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Snake River Alliance backs out of defamatory statements January 27, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, environmentalists, Snake River Alliance.
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The Snake River Alliance has retracted a statement calling my company “scammers,” with the Alliance saying their statement wasn’t “factual” but merely their opinion.

On Aug. 11, 2008, Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley appeared on a television news broadcast and claimed AEHI representatives were criminals, calling the company “scammers.” AEHI sued the SRA for defamation, as no one in the company has been accused of charged with any criminal behavior. In response, the Alliance filed a motion to dismiss the defamation suit, instead saying their statements were offered as opinion, not fact, and were therefore protected under the First Amendment. In light of the SRA’s admission that their statements were not factual, we did not oppose the dismissal.

In their dismissal, the SRA admitted their statements were not factual, but just their opinion, which they could have done long ago. The SRA is known for over-the-top rhetoric and they came very, very close to crossing the line between protected speech and defamation; only by later retracting the factualness of their statement did they stay within the law and they now should think twice about the words they use.

Obama signals pro-nuke stance in Steven Chu pick January 20, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in balanced approach, Barack Obama, Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, international, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, President Obama, reprocessing, Steven Chu.
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I welcome President Obama to the leadership of the United States. While Obama has always been a supporter of nuclear power, his pick for Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, is especially encouraging.

On Jan. 13, Chu sat before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and confirmed the Obama administration’s strong desire to push our country “towards energy independence, ” including a “continued commitment to nuclear power.”

Chu affirmed he was “supportive of the fact that the nuclear energy industry is, and should have to be, a part of our energy mix in this century.” Alluding to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, Chu said he’s “confident that the Department of Energy, perhaps in collaboration with other countries, can get a solution to the nuclear waste problem” and that reprocessing of used nuclear fuel “can be a part of that solution … certainly recycling is an option that we will be looking at very closely.”

Chu also told Senators that he supports the loan guarantee program to use $18.5 billion as security to encourage lending for low-carbon generation technology.

“Nuclear power, as I said before, is going to be an important part of our energy mix. It’s 20 percent of our electricity generation today, but it’s 70 percent of the carbon-free portion of electricity today and it is base-load. So I think it’s very important we push ahead.”

As I blogged previously, Obama also made a good pick in his National Security Advisor, James Jones, a retired Marine general and former president and CEO of the Institue for 21st Century Energy, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Jones advocates a comprehensive overhaul to U.S. energy policy in the name of national defense.

The Simco Road designated industrial zone recommended by Elmore P&Z cannot accommodate nuclear plant January 16, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, approval process, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Greenfield nuclear development, rural nuclear, Water policy.
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On Jan. 12, I was invited to make a presentation before the Mountain Home City Council on our efforts to develop a large advanced nuclear reactor in Elmore County.

In November, the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended against rezoning approximately 1,400 acres of land to accommodate our plant, saying heavy industrial development should be located in a zone near Simco Road, even as wind, solar and natural gas power are permitted elsewhere in the county.

In response to a Mountain Home City Council member’s question regarding siting of the plant in the Simco Road area, the following is my reply:

After some research we have concluded the Simco Road site does not qualify for a nuclear plant and even if it did, there does not appear to be any property available. The following are some of the reasons.

The Simco Road site has no water supply so a dedicated water line of more than 20 miles would need to be constructed. A large safety-related pipeline would add hundreds of millions in expense and create security and right-of-way concerns; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would disapprove the Simco Road site for the water supply security issue alone. Our current site is one mile from the Snake River, an ideal location for water access without a security issue.

Elmore County's proposed Simco Road industrial site is closer to Boise development than it is to Mountain Home

Elmore County's proposed Simco Road industrial site is closer to Boise development than it is to Mountain Home

The Simco Road location has geologic issues that could make qualification expensive, if it is possible at all, on account of strict NRC requirements regarding geologic stability. Preliminary geologic testing confirms our existing site has no such potential issues.

Key parcels along the Simco Road site are under option by other parties,

Our proposed location will ensure many economic benefits stay concentrated in Elmore County

Our proposed location will ensure many economic benefits stay concentrated in Elmore County

making it unavailable for a nuclear plant site. Our current proposed site is optioned and ready for the development process.

The Simco Road area is 7 miles from Boise’s industrial area and 21 miles from Mountain Home, along the Ada-Elmore county border. Elmore County would lose much of the employment revenue as employees would likely live in Boise, as suggested by our economic study. Elmore County would lose in housing starts and commercial and other economically beneficial opportunities. Our existing site is 12 miles from Mountain Home, thus in a better position of supporting economic development in Elmore County.

Elmore County’s comprehensive plan is well-intentioned, but it did not foresee the development of such a major economic benefactor like our proposed plant and the associated regulatory requirements. We look forward to our presentation before the Elmore County Commission in April for the final word on if our plant – and the economic benefits it will bring – will become possible in Elmore County.

We aren’t the only ones with this belief. One of our critics agrees the Simco Road site is lacking for our kind of development.

Environmentalists continue fight against renewable energy January 6, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, anti-renewable energy, balanced approach, Energy policy, environmentalists, renewable energy, Snake River Alliance, Solar energy, Wind energy.
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Normally, the media are very starry-eyed when reporting on renewable energy. When it comes to coverage of nuclear power, the media are extremely skeptical and ask the tough questions (as all good journalists should), but renewable get a pass and questions about reliability, viability, environmental impact and public support are rarely raised.

That’s not the case in last week’s Idaho Statesman and kudos to Rocky Barker for taking a realistic look at renewable energy. He writes, “Greener energy sources such as geothermal wells and sprawling wind farms are being touted as the nation’s environmentally friendly answer to energy independence, but so far, alternative energy developers are finding that they face many of the same conflicts as traditional generation plants.”

Among other projects, Barker looked at “the most controversial wind farm in the state,” the proposed China Mountain project, a 185-turbine farm in Twin Falls County. The project, on 30,000 acres of public land, would produce more than 400 megawatts of electricity (by comparison, our plant would produce four times that amount of energy on four percent of the area, and at 95 percent reliability, compared to around 20 for wind). Environmentalists have opposed wind farms nationwide, not just Idaho.

As Barker reports, in July, a regional Fish and Game supervisor voiced concerns about the effects the wind farm could have on wildlife, including the endangered sage grouse. Neighbors complained about the effect the wind farm would have on the views from their cabins and Advocates of the West, a group that provides lawyers for environmental groups, is preparing to challenge several wind projects planned in sagebrush habitat.

July 1, 2008, was a good example of where the priorities of some environmentalist lie. The embattled China Mountain wind farm was facing a crucial public hearing, but it was the same night as a meeting to organize opposition to our nuclear plant. When push came to shove, “We were not present at the China Mountain scoping meeting because it occurred the same night as our public meeting about the AEHI plant.” Liz Woodruff, SRA energy policy analyst, said the SRA “submitted comments regarding the proposal” but tellingly doesn’t say if they actually supported China Mountain or urged officials to approve it. The Snake River Alliance’s own mission statement declares that it can oppose specific facilities, but advocating for specific facilities isn’t part of the mission (at least give the SRA credit for sticking to its real game plan).

I think the radical environmentalist veneer is starting to fall. Something tells me the SRA didn’t try to “educate and inform” residents opposed to China Mountain, as they have done to rally opposition to our plant. Personally, I think the SRA lacks the stomach to face an angry group of neighbors and declare that a wind farm should be approved because it’s in the broader public interest. If the Snake River Alliance is out there directly supporting specific renewable facilities in public hearings, they’re doing a good job keeping it quiet.

Some environmentalists take opposition to renewable a step further. Laird Lucas, lead attorney for Advocates of the West, says he’s “skeptical that wind, solar and geothermal plants spread out across the wide open spaces of the West and linked to populated areas through vast transmissions systems are the answer to increasing carbon-free energy supplies,” according to Barker’s story.

“I think there’s a chance that these big solar farms and wind farms will be obsolete almost as soon as we develop them,” Lucas says in the story. “We need to somehow get people engaged directly in producing our own energy.”

I think some environmentalists are really aiming for a larger target and their ultimate goal is to “power down” and de-industrialize our society. I’m not making any of this up – see it at http://www.postcarbon.org and similar sites, where discussion of “societal collapse” and hopeless peak oil scenarios are enough to make you end it all today. An industrial society needs industrial energy sources and combating those sources is one way to “power down” our civilization.

In the meantime, out-of-the-mainstream environmentalists will have to content themselves with paying lip service to renewable energy, by opposing it or failing to speak up for it every chance they get. I hope the media educate the public about this more.

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