Pertaining to Fossil Fuel Industry Fighting Nuclear Using Propaganda

How rare? Four of my heroes (Rod Adams, Robert Steinhaus, Robert Hargraves and John Kutsch) comment on the same topic. In this case the fossil fuel industry’s interference with the progress of nuclear energy.

David Owen asked the question on the Thorium Energy Alliance facebook page:

Are there any recommended readings you might direct me to pertaining to Fossil Fuel industry fighting Nuclear using propaganda? Do you find Big Oil to be at all complicit in the demonizing of Nuclear Energy via the Media and other channels such as education?

Robert Steinhaus: The most significant development constraining the wider application of nuclear energy in American is the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974. The coalition that succeeded in passing this legislation did include representatives of the fossil fuel lobby, who in 1974 saw nuclear energy as a real and present threat to their business. Also participating in pushing through this legislation were anti-nuclear groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists and Ralph Nader’s Critical Mass movement as well as the early environmental lobby.
Prior to the passage of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, over 12 different families of nuclear reactors were invented and prototyped. Since the passage of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, no new families of reactors (including Thorium fluid fuel reactors) have been design certified and built (the US has become a LWR only shop). The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 now does the job of keeping nuclear out of contention with fossil fuels and keeps nuclear from being chosen by communities that need power. Regulation is frozen fear, and once put in place regulation obstructs progress and technological development often for decades. 
The current fossil fuel industry understands that as long as the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 remains in place, they do not really have to worry about nuclear. Only two licenses to build new reactors have been issued in the last 30 years, and it is problematic that both licenses granted will actually result in operating reactors. The fossil fuel industry does not have to run commercials or hire lawyers to harass the nuclear industry, as existing regulation from NRC does a splendid job pricing up nuclear to the point it is rarely built. Fossil fuel executives know they have far more to fear from EPA, and the young 3 years out of school non-engineer EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) environmental staffers that feel they have the right to choose for what kinds of power generation can be built through ratcheting air and water quality requirements and putting billion dollar fossil fuel plants out of operation. In the eyes of fossil fuel CEOs, nuclear is handled and muzzled with NRC regulation. It is wasteful on the part of fossil fuel CEOs to worry about issues that have been securely dealt with when real challenges like EPA, which threatens to put fossil fuel plants out of business with regulatory ratcheting, are currently driving the choice of what forms of power generation will be tolerated in America in the future.
Rod Adams: Robert Steinhaus The fossil fuel industry runs commercials ALL THE TIME and has “lawyered up” for decades. They also have a rather substantial investment in Washington lobbyists.

If you watched any of either of the conventions from the duopoly political parties in the US, you might understand why I would have captioned those shows as “brought to you by coal, oil and gas pushers”.

I agree that the Energy Reorganization Act was a coup de grace of antinuclear activism brought to all of us by a coalition of coal, oil, natural gas and their paid assistants that work under the cover of “Environmentalism”, but I do not believe that the fossil fuel industry has been resting on that foundation. (Did you know that Nader is an Arab-American whose first big break as a “consumer advocate” was to write a book that virtually stopped production of one of the first commercially successful small, fuel efficient cars ever designed in Detroit. Think about that for a moment.)

Nuclear will always be a threat to the wealth and power of the fossil fuel industry. That is not because it will stop humans from beneficially using the wonderful properties of hydrocarbons, but because the false notion that energy fuel is scarce will disappear. BTUs will once again become cheap and disposable, people will be able to do more work, and the air and water will become cleaner. 

However, people will fight less and less over those BTUs, no one will even consider investing $45-$65 billion in Alaskan LNG projects, no one will get excited about drilling for oil in the Arctic (and even Antarctic), deep sea oil and gas will remain in place, and even tight shale gas will probably be thought of as something that our distant descendants might think about extracting if they really need some methane.

Just think about how that situation will change the world power structure and you will recognize that there are people who can be our strong allies. We will need them because the people who will be the “losers” in that scenario hold a lot of chips now, and are gathering even more every single day. 

Their hand, however, is roughly equal to a couple of pairs of 7s and 8s while ours is more like a royal flush. We just have to hang in there so they cannot buy the pot.

Rod Adams: One more thing – do you really think that the EPA is working against the interests of the most power parts of the fossil fuel industry? Do you think it is an accident that a highly efficient coal plant cannot quite meet the CO2 per kilowatt hour limit while a natural gas plant can – as long as the rules are written so that the methane released in the extraction and transmission process is ignored?
David Owen: This is more like it. Thank you gentlemen and scholars. :)
Robert Hargraves: I’m simply amazed at the current commercial, “… invested nearly 100 billion dollars in clean coal…” — an outright lie.
John Kutsch: the biggest push back from Fossil fuel has been from Coal. The liquid fuels folks dont have any threat from THM SR and we have not heard from nat Gas , but they are too cheap to care right now anyways. The final thought is that you wont be using MSR for electricity you will use it for process heat – that gets some naysayers off our backs

Robert Steinhaus makes a comment that is rarely mentioned about the Energy Reorganization Act. So was worth posting this discussion. I did a little digging and found that in 1974

The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was divided in two. One for energy and the other for weapons.

The Energy was further divided into a
Research body:
“The Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA)”
Regulation body:
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission”

And the biggest blow was the shutting down of the
JCAE (Joint Committee on Atomic Energy)

Although the JCAE lasted until 1977 it was largely ineffective after the NRC formed in 1974.

One comment

  • February 20, 2013 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

    This posting claims Natural Gas has a worse carbon footprint than coal largely due to methane gas that escapes and does not get captured and the fact that methane is a worse green house gas. ARTICLE

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