Congressional Leadership Makes Last-Ditch Effort on Surface Transportation Bill

By: Wednesday June 20, 2012 2:10 pm

Congressional leadership is getting antsy over the possibility of no highway bill for the year, and another in a series of extensions, which will likely depress construction spending and harm local vulnerable members back in their home district. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner asked both sides to iron out their differences this week.

 

House Postpones Witch Hunt While Nuclear Industry Awaits Results of Latest Power Play

By: Monday June 4, 2012 2:20 pm

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce indefinitely postponed its Thursday hearing on the “politicization of the [NRC] and the actions and influence of Chairman Jaczko.” Gregory Jaczko, of course, announced his resignation on May 21, and President Obama nominated Allison Macfarlane as his replacement three days later. Here’s more behind the deal.

Bill to End Conflict of Interest at Federal Reserve Is First Step to Operationalizing Fed Audit

By: Wednesday May 23, 2012 10:30 am

Elizabeth Warren has been talking about the conflict of interest inherent in having Jamie Dimon sit on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Timothy Geithner even recognizes a problem. Now Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer have co-authored a bill that would ban bankers from sitting on the boards of directors at the regional Fed banks.

Donovan Acknowledges Banks Gaming HARP 2.0 to Increase Profits

By: Sunday May 13, 2012 7:00 pm

The design of HARP 2.0 has artificially profited banks at the expense of homeowners. The banks, in a very strange and apparently coordinated manner, have unilaterally decided that they will only perform HARP refis for underwater borrowers on the loans they already service. This eliminates competition for those loans. And the immediate effect of that is higher costs for underwater borrowers, who are trapped and cannot get a refi with anyone but their old servicer. So the servicers raise the interest rates they offer on the refi. In some documented cases, the closing costs, which are almost entirely profit for the bank, are higher than the savings on the refinance.

The Thing That Couldn’t Die: Yucca Battle Continues in Congress and in the Courts

By: Friday May 11, 2012 2:10 pm

It is hard not to think of this black and white bubbe meise while reviewing the most recent chapters in the battle over the future of the partially excavated, purportedly moribund Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in southwestern Nevada.

Obama Sides With GOP Against Reid in Battle Over Nuclear Regulator

By: Friday April 20, 2012 2:30 pm

In a move that could be seen as election-year expedience, a friendly nod to the nuclear industry, or a sign of a coming battle with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Obama administration announced Thursday that it would nominate Kristine Svinicki for a second term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Reid had gone public just a day earlier with his objections to Commissioner Svinicki getting another five-year appointment when her tenure expires at the end of June.

The Party Line – December 30, 2011: The Party Line, Nuclear Style

By: Friday December 30, 2011 2:07 pm

The story is as troubling as it is tired. A government agency manipulated by the industry it is supposed to regulate. An industry, protected by bought politicians, avoids accountability while profiting from government largess. Some of that profit is then turned around to lobby and buy another administration’s worth of officials.

Regulatory Meltdown Goes Nuclear: Will Attacks on NRC’s Jaczko Kill Post-Fukushima Upgrades?

By: Saturday December 17, 2011 12:00 pm

If you like politics as blood sport, this is great stuff. On the other hand, if you worry about people, their lives, their health, how their money is spent and how their government protects their lives, their health and how their money is spent, well, then, this sucks.

If you had been waiting for the three-month follow-up to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee hearing on the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force recommendations–the one Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) promised in August at the last hearing on this issue of vital importance to US nuclear safety–well, that hearing was yesterday, Thursday, December 15. . . and whether you watched them or not, you are still waiting.

The War on Gregory Jaczko: Attempt at NRC Coup Evidence of Bigger Problems

By: Wednesday December 14, 2011 4:15 pm

Readers of this space know that the pace of safety reforms for America’s nuclear facilities, especially in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, has been alarmingly slow. The recalcitrance–if not active hostility–exhibited by the nuclear operators and their government handmaidens borders on the criminal. So, it might sound more than a little bit shocking to hear that the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, is now under attack. . . for trying to implement new safety standards too quickly.

That’s not how House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is putting it, of course. In doublespeak that would make Orwell proud, Issa has written to the White House, issued a report, and fallen just shy of calling for Jaczko’s head.

The Party Line – September 30, 2011: No Will, No Way: Nuclear Problems Persist, But US Fails to Seize Fukushima Moment

By: Friday September 30, 2011 4:55 pm

As September drew to a close, residents of southwest Michigan found themselves taking in a little extra tritium, thanks to their daily habit of breathing. The tritium was courtesy of the 40-year-old Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township, which suffered its third “event” (as they are politely called) in less than two months, and was forced to vent an indeterminate amount of radioactive steam.

The reactor at Palisades was forced to scram after an accident caused an electrical arc in a transformer in the DC system that powers “indications and controls“–also known as monitoring devices, meters and safety valves.

While it is nice to see rectors shut themselves down when a vital system goes offline, remember that “turning off” a fission reactor is not like flicking a light switch. Shutting down a reactor is a process, and the faster it is done, the more strain it puts on the reactor and its safety and cooling systems. And even after fission is mitigated, a reactor core generates heat that requires a fully functional cooling system.

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