TCS Daily


Supreme Court Goes Nuclear

By Max Schulz - April 5, 2007 12:00 AM

Who are the big winners and losers in Monday's monumental Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA? A sharply divided 5-4 decision found that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles -- most notably carbon dioxide -- despite the fact Congress has considered and rejected such proposals in the past. Taking its judicial activism one step further, the Court ruled the agency must provide a sound scientific rationale if it chooses not to regulate them in the future.

Press accounts naturally touted this ruling as a profound victory for environmentalists. Indeed, a number of well-known environmental organizations were plaintiffs along with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The media also spun the ruling as a defeat for the Bush Administration, the Big Three automobile manufacturers, and even the coal industry, since the ruling appears to make inevitable the sort of federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions that Congress earlier passed on. Indeed, though the scope of Massachusetts v. EPA was confined only to automobile emissions, the case was considered a stalking horse for regulating all greenhouse gas emissions.

The ruling left environmental activists ecstatic. A representative for the Sierra Club, one of the co-plaintiffs, said the decision "sends a clear signal to the market that the future lies not in dirty, outdated technology of yesterday, but in clean energy solutions of tomorrow like wind, solar." Not quite. A fairer reading would indicate that the signal sent is that a majority exists on the Supreme Court willing to disregard Congress and rewrite the laws with which it disagrees.

The irony is that the beneficiary of Monday's ruling won't be wind power, solar power, or any of the other renewable technologies favored by the Green establishment. Their economic and technological limitations are too severe for them ever to occupy more than a small niche in the American energy economy. Instead, one of the winners from Massachusetts v. EPA just may be something that many of the environmentalists who brought the suit have long abhorred: nuclear power. Like renewables, nuclear power generates electricity with no pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions. But unlike renewables, nuclear is capable of generating reliable power on a massive scale, which is what our country's future energy demands will require.

Nuclear power is on the verge of making a comeback in the United States. Thanks to several favorable provisions in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, as well as a streamlined licensing process, it is possible we could see the construction of new plants start within several years. The economics for new plant construction are still being worked out, particularly with regard to financing and federal loan guarantees. But there can be no doubt that federal efforts to hamstring coal can only help nuclear. Moreover, any future regulatory scheme allowing nuclear power plant operators to earn credits for generating emissions-free electricity would enhance nuclear's attractiveness to investors.

If you think the nuclear industry is happy with the ruling, think again. That's because the nuclear "industry," such as it is, consists of investor-owned utilities that own coal-fired power plants in addition to nuclear plants. Monday's decision, while potentially good for their nuclear holdings, is almost certainly bad for their coal ones.

Just how badly coal's ox gets gored by new federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions as a result of the Court's ruling remains to be seen. A plausible argument can be made that Congress was likely moving toward regulating carbon emissions anyway, despite its past reluctance.

If so, that merely highlights the outrageous nature of the Supreme Court's ruling, which subverts established methods for making law and setting policy. The real loser in Massachusetts v. EPA is not the coal industry, nor is it consumers who can expect to see their automobile options limited or to pay more for electricity. The casualty in this case is the rule of law, with five justices taking it upon themselves to make environmental policy because they disagree with the route spelled out by elected representatives in Congress.

To justify completely disregarding the express intent of Congress on how to deal with climate change issues, the slim majority on the Court had to perform some legal acrobatics. Namely, it had to find that Massachusetts or any other state had standing to bring the suit in the first place. Earlier efforts by environmental groups to pressure EPA were shot down because they could not prove they had been harmed. Even after adding state governments to their cause, it seemed unlikely that the Court would recognize the standing of a state to sue EPA to enforce regulations that didn't exist. Yet that's just what it did, ruling that global warming's prospects to raise the sea level along the Massachusetts coast presented the risk of catastrophic harm, justifying the state's legal pursuits.

The decision to grant standing to the Bay State involved even more contorted legal arguments. The majority wrote that as a sovereign state, Massachusetts should be afforded special deference. It is an odd assertion. Thus legal observers were treated to the bizarre sight of Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and David Souter citing the principle of states' rights in permitting the lawsuit to proceed. In reality, Monday's ruling turns notions of federalism and states' rights on their head. Previous rulings protecting states' sovereignty did so by repealing overreaching federal laws or regulations. Monday's case did no such thing; the plaintiffs argued that the federal government wasn't acting.

The ruling should be viewed as an open invitation for other states to ask the federal courts to reverse policy decisions they don't like but that are arrived at legitimately through the democratic process. That's not federalism or states' rights, but the opposite. Giving states (or activist groups) the ability to subvert legitimately held federal policies, if only they can find judges who sympathize with their cause, in the end does no favors to state officials. It merely increases the power of the unelected judicial class to make the laws our elected representatives at all levels should be making.

Max Schulz is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.


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41 Comments

Ginsburg
A few months back, Ginsburg gave an interview in which she proclaimed that she used the texts of other countries constitutions and UN documents when deciding how to rule on court cases.

I think it was Souter who declared that a justics must consider the impact of his decision when deciding which way to rule. That is, will the ruling have the desired societal impact.

Can you say carbon tax?
Cap and Trade is an approach to reducing emissions in the most economical way; but, it produces no revenue to government. A carbon tax, on the other hand, does produce revenue to government; and, thus, is much to be preferred by government. The secret is to hide it!

Congress can impose the tax on manufacturers and producers; AND, specifically prohibit it from being shown as a line item on the invoice, so that the blame for the resulting price increases falls on the manufacturers and producers. (This technique has been used previously with the airline industry.)

It will be interesting to see how this tax is imposed. Today, I could purchase a new Jeep CAPABLE of burning E85, but operate it throughout its useful life on gasoline. If the tax is on the vehicle, the E85-capable Jeep should either be exempt, or be taxed at 15% of the rate on gasoline-only vehicles. If the tax is on the gasoline, which is the "source" of the carbon, I can only avoid the tax by actually using E85. Presumably, the tax rate would be set so that the price of E85 is either less than or equal to the price of gasoline with the tax; and, as is common now, the tax component of the pump price will not be shown on the pump, as it used to be before the tax became ~20% of the price.

Your bias is obvious
"Their economic and technological limitations are too severe for them ever (emphasis added) to occupy more than a small niche in the American energy economy. "

really? so wind and or solar power can *never* be more than a small niche in the Energy industry? hmmm... shall i steal a line from curt schilling and talk about how someone's 'toolness is on display'

Wind and solar
are intermittent sources. Power systems cannot accommodate large amounts of these sources without extensive backup power systems. Since humans cannot affect solar output or planetary coriolis forces, then yes these can "never" constitute more than a small fraction of total power supply.

One Minor Correction
A solar satellite would allow for continuous high level solar power. The tech isn't here yet to make it feasible, though. Plus, I imagine the greens would scream bloody murder at setting up a "death ray satellite," which is what a solar power satellite would amount to, if you chose to aim it at something other than its receiver station.

Aside from that, only renewable sources I can see ever producing useful continuous power are geothermal and maybe tidal ( if they can produce a better means of extracting it ).

unless you can find a way to get the wind to blow all the time, then wind will remain minor
This has been gone over many times here.

Forget the Greens
I would be opposed to it. You would have to beam the power down as microwave. The power of that transmission, because it's broadcasting power not just information, would be enormous. And you have to build it at geosync, so lot's of luck we'd have with ensuring precision of reception. I can see the conversation now, "Sorry Mr. President, our orbital power station wobbled slightly this morning and we just cooked off Chicago."

You are quite right that an orbital satellite gets around the problem of variability, and it also can get around much of the problem of atmospheric absorption. But we get even worse problems in return.

Probably easier to just build a few nuclear plants.

mark - put it in washington dc - losts of hot air
it is hard to believe that these judges, who are not scientists, are deciding the merits of the science and compelling the EPA to do something about it.

it's like having a bunch of rosie o'donnells on the court

Legally defensible
If only the EPA could be honest with its citizens. The EPA is not a scientific body, it is a legal body. The EPA does not use science in formulating environmental policy, rather policy is determined by the legal defensibility of its regulations. The evolution of EPA policy is a function of how stalwart the written word is against suits brought by the non-scientific activist and ecopalyptic industry (i.e. Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, American Waters, Mineral Policy Research Center, etc.).

The Real Question
The real question is whether all of those organizations are exempt from tax. I know there's prohibitions on lobbying and direct involvement in elections, if there's no prohibitions on tax exemption for organizations that primarily engage in litigation to pursue their objectives-then there should be some.

How much do you want to be that there is none, so what we have is the wealthy getting a charitable deduction (when we hear from the usual gang about closing that loophole) to have SCOTUS use all the scientific knowledge one gains in pursuing a law degree to make public policy decisions that belong to the legislative and executive branch.

As a nuclear engineer, I hate this ruling
While I've been a nuclear engineer ever since I cleaned up my first oil spill (at least that's when I changed my major), this ruling will indeed increase pressure to go nuclear and I don't like it.

The reason is that I don't trust environmentalists or leftist, including half the Supreme Court. Friends like this, I don't need. What if they change their mind next year? The anti-nuclear folks have already shown poor judgment - I'm not flattered that they now declare that their new opinion now coincides with mine.

We're still living down the "too cheap to meter" boast of a Socialist New Dealer who was first chairman of the AEC. What next?

As a small correction, many of the new nuclear power plants in planning are no longer to be owned by regulated utilities but by merchant generators. Granted almost all the existing plants are subject to economic cost-of-service regulation.

This ruling also offers up the prospect of a court considering any breathing human being as a pollution source subject to federal CO2 emission regulations. Far fetched I know but whowoodathunk they would come up with this one?

If Congess doesn't like it...
Let Congress pass a law that specifically excludes carbon dioxide as a pollutant. And water vapor. Indeed, water vapor is the major greenhouse gas.

Nevertheless, in the absence of legislation to the contrary the courts are left to judge for themselves whether or not carbon dioxide (or rocks flying through the air) constitute an unreasonable risk.

When someone brings such a suit the judges are obliged to work with what they have. And to decide on the merits. Without a law, what did anyone think would happen? That's right. It could go either way. And that's exactly what we got. A split decision.

to kneemoe re bias
Do you mean then that you are biased the other way? Or do you live under the fantasy that nobody is biased?

a radical idea
The author said, "It merely increases the power of the unelected judicial class to make the laws our elected representatives at all levels should be making". My alternative radical idea is that none of the above have the power to make such decisions. It seems pathetic that people would want either snivveling beaurocrats or parasiticl politicians to control something so important in our lives.
































'.

Hurt the poorest among us
The poor and people on fixed incomes are the ones who are getting Gored by all of this. No pun intended. All goods and services along with energy will cost more. This is nothing more than a regressive tax on those of us least able to pay it. Coal is the cheapest means of producing energy in this country next to nukes. Nukes take a large up front investment.
Grab your wallets when the lawyers in robes decide something is good for us.

actually
there's a company right now working on a four propeller generator that would stay in the jet stream, i was reading about it off a link from slashdot
http://www.economist.com/science/tq/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8952080
yesterday morning... obviously we have to wait to see results instead of talk, but you cannot simply dismiss wind as a feasible, full time, power supply, the technology only gets better every day (nanoturbines are coming)

Death to Flying Creatures
It still wouldn't be enough to provide significant power to the entire planet. And, it kills endangered birds. I like birds. I don't like wind power.

Not gonna happen...
Much as I woud like to see it, there is no chance of any new nuclear power in the U.S. The Greens want to shut down coal, and and in their heart of hearts they don't want ANYTHING to replace it. They want radical cutbacks in "wasteful" consumption, including energy. A few thoughtful Greens like Stewart Brand see the value of nuclear power. Most are ignorant technophobes. There is still a huge regulatory tangle around nuclear power, which Greens will exploit to harass any nuclear project to death. A large part of the public is terrified of dangerous nuculars. The professional Greens won't be able to resist exploiting that fear to spook any politician that dares to stand up for nuclear power and try to prevent it being "regulated" into oblivion.

Time to do something about the courts
They are not supposed to be able to legislate from the bench. Disband this supreme court in-total and put in some people who will obey the "seperation of powers" set up by the Constitution.

At the very least, the court should have just thrown this fish back in the river. At best, they should have declared all such court rulings at all levels un-Constitutional. This kind of crap has to stop!

Wind and solar...
These intermittent sources can very well be solid pieces of a solid energy supply puzzle, and neither hold the political dogma of nuclear power. Locally, one of our towns installed a windmill to power thier street lights. It was so successful and the payback so fast, they installed a second, and larger, unit.

That said, advances in nuclear power plant design make them a safe and reliable solution, outside of the festering/lingering problem of disposal of the generated waste.

There have also been considerable advances in solar and wind energy, and they have proven themselves reliable sources.

However, electricity generation is only one part of the problem, and sound energy policy needs to come from the federal government (present administration excluded, as few of their policies have turned out to be beneficial on the energy front - the prices of gasoline and fuel oil are sufficient evidence of that, resulting from the disastrous polices executed in the name of the United States in the Middle East).

Fuel efficient cars, effective insulation strategies and construction techniques, mass transit in urban areas, conservation, and renewable energy generation in conjunction with nuclear could greatly reduce our dependancy of foreign oil, and return our nation to energy independence. Clearly, this would be of tremendous strategic value to our country.

The author clearly doesn't like the Supreme Courts "activist agenda", which is the typical and tired phrase used to describe a decision a neocon doesn't like. The court decision merely informs a less than competant administration that they are responsible for regulating a class of pollutants, despite thier claims to the contrary.

The author must be making a ton of money from his Exxon/Mobile stock holdings ;-) But that sells all of us out in return for his short-term gain. How un-American can you get?


No, not really
I've read several "wind studies" and there just is no easily accessable place where the wind blows constantly and consistantly enough for general use power generation. The good news is that the wind does blow most constantly and consistantly in peak areas and at peak times (daylight hours on the coasts) to be a good addition in places like California and New York.

But some of the best locations for "wind farms" (Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod) are never going to be used because they "destroy" the scenic draw of these places. Still, for general use, wind is a loser.

Solar has some of the same issues, unless you are willing to have no power at night or during major cloud cover.

Here's the rub, both could supply all the energy we would ever need; if sufficient storage capacity were available. In essence, batteries. High tech, long lasting, massive storage capability, high effeciency, low cost batteries.

If that were available, wind turbines could be built to be effecient in hurricanes and store all that energy for later use; all the wind generated by every means would be transformed into electricty. The same with solar.

Yet no one talks about storage. To me this is the real issue. With proper storage capability, all burning/boiler energy would become obsolete.

Better yet, individual companies, homes and buildings could generate their own energy and we could probably do away with even the need for wind farms and giant solar units. Good-bye to the "grid" and all the power lines strung all over the place.

I like it because it is sound economically, socially and environmentally. Taken to its ultimate use, electricty could be generated in high enough amounts to provide all heating needs and many other uses now being done by fossil fuels. This would reduce the need for coal and oil to that of a "raw" material for use in plastics and electronics, etc.

But that is a pipe-dream. Even if it were possible (questionable at best) there is no way present energy companies would just disappear without a fight. Still, it would be interesting to see the outcome should such storage capability become a reality.

sounds rather impossible
If the generator is free floating, then it will quickly be accelerated to the speed of the jetstream and become useless. If they anchor it to the ground, how do they plan on keeping it in the jetstream, as that puppy moves thousands of miles every year. Even dozens of miles every day. If they anchor it too the ground, how do they plan on keeping airplanes from running into the guy wires?

If you plan to present this idiocy as a reason to believe that wind will ever be viable, then you might as well wait on munchkins to pilot it.

You'd have to get the bill past a Democratic filibuster.
We can't even get ANWR drilling past the fillibuster, despite the fact that were 55 to 58 votes for the measure.

But that's why they are the Congress...
If we have a democracy, if our elected officials are responsible to their constituants and if the people ever get sick of this foolishness then the Congress might be expected to legislate reasonably.

Left to their own devices the Administration and the Judiciary will interpret and enforce loosely written laws any way they like. That is actually the way it is designed to work.

this argument
is done to death, whats better - a few dead birds or the entire ecosystem becoming unusable (also, we're talking about the jetstream here)? followed to its logical conclusion one must ask that question and anyone with will grant the former is better than the latter.

and it wouldn't be enough to power the planet? how so? did you read the article?

yee with little faith
Mark, the gennys have guy wires, so as to keep them in the jetstream and to transmit their power back down to ground level. I'll grant you the jetstream shifts significantly, my guess is the engineers designing this have thought about that before sinking millions into it.

as for the munchkins, they're irrelevant, its a pilot-less contraption ;)

About wind and solar
"neither hold the political dogma of nuclear power"

Quite wrong. They hold a massive political dogma all their own, largely dating back to Amory Lovins and his erroneous soft energy path in 1976. Technically illiterate politicians have been swallowing this tripe ever since.

Of course they're exempt
Typically they are charitable organizations (in the legal not ethical sense only) and they receive the majority of their funding from charitable foundations. Go to the website http://www.activistcash.com/ and you will see the various funding links. All charitable or not-for-profit, so all tax exempt.

Things may not be quite so bleak
NRC has simplified greatly their regulatory approval process over the past 15 years, as shown by the efficiency of their operating licence extension approval process. They now have the first early site applications sitting before them in a new process that reduces considerably both the scope and the opportunity for spurious legal challenges. NRC expects to have the first applications approved within about two years.

So does this prove anything? Perhaps not, but the signs are encouraging.

Sure, it SOUNDS better!
I'm one year into writing a license application for a new nuke. There's ~6 months to go before we turn it in.

Then the NRC will take an estimated 42 months to review it before issuing a license. That's 5 years - mobilization to license!

And this is for a plant that has a certified design, detailed design and construction to that design almost complete overseas, and on a site with two well-run reactors already. This should be a slam dunk project but bureaucracy hasn't changed.

We will be able to start digging the hole for the foundation and do non-safety-related contruction in about a year to 18 months from today, Major parts like the reactor vessel are being ordered today but actual pouring of concrete for the foundation of the reactor is four years away. And we'll be the first!

From where I sit, I don't see any real advantage to the new licensing process schedule-wise. It should preclude adversarial legal challenges down-the-road but with this Supreme Court, we can't count on that.

Here's the real issue
and it's the question of reliability of schedule. If NRC promises 42 months and delivers on that, that's a lot further ahead than we were without any regulatory schedule certainty at all, particularly given all the cutouts for litigation.

Second, one has to believe that some regulatory processes have improved over the hideous situation which created Shoreham, namely a reactor project scuppered by local government. Perhaps even Shoreham may be a good thing in the long run as a gruesome example of what happens to ratepayer communities when they make irresponsible political decisions. The twits in Long Island will be paying for that fiasco for a generation.

Besides, it's unnecessary
Nuclear power is entirely justified economically irrespective of any artificial crimps on CO2 emission.

one word - Reliability
Please let me explain to you scientific or academic types that don't work in the power industry and only understand, at best, a circuit board and your email.


For all you who play wordgames or mince words and where the term 'reliability' doesn't mean much other than a nice, personal complement. The grid IS the main assurance of reliability. Meaning when you flip that light switch or turn on your TV or whatever, then the power is there, instantaneously AND continuously.


This idea of a distributed power grid is folly. I've looked into solar panels on my house, it's $20k with all the tax rebates. Okay, at $150 a month, I'm looking at 11+ years for payback AND I'm still going to pay the utility for the monthly T&D charge AND I have calculated anything regarding present value or future values I just did the straight $20k.


Okay, personal finance-wise it doesn't make sense, flat out. But reliability-wise it makes even less sense. Millions of homeowners and businesses would have to account for and set aside taxable square footage to house these power systems. And since its distributed they'd have to be designed for peak usage. Okay when (not if) it breaks in July or December what do I do then? Are millions of homeowners going to fix there own problem? Are hundreds of thousands of contractors going to fix it? As it is now the utility fixes the problem, all I get to do is complain about it once every two, three years for about a half hour. I'm not the complaining type and I'd just read a book or go bowling, but I surely don't have to worry about my monthly finances that month by getting hosed by some contractor (that I can't even call on a land line or he'll be off on another project somewhere and I'll have to wait a week or two, but hey I'm saving $150 by my very own power system).


To suggest I'm or anyone else is taking bribes from Oil or Power or Car or Tire Companies or whoever for saying the system we have is a good one would be like me saying you take bribes from the Battery or Mining industry.


The wind doesn't blow continuously. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do you will something so much to be true when it simply is not? Wind power will never, ever be viable. You get the same answer for solar panels. By the way anything non-land-based is laughable. SPACE power stations transmitted back to earth! Again, and please read carefully ... what if it breaks? ... reliability ... forget Chicago ... if something goes wrong, how long til it's up and running again, 9 months at best. You guys should keep it simple. These wild ideas you have you need to cross-check with simple problems so possibilities of what we're talking about has a lottery-ticket chance to get off this page and be applied. [I'm presuming that's everyone's intention].


Geothermal is extremely limited, sure when and where it is available take advantage of it. However, consider if you have a site available 500 miles from the grid. That once you add the cost of transmission it just isn't feasible to get a lousy 40 MW unit to the grid. For a sense of scope and size, a 60 MW power plant might have been built in 1952. It would be laughable to put up something like that together today. Don't give me 'every little bit helps' jargon, because it doesn't. Hydros are also limited site-wise but not by rating, fuel cost, or relative simplicity.


Okay, so your point was to emphasize storage systems, what I'm calling a distributed power grid, same thing, and my simple answer why not is 'reliability', that's why.


Microwave power from space, ha, that was in SimCity, for crying out loud. I'm curious if the FCC would okay all the electrostatic wave interference with the millions of upset telecommunications.


Oil and Coal is not processed into plastic, natural gas is. If you wanted to make plastic from Coal, wou'd have to gasify it, reform it to syngas, then make the polymer chains for plastics. This process is something that's not done. Not because of conspiracy, but because it's made by using natural gas from the ground (or LNG terminal) it's much less costly. Electronics, your raw materials would be metals (you can't make coal OR oil into metal), plastic (again the natural gas route predominates) and to a lesser extent ceramic or alumina (you can't make this from coal OR oil) and glass (FRP, and again you can't make this from coal OR oil).


I went through all that, hopefully for you to realize, due to our persistant and constant need for energy the current way it comes in is by vast quantities of commodities that are otherwise worthless. That is to say, coal is good for nothing else or not feasible to be processed into anything else. Uranium is good for nothing else, most of it is under the earth's surface DEGRADING AWAY ANYWAY into lead and radon gas and whatever. Again, Uranium is good for nothing else, you can't process it into natural gas. I might as well do Oil too. The Oil I talk about and the predominant one important to anyone in the power industry is the most worthless in any other case. It's No. 6 Fuel Oil (one grade above what is used to pave roads). There are no 600 MW diesel power plants, there are no 600 MW propane power plants, there are no 600 MW butane power plants. What is predominantly used is either dirt (uranium or coal) or one grade above ashpalt (mud). That being said natural gas fired power plants is a waste of a valuable resource to only make electricity with it. Note the only units of this type that are base loaded are where the price per MWhr is the highest.

Well put, however, direct or indirect
S. Korea built many nukes in the late seventies, early eighties and look where there at today. If you want to keep an economy going or growing you have to have cheap fixed costs and then use brain power (translated through by technology) to outpace the costs. Your utilities, in this case energy, is the fixed cost (like your monthly income). But Bertly extrapolate it to industry (where the best paying jobs are, except Goldman Sachs, but we can't all work there can we), which heavily depends on cheap electricity and it affects them too. Higher electricity affects companies that have marginal profits, whereby they'll move overseas.

If you pursue making electricity from the commodity with the lowest cost fuel (and not some stupid solar panel) it translates to the lowest costing electricity, then EVERYBODY has more money. Why doesn't everyone understand this.

good ol' Shoreham
I love it when Shoreham pops into the conversation. An American tragedy, an endeavor that failed and hurt everybody involved, especially the rate payers on Long Island.

Really, heavens be praised!
Kneemoe maybe you should hold your breath until the whole US power grid runs on wind. Are you gonna sell the ISO on a perpetual motion machine next too?

Nanoturbine? What's the MW rating for that? Can I plug my air conditioner into it?

I apologize, man, I just can't help myself. What planet are you from? Four-prop engine that stays in the jet stream - goodness. That's got feasiblilty written all over it.

It is indeed
an American tragedy, and the ratepayers of what used to be Lilco are getting their just deserts. There's been a dementia in much of the Western world for the past 30 or so years that "small is beautiful" and hence the converse as well. When that fraud Amory Lovins "consultant physicist" is allowed to parade around unchallenged with his pretentions as an energy expert then I have little sympathy with the dolts who took his nonsense seriously.

What's even more irritating about attitudes typified by the benighted Long Islanders is the fact that living standard is directly a function of access to useful energy. You can only undercut the foundation of the GDP pyramid for so long before there are consequences. Of course, the consequences that the fanatic religious Greens want is rather different from what the rest of us would accept.

Guess you needed to vent
In a word, I agree; reliability is the key. I believe I pointed that out. That is why it is completely untenable without storage.

Even with storage, wind alone probably couldn't do the job (unless massive generators and storage to capture wind from hurricanes and the jet stream were viable; highly unlikely, at least right now), but it would be a much stronger addition to the grid. If that type of storage were available (a huge if) we could also capture lightning energy and solar energy on a more productive scale. Storage (and some deversification) is the way to off-set relibility problems.

My perfect world was admittedly a "pipe-dream" that is unrealistic. The first reason is that it will be a long while yet (if ever) before that type of technology will be on-line; and it will probably never be "cheap" (though it could be cost-effective in some applications). A second is that the money to make the change, and the desire to make it their own, is in the hands of present energy companies; also they would have the best chance at a seemless transition and large-scale use.

As for the rest, I agree. I especially agree on the NG power plants, what a waste; coal would be a much better fuel for that.

Agreed
I guess that I was trying to show some duplicity on the part of some politicians who profess to being represenative of the interests of the poor, and at the same time, endorsing "Green" solutions to energy concerns that would disporportionately affect them.
By robbing compettive energy sources from industry, the enviornmentalists would hurt us all. That hurt will trickle down to those least able to afford it.
From what I have read, we have enough coal reserves to keep us in energy for 140 years, why not use a local resource and cut down our import to export imballance at the same time? "Hell is paved with good intentions" I am not even sure all enviornmental advocates are not just in it for the greater good. There is money to be made by being green, like companies owned by former high ranking American politicians selling carbon offsets.

The Law of Unintended Consequences
It is a good thing the Supreme Court gives written rulings. They wouldn't want to give off any CO2 or hot air!

It looks like the Environmentalists bit off more than they could chew on this one!

yes really - bc of poor energy density
" "Their economic and technological limitations are too severe for them ever (emphasis added) to occupy more than a small niche in the American energy economy. "

really? "

Yep. Wind and solar require (physically, geographically and in the sense of hardware) huge infrastructure for little energy gain. Oil, gas, coal and nuclear materials are highly condensated carriers of energy.

For wind and solar you have to build, fix and expand the infrastructure. That costs money, on top of non-trivial amounts of energy. Solar cells "wear out" due to nature of photovoltaic effect (a quant of electromagnetic energy "kicks out" an electron from certain orbit in this atom of small number of additive element atoms in semiconductor, and after that happens that particular atom is not going to undergo another photovoltaic event). Wind turbines are extremely expensive and being electromechanical devices they don't produce much energy in comparison to financial and energy costs of their construction before they are used up.

Nuclear is the way to go - there's more fuel in seawater (thorium) than we will probably ever need. Plus, its costs are mainly due to misguided, overcomplicated regulations that are not really improving safety, because chances of smth going wrong increase disproportionately (some say exponentially) with complication of the system and rules governing it.

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