class 31 energy cofc fall 2010 n.
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Class 31: Energy CofC Fall 2010. Environmental Policy. Fossil Fuel Use in US. 4.6% of Population  25% of energy consumption 1 US Citizen = 1 EU + 1 SA + 1 Asian 84% US Energy from Oil, Gas and Coal Nonrenewable and declining stocks

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fossil fuel use in us
Fossil Fuel Use in US
  • 4.6% of Population  25% of energy consumption
  • 1 US Citizen = 1 EU + 1 SA + 1 Asian
  • 84% US Energy from Oil, Gas and Coal
    • Nonrenewable and declining stocks
  • Every Pres since Nixon has tried to reduce US Dependence on Foreign Fossil Fuels
effects
Effects
  • Transportation  fossil fuel combustion produces 34% of VOCs, 78% CO, 85% sulfur oxides, and 95% of Nitrogen oxides
  • 5.7m acres (New Hampshire) disturbed by coal mining, half of which is abandoned (80% of all electricity comes from coal)
  • Since 2000, 9k hazardous spills, more than 1m gallons of oil
  • China 22% imported oil now to 77% by 2020
renewable energy
Renewable Energy
  • Renewable 7% of energy (Wind, Solar, Hydro, geothermal, biomass)
  • Nuclear 9%
  • Since the ‘70s, the White House, Congress and the public have “feebly and inconstantly embraced renewable energy and conservation compared to the national investment in fossil fuels.”
risks tradeoffs of renewables
Risks & Tradeoffs of Renewables
  • Good
    • Tech is available now (just expensive)
    • Could double wind and solar easily
    • Generates jobs
    • Corps moving to take advantage of downstream savings
  • Tradeoffs
    • Highly vulnerable to market changes (prices)
    • Difficult to get loans today (financial crisis)
    • Heavily dependent on Gov’t for incentives & subsidies
    • Regulatory restrictions from climate change, will make electricity more expensive, and consumers will forgo extra $$ for renewables
    • Enviro tradeoffs  wind turbines vs. birds/ecosystems or biofuels increase, which produces more fertilizer runoff affecting water
turn off of nuclear
Turn off of Nuclear
  • 1975: 56 commercial reactors, 69 more under construction, 111 more planned
  • 2 incidents
    • 1979, 3 Mile Island (PA) reactor meltdown demonstrated technical and econ problems
    • 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe became political catalyst to for disillusionment over nuclear
nuclear its revival
Nuclear: Its revival
  • NRC: Nuclear Regulatory Commission  fed regulatory agency for nuclear energy
  • Last received an order for new facility in 1973
  • By 2008, 23 companies applied to build 34 nuclear facilities, with 4-8 new units on line by 2018.
  • Greenpeace even approved (cautiously)
the revival
The revival
  • Climate change: alt source of power w/ no GHGs
  • Political/Econ initiative (particularly Bush W) powered by DOE and EPA’s commitment
    • Financial incentives provided (almost $20b)
    • Obama has continued the momentum
  • Rising public approval (59% favor)
  • Increasing electricity demand (30% increase)
  • No recent disasters while increasing nuclear capacity
nuclear today
Nuclear today
  • 2010, 104 operating nuclear reactors (down from 112 in 1990)
  • Represent 21% of US net electricity capacity
  • Rising costs: steep construction costs for new facilities  $10-18b
    • Mainly from public safety concerns & Env protection
  • Technical problems  materials and design stnds have failed safety reqs.
  • Waste  where & how to dispose of highly toxic and mounting volume of nuclear waste
    • Military and commercial  half-lives of 7k-20k years
yucca mountain
Yucca Mountain
  • Yucca, Nevada  designated in 1987 as a nuclear waste repository
  • Constant delays
  • About $9b was spent on the first phase of concrete tunnels and chambers designed to keep waste safe for at least a million years. A 5 mile U-shaped tunnel was bored into the side of the extinct volcano, which is inside the Nevada nuclear test site.
  • Bush, tired of delays, mandated that it open in 2010; Obama has reversed it
nuclear weapons facilities
Nuclear Weapons Facilities
  • “Legacy is environmental damage on a scale inviting disbelief” (p303)
  • Willful evasion of regulations compounded with criminal negligence afflicted the weapons program