This NY Times piece has me scratching my head:
In a major victory for environmental advocates, New York State has ruled that outmoded cooling technology at the Indian Point nuclear power plant kills so many Hudson River fish, and consumes and contaminates so much water, that it violates the federal Clean Water Act.
The decision is a blow to the plant’s owner, the Entergy Corporation, which now faces the prospect of having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build stadium-size cooling towers, or risk that Indian Point’s two operating reactors — which supply 30 percent of the electricity used by New York City and Westchester County — could be forced to shut down.
Why is that a victory for environmentalists? If you have to turn it into a winners v. losers piece instead of just reporting that the state has ruled against the Indian Point nuclear plant, shouldn’t the accurate way to look at this be not a victory for environmentalists, but a victory for everyone who lives, breathes, eats, and drinks water? When the government shuts down polluters, it is a victory for all of us. That is why we band together, have government, and have rules and regulations to protect our water and natural resources.
This is one area I have never understood Republicans or libertarians. Left alone, these people are POISONING YOU. The government is trying to stop that, or at least slow it down. They are slowing down the rate that companies pour toxins into the water you and your kids drink. You’d think that would upset them. I understand the need for jobs and electricity, I really do. I understand that is important. But not being poisoned and not having cancer are also important.
Don’t you get it, John?
The invisible hand of the market will protect us all from the toxins and carcinogens with its magical pixie Galt dust.
Dr. I. F. Stone
One can only hope that they are forced to shut the units down and look elsewhere for their power source. Hmm. I wonder what that might be???
Seems like a bigger victory for the fish.
It’s simple, John. They have only one message: If liberals (and that by definition includes tree-huggers, er environmentalists) are for it, then they are against it. If liberals are against poisoning our children then they are pro-children poisoning.
Once they have the masses all angry and resentful at “them,” who, they are told, look down their noses at regular folks and want to tell them what to do, then they can more easily enact their real goal – extracting labor from the regular folks to create more wealth for the wealthy and privileged.
But think of all the jobs that will be lost if companies like Entergy are not allowed to radiate your children!
That is their only argument, and it is one they will stick to until each and every one of them is personally affected by radioactive waste.
Entergy has to be one of the slimiest companies out there. It is refreshing to see that they run Indian Point just about as badly as they run Vermont Yankee. I am not anti-nuclear; I am against corporations like Entergy operating nuclear power plants.
The gospel that has been preached for decades is that a free market economy is the most efficient and therefore the most morally good way to deliver products and services. This has been stated axiomatically, as though any other system can not possibly work. And it has been accepted axiomatically by the voters in part because it is an easy concept to grasp on an individual level.
Looking out for the environment doesn’t fit into that schema. The environment is neither customer nor producer. It isn’t in the market.
Republicans and the other people who preach the benefits of an unfettered economic model are doing it to get elected, to no more an apparent end than to be elected.
We need a conversation in this country where we look at the economic systems and decide which one will work better for us. That conversation could be honest, open and devoid of histrionics.
But in this day when ‘death panels’ stalk the land and the media will say anything to get attention (and therefore sell advertising) having that conversation has about about as much chance as throwing a snowball across hell.
The plant is only toxic to those people who can’t afford to escape it. Millionares from Manhattan or Long Island, sitting in Ivory Towers and dining on imported fish and generally insulated (to the best of their knowledge) from the world at large, don’t care either way.
Impoverished locals have to suffer a price shock as the plant inevitably raises rates immediately to cover expenses they should have been planning for over the decades the plant was in existence. They suffer an additional financial burden today so they can avoid what seems a mythical threat of poisoning tomorrow.
Sure this is a good thing in the long run. But in the short run the environment won’t recover overnight – so people won’t see immediate gratification – and the price will be levied county wide as industrial retaliation.
The NYTimes doesn’t deal in the long term, unless it’s screeching about budget deficits and entitlements.
When I’ve mentioned this whole “if the government doesn’t stop corporations from fucking you over, who will” to libertarians in real life (sadly, I know a few), they always respond with either “the market will sort it out” or “you can still sue them for damages.” The first one I can understand–it’s the same as saying “God will sort it out.” It’s silly, but I get where it comes from. But the second? Don’t they get that court orders only get enforced by governments? And do they actually think that in a world where lawsuits replace regulation, that they’d have a hope in hell against really rich people in court? Fuck–let me deal with people who believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago any day–they have a better grasp on reality than these morons.
They really are all just in it for the money. Not much else to understand.
“If I get more money, good.”
“If I get less money, bad.”
I think this sounds like a frighteningly juvenile critique, but I really have found no other better answer.
That’s always been my argument as well. I’m sure nuclear energy, when harvested by a bunch of MIT or CalTech grad studens, can be safe and efficient and reasonably priced. But put that same technology in the hands of a nuclear Exxon or a utility that owed fealty to Goldman Sachs, and it’s the recipe for nightmares.
yeah, they do the same thing on the hydrofacking issue upstate, as if it’s “landowners” vs “environmentalists.” It’s really the gas/oil companies and some landowners ( a tiny percentage of the population) against everyone else who just wants to live in a nonindustrial zone. But I guess “environmentalist” is just another word for DFH, and it’s okay to punch them …
This may be somewhat tangential but it relates to what John was saying about recognizing a need for environmental regulation, and how this is not always obvious to everyone:
I look at the Libertarians and their point of view and I analogize it like this: where I live in the Central Savannah region, we call our region the Dirty South, and we called it that long before Goodie Mob decided to make a song out of it. We don’t cringe when we say Dirty South; we say it with a smile. But it’s true anyway that this place is morally misbegotten, physically dirty, filled to the brim with false comity and horrible social contradictions, the long-term consequences of which I don’t think we as residents have the stomach to fathom. If you are a minority here you are still somewhat fucked (not as badly as in the 60’s of course); if you are successful minority here, you must be a fucking genius and you damn well deserve all the praise you might receive, which kinda parallels with my point about Libertarians as we’ll see.
But anyway, not to fall for for the same lame tragic beauty angle I was just destroying on this very blog just the other day, in addition to all the bad mojo, this place is also raw and real and completely fucking authentic at times. So I guess to conclude the analogy, Libertarians want to live in a Dirty World, because even though it will be inherently unfair and terrible, at least no-one else will be able to take credit for one’s success. Yeah, it sounds lame to me, too, because there really is no such thing as a self-made man as I understand it, but that’s their fantasy and they pursue it as best they can.
DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal)
There is a reason why Republicans and their supporters are against clean, unpolluted drinking water. If they have their way everyone will be drinking this.
Progressives. We are just soo mean. Conservatives just got all fussy when we took the brick dust out of their flour with that nasty Pure Food and Drug Act.
EDIT: I mean labeling products with opiates! Sheesh. Anti-market do-gooders.
The exasperating thing is when you finally get to the point of pinning down the Republican/libertarians, they always fall back on the “no one wants to see kids die/poison the water supply/see soot falling from the sky/starve, etc” They always want reasonable regulations, just not the “extreme” measures the scientists/liberals/Democrats/environmentalists want.
Reasonable regulations are defined as whatever the local industrial council believes they can get away with.
Of all the issues being framed in ideological terms – that are in truth universal in their implications, environmental issues rise to the top. We all stand to benefit from responsible stewardship, and all stand to suffer by ignoring it. When the media is too dumbed down to realize or care about this not so subtle distinction then the stage is set for a great deal of clueless, short-view, partisan opining – which is where the right is so willing to enter the breach. Liberal media my ass.
ARRRRGGGGHHHHH! John, look up the definition of “toxin.” It’s not the same as “poison,” which appears to be what you mean. The last I checked, nuke plants aren’t living organisms.
@Zinfab25-Entergy’s business model is to purchase antiquated nuclear power plants that are approaching obsolescence and run them into the ground, hoping to extend their operating life by bribing and bullying state regulators. They are out to extract every last penny from these plants, safety be damned.
Mike in NC
Well, just about every commercial nuke plant in the country could be considered antiquated, but it would still be very interesting to see which NY state senators and US congressmen are on the take here.
“In the long run, we’re all dead.”
Because we are all environmentalists. I live, therefor I am an environmentalist.
Shorter myself: Libertarians want to be black people…
I probably should have worked on the wording a little better; this is why blogging and commenting is hard. You want to get that comment or post out there while it’s relevant, so you might occasionally have to piss in the face of grammar/logic in order to do so.
So to sum up what I was saying: Libertarians don’t want to be black people per se; they do, however, all want to be Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
I’ll go further than John in being annoyed. I’m always puzzled when talking to somebody who is about to call for some sane regulation on polluters and starts with, “I’m no environmentalist but…”
Why the fuck aren’t you an environmentalist? You’d have to be a goddamned moron to not be.
There is the broader issue that any nuclear engineer will tell you that the location of Indian Point is insane. There is no evacuation plan to handle the numbers of people downstream and downwind from Indian Point. If anything happens (I know, what am I thinking, we are safe in the hands of Entenergy), we could have a Chernobyl with millions of casualties.
DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal)
Don’t worry, soon the ocean will be flat again.
@MikeJ: Why the fuck aren’t you an environmentalist? You’d have to be a goddamned moron to not be.
Because, MikeJ, the world is like a Shoney’s breakfast bar: you just get as much as you want of whatever you want, and then the baby Jesus comes along and refills the bar for you from his manger. It’s science.
I’m always reminded of John Brunner’s “The Sheep Look Up” when I see these sorts of scenarios, as well as the source of the title, from Milton’s “Lycidas” (yeah, I got that part from the Wiki, ’cause my memory sucks).
Some of you are misreading the article. The only pollution released by the cooling system is .. warmth. Warm water.
(And organisms that were killed running through the cooling system. I’m guessing mechanically, or because of the warmth.)
Warming of water is a legitimate environmental concern that Hudson River environmentalists have been complaining about for decades. But it is not toxic.
I get a little frustrated with the hyperbole from anti-Indian Point people. The plants are creaky, and Entergy is no angel, but things like “Chernobyl on the Hudson” are just pure nonsense. (The amount of radioactive material released from Chernobyl was about 1 million times the amount released from TMI. No containment structure, and a flammable (graphite moderator) reactor core, for starters.)
Regulation brings the costs of pollution into the market, giving the invisible hand, well, a hand. Libertarians who aren’t batshit insane acknowledge this, but in practice their criteria for voting seem to be deregulation and tax cuts. Full stop.
What you say is treasonous! Our Captains of Industry would never operate dangerous facilities because they love Amerika too much! Only those dirty Soviets would do something so stupid as to operate power plants that could explode!
Besides, any “accidents” that do happen are the results of the Invisible Hand and/or God’s Divine Retribution, which means someone (but not us! we’re just instruments for God’s Wrath!) deserved it.
because, in the generally accepted wisdom (c) all environmentalists are actively searching for small innocent children to run over while saving the spotted gnat. just as all feminists are humorless man-hating lesbians running against Scott Brown.
what’s the difference between libertarians and anarchists?
yea, I’ve never understood why they think anyone would form a huge conspiracy to MAKE THEIR WATER AND AIR CLEANER. Sounds like a real lose/lose scam to me!
anyhow, my objection to nuclear is its ties to plutonium production. the longer we use plutonium as a fuel the longer we have an excuse to have productions plants that have the ability to crank out weapons grade plutonium. there is a legit reason we start to go ape-shit every time a ‘hostile’ regime starts to explore nuclear power.
there are alternatives but we have never really explored them because the defense and intelligence departments want to be able to convert to weapons grade production at the drop of a hat.
just one alternative…
Zero sum games seem to be the easiest kind to understand.
Amanda in the South Bay
The winners are the coal/gas industry.
But hey, lets turn this into a bash nuclear power thread, cause the only people who support nuclear power are deranged free market technophile libertarians, right?
Human beings evolved with brains designed to keep us alive in the short run. Due to the short life expectancy that humans endured for most of their existence, we became hard wired to stay immediately out of danger, but have trouble with long term risk. This is why children and young adults have the “immortality” complex. Most people learn as they age. Conservatives don’t.
Mo's Bike Shop
Hmm. It looks like someone hasn’t moved beyond the tired debates of left and right.
What Bill Arnold @ 28 said. The article mixes up the issues somewhat, but the problem that is being required to be fixed has nothing to do with release of contaminants into the water. It’s about the fact that it heats up the water more than it needs to because of the antiquated design (and from the sounds of things sucks fish and other organisms into the system into the bargain).
It’s great that they’re being made to fix it, but this shouldn’t be taken as a nuclear issue. Warming the water is a concern for any heat engine based power plant; if it ran on natural gas or coal it would still need a heatsink into which to dump waste heat. A better design can minimize the temperature rise, but you can’t eliminate it altogether…
I have no sympathy for the owners of Indian Point. The amount of water they use is staggering and they have been resisting efforts to reduce consumption for decades. If they had implemented water reduction/closed cooling system projects years ago, they would not be facing such a monumental capital cost to upgrade their system now. They chose to avoid the capital expense, pocket the profits, and now they are facing the consequences.
Industry hates doing environmental projects – there is usually no payback and they will avoid doing them unless forced to by government. They are also very good at stalling projects and delaying costs. Good on New York State for calling them on this and denying them their license.
This is why I Love NY. It’s one of those states that actually does things with the taxes I pay.
My mother moved up here for a while, got a job, and had her health care mostly paid for when she broke her leg.
I pointed out that in Florida, they would have just shot her like a horse.
Isn’t The Rapture about to occur? No need to worry about the future of the planet.
Only dirty tree hugging hippies complain about being poisoned by our noble Captains of Industry.
Grumpy Code Monkey
The five things we need are, in order:
Everything after that is a luxury. Clean air and clean water are perhaps our most vital natural resources, more so than oil or coal or timber, yet you can always count on Republicans to oppose even the most rudimentary efforts to protect them.
West of the Cascades
What Brian Hertz said. The article should have been much, much clearer that the pollutant involved is heat (which technically is a “pollutant” under the Clean Water Act). So when the people quoted in the article say the water is “polluted,” it’s technically correct under the CWA — but what it really means, translated out of legalese, is that “it’s returned much hotter than when it was taken in.” NOT full of other contaminants, just heat.
Yes, it’s a win for fish, and it’s a win for environmentalists, but it is not necessarily a “win for everyone who likes clean water.” I say this as someone who sues the US government and polluters for a living as a public interest lawyer – I’m in favor of cooling towers for nuclear plants, but (aside from heat) the plants don’t release much in the way of water contamination. This is a pretty shitty article not to make this extremely basic point and not to make it clear what the people who were quoted were talking about when they said “pollution.” I HATE it when our side uses scare terms because they make good sound bites – the truth (millions of dead fish eggs and fry and small fish) is bad enough.
I think libertarians tend to have three answers to this issue. First, it’s hard to precisely quantify the value of not being poisoned and not having cancer, so let’s ignore it. Second, people should refuse to buy energy from Entergy Corporation, by moving elsewhere. Third, following a line of reasoning that somehow traces back to Coase, people could always pay Entergy Corporation to stop poisoning them and giving them cancer. See? It’s easy.
This reminds me of the blonde bimbo on Fox News (where else) a couple of years ago. After the big scandal broke about poisoned plastics and lead-filled toys from China, she whined that that if we make China send us only uncontaminated products, they’re gonna cost more…
A helpful thing to keep in mind is that when a Libertarian says “rely on Market Forces,” what he’s really saying is, “I have no fucking idea how I, personally, would fix this.”
Inevitably, somebody else, or a group of somebodies, does show up and deals with the problem. In the long run, the memory of exactly how the given problem is addressed fades, and we’re back to how the “Market Forces” are what comes to the rescue and how if taxes were zero money would literally grow on trees.
I swear, these fucks are so fucking stupid they act as if roads, bridges, water mains, and what-all else are fucking geographical features- not something their betters sweated to build a generation ago…
You don’t know that. It’s certainly a once-through system, and the return stream is certainly pretty warm. However, in cooling systems, you’ve got to treat the cooling water to retard microbial growth if you want the heat exchangers to work longer than 2 days. Water treatment means chemical additives, which on a once-thru means it all goes back into the river.
New plants would always use cooling towers.
Isn’t it the dream of every father or parent to give there child what they couldn’t have? Make their lives easier? Wouldn’t this apply to that standard, except its seems that it has become the classic “Lord of the Flies” culture, everyone for themselves!
I think this would be a damm good time to recommend that everyone read “The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health”
its avail at amazon for ten bucks.
That’s like trying to explain to my students that, no, Rand is not the same as Foucault. Just because they both dislike government power does not mean the left meets the right on the other side of the continuum (David Horowitz to the contrary). I never thought in a million years that a student would come to me all sense-of-wonder about Ayn Rand.
Who named this corporation — someone who makes signs for Wingnut rallies?
Not having any experience as a Republican, I can’t speak for them, but it was my understanding that Republicans like (expect/demand) their water, air, and food to be poisoned. It’s like getting something extra for free.
Actually, if you read the denial letter from the NY dept of environmental conservation (linked here: http://www.riverkeeper.org/news-events/news/stop-polluters/power-plant-cases/ip-water-permit-denied/) they did not mention any chemical pollutants. The permit was denied because of the negative effects on wildlife via entrainment (when plankton, larvae and eggs are destroyed by being drawn into the cooling mechanism), impingement (when grown animals are trapped and killed by pressure from powerful flows), and from increased water temperature.
John, I think it’s fair to say that the environmental groups who have been fighting Indian Point for years want this reported as a victory for them. Being successful can’t hurt fund raising, which is important to their ability to fight future battles.
There are winners and losers here. The fact that every human being who lives in the area (and doesn’t work for Entergy) ought to consider themselves winners too, doesn’t change that.
West of the Cascades @44:
Isn’t millions of dead fish/fish eggs going to be pollution then, biological waste or something? I’m asking not telling.
Libertarians don’t have to make sense, to themselves or anyone else. This is a religious issue.
They have faith in the free market. They don’t have to understand how it works.
Whenever I bring up that exact point (and that’s really the heart of the matter) I get sputtering diatribes about the evils of socialism and how global warming is a hoax.
All they have is partisanship and propaganda.
I don’t know about dead fish being considered “pollution” or not, but the point here is that when the article talks about “pollution” being released into a river from a nuclear power plant, the reader is likely to infer something that isn’t true. And that’s why it’s a shitty article.
Just to re-emphasise: the problem here has nothing to do with the fact that the plant is nuclear. An old coal or oil fired plant using the same outmoded water usage methods would cause the same problem.
at least read the article.
from another source:
West of the Cascades
Just to be clear:
(1) I agree completely with the denial of the permit and the insistence that Indian Point build cooling towers instead of continuing to use river water for cooling – because of the fish impacts;
(2) Phoebe at 55 – the additional heat added to the water before it is returned is the “pollutant” being regulated under the permit – you make an interesting point, but as far as I know killing microorganisms that are already in the cooling water are NOT regulated under this particular Clean Water Act permit;
(3) Cliff at 60 and 61 – you’re missing my point, because that pollution from the spent fuel pools and other radioactive releases aren’t regulated under the CWA permit that was denied. Of course nuclear power plants “pollute” in a whole variety of ways — but the issue in THIS permit is strictly the pollution from heat in the cooling system and the related impingement/entrainment effects on fish and other organisms;
(4) my point is that use of the alarmist term “polluted” (which I believe is more as a fundraising tool, and is deliberately misleading in this case) made our Fearless Leader and lots of other readers think “OH MY GOD IT’S SO GOOD THIS PERMIT WAS DENIED IT STOPS INDIAN POINT FROM POISONING US AND CAUSING CANCER.” I’m calling bullshit on a group I’ve supported financially here. The dozens, perhaps hundreds of permits that do regulate TOXIC pollutants at this plant are separate from the water quality certification described in this article.
I spend an awful lot of my time fending off private resource users in my litigation, and I think one of the worst things the conservation/environmental community can do is scream THE SKY IS FALLING when objectively it is not (as in this instance). It makes us a whole lot less credible when the sky really IS falling and the public is tired of hearing “wolf” cried too often (mixing metaphors).
I work in the industry, and missed all the fun.
Probably a good thing.
If Republicans admit that such a thing as an externality actually exists, they have to own up to the implication that markets aren’t perfect and laissez-faire is bullshit.
And that is the single article of faith that’s most important to them.
One would think this would not be buried at the bottom of the NYT story, “Both take in enormous volumes of river water — a combined 2.5 billion gallons a day, or more than twice the average daily water consumption of all of New York City — and use it to create steam for turbines and to cool the reactors. The water is then pumped back into the Hudson, 20 or 30 degrees hotter.
Sucking so much water causes plankton, eggs and larvae to be drawn into the plant’s machinery, or entrained, and the water pressure also causes fish to be trapped, or impinged, against intake screens, the state said.
The plant’s “once-through” cooling system was obsolete by the late 1970s, when the state of the art became “closed-cycle” cooling — more akin to a car’s radiator — which consumes less than 10 percent as much water and kills fewer organisms.”
Yeah – it is about time they were forced to change. Forget the intake, daily dumping of 2.5 billion gallons at +30 degrees into the ecosystem is a big fucking deal.
Ah but see, as the Coase theorem proves beyond all doubt, externalities are not a problem so long as the government keeps its grubby hands off. If the community was truly unwilling to put up with pollution then they would get together (but not in a collectivist way!) and pay the polluter to stop polluting, resulting in an Efficient Solution in which all parties are better off. By using the jack-booted bureaucro-thugs of government to force helpless, innocent polluters to stop their Business (blessed be thy name), the community gets a benefit –no more pollution– without having to pay for it, and only dirty Nazi Communist hippies would want everyone to have clean air and water for free.
Whoops, I think I just had a Libertarianasm in my pants.
I suffer from cancer caused (95% certain) by the Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, CT. The exact kind of cancer I have is caused by exposure to nuclear radiation, I lived there for years, a year after I left all reactors were shut down for an entire year for safety violations, and my college roommate who used to work at the plant quit b/c the safety violations terrified him.
I think it’s wrong for nuclear plants to be run privately by companies cutting corners to make a profit. This is how problems occur. The nuclear reactors of the publicly owned U.S. Navy have had a much better safety record than privately-run reactors.
Republicans and Libertarians don’t care about safety violations unless they are affected directly. Then, they care. Otherwise, their motto is “Live and let die.”