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Lamar Alexander calls for “New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy” to Counter Green New Deal

Lamar Alexander calls for “New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy” to Counter Green New Deal

“Green Nuclear Deal” makes more sense than the “Green New Deal”

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander (R) is offering his own “New Manhattan Project” as an alternative to the “Green New Deal” to provide Americans with renewable, “clean energy” options.

Alexander issued a statement this week proposing “One Republican’s response to climate change: a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy” in which he acknowledged “climate change is real” and man-made — a concept increasingly mocked by many members of the GOP, including President Donald Trump. The Tennessee Republican’s plan would double federal funding for energy research and focus on a tangible set of “Ten Grand Challenges” to increase and reduce the cost of clean energy.

…His 5-year alternative plan looks to boost production of electric vehicles, lower the cost of solar energy and construct more “advanced nuclear” reactors.

The “New Manhattan Project” proposal touts American innovation and progress in reducing greenhouse gases and carbon emissions while also labeling China, India and other developing countries as “the problem,” according to Alexander’s statement and Fox News op-ed published Monday. The proposal pursues a “green energy dream” that includes greener buildings, cheaper solar power and the capturing of carbon — a technology that can harness the CO2 emissions produced by using fossil fuels for electricity generation and industrial processes, thus preventing the carbon dioxide from entering the earth’s atmosphere.

While I disagree with him that climate-change is man-made, I am for “all options on the table” when it comes to creating energy for this country. Alexander’s proposal includes the doubling of federal funding for energy research.

Alexander’s plan calls for, within a five-year period, solving a number of grand energy challenges in the areas of advanced nuclear energy, natural gas, carbon capture technologies, advanced batteries for energy storage, “greener” buildings, cheaper solar energy technologies, electric cars, and nuclear fusion energy.

He said the Democrats’ Green New Deal is basically “an assault” on cars, livestock, and fuels that are burned to provide energy.

“And with nuclear power available, its strategy for fighting climate change with windmills makes as much sense as going to war in sailboats,” he said.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is interested in pursuing the idea, and the proposal is finding supporters on the other side of the aisle as well.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Perry said in response to a question from Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on whether he supports Alexander’s action plan. “Obviously without seeing all the crossed t’s and dotted i’s, I, generally speaking, don’t mind going down the road with Lamar Alexander.”

…The effort earned praise from Democrats on the committee, like [Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)], who saw the outline as a serious Republican approach to climate change that was lacking throughout the Green New Deal debate.

The timing may be excellent in terms of reworking nuclear power options. Nuclear scientists are looking to the designs abandoned in the 1970s, to develop a new kind of reactor that is safer, cleaner, and cheaper than current ones.

Physicist Troels Schönfeldt recounts the new approach, based in technology developed 40-50 years ago, which came out of discussions over “beer and nuclear” meetups after the 2011 Fukishima disaster.

…[T]he beer-and-nuclear group found that one such design, the molten salt reactor, had a simplicity, elegance and, well, weirdness that especially appealed.

The weird bit was that word “molten,” says Schönfeldt: Every other reactor design in history had used fuel that’s solid, not liquid. This thing was basically a pot of hot nuclear soup. The recipe called for taking a mix of salts — compounds whose molecules are held together electrostatically, the way sodium and chloride ions are in table salt — and heating them up until they melted.

This gave you a clear, hot liquid that was about the consistency of water. Then you stirred in a salt such as uranium tetrafluoride, which produced a lovely green tint, and let the uranium undergo nuclear fission right there in the melt — a reaction that would not only keep the salts nice and hot, but could power a city or two besides.

…[T]he beer-and-nuclear group realized, the liquid nature of the fuel meant that they could potentially build molten salt reactors that were cheap enough for poor countries to buy; compact enough to deliver on a flatbed truck; green enough to burn our existing stockpiles of nuclear waste instead of generating more — and safe enough to put in cities and factories. That’s because Fukushima-style meltdowns would be physically impossible in a mix that’s molten already. Better still, these reactors would be proliferation resistant, because their hot, liquid contents would be very hard for rogue states or terrorists to hijack for making nuclear weapons.

Molten salt reactors might just turn nuclear power into the greenest energy source on the planet.

It seems to me that the “Green Nuclear Deal” makes more sense than the “Green New Deal.” Cheap and efficient energy is always good, no matter the motivation for its development.


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Lamar Alexander is being led by the nose by a bartender.

    A real weenie, repubs are real weenies. Repubs need to sit at PDJT’s feet and learn to fire back at the dems bs and lies.

    A new study, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that the recent intensification of the equatorial Pacific wind system, known as Walker Circulation, is unrelated to human influences and can be explained by natural processes. This result ends a longstanding debate on the drivers of an unprecedented atmospheric trend, which contributed to a three-fold acceleration of sea level rise in the western tropical Pacific, as well as to the global warming hiatus.

    Driven by the east-west sea surface temperature difference across the equatorial Pacific, the Walker circulation is one of the key features of global atmospheric circulation. It is characterized by ascending motion over the Western Pacific and descending motion in the eastern equatorial Pacific. At the surface, trade winds blow from east to west, causing upwelling of cold water along the equator. From the early 1990s to about 2013, this circulation has intensified dramatically, cooling the eastern equatorial Pacific and triggering shifts in global winds and rainfall (see Figure 1). These conditions further contributed to drying in California, exacerbating mega-drought conditions and impacting agriculture, water resources and wildfires. Given these widespread impacts on ecosystems and society, the recent Walker circulation trends have become a subject of intense research.
    Given the high levels of natural decadal variability in the tropical Pacific, it would take at least two more decades to detect unequivocally the human imprint on the Pacific Walker Circulation (see Figure 1, right panel).

      Wish they were merely ‘weenies.’

      Funny how the GOP weenies got very rich while in office.

      They put country club before country.

        Corruption in Government is a bipartisan affair.

        Look at how rich Nancy Pelosi got on a Congressional salary!

        Look at how rich the Clintons got on jus the Arkansas Governor’s, President’s, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State salaries.

No. There is some good research being done on pebble bed reactors and thorium salts reactors. If proven, these would be much safer than our current reactor designs and have the potential to use much of our nuclear waste as fuel sources. He’s absolutely correct – we need more research into these areas.

    He is right. But where the hell has ge been for the past 11 years?

    Do you think 10% of the US population could even identify this guy by name?

    But 90% of our population know the names of three poisonous idiots called tlaib, cortez and omar.

      The better question is “where has the technology been?”

      The US government has been paying for research into alternative energy sources for about 80 years. As others have noted, one of the big problems with solar and wind power are that the power is necessarily intermittent. They absolutely require energy storage, that is, batteries, and the battery technology did not exist.

      Despite all the research, a performance automobile was not produced until Tesla introduced the Model S in 2012. A way to look at the fundamental problem is that it took that long to find a battery both light enough to power an automobile for an acceptable distance and rechargeable in an acceptable time frame.

      I’ve been told that battery cost will be dropping within a year or two. If that happens, solar and wind power will become commercially viable energy sources. Moreover, this development suggests that now is a time when an intensive energy research push might be fruitful.

      Solar and wind power will still be nibbling around the edges. Nuclear power is still necessary if we are serious about replacing coal and gas as fuels. Again, there are some very interesting ideas floating around.

      It might really be time for Lamar Alexander’s suggestion to be considered and priced out.

        It’s really amazing how many conspiracy theories about our society have have come true.

        The technology was probably there all along, but kept hidden by corrupt lawmakers in cahoots with business bribing them.

        We know the left is COMPLETELY corrupt. (Reveal your tax returns Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, Schumer, etc.?) We don’t count on them, anyway. But we do count on the GOP to protect us from them.

        But the GOP’s treason to us: it’s comparative to obama’s treason to America versus Angela Merkel’s.

        It’s important look back to the likes of boehner and mcconnell: decades in Congress, payoffs, getting rich, selling out the base – maybe Lamar Alexander’s suddenly speaking up as he exits the Senate is his attempt at making amends for being part of a club selling our country.

        Boehner corruption:

        McConnell corruption:

        Even Jeff Sessions turned out to be a rat.

        Trump literally saved our country. Literally.

        Barry in reply to Valerie. | April 7, 2019 at 10:57 pm

        “I’ve been told that battery cost will be dropping within a year or two.”

        Told by who? There is simply no viable breakthrough technology coming online in the next two years that I am aware of. Perhaps I missed it, please share.

      DaveGinOly in reply to | April 8, 2019 at 1:10 am

      The government paid for a built a MSR-LFTR (molten salt reactor-liquid fluoride thorium reactor – a “LFTR” is a specific type of MSR) decades ago and proved the technology works. The Chinese now have all the information and if we’re not on the ball, we’ll be paying them to build LFTRs for us in the not-so-distant future.

    n.n in reply to rabidfox. | April 7, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    The existing reactors (around 300 alone in civil applications worldwide) are already safe when operated with existing best practices. The waste issue could be mitigated with alternative reactors designs, but also by changing the nuclear fuel cycle, which currently produces excess waste and fissile material suitable for weapons applications. A separation of civil and military applications would reduce the footprint of the civil nuclear industry and people’s perception.

It’s a gray nuclear deal, but at least it would reduce cost to people, mitigate environmental disruption, and produce reliable energy for high risk, high availability, and generaly purpose applications. Whereas the gray new deal would assure progressive costs, clean, renewable green-backs, a green blight, and intermittent energy — with ecologically tainted buffers — production only suitable for niche applications. People aren’t so green… naive.

Wind and solar energy are chimera. They will never be energy-efficient or cost-efficient. The only viable alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear energy. Fusion seems ideal but, absent a breakthrough, is a way off.

    n.n in reply to Elric. | April 7, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Nuclear is the only general purpose alternative to coal, yes. However, petroleum and natural gas have qualities that ensure they are especially suited for certain applications. As for, wind and solar drivers, they are green. Unfortunately, the windmills and solar converters (e.g. photovoltaic panels) are gray, low density (i.e. blight), narrow band (and short life) with buffers (e.g. batteries, coal, nuclear), and ecologically disruptive technologies only suitable for niche applications. There are very good reasons why carbon-based human lives’ choice has a hydrocarbon foundation for developing viable civilizations.

      CaptTee in reply to n.n. | April 8, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      I just bought a low end (price wise) camping trailer. It came with a built in port to plug in a solar panel to recharge the battery.

      The RV dealer used to stock solar panels, but doesn’t any more.

      What does that tell you?

      It reinforces my option that solar is more hype than substance.

So he’s running for president as a democrat too? Sounds about right.

in which he acknowledged “climate change is real” and man-made — a concept increasingly mocked by many members of the GOP,

It’s not that it’s “mocked”, it’s that it’s wrong. As in, scientifically incorrect. Measure it yourself! It’s not that hard if you have some slight idea of what you’re doing.

The Manhattan Project already gave us limitless carbon free electric power. It’s called nuclear power. The Democrat Socialists eschew it in favor of fantasy power.

    You probably meant ‘fantasy power’ in the sense of energy, but you inadvertently stated the true goals of the left: their fantasy of abosolute power over all of us.

    There are plenty of traitorous Lois Lerners rats still in our government.

The Friendly Grizzly | April 7, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Another shill lobbyist looking for more taxpayer dollars.

Nuclear is, indeed, the way to go and, mirabile dictu, Oak Ridge just happens to be outside Knoxville, TN.

    Cleetus in reply to Perfesser33. | April 8, 2019 at 5:34 am

    Oak Ridge has never been a central location or major player for research into nuclear power. The true center of nuclear power research has been the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (now called the Idaho national laboratory or INL) fifty miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho and in the middle of nowhere. This is where virtually every American nuclear power plant prototype was initially built and tested. There have been recent efforts to transfer nuclear engineering research from Idaho to other locations but this was all based on the fact that Idaho had a weak presence in Washington while other states with stronger ones pushed to take this work away from them. (I spent 20 years at the INEL and another 15 at Oak Ridge.) As it stands, the INL is slowly dying from a lack of purpose and funding.
    Lamar Alexander is your typical politician. I have met him and was completely unimpressed. As with most politicians, when you look into his eyes you see the back of his head. What Alexander is doing is to try and take research from Idaho and move it to Tennessee. Also, much of the uranium used in nuclear power plants is purified and fabricated near Bristol TN which would also benefit from Alexander’s efforts. This is all political and not based on need or technology. If it was based on need, then you’d see a concerted effort to open Yucca Mountain, eliminate much of the NRC (who constantly change reactor design requirements thus making the building of nuclear power plants obscenely more expensive and complex then needed or justified), open up research on thorium reactors, etc. The reality of this situation with Alexander is that it is noting more than simple posturing.

Nukular power produces electricity. Trucks, trains, ships, aircraft and spacecraft, not to mention racecars and hot air balloons, all require actual fuel, not the bird-killing wind and solar fiascos.

DDsModernLife | April 7, 2019 at 6:59 pm

The original Manhattan Project was initiated only after the leading nuclear Physicists of the time petitioned the government saying that the science exists to harness the power of the atom; it only took government spending to develop it.

Here we have a politician who thinks that government spending can bring the science into existence.

And of course the Democrats are interested whenever vast amounts of spending are suggested.

Imagine if we needed a Manhattan Project with today’s US government and university crowd? We’d all be either Japanese slaves or wearing swastikas.

Nuclear power will be an uphill battle for the next few decades. in order for nuclear power plant construction to begin, the combined power of the Ecological and Petroleum lobbies have to be overcome.

In order to build a nuclear power plant, both federal and state approval has to be obtained. And, that is difficult. The newest nuclear reactor is Watts Bar Unit 2, which went into service in 2016. The last previous reactor was Watts Bar Unit 1, which went into operation in 1996. Both are at the same facility.

The problem is that both federal and state permission has to be obtained to construct new facilities and new facilities would be needed to increase nuclear generated electrical power production. And, it is very difficult to sway both federal regulators and state legislators in the face existing anti-nuclear lobbying. This is the reason why the Bush 43 administration surveyed several federal reservations for sites for nuclear generating facilities, in the early 2000s.

Also the logistics associated with nuclear power plants are significant. They should to be built at a distance from populated areas. While US reactors have a very good safety history, accidents have occurred and there was a radiation leak associated with the Three Mile Island meltdown. This requires transport for workers or building housing for them. There is also the problem of feeder lines from the reactor and existing electrical grids, as well as upgrading those grids. And, there is the problem of disposal of radioactive by-products of the reactor operation. Nuclear power is more complicated and more hazardous than than current thermochemical generating plants. It is unlikely to get a boost, unless a pressing need for thermonuclear generation plants exists. And, no such pressing need exists at the moment.

A New Manhatten Project is no more likely than the Green New Deal, at this time.

    The irony is we’re the now largest net producer of energy in the world. Our pollution controls are near perfect.

    In other words, there is no problem, let alone a crisis.

    Let China and India adopt our standards for pollution control, and the likes of that idiot corte will be back tending bar.

Mark Michael | April 7, 2019 at 9:50 pm

It’s too easy for knowledgeable technical people to get “sucked in” with an interesting problem such as Sen Lamar Alexander postulates. My own inclination is to “buy into” some R&D applied to nuclear power.

But, the real hard-nosed answer is simply, “No! “Nyet” We’re running close to a $1 trillion national budget deficit, and the last thing we need is more blue sky spending on a huge non-problem. A fantasy problem. Even under Pres. Trump, the annual spending level has gone up >8%/year. (Spending restraint a la Calvin Coolidge is not one of the things Pres. Trump ran on.)

If you read any mainstream media story on climate change, it’s all negative “The Sky is Falling! Watch out Chicken Little!” and none of the (obvious) benefits from slightly higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, slightly warming temperatures. Much of the northern hemisphere has most of its landmass in the upper temperate and Arctic regions. Warmer weather would allow more food to be grown there. Warmer temperatures do result in more rainfall (more water evaporates from the oceans) – which is a mostly net good thing, not a bad thing.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Mark Michael. | April 7, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    There is a line item in the budget for greener technology, whether we like it or not.

    It’s been in there since before Trump entered office and will probably be after he leaves.

    The idea would be to use this money towards nuclear energy research rather than the waste of money projects, especially wind.

The way to unleash nuclear power development is for government to get out of the way. Nukes are being built all over the world right now but not in the USA. Germany shut down their nukes and now has some of the most expensive power in the world. Inevitably it is going to destroy their manufacturing industry and economy.

If leftists were serious about their global warming alarmism, they’d support Gen IV reactor development as a safe, clean and efficient source of plentiful, reliable and affordable energy.

Even as a ‘denier’, I support it… with one qualification. Fund it out of EPA’s budget. 🙂

Yes, we should be resurrecting nuclear energy but not as a Republican response to the Green New Deal. Nuclear is hands down the cheapest, cleanest and most efficient fuel for the large scale production of electricity. Wind and solar will NEVER be a viable alternative. Fossil fuels are too valuable to waste burning.

Even when Lamar Alexander makes a good point, he has to contaminate it with squishy Republican sentiments.

Lamont Cranston | April 9, 2019 at 9:37 pm

The Green Nude eel? What this county needs is a good $0.05 cigar, or, failing that, nuclear power plants that are not based on post WWII designs suitable for military uses on submarines and aircraft carriers.

France gets roughly 75% of its electricity from nuclear sources, and because cost per Kilowatt is very low, they sell electricity to other Countries.

There are safe designs, including Thorium and Molten Salt, let’s build them. Tesla’s cars are all electric, but despite the Greens fantasies, electric cars are not exactly Green – the electricity they use has to be generated, and currently, it’s coming primarily from oil, coal & natural gas. Ultimately, that’s stupid.