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With Ocasio-Cortez/Markey Bill Reportedly on Horizon, Expert Says Green New Deal Must Include 'Fossil Fuel Phaseout'

With Ocasio-Cortez/Markey Bill Reportedly on Horizon, Expert Says Green New Deal Must Include 'Fossil Fuel Phaseout'

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) are working on Green New Deal legislation that the pair may unveil as soon as next week, Axios reported late Wednesday.

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Here we go … this guy Markey just voted for the anti-BDS bill … politics make for strange alliances.


It’s just insane to toss nuclear fuels into that description. All three assertions are utterly false where nuclear fuels are concerned. Omar spoke of “climate change deniers in Washington obstructing real solutions” but they aren’t the only science-rejecting obstructionists. The left has them too.

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It is time that the U.S. followed Germany’s comprehensive example with respect to phasing out non-renewable, planet-damaging fuels. Hmmm, the “Green New Deal”. Nice hearkening back to a real Democrat (FDR) as opposed to these corporate-friendly hacks that dominate the party these days. I seem to recall that Pelosi is falling in line with them and refuses to give her support for this movement as well as seeing to it that key committees that deal with the acquisition of money are NOT filled with any of the new Demos elected last November. Same old, same old, heh, Nancy?


Markey is a phony whose main objective is getting re-elected every six years.


This is the simple truth.

Humans will either phase out fossil fuels, and soon.

Or fossil fuels will phase out humans, and soon.


Fossil fuel types will ignore “phase” and only hear “out”, painting all climate fixes as extreme. The better word might be “drawdown”, as in the book title of that name.

It’s also wise to consider “energy mix” when describing a nation’s consumption. Germany is not so good an example. [ Compare here: https://www.iea.org/statistics/?country=USA&year=2016&category=Energy%20supply&indicator=TPESbySource&mode=chart&dataTable=BALANCES ]

Big problem in the US is the extreme high per capita use of fossil fuels. Policy proposals that shrink this market are a vital first step–since there isn’t any one magic bullet to solve this problem in the next 12 years. It will take a suite of effective ideas.

Fossil fuel types? That would be everyone.

And the ecology really does not care what we hear. Call it macaroni and cheese. Makes no difference whatsoever.

We either stop using fossil fuels, now, or very soon the habitat will collapse. It’s already started.

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Have you been to Chernobyl? I hear it radiates with beautify this time of year. Of course you can always visit the sea side resort of FvckYouShima. All hot tubs all the time.

Yeah, nuclear is green, no doubt.


That’s what we are all waiting for. A new round of debates from the floor that resemble one fraught from the revered Sen. Kennedy VS one of the right -wing stalwarts.

“Didn’t take long for a pro-nuke troll to come out.”

I take basically the same position as James Hansen and the IPCC. Presumably you would dismiss them as pro-nuke trolls and shills as well. This is how science-deniers classically operate. Don’t actually address facts and evidence, call the other side names.

“If you know anything at all about the extraction, refining and production of nuclear fuels, you’d know that those processes take massive amounts of fossil fuels.”

I know plenty about it. I know, for example, that the old ways of extracting and refining are being left behind and most of the uranium in the world is now extracted (and simultaneously refined) by in-situ leach mining. This is the largest ISL uranium mine in the world:

tinyurl*com/y7g8ct3m (replace the * with a dot)

If you look in the background, you can see the spindly power lines which supply the electricity to drive the electric pumps. So it is as clean as the grid–same as for electric cars–and nuclear power could easily supply that electricity. It is much less fossil-fuel-intensive than mining and production operations for wind and solar manufacturing in China.

“If you knew anything at all about the production of nuclear energy, you’d know that the plants are not only plagued by humongous cost over-runs, slow start-up times, frequent shut-downs and short plant lives,”

I actually agree that’s the case with old-tech nuclear. But those also have nothing to do with your original list, unless you are going to try to claim those issues somehow make nuclear power inherently unsustainable. But problems with specific ways of doing nuclear does not mean those problems are inherent to all possible ways of doing nuclear. For an assortment of bad reasons, the first track we took for nuclear power was not a good one and every one of those problems you list has been the result. But that does not mean there are no better tracks. Today’s nuclear power is a long way from optimal, but that also means there is a lot of room for improvement–and next-gen developers are working to eliminate or greatly reduce every one of those problems, and more.

“you’d know that the damned things take massive amounts of “conventional energy” to run.”

Baloney. There’s nothing massive about fossil fuel inputs to nuclear’s operational energy, especially compared to the enormous amounts of non-carbon energy they provide in return. The total life-cycle carbon profile (of which, operations is a small fraction) is now among the best of renewables, and even at that, large improvements are still easily attainable.

“And then there’s nuclear wastes and mixed nuclear/toxic wastes that are scientifically unmanageable by our species.”

Using “scientifically” in that way has about as much to do with science as it does when Christian Scientists and Creation Scientists toss the term around. The high-level “waste” (spent fuel) has been managed well enough to have a sterling safety and containment record that very few comparable heavy industries can even come close to. There really is not much to “managing” spent fuel that is sitting in pools, or in dry-cask storage. And several of the reactors in development are molten salt fast reactors which are being designed to consume that spent fuel. And every part of that process also looks like it will be entirely manageable as well.

Which also brings us to the claim that nuclear fuels are inherently unsustainable. This is all the spent fuel generated by the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant over its entire lifetime in operation:

That spent fuel contains about 550 tonnes of heavy metal, and in a fast reactor, could produce about 1.4 terawatt years of heat.

For comparison, this is one extension of Garzweiler, one of the German lignite mines (named for a village which used to be located there):

For scale, down in the foreground, you can see one of the enormous Krupp Bagger excavators which works the site.
Closer views:

The Garzweiler mine complex has supplied about 4.5 billion metric tons of lignite, which is about 1/6 of all the lignite Germany has burned so far. And the lignite mined there has an average calorific energy value of 2800 kWh of heat per metric ton. Times 4.5 billion tons comes to about 1.4 terawatt-years–coincidentally about the same as the latent heat content in the Main Yankee residual fuels.

If we were to consume all of our spent fuel in fast reactors, that would exceed 200 terawatt years of heat energy. All the fossil fuels mankind has ever burned has produced less than 700 terawatt years of heat. And then after we use up all our spent fuel, we have nearly ten times as much depleted uranium which fast reactors would also be able to consume. If you look at the world supply of spent fuel and DU, that comes to roughly three million tons of usable fuel–enough for more than ten times all the energy mankind has ever extracted from all fossil fuels combined. And when we’ve consumed that, then we could actually start mining uranium again, which, at today’s extraction rates could continuously supply about ten times the energy mankind currently consumes. And if that’s not enough, there are billions of tons of U in seawater, which we already have developed ways to extract at only around double the cost of terrestrial mining. And that supply is continuously replenished by erosion extraction from tens of trillions of tons of U in continental crust. And, then thorium has roughly four times the abundance of uranium. And that’s not even touching the much larger supply of energy which resides in the fusion nuclear fuels and proto-fuels we have on Earth. Terrestrial nuclear fuels are every bit as sustainable as solar nuclear fuels. Both have finite supplies, but the supplies are so huge they will hardly be depleted at all by the time humans no longer exist.

“And then there’s nuke weapons, which take the above to create and manage,”

Wrong. Weapons-grade nuclear fuel does not come from nuclear power plants. However, nuclear power plants can consume weapons-grade fuel. They have already consumed enough fuel to more than double the number of nuclear warheads that exist in the world. Nuclear power has accomplished the destruction of more bomb fuel than have all the nuclear disarmament groups put together, and with the development of fast reactors, our incentive to burn bomb fuel would only increase.

Nuclear power plants do, however, supply medical radioisotopes (and new types of reactors could supply more kinds) so there are benefits to nuclear power beyond just power.

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Phase out the petrodollar? They will risk nuclear war to preserve the petrodollar. So it’s not going to happen without an act of god. And, god may very well be the petrodollar, so watch out.


…and, radiation from Fukushima keeps the fish warm.


I certainly applaud their efforts but good luck passing that Bill.

The heat energy Pacific fish receive from the natural radioactivity in their bodies greatly exceeds any heat they get from Fukushima.

From the pictures I’ve seen, the Chernobyl exclusion zone does indeed look beautiful since Nature has flourished there. The main reason I would not like to see it in person is that I think it would be best for the impromptu wildlife preserve that now exists there if humans stayed out as much as possible, though sadly, I hear Chernobyl tourism is on the rise.

And nobody is advocating the building of Soviet era reactors, or old GE designs dating back to the 50’s and 60’s. And even with the old designs, if you compile all the lives lost and exclusion zones, that doesn’t come close to the death toll and land-loss associated with hydropower. And most people can understand why those losses are not automatically an argument against all possible forms of hydropower. Anything can be done badly. But specific instances of something being done badly is far from enough to establish that it cannot be done well.

How can the people of Japan, who live on a Fish based diet, not all be sick from Radiation Poisoning?

Exactly. The petrodollar is the only thing propping up our currency (and our control over the rest of the world - see Venezuela). They would send the troops out into this country before they’d allow that. And Pelosi, et al, are part of that planet-destroying problem.

“This is the same kind of shit the tobacco industry used, the petroleum-chemical industry uses, the climate-change deniers use, Big Pharma uses…ad nauseam Roll out the bought-and-paid-for “scientists” and academics to heap up the reports with “data” and “studies” until the opposition relents.”

Every example you cite for agenda-driven studies have been out of the scientific mainstream. And the same has been the case for the discredited agenda-driven anti-nuke “studies” generated by people like Mangano, Sherman, Busby, Mousseau, Moller, and Scherb–studies which only have currency and credibility with the anti-nuke bubble-reality echo chamber, amplified by unscientific anti-nuke luminaries like Caldicott, Gundersen, Grossman, and Wasserman. And as with other bubble-realities, they reject the mainstream of science which has rejected the agenda-driven studies the true-believers embrace. And seriously, do you really believe Hansen and the IPCC can plausibly be described as being bought-and-paid-for?

And in my post, I didn’t rely on studies. I just did the math. Anyone who cares to do likewise can arrive at the same result. And if anyone has trouble doing that, I’ll be happy to show my work for any part of my position they’d like to see.

“Meanwhile, tell me this one thing: When has a single nuke plant ever been totally decommissioned and returned to greenfield status?”

I just posted a link to the former site of Main Yankee. It’s a browsable satellite image. Look around. See any reactor there now? The spent fuel is just about all that’s left. Same for Trojan nuclear (now a park) and several others. You can object that they aren’t technically 100% restored because there is still spent fuel there, but 1) many nuclear sites were not green to start with, and 2) for several sites, that spent fuel is all that is keeping those sites as green as they are. There are several sites where it is developers who want the fuel gone. Guess why.

“Or even easier: How many millions tons of nuclear and mixed wastes sit, poisoning air land and water in Savanah, Idao, Tennessee, New York, CA, IL, WA, VA, etc (basically the whole Biosphere). Oh never mind…”

For nuclear power, there are four main waste profiles. The largest by mass is probably depleted uranium, and for that, the world supply is not quite three million metric tons yet, but we will definitely pass that before much longer. By the time we fully move past today’s reactors, we could easily have around six million tons of DU. But DU is just natural uranium that has had the more-radioactive isotope reduced. It is less radioactive than natural uranium, which is all over the place already–always has been. Second largest is spent fuel at around 230,000 metric tons. The world supply of spent fuel will probably never even come close to one million tons. Third is activated metals from the reactors. If you look at the former site of Connecticut Yankee nuclear, you find three casks at the end of the spent fuel depot which contain all the highly activated metals from the reactor. Those have short half-lives, and will be ready for recycling in about 60 years. And then there’s the low level waste–gloves, outer garments, rags, mops, other cleaning supplies, and generally stuff which has picked up low grade contaminants. This is a lot by volume, but very easy to contain and shield, and also only needs short-term containment. Medical waste has a much larger profile, represents a larger risk, and medical radioisotopes are less contained than the radioisotopes in nuclear power waste. By far the largest radionuclide pollution problem came from nuclear weapons production–which, again, has nothing to do with nuclear power plants.

“At least answer this: have you no feeling for the children of the world and their futures and the futures of their children???”

Hansen dedicated his book to his grandchildren. I haven’t met a nuclear energy proponent who thought they were doing anything but trying to make a better future world. And it is a cliche how much the “we have to think of the children” position has been trotted out for pure emotional appeal, completely skipping over the step of establishing what effect the position would actually have on the children. I remember, we had to ban gay marriage and even gay sex “for the children”. We had to break up families and throw parents in prison for trivial drug offenses “for the children”.

Nuclear power has already saved hundreds of thousands of lives relative to the energy alternates we would have used if we had never developed nuclear power. Better forms of nuclear could prove useful in further displacing fossil fuels, and reducing all the death, health problems and environmental destruction that goes along with them. And in developing fast reactors, we would be leaving future generations with a large supply of clean energy fuel–instead of leaving them a large supply of depleted uranium and spent fuel to have to figure out what to do with. And billions of children, and the adults they will become, could be lifted out of energy poverty. So how is that bad for the children? And how is your question not at least as applicable to your own position? Have you no feeling for the children?

“Your online handle is at least honest.”

I get called a liar here probably more than any other place in my life–maybe even more than when I was contending against Scientific Creationists. But despite my longstanding invitation for anyone to point out where I have said anything that was not supported by reason, science, or evidence, I’m still waiting for anyone to point out where I have even been incorrect, much less any instance where I’ve been deliberately dishonest. On the other hand, there is substantial evidence that anti-nuke sources like Arnie Gundersen, Dana Durnford, Joe Mangano, Janette Sherman, and that tabloid site Enenews said things that they knew to be false and/or misleading. But true-believers do not gauge honesty by adherence to fact, evidence, reason, and science. They gauge it by adherence to what they prefer to believe.

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AOC and many others call for 100 per cent fossil free by whatever year. That is impossible because machines with moveable parts require lubrication with either light oils or heavy greases to counteract friction. No plant based oils will suffice.

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