go on with a coolant failure before they could restore everything to normal. I am under the impression that they had to actually bypass nearly all the safety features built into the reactors to do this experiment, am I wrong on that? And everyone totes around saying how terrible nuclear is because of what happened there (and when I inform those opposed to nuclear that it was an intentional accident, they shoot back with, “well we shouldn’t do it anyway 🙄 ).

    Geothermal energy is also fairly useful. It powers about 30% of Iceland’s power, similarly with the Philippines. We can extract about ~1E18 Joules of energy (from all the geothermal plants in the world) from earth’s core which has a heat content of ~1E31 Joules, so our extraction is nearly insignificant. There are ways to even send the used heat back down to the core to be recycled. The environmental effects are also very small compared to coal & gas plants currently used, so it’s a win-win situation (cheap energy and little pollution).

  6. High-speed rail is a good idea if it’s implemented right. In the US, we typically install it along short, crowded routes. The Acela, one of the US’s better HSR’s, connects DC and Boston with four stops along the way. You simply can’t get to high speeds when you’re going through cities and making stops. Consider the proposed high-speed rail line between Iowa City and Chicago. It’s projected to travel at 45 mph, taking an hour longer than a bus. It’ll cost riders more than twice a bus ticket, and be less fuel-efficient.

    The problem with energy policy is that it gets politicized. The Right objects to anything but drilling, while the Left signs off on any untested technology. We need to be more rational. Residential solar panels are popular and provide a decent-enough output; we should be promoting them. Wind farms and nuclear power are successful in Europe; we should be promoting them here. We should be drilling for oil for the long term, not tapping our strategic reserves for a short-run fix.

    In Europe, the major airports have train stations in them. A person can wheel his luggage down a ramp and onto a local or inter-city train. In the US, most newer airports are being built on cheaper land far outside the city, with lousy public transportation options and big rental car lots. That’s stupid. HSR isn’t going to replace air travel (which is increasing in popularity), but it can be integrated into our transportation system. If it isn’t, it’s a waste of money.

  7. Kyle – Yes! Here’s a good rule of thumb: don’t put nuclear plants where the ground is unstable. Use geothermal in earthquake and volcano zones.

  8. Regarding Chernobyl, please see:

    An experiment was being performed at Chernobyl when at low power. The engineers wanted to find out if after a reactor scram there would be enough steam to keep the turbine generator generating electricity until the the emergency diesel generators got on line. The problem is an RBMK’s positive void coefficient of reactivity. During the experiment, steam voids formed under the control rods. In an RBMK, because graphite is the neutron moderator, the moderation effect of water is exceeded by its macroscopic cross-section for absorbing neutrons. So when the steam voids form, stem (being less dense than water) absorbed less neutrons. So more were available for fission. The process sky-rocketed. An exacerbating factor is that the boron control rods had graphite tips so that as the rod is inserted to nullify the neutron chain reactor, a spike in thermal neutrons occurs before the boron can absorb. Thus, when the control rods were inserted, power went momentarily up. This accelerated the steam void formation.

    BTW, to do this experiment the operators had to over-ride safety systems and violate procedures. And on top of that, an RBMK is a natural uranium fueled weapons breeder. The Soviets were trying to kill two birds with one stone. Still, the number of direct deaths from Chernobyl are in the scores, and pale into insignificance when compared with other sources of energy (e.g., wind power when there’s no wind or solar power at night and your hospital machine keeping you alive needs electricity).

  9. Hey guys, my response to the question about Chernobyl went into moderation. Is this because of the links I put in it to Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Energy Institute and Virtual Nuclear Tourist web sites?

  10. Paul,

    Yes, if your comment has more than one link it will go into moderation. I approved it. And thanks for the info. I completely agree with you on nuclear energy. Honestly I think we should use all forms of energy that are available to us. If wind and/or solar is viable in a certain location, go for it. What’s insane is mandating a one size fits all for the entire country.

  11. The US NRC has specific siting criteria for nuclear power plants. All this is a part of 10 CFR 50. See General Design Criteria at:

    See also “License, Certifications and Approvals for Nuclear Power Plants” at:

    You guys have no idea of all the analysis that goes into probabilities for worst case earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc., here in the US. It literally fills volumes.

  12. To be honest, I wasn’t all that crazy about the first Cars either, it was one of my least favorite Pixar movies (down there with Bugs Life) in part because of the “how heartless is it that the new highway caused this town to dry up” theme — which kind of ignored the issue that the town was portrayed as only having boomed in the first place because of the old highway.

    It sounds like the new film just takes the unthinking heartstrings pulling one step further.

  13. Pinky, the lame “drill, baby, drill” argument from the right merits a response. First of all, the once Seven Sisters, now down to 3 or 4, that monopolize the oil industry continue to do so not only by maintaining one of the most influential lobbies in Wash, DC, but also by manipulating the markets through so-called speculators in the trading pits.

    The world is awash in oil, but turn down the spigot a bit and create an artificial demand and, thanks to the laws of economics, you’re able to keep the price up and pocket billions.

    Secondly, the idea that America can drill its way out of the “energy crisis” and become “less dependent on foreign oil” — two bromides that the corporate and state-controlled media have managed to thread successfully into the running narrative — is ludicrous on its face.

    Back in the 1980s I visited Alaska’s North Slope to cover the oil boom. Everybody back then was hailing the discovery of millions of barrels of oil in Prudhoe Bay, to be pipelined from Valdez down to Alaska southern ports for shipment throughout US. But Atlantic Richfield and its partners, in cohoots with Aramco and other Arab-linked groups, did what any good capitalist does: they sold the oil to the highest bidder, which turned out to be Japan.

    Thus, over a 20-year period, American oil was being sold almost exclusively to the Japanese. So much for solving the “energy crisis” and becoming “less dependent” on foreigners. Instead, U.S. oil companies were reaping obscene profits — as they still do to this day — by exporting precious assets overseas.

    One or two other points: The media like to headline the crude oil price every day to accustom the ignorant masses to the notion that if the price goes up or down a few dollars this will have a direct impact on what they pay at the pump. In fact, the refineries are making gasoline from oil stocks and inventories that were bought, for the most part, years ago at much cheaper prices. Yet the price of gasoline keeps going up. Why? First of all, as the spread between crude costs and gasoline widens, so do profits. This accounts for the typical 40 to 60% profit gains by ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and others. Meanwhile retired oil execs bail out of their golden parachutes with nine-figure payoffs and everyone is dumbfounded as to why it costs them $4 a gallon to fill up their tanks. Can anyone read a balance sheet anymore? Of course, the stockholders are happy but the taxpayers and consumers, get the short end as usual. Meanwhile Congress and the White House do everything they can to maintain the oil depletion allowance and cut tax breaks for Big Oil.

    In January 2007 crude was selling for $75 barrel and my corner station sold gasoline at $1.75 a gallon. Now crude is $100 and gas is $4. There is no correlation other than to note the obvious disparity. You can’t blame inflation, OPEC, the Arabs, gas-guzzling SUVs as much as you can Big Oil, which continues to gouge. As Gordon Gekko famously proclaimed “Greed is good, and for want of a better word, it’s the only thing that will save the United States of America.”

    Lastly, Obama, who has taking major campaign “contributions” from Big Oil does little except to unleash toy poodle Eric Holder to keep an eye on “speculators” to make sure they’re not violating the law, whatever the law is. Unlike JFK, who bully pulpited U.S. Steel after it raised steel prices and got them to back off and unlike LBJ, who called GM’s boss on the Oval Office for raising car prices, Obama has said nothing about gouging. And his scolding of Wall Street has been mere lip service to placate the dumb voters.

    There, I feel better now.

    Drive on!

  14. Joe, I didn’t say “drill, baby, drill”. I definitely don’t believe that we can drill our way out of the energy crisis, although drilling will be part of the solution. The whole point of my post was that that sort of sloganeering doesn’t help anyone; we need to be looking at practical solutions.

    With that in mind, it’s got to be recognized that Alaskan oil increases the overall world supply of oil, thus decreasing the pressure on prices. The more we produce, wherever it’s sold, the more the world market is satisfied. Also, there is a bottleneck in the refining process, and any increase in our national refining capability would increase the worldwide capability.

  15. Let me add to what Joe has so correctly described. Fossil fuel’s only credible competitor is nuclear. Fossil fuel loves renewable energy because renewable is so unreliable that utilities always have to have spinning reserve (i.e., generators spinning at low output) for when the sun gets hidden by clouds or the wind stops blowing. Renewable energy is big bucks for fossil energy.

    Now let’s have a few facts. Gregory Jaczo is the current US NRC Chairman. He used to work for Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey against the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in MA and against the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in the adjaceent state of VT. Then he went to work for Harry Reid against the Yucca Mountain spent fuel repository. When John Roberts waas nominated by Bush as Cheif Justice in SCOTUS, Reid said no, not unless his boy Jaackzo got appointed to the NRC as a Commissioner.. So Bush compromised. Then the Nuclear Energy Institute pitched a fit aand proposed Peter Lyons, a pro-nuke, to balance him out. Bush agree. Jackzo and Lyons were both recess appointments to the NRC when pro-nuke Dale Klein was Chairman. Then Obama got elected. He demoted Dale Klein to being a regular Commissioner and promoted Jackzo to Chairman. Then at the end of the 5 year terms of Klein and Lyons, he let them go. Now we have an anti-nuke as NRC Chairman and this guy has just recently killed NRC review of Yucca Mountain wiithout allowing it to go to a full vote by the five member Commission. GAO just did a report on this. He didn’t do anything criminal, but what he did was unethical. I can’t find the GAO report right now, but the fact of the matter is that Jackzo did an end run around the other 4 commissioners to serve his master Harry Reid..

    Now at the same time we don’t reprocess / recycle spent nuclear fuel to remove the long-lived actinides and burn them up in fast neutron reactors because Carter (another liberal Democrat – all these guys are liberal Democrats) killed reprocessing on false fears of nuclear weapons proliferation (and that isn’t feasible because PWRs and BWRs in the US make too much non-fissile plutonium-240 with the plutonium-239; not good for bombs but great for reactor fuel).

    So inn the meantime we use fossil fuel and continue our dependency on imported oil. While most of our imports are from Canada (Canadian shale oil), we make Europe moree dependent on Mid-East oil and that finances the terrorists. Who supports this? Obama’s renewable energy schemes. Sure, little electricity comes from oil, but all that coal (22 railroad car fulls every 2 weeks for a typical coal plant) has to be transported by diesel powered trains.

    A 1000 MW reactor is refueled once every 2 years by a truck load of fuel rods.

    We are so freakiing stupid.

  16. Our failure to reprocess nuclear fuel is the most inexplicable thing in the whole energy story. And it was implemented by Carter, who should have been our most pro-nuclear president! But it wasn’t overturned by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., or our current President, and I’ve never heard a good reason why.

  17. Pinky,

    The answer is the same as it has always been all throughout history when money is involved: greed. All those politicians on left and right who benefit from contributions from fossil fuel are beholden to fossil fuel. Nuclear is a threat to fossil fuel. Reprocessing / recycling is a threat. So the answer is to amp up the regulations to make building a new nuke too expensive, and then prevent life cycle management of used nuclear fuel. We only burn 5% of what’s in the fuel rods. Only 5%! Instead of recycling / reprocessing, we were going to throw the 95% away! That’s plain stupid.

    Using Carlo Rubbia Energy Amplifiers or fast neutron burner reactors we can consume the 95%. Indeed, even a Candu (Canadian Deuterium Uranium) reactor could burn what spent fuel a US PWR and BWR produces, but we don’t even do that.

    There’s big money involved here, and both political parties have dirt and blood on their hands.

  18. Paul P: You have not addressed the problem of nuclear waste. As long as nuclear power creates deadly waste that will remain deadly for pretty much all of time, and we have no good way to store it, I don’t see how anyone can really be in favor of it. Otherwise, yes, I agree — nuclear energy is clean, safe to operate, and pretty much limitless. But nuclear waste is an awful big elephant in the room. However, maybe you have an answer and I’m not aware of and if there is one I’d be glad to hear it.

    I am so sorry to hear this about Cars 2. I really thought I would hate Cars 1 and I thought it was great. The part about the town being abandoned when they built the new highway may be uncomfortable for some, but that’s what really happened to towns on Route 66. The only Pixar movie I have disliked is Ratatouille. It had a fabulous end but getting to the end was so tedious! It was supposed to be a French rat, not a neurotic New York rat who ought to have been in therapy and so talked all the time as if he were talking to his therapist. Not to mention the “I am too artistic to fit in with my blue collar family” stuff (so boring) and the human hero being illegitimate. Yeah… didn’t like that one. Although, as I said, I do think the end is a classic. And I liked A Bug’s Life!

  19. Yes, I have addressed nuclear waste. Compared to the millions of tons of toxins dumped into the environment by coal plants every year, nuclear waste for all the US reactors would fit into a foot ball field. Furthermore, we can recycle the “waste”, burning up the long lived actinides and rendering a million year repository like Yucca a moot point. I now have to go to a meeting, but I will have more to say on this later. BTW, a 1000 MW coal plant releases more radioactivity into the environment than a 1000 MW nuke because of the naturally occuring thorium, uranium and radium in coal. At Indian point Con Ed in the 1960s wanted to build a coal plant but couldn’t because the emissions from the coal plant would swamp our rad monitors. The whine about waste is a red herring. What are you going to do about the fly ash fields from coal plants that have toxic mercury that never every decays away. Millions of tons of it.

  20. For more information about radioactivity in coal combustion, please see the following from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

    I have written several essays on this topic which I will post once I get access to my computer at home. Suffice it to say that I have stood above spent fuel pools with radioactive rods in them, I have been around dry casks that store spent fuel which has been outside the reactor for at least five years, I have been involved in programming PLCs that control massive refueling machines that move fuel rods from core to spent pool and back, I have stood but inches from fresh, non-irradiated fuel, I have calibrated radiation monitors for buildings containing spent fuel, and miraculously I am still alive.

    I’d rather work in a nuke plant any day of the week than a coal plant where black dust is everywhere and no one does anything to clean up messes. Look at those photos in the link I gave you to IPEC. Look at how the turbines and floors gleam. look at how clean everything is. That’s nuclear power. We manage our spent fuel the same way. In fact, if coal had to sequester its wastes the way we nukes do, there wouldn’t be a single coal plant running. But willy nilly they got to dump millions of tons of sewage into the atmosphere while some people whine about spent nuclear fuel that is really a resource, not a danger.

    BTW, 50% of US electricity is coal, 20% is nuclear and the rest is mostly natural gas with a sprinkling of renewables. Want to know why there aren’t more nukes? Because natural gas was marketed as cheap and clean in 1990s, and TMI and Chernobyl were marketed as the poster children of nuke power. Now we all pay through the nose for that mistake and who gets rich? Big natural gas suppliers like Russia. It ain’t about safety or spent fuel, folks. It’s about the money. Follow the money. Who benefits from fears over spent fuel?

    OK – more tonite when I have time – gotta go. After all, my job is “Nukes ‘R Us.” And I LOVE my job.

  21. Gail,

    The only Pixar movie I have disliked is Ratatouille.

    Aw, come on, Ratatouille was the best one! 🙂

  22. Folks,

    I promised more information on used nuclear fuel commonly called “waste”, and what a waste it would be to deposit it in a geologic repository for a million years, not using up all the valuable energy left within in. The Nuclear Energy Institute has lots of information at sub-links here:

    So lets puts some things in perspective:

    A 1000 MWe PWR or BWR nuclear power plant annually produces 27 tons of used fuel that can be recycled and consumed in a fast neutron burner reactor, obviating the need for Yucca Mountain.

    A 1000 MWe coal fired power plant annually produces:
    400,000 tons of fly ash
    20,000 tons of SOx
    20,400 tons of NOx
    7,400,000 tons of CO2
    100 tons of small particulates
    1,440 tons of CO
    for a grand total of 7,841,940 tons of waste (compared to nuclear’s 27 tons that can be recyled)

    And the coal plant’s waste never ever decays away and cannot be recycled or otherwise reused.

    Let’s take a 1000 MWe natural gas plant:
    2 tons of SOx
    157 tons of NOx
    199,472 tons of CO2
    12 tons of small particulates
    68 tons of CO
    for a grand total of 199,711 tons of waste annually. So the next time Obama’s General Electric (yup, CEO Jeff Immelt is Obama’s jobs adviser – follow the money!) talks about clean natural gas turbines, they sure are clean – up to a whopping 199+ thousand tons! And the more GE wind turbines you buy, the more spining reserve you need, for which GE has a solution – its natural gas turbines. It’s all about the money.

    Here’s a 1000 MWe petroleum burner:
    2248 tons of SOx
    898 tons of NOx
    328,655 tons of CO2
    168 tons of small particulates
    66 tons of CO
    for a grand total of 332,036 tons of waste dumped into the atmosphere as if into a sewer.

    Now I didn’t even consider the tons of mercury, chromium, nickle and other heavy metal toxins that fossil fuel burning releases – toxins that never ever decay away. And I simply don’t have time to go into more detail.

    The nuke industry (under Carter’s non-proliferation act) has had to give the Federal Government a certain amount of money to store used fuel. Each nuke plant of the 104 in the US has to give so much money every year. Back when I was tracking this stuff in the early 2000s, the fund was 25 billion dollars +. Now Harry Reid and his hey boy Gregory Jackzo in the NRC has said: no Yucca Mountain. So the right thing to do is return all those billions of dollars to the reactor plant owners and tell them to take take of their own waste. But Dems won’t let them. Why? Reprocessing! The fools are afraid of weapons proloferation, but used commercial fuel is useless for bombs – too much Pu-240 with the Pu-239.

    Those billions of dollars for Yucca Mountain are probably up to 30+ by now. But we got cash for clunkers and a banking bailout and a bailout of Government – er, I mean, General – Motors! Follow the money, folks, follow the money.

    Is nuclear power 100% safe? Nope, never will be. Ain’t no such animal as 100% safety – never will be. But there are worse things than nuclear: coal. And then there are things even worse than coal: no electricity. Any complainers out there want to live with gas lanterns and no running water? You want your lights to turn on at night and your refrigerator to work? Then let us professionals do our job and stop tying our hands. (I speak rhetorically – not to anyone specifically on this blog site).

    Sorry, folks. I get so darn irritated. The public and the politicians haven’t a clue, Dem or Repub. Time to go to Adoration and get calmed down.

  23. I am amazed at the level of expertise certain people can bring to a discussion such as this.

    Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, specifically in Washington and Greene counties, there is a nearly 300 year supply of coal. The local leftist rag ran a series of articles about the “horrors” of burning coal for power generation.

    Most of Pennsylvania, except for the northwest corner and the southeast corner, sit atop the Marcellus shale formation, which contains more than a hundred year’s worth of natural gas. Once again, the leftist rag runs screeds demanding an extraction tax. People (I think most of these are bussed in and organized by some Soros backed group) protest against “fracking” and accuse it of fouling their water wells. Water wells go at most a few hundred feet deep. The shale formations are more than a mile deep.

    Westinghouse Electric is based in Pittsburgh, They build nuclear power plants all over the rest of the world – but not here.

    I’ll take my 3 year old to see Cars 2 anyway. He likes the characters. Lasseter makes good movies despite his lousy politics. I skipped Wall-E, which is about an overly polluted world.

  24. I agree with Penguin Fans. The liberals don’t want any solution except the solution that doesn’t work. Can’t use nuke ’cause of spent fuel fears, meltdown fears, and weapons proliferation fears. Can’t use coal and gas ’cause of green house gas fears and ground water pollution fears. Gotta use wind and solar that don’t work when you most need them: at night and on hot windless summer days or snowy, cloudy winter days. Indeed, if wind power were so darn great as they claim, then why don’t we still ship cargo at sea using sailing ships?

    Even though I think nuke power is a magnitude of order better, there are things worse than a 300 year supply of coal and a 100 year supply of shale oil. It’s called no refrigeration, no lighting at night except for candles, no air conditioning, no TV, no radio, no computers, no running water, no in-house toilets (because of no sewage treatment plants run by electric motor-driven pumps), no electronic hospital machines, no anything that requires electricity which is virtually everything nowadays.

    This is but one of many reasons why I despise liberalism (though there are some pro-nuke bloggers who are liberals and I can’t fathom why – some people are simply suicidal).

  25. PP, I’ve got nothing against nukes, but can’t help remembering the scary scenario in the 1979 thriller, The China Syndrome, in which a physicist says a meltdown would render “an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable.” The movie, starring Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda, was released 12 days before the Three Mile Island accident, which, of course, helped box office sales.

    Fiction or not, the film raised disturbing questions about the safety of nuclear plants and while accidents have been rare if they do occur the possible outcomes are indeed frightening (Fukushima, e.g.), triggered by a 9.0 earthquake.

  26. “I’ll take my 3 year old to see Cars 2 anyway. He likes the characters. Lasseter makes good movies despite his lousy politics. I skipped Wall-E, which is about an overly polluted world.”

    I’ll take my 9 year old also and like other movies explain how people can use movies and other venues (schools, churches) as political propaganda. He’s already become quite proficient at pointing out flaws in commercials and Obama speeches.

  27. Joe,

    You can read about the TMI event here:

    TMI proved that when the worst thing happens to a US reactor, no one dies, no one gets injured, but the stockholders get hit in the pocket book and the regulations are amp’ed up. Yup, the operators screwed up: tagged out aux feed water, didn’t believe their indications when the PORVs stuck open and RCS press was low bur Pzr level was rising, failed to see that the steam bubble went into the core, etc. ad nauseam (I teach this stuff because my employer insists that our engineers follow the darn the procedure and believe in their indications and obey the stinking regs, and my employer is an evil capitalist who wants too make money and can’t do it without obeying the regs and being safe – imagine that!).

    Now as for Fukushima Daiichi, it was hit by a double whammy of an earthquake and a tsunami. Call it an “Act of God” or “Act of Nature” if you will – no one can protect against that. Maybe half a dozen people died directly. In the mean time, the same earthquake cause a dam failure that drowned 1700 people in a nearby village. Let’s see: less than dozen deaths from Fukishima (and all plant workers, NOT general public) vs 1700 villagers dead from green power – black death.

    By the way, why no mention of the petro fires in the Chiba Prefecture that burned out of control for 10+ days, spewing their never decaying chemical toxins into the atmosphere and soaking the nearby land with oil? Pictures of secondary containment roofs blowing off at Fukushima makes for good sensationalism, but not for accurate reporting of what really happened.

    And BTW, if the Fukushima plants had implemented the upgrades that US BWR/3’s and 4’s with Mark I containments had to implement, then the events would have been very different. The batteries for Reactor Core Isolation Cooling Turbines lost power because they didn’t have long enough lasting batteries for the valve controls. And no, I don’t like Mark I containment structures and I can’t go into all the technical reasons here. But the facts are less than a dozen deaths due to Fukushima and 30000 annually in the US from coal fired power plant air pollution.

    That magic word “radiation” makes nuclear so much more fearful. Did you know that wildlife has returned to the Chernobyl area and is thriving? Or how about the Oklo natural reactor in Africa a couple of billion years ago, and today Africa has among the widest diversities of life on the planet. See:

    As far as the China Syndrome movie goes, there is a reason why Jane Fonda is called Hanoi Jane.

    Next will be web links to the passive safety features of GE’s ESBWR and Westtinghouse’s AP1000 that obviate TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima events.

  28. For an animation on the passive safety design of GE-Hitachi’s ESBWR, please see:

    In the Media gallery on the right side of the page you will have to click the first arrow or triangle to get the video going, then just follow the on-screen instructions.

    For the Westinghouse AP1000 passive core cooling system, please see:

    For the Westinghouse AP1000 passive containment cooling system, please see:

    I can get the Mitshubishi APWR and the Areva EPR ones, too, if you want, but you get the idea. These designs are even safer than the current ones and are designed for a LOCA concurrent with a LOOP. And GE’s design doesn’t need any outside intervention or even external electrical power for up to 72 hours.

    Any more questions? Oh, one last thing: go here for the PRISM reactor. It obviates our spent nuclear fuel problem. Harry Reid can go jump in a toilet.

    I used to teach training classes on basic nuclear technology with the guy who is in charge of this. But I went to a different (and better) employer. Can’t stand Jeff Immelt (GE’s CEO) sucking up to Obama.

  29. Opps – sorry guys – you gotta approve another of my posts because I put too many web links in it to nuke specific info that will clear up a lot of mis-conceptions. Lots of animation, too.

  30. I am sorry to post yet again, but Joe had mentioned the mishaps at Fukushima Daiichi. Please go here for info:

    US Nuclear Regulatory Commission – Japan Nuclear Accident – NRC Actions

    US Nuclear Energy Institute – Information on the Japan Earthquake and Reactors in That Region

    Do NOT listen to ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MS NBC, NBC, NPR, PBS, etc. Whenever one of the talking heads open their mouths with the word “nuclear”, you can be assurred it’s BS. News journalists (for all their liberal screeching that we Christians are so anti-science) are themselves without even the basics in knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology. The overwhelming majority wouldn’t know the difference between a centimeter and an inch (2.54 cm = 1 inch, BTW). So how can they possibly speak intelligently about neutrons and gammas, boron and hafnium, Pu-239 and U-235, rems and sieverts, etc.? Dumb, dumber, dumbest. Sorry – I have a low opinion of what passes for media in this country.

  31. Paul, it’s easy to see why you get so annoyed at the politicians and the media. A half-truth works just as well as a lie and has a longer half-life.

    29 years ago I started my first year in college. In my first class (Speech) there was a character who was fervently anti-nuclear power. According to him, he knew all of the problems with nuclear power that no one else knew because of his father’s employment in the nuclear power field.

    Yeah, right, another 18 year old know it all. I did not like teenagers when I was a little kid. I didn’t like teenagers when I was a teenager. I don’t like teenagers now.

    There were some articles in the local libertarian rag, quoting a nuclear engineer, who was asked about what to do with the spent nuclear fuel. He pointed out how easy it is to reprocess the stuff, but Carter made it illegal and nobody has had the guts to overturn that stupid decision.

    When it comes to the “enviornment”, truth rarely gets out, but lies last forever. Rachel Carson was a total fool. Her contention that DDT caused the shells of wild birds to be too thin has been thoroughly discredited, but DDT is illegal almost everywhere. Had DDT still been in use, countless lives lost to malaria would have been saved, but the “enviornmentalists” don’t really care about human life.

    I pointed out earlier some facets about the Marcellus shale gas deposits in Pennsylvania. Our local school board was overwhelmed with a bunch of protesters whining about a proposed gas well on some vacant property owned by the school district. The usual platitudes about “the children” were thrown about, like my son throwing rocks in the street. It’s so much BS. Pennsylvania has had a boom in gas drilling because New York State and West Virginia (also part of the Marcellus shale gas field) either ban drilling (New York, no surprise) or an extraction tax (West Virginia). My cousin is a geologist and she said the complaints about fracking are all lies. The damage done, if any, is due to an unreputable company that damages roads by exceeding weight limits, or improperly treats the used fracking fluids.

  32. Please do not let your little ones watch TV. Read books, play toys or just enjoy the day. TV dulls everyone. Thanks.

  33. Penguins Fan,

    I agree with you 100%. BTW, President Jerry “lame duck” Ford was the one who started the nonsense about no spent fuel reprocessing and Jimmy “I am a liberal” Carter implemented it. Both Repubs and Dems have their hands dirty. And from his days at US Naval Nuclear Power School, Jimmy Carter (a former nuke sub officer) KNEW that spent fuel from a commercial PWR or BWR had too much Pu-240 in it to make a useful bomb. He KNEW. I know he knew because he went through the same US Naval Nuclear Propulsion Training that I went through. But as you pointed out, the facts don’t matter.

    When the lights go out and the refrigerator compressor motors stop, then they’ll ask where’s the coal, gas and uranium. Green power – black death.

    Hey, as an aside, what’s green on the outside and pink on the inside? Nope, not a watermelon, but a Demokratik Party operative hell bent on eco-justice and social justice. Think about it. I gotta stop. Time for my nightly meditation and Bible reading. I need some serenity. But thanks for the support, Penquins Fan!

  34. I really Enjoy Wallie (probably my favorite), Monster inc., Monsters vs Aliens and the first Toys. I never seen Cars didn’t seem apealing. Paul P. Thanks for the information. I had to do research on Nukes when Japan problem hit because I knew hype would be overwhelming. I went to the MIT site and a site call ANS all things nuclear. I was waiting for someone in California to find some unfound uranium with all the gyger counters that were purchased.

  35. Cars has to have been the worst Pixar film, and has become their merchandising movie, which I suspect may have been the intention. As an adolescent (I’m as ashamed of that fact as I should be) ’90s kid, I grew up on Pixar, consistently amazed – with the notable exception of the stupid sports movie where nothing happened to completely uninteresting characters. The sequel ( I am willing to bet hard money.) will be comparable to “Space Balls II: The Quest for More Money.”

  36. I sounded so hard on Pixar in that post. Let me say for the record that I am a massive Pixar fan, and that I really think every movie with that one exception is both hilarious and beautiful, and that I have cried during at least four of their movies.

  37. Well, I took the family to the drive-in (right next to the takeoff runway at the Pittsburgh Int’l Airport) last night. My son loves the Cars characters and, for being 3 1/2 years old, watched most of the movie.

    I saw countless kids with Cars clothes, Cars kid sized lawn chairs, etc.

    It wan’t bad, but the end of the movie was as convoluted as h-e-double hockey sticks and it definitely was not the best effort made by Pixar.

    As for the merchandising – people like me are as much to blame for it as the people who license and produce the stuff. My son has, as follows:
    – a Lightning McQueen tricycle, (I bought it and it was the cheapest trike in the store)
    – a Cars toybox (the only other one in the store was a Toy Story toybox)
    – a set of Cars sheets and pillowcase for a twin bed (I bought ’em)
    – several Cars characters t-shirts (all from my cousin, whose son outgrew them)
    – several Cars pajamas,
    – a Cars toddler bed he has since outgrown ( a present from Grandma),
    – a McQueen -shaped pillow,
    – Matchbox size toy cars of McQueen, Finn McMissile and another character, and
    – a Sheriff with a (formerly) loud siren my brother bought, in part to annoy me with the noise.

    When we were looking for a toybox, my son wandered off a few feet away, grabbed the set of Cars sheets, and dragged them over to my wife and me.

    I grew up with Loony Tunes, Speed Racer and the black and white Popeye cartoons. Those were better than anything made today – and a LOT more violent. Merchandising back then was unheard of

  38. Fan, I haven’t seen a drive-in since I left NYC 40 years ago. Didn’t think there were any left in the country. Of course, in those days, nobody watched the movie. It was just the best place to take your girlfriend. 😆

  39. I neglected to point out that Rachel Carson, she of the garbage book Silent Spring (the Dan Brown of her time), which propogated the lie about DDT, was from Pittsburgh and had a bridge named after her. I still call it the 7th Street Bridge. Carson’s garbage has cost an untold number of lives, in my wife’s native Colombia and elsewhere where malaria can be contracted.

    One more thing about the natural gas wells, and oil wells in particular – in parts of rural Northeastern Ohio, specifically eastern Portage County, northwestern Mahoning County (not far from Youngstown) and Columbiana County (about 60-65 miles northwest of Pittsburgh) there are countless oil derrick and gas wells to bee seen in farmers’ fields. Imagine that – food being grown near a gas well! Some fortunate folks there have gas wells that supply their homes with natural gas and they don’t have to buy natural gas or propane or heating oil.

  40. Joe, I live near Pittsburgh.

    Pittsburgh is 25 years behind the rest of the country and is d_*n proud of it.
    Catholics are 50% of the population of Allegheny County and Allegheny county has among the highest rates of church attendance in the nation. This cuts across all Christian churches.

    As for who gets elected from here, that’s another discussion.

  41. Pitt Fan, I just hope you don’t catch up to NY, which just passed “gay marriage” law and made me vow never to go back to the city that I once thought was the greatest in the world. Now it’s a cesspool.

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