The spillway at the Oroville Dam fails. Blame Climate Change, not the politicians. A Limerick.

The spillway at Oroville Dam:

The “permanent drought” was a scam.

“No more need for repairs,

if it fails,  no one cares.”

“It’s Climate Change. Blame Uncle Sam.”

In May of 2016 California Gov. Jerry Brown made some of the state’s temporary water restrictions permanent. The executive order, in response to the state’s drought, permanently bans wasteful practices like hosing sidewalks and washing cars with hoses that don’t have shut-off nozzles.

“Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before,” Brown said in a statement. “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life.”

Meanwhile, the concerns for the existing dams faded. They would never be filled to capacity again, so why worry about emergency spillways? Regular maintenance and repair work, not of an emergency nature was delayed yet another year, and resources were diverted to other priority items, such as a Satellite program to monitor Climate change  if disaster should strike and Donald Trump, perish the thought, would be elected.

This was in the middle of the last El Niño, and temperatures had only one way to go, up, and with that increasing capacity to hold water vapor. Now the El Niño has been replaced by a La Niña, the temperature are getting back to normal, the 19 year pause is back, and now the excessive humidity is raining out over the Pacific West.

k_street_inundation_of_the_state_capitol_city_of_sacramento_1862This should not have come as a surprise. The Great flood of 1862 was worse. The Oroville Dam spillwater empties out in what is Sacramento river, and flood control by building dams has been successful to avert major flooding like that. Politicians have short memories and even less sense of history. The climate changes all the time. We are now raining out from a very temporary temperature rise, and we know that eventually our descendants will have  to face another ice age. More CO2 may delay that inevitability by a few hundred years, but the long term trend is down. 2016 was still on of the 1000 coldest in the last 10000 years.

 

On Climate Change. What can we learn from the snow?

Having a snow day here at State College, and watching the birds feast on theseeds dsc_0355in the feeder, remembering the temperature was in the fifties yesterday my thoughts went back, way back to a time when I was trying to figure out why it was so hard to calibrate a temperature programmed gas chromatograph  when analyzing samples  from -40C to 275C. During the cryogenic phase water vapor froze on the inside of the oven, and when the oven temperature then rose through the melting point of water, temperature rise took a pause until all the ice was evaporated. As a result, calibration could vary widely dependent on the humidity and how long the oven was in the cryogenic state.
The weather has been unusual this year. After a long drought the Pacific coast has been hit with a seemingly unbroken string of storms, carrying moisture all the way from the Philippines, resulting in record rain and snow. Likewise, in the Atlantic there have been a string of strong storms going from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Greenland or Norway, and the storms are still roaring. From time to time the temperature has been reported to be up to 30 degrees warmer than normal, and it has been raining as far north as Svalbard.

A few years ago there was a prediction (was is Al Gore?) that Arctic Sea ice would be totally gone by the year 2015 and the following charts were produced as proof:

arctic-albedo-loss-and-feedbacks-9-638The charts seem to indicate that by September 2015 Arctic ice would be totally gone and all Arctic snow by summer 2014.

Yogi Berra said: “It is hard to predict, especially about the future.” So how are we doing?

Arctic ice started out with the lowest minimum since 2012 and is still at record low levels for this time of the year.arctic_sea_ice_extent_zoomed_2017_day_34_1981-2010

The total sea ice volume is also at a record low for this time of the year: (from DMI, Danish Meteorological Institute)

cice_combine_thick_sm_en_20170211

Couple this with the message that 2016 was reported the warmest year on record, and there seems to be plenty cause for alarm. But then it was reported by whistle blowers that the temperature data is homogenized to better align with climate models, in other words, falsified, so we may have to look for something that does not change over time, like temperature. Snow and ice have the characteristic of freezing and melting at the same temperature, al long as there is no change in what else is in the snow or ice, like soot or salinity.

With all this ice melting, what is happening to the snow? Checking Rutgers’ University Global Snow Lab ice charts it is clear that the fall snow cover is increasing, signifying an about 8% increase in the last 50 years, and surprisingly,  a significant rise in the last 8 years.

This seems to hint it is getting colder.

Not so fast: what happens to the winter snow cover?

Again we see a slight upward movement, about 2% in the last 50 years.

The January 2017 result are in, and the snow cover was the 5th highest on record for January, so the upward trend continues, indicating the climate is getting colder.

But what happens in spring?

The story is quite different with the snow cover decreasing about 10% in the last 50 years.

That must mean the climate is warming.

Let us look at one more piece of smb_combine_sm_acc_en_20170206statistics: The Greenland ice cover.

This fall has seen a lot of snow falling over Greenland, about double of normal, much like the rain falling in California, the result of a string of storms starting in the Philippines, raining and snowing i California, snowing out in the Western states, recharging  themselves with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and finally snowing out over Greenland or Norway.

When the storms hit Greenland the temperature spikes, sometimes reaching 30F above normal, but it is still snowing!

This year the snow fallen over Greenland is larger than ever recorded. This means that  al this new-fallen snow will not melt during the melting season, which means the snow albedo is higher this year and will cause less snow melt than in years when the albedo is lower

ice-glaciers-2015-fig3-3c-tedesco_smlThe albedo was constantly getting lower until 2012, and then it again snowed more than normal and the albedo recovered in 2013, from then continuing a downward trend. This year it will probably recover some more, leading to a year of ice gain over Greenland.

Why is the albedo decreasing? Blame China. The last few years they have been building one dirty coal plant every week, spewing out soot and sulphur compounds in spite of their claim to have the best scrubbers. This is the reason for the earlier spring snow melt.

The conclusion?

The effects of  increasing CO2 is mush less than the effects from clouds and what the clouds reflect back into the sky and what they carry in the form of water vapor. We are now seeing the result of the end of the el nino, the raining out of the excess humidity, which happens when the earth again is cooling.

The 18 year pause is back, and is now 19 years.

From Sweden come the trolls, They are climate feminists, cold. A limerick.

From Sweden with love came the troll.

They must live in darkness, their goal.

Must reduce CO2

dark and cold, way to go.

They’re feminists, that plaid a role.

Trolls are very special creatures. They live in the deep forests of Sweden, do a lot of mischief, come out at night and you can see them in the dim moonlight of the most dense woods, but at the crack of dawn they disappear. No one have seen them by day. But for a true image, take a look at the  John Bauer paintings. He must have seen them clearly.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 23: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump signs the first of three Executive Orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, January 23, 2017. They concerned the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a US Government hiring freeze for all departments but the military, and “Mexico City” which bans federal funding of abortions overseas. Standing behind the President, from left to right: US Vice President Mike Pence; White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus; Peter Navarro, Director of the National Trade Council; Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President; Steven Miller, Senior Advisor to the President; unknown; and Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist. (Photo by Ron Sachs – Pool/Getty Images)

The newly elected U.S. President Donald Trump went on a signing spree, signing several executive orders the first days of his presidency. One of them was to deny tax funds to international organizations that promote abortions. This didn’t sit well with the Swedes, so they took notice.

Sweden is a very egalitarian society , so naturally the government cabinet since many years must consist of 12 men and 12 women. It is now a very weak coalition between the Social Democrats and the Greens, and they have less than 40% support in the uni-parliament. The Sweden Democrats have 14% of the seats, but all other parties refuse to have any dealings with them, even the opposition. Climate control is the holy grail however of Swedish politics, so they managed to get along well enough to sign a Climate Bill that promised “zero net CO2 emissions by 2045”.

There are those who say that the Green Party vice prime minister Isabella Lovin trolled Trump. Maybe so, for she also tweeted

17h17 hours ago Just signed referral of Swedish law, binding all future governments to net zero emissions by 2045. For a safer and better future.

Well, if zero CO2 emissions is feminism I remain cold. Not even candlelight for Valentine!
Background: Sweden’s prime minister on Thursday criticized climate skeptics within the new Trump administration and warned that all countries need to “step up and fulfill the Paris Agreement.”

“The position we hear from the new administration is worrying” Stefan Löfven told The Associated Press after announcing an ambitious new climate law promising zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and a 70-percent cut to emissions in the domestic transport sector by 2030.

The Swedish minister in charge of climate policy, the Green party Isabella Lövin, urged European countries to take a leading role in tackling climate change, since now “the U.S. is not there anymore to lead.”

The new Swedish law sets long-term goals for greenhouse gas reductions and will be legally binding for future administrations.

Lovin said Sweden wanted to set an example at a time when “climate skeptics (are) really gaining power in the world again,” and felt encouraged by pledges by China and India to fulfill their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

China is “investing billions and billions of dollars in solar (…) it’s a game changer,” she said warning that “those that are still wanting to invest in fossil fuels will be ultimately the losers.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has called climate change a Chinese hoax, has raised speculation that he might pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.

The new Swedish law enters into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. It was developed after agreement from seven out of the eight political parties in parliament.

Oh, as to the picture of President Trump surrounded by only men, there was at least one woman witnessing the signing

donaldtrump88

Scientists’ march on DC, a Limerick.

A scientists’ march on D.C. ?

It can’t apolitical be.

For they must get their grants

through political chants.

Conform or get cut, can’t you see?

Sometimes in the near future there will be yet another march on Washington. This time it is from “concerned scientists” that want to take politics out of science, be allowed to be true scientists with no biases or prejudices.  To prove the point they have laid down the ground rules for participation in the march and produced this manifesto: There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution. Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.

Let’s take a look at that manifesto. There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. What happened to scientific curiosity? Is science ever settled? Do they mean there is nothing new to discover?

The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. Well, for once I agree. We are returning CO2 to the atmosphere in increasing amount, and that is good. If nothing else changed, the logarithmic temperature increase with increased CO2 levels would cause the earth to warm up by 0.9C for a doubling of CO2, more if there is a gain in the system, less if there is negative feedback. The gain factors are mostly due to increased evaporation from warmer oceans, the negative feedback is supplied mostly through increased clouds, coming from increased absolute humidity. (I realise there are many other factors affecting climate, but this is a start, science is by no means settled). What is observed is that the earth is getting greener, and the increased CO2 from 280 PPM to 405 PPM makes the earth able to feed another two billion people without starving, not to mention plants and animals, and also use less water in doing so. Check the figure:increaseThe growth without added fertilizers 11%, extrapolated from the beginning of burning fossil fuels to now the increase is about 42%. This is a transfer of wealth from areas burning the fuel to agricultural areas, mostly in developing countries.

The diversity of life arose by evolution. Now that is a limiting statement. While there is great evidence for adaption, a valid scientific explanation for evolution simply is not credible, apart from intelligent design. The math is not there for another explanation, the DNA code is too complicated and complete including repair codes, start and stop codes to induce aging, and with codes to allow for future adaption already built in!

Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. The number of guilty politicians are too numerous to count.

An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world. Agree. No government exemplified this more than the Obama Government.  The Trump administration will restore balance in science, no longer excel in nonsense like this from Charles Bolden  “When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he (Obama) charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering,”

The World Economic Forum, no meeting between the Chinese President and the Trump team, a Limerick.

The Globalists gather in Davos’

Hear all of the insiders bravos.

Chinese President Xi

goes to meet Trump, say hi.

No Trump team went there, Xi can’t shove us.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping set to headline the attendees as a speaker on opening day of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, those handling his messaging and his calendar indicated that channels of communication were open and that there was the possibility of a meeting between China’s staff members and those of President-elect Trump.

However, “Trump won’t send an official representative to the annual gathering of the world’s economic elite in Davos, taking place January 17 – 20, the days leading up to his inauguration.” The stated reason by a senior member of Trump’s transition team is that “the president-elect thought it would betray his populist-fueled movement to have a presence at the high-powered annual gathering in the Swiss Alps.

Heads of state, who’s who of multinational corporations, prominent academics, philanthropists, U.S. Senators and Congressmen, world bankers and a retinue of journalists, celebrities and hangers-on will attend the three day conference and enjoy such davos-menu_0culinary delicacies as a thirty-six dollar hot dog and a thirty-two dollar ham and cheese sandwich. One can just imagine what a hasenpfeffer  with all the trimmings and lubricants will cost. There are 2200 attendees, and with all their entourage and with all the needed service people the population of Davos will swell from 11000 to 31000.

One of the subjects coming up is their cherished Climate Change Control debate. DavosGetting to Davos is no easy task. It is nested among mountains, and nearby airports are small and with very little capacity to accommodate the 1700 private jets, so the jets have to deliver the dignitaries, then disperse over Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy. The dignitaries need limousines, maybe exceeding existing limos in Switzerland, so limousines will come from surrounding countries to serve them. All this in the name of saving the planet from the evil of Climate Change.

 

 

Save the coal, burn a forest, a Limerick.

The European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive establishes an overall policy for the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources in the EU. It requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020 – to be achieved through the attainment of individual national targets. All EU countries must also ensure that at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.

savethecoalCut forests! Stop mining the coal!

Decarbonization the goal.

Do not frack, do not drill

Stop the nukes, that’s their will.

The endgame is one world control!

The U.K. electricity producer DRAX recently got permission from the EU commission to convert a third coal fired power plant to biomass.

Great Britain is already importing biomass, mostly from U.S. in the form of wood pellets. If the pellets are used to make electricity it will generate more CO2 than the equivalent from coal. Wood pellets are more efficient and burns  more clean in stoves than wood, especially non seasoned wood.

If this is not bad enough, protected forests are being indiscriminately felled across Europe to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets, according to an investigation by the conservation group Birdlife.

Up to 65% of Europe’s renewable output currently comes from bioenergy, involving fuels such as wood pellets and chips, rather than wind and solar power.

Because of the shutdown of coal powered plants, wind and solar power is supposed to carry an ever increasing load. But when the sun doen’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, the backup energy plants are increasingly diesel farms, inefficient, polluting and costly.

This is central bureaucracy at work.

 

The DOE refuses to answer questions from the incoming Trump administration, a Limerick.

Department of Energy fights,

scared Perry will turn out the lights.

For it will not admit

what it does, and won’t quit.

Its chutzpah is reaching new heights.

The incoming Trump administration sent out a rather lengthy questionnaire, in short asking what each employee has been doing.

The Department of Energy refused to answer, citing Academic Freedom.

Excerpts from the letter: (Thanks, Willis Eschenbach for the list and comments!)

Questions for DOE

This memo, as you might expect, is replete with acronyms. “DOE” is the Department of Energy. Here are the memo questions and my comments.

1. Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups, and FACAs [Federal Advisory Committees] currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created? 

If I were at DOE, this first question would indeed set MY hair on fire. The easiest way to get rid of something is to show that it was not properly established … boom, it’s gone. As a businessman myself, this question shows me that the incoming people know their business, and that the first order of business is to jettison the useless lumber.

2. Can you provide a complete list of ARPA-E’s projects?

Critical information for an incoming team.

3 Can you provide a list of the Loan Program Office’s outstanding loans, including the parties responsible for paying the loan back, term of the loan, and objective of the loan?

4 Can you provide a list of applications for loans the LPO has received and the status of those applications?

5 Can you provide a full accounting of DOE liabilities associated with any loan or loan guarantee programs?

6 The Department recently announced the issuance of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles (and perhaps associated infrastructure). Can you provide a status on this effort?

Oh, man, they are going for the jugular. Loan Program Office? If there is any place that the flies would gather, it’s around the honey … it’s good to see that they are looking at loan guarantees for electric vehicles, a $4.5 billion dollar boondoggle that the government should NOT be in. I call that program the “Elon Musk Retirement Fund”.

Folks, for $4.5 billion dollars, we could provide clean water to almost half a million villages around the world … or we could put it into Elon Musk’s bank account or the account of some other electric vehicle manufacturer. I know which one I’d vote for … and I am equally sure which one the poor of the world would prefer.

7 What is the goal of the grid modernization effort? Is there some terminal point to this effort? Is its genesis statutory or something else?

Asking the right questions about vague programs …

8 Who “owns” the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial efforts within the Department?

I love this question. Orphan departments are legendary in big bureaucracies … nobody owns them and they can do what they want. I don’t predict a long future for this Mission Impossible—Clean Energy effort..

9 What is the Department’s role with respect to the development of offshore wind?

Given that offshore wind is far and away the MOST EXPENSIVE of all the renewable options, the answer should be “None”.

10 Is there an assessment of the funds it would take to replace aging infrastructure in the complex? Is there a priority list of which facilities to be decommissioned?

Another critical question, about the state of their own facilities.

11 Which Assistant Secretary positions are rooted in statute and which exist at the discretion and delegation of the Secretary?

Like I said … these guys know how to do what they plan to do, which is to change the direction of the agency. All discretionary Assistant Secretaries must be sweating …

12 What is the statutory charge to the Department with respect to efficiency standards? Which products are subject to statutory requirements and which are discretionary to the Department?

Same thing. They want to find out what they can just cut, where the low-hanging fruit might be. I suspect this is about Obama’s ludicrous CAFE standards mandating a 50+ mile-per-gallon average for all car manufacturers.

13 Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?

Now, this is the one that has the “scientists” involved most concerned. Me, I think they damn well should be concerned because what they have been doing all this time is HALF OF A COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS!!

This is a pet peeve of mine. You can’t just talk of costs in a vacuum. To do that without considering the accompanying benefits is scientific malfeasance. To do it as a policy matter is nothing less than deliberately lying to the public. As a result, I hope that everyone engaged in this anti-scientific effort gets identified and if they cannot be fired for malfeasance then put them to work sweeping the floors. Talk about “fake news”, the so-called “social cost of carbon” is as fake as they come.

14 Did DOE or any of its contractors run the integrated assessment models (lAMs)? Did they pick the discount rates to be used with the lAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper discount rates used with the lAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper equilibrium climate sensitivity?

Cuts to the core, and lets the people know that vague handwaving is not going to suffice. These folks want actual answers to the hard questions, and they’ve definitely identified the critical points about the models.

15 What is the Department’s role with respect to JCPOA? Which office has the lead for the NNSA?

The JCPOA is usually a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”. In this case, however, it refers to the Iran nuclear deal, and is an  interesting question. The NNSA is the National Nuclear Security Adminstration.

16 What statutory authority has been given to the Department with respect to cybersecurity?

Critical in these times.

17 Can you provide a list of all Schedule C appointees, all non-career SES employees, and all Presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation? Can you include their current position and how long they have served at the Department?

Here’s the deal. It’s basically impossible to fire a government worker unless they held up a bank and were caught in the act, and even then you’d have to have full-color video to make it stick. Public employee unions are among the world’s stupidest and most destructive idea … the government unions use their plentiful funds to affect the election of the people who set their pay scale. Yeah, that should go well …

BUT … if you can get rid of their position, then you’re not firing them, you just don’t have further work for them. They are trying to figure out who they can cut. Hair is catching fire on all sides with this one.

18 Can you offer more information about the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge?

Never heard of it, but then I never heard of a lot of things in this memo … which just shows that the memo makers did their homework. Turns out that the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge is another clumsy attempt to get Electric Vehicles Everywhere regardless of the fact that the public mostly doesn’t want Electric Vehicles Anywhere.

19 Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years?

An IPCC Conference of Parties is much more party than conference—it’s basically an excuse to party in some lovely location (think Bali, Cancun, …), with the party occasionally interrupted by the pesky conference. It is a meaningless exercise which ends up with an all-night session that finishes by announcing that everyone has signed on to the latest non-binding fantasy about how to end the use of fossil fuels, drive up energy prices, and screw the poor. And yes, if I were appointed to run the DOE, I would definitely want to know who has gone on these useless junkets.

Now, I know that people are going to complain about “scientific freedom” regarding the memo asking who worked on what … but if you don’t want to tell the incoming team what you’ve worked on … why not? Are you ashamed of what you’ve done? Look, every job I’ve had, if a new boss came in, they wanted to know what I had worked on in the past, and I simply answered them honestly. Scientists are no different.

Finally, government scientists presumably work on what their agency directs them to work on … so the issue of “scientific freedom” is way overblown in this context where they are NOT free to work on projects of their own choice.

20 Can you provide a list of reports to Congress or other external parties that are due in 2017? 

Again, a critical question when you take over an organization—what deliverables is it contracted to produce? Like I said, these folks know what they are doing.

21 Can you provide a copy of any Participation Agreement under Section 1221 of EP Act signed by the Department?

We’re way down in the weeds now. This section of the EP Act allows three or more contiguous states to establish a regional transmission siting agency. Not sure why they’ve asked this, but it does add to their knowledge of the projected vague transmission grid actions, which appears like it could be a big money drain.

22 What mechanisms exist to help the national laboratories commercialize their scientific and technological prowess?

A forgotten task at the DOE, I’m sure.

23 How many fusion programs, both public and private, are currently being funded worldwide?

Huh … looking for duplication of activities.

24 Which activities does the Department describe as commercialization programs or programs with the specific purpose of developing a technology for market deployment?

Incoming administrations, if they’re smart, look for low hanging fruit. In this case if there are commercial programs near completion, they can be fast-tracked to provide evidence that the new administration is on the job.

25 Does or can the Department delineate research activities as either basic or applied research?

This is a critical distinction, and one that they possibly have never made.

26 Can you provide a list of all permitting authorities (and their authorizing statutes) currently held by DOE and their authorizing statutes?

Again, the local denizens will not like this a bit, more hair will spontaneously ignite. In part any bureaucracy prides itself on its power to stop people from doing things … in other words, they demand a permit for an action and then they can refuse to issue it. This asks not just for the permitting authorities, but once again for their authorizing statutes. Again, the easiest way to get rid of something is to show it was built without authorization …

27 Is there a readily available list of any technologies or products that have emerged from  programs or the labs that are currently offered in the market without any subsidy?

Quite possibly not, but if so it would be an interesting list.

28 Are there statutory restrictions related to reinvigorating the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management?

29 Are there any statutory restrictions to restarting the Yucca Mountain project?

These two questions show us that they plan to restart Yucca Mountain, the shuttered nuclear waste repository.

30 Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?

Because you can kiss them goodbye along with the CAP …

31 If DOE’s topline budget in accounts other than the 050 account were required to be reduced 10% over the next four fiscal years (from the FY17 request and starting in FY18), does the Department have any recommendations as to where those reductions should be made?

This is brilliant. It’s like my gorgeous ex-fiancee regarding colors. She asks me what color I like so she can cross it off the list of possibilities … and rightly so given my color sense. This strikes me as the same deal. The new Administration asks where the current denizens would cut ten percent … then when they are told it, they know they might want to cut somewhere else … useful info either way.

32 Does the Department have any thoughts on how to reduce the bureaucratic burden for exporting U.S. energy technology, including but not limited to commercial nuclear technology?

Likely not … but worth asking …

33 Is the number of Assistant Secretaries set by statute? Does the statute establish the number as a minimum or a maximum, or is it silent on the question?

Assistant Secretaries are now on DEFCON 1, or DEFCON 0.5, their hair is totally engulfed in flames …

34 Can you provide a list of all current open job postings and the status of those positions?

35 Can you provide a list of outstanding M&O contracts yet to be awarded for all DOE facilities and their current status?

36 Can you provide a list of non-M&O procurements/awards that are currently pending and their status?

Open jobs, outstanding Maintenance and Operation contracts, non-M&O procurements, they want to find out just exactly what is the current state of play. It will also allow the incoming folks to see what last-minute hires they’ve tried to jam through before the changeover.

37 Does DOE have a plan to resume the Yucca Mountain license proceedings?

They may have shelved or previous plans, good to know if so.

38 What secretarial determinations/records of decisions are pending?

Have they made decisions that are not written down? If so, what? Man, these people are thorough, I wouldn’t have thought to ask that one.

39 What should the incoming Administration do to balance risk, performance and ultimately completion in contracting?

40 What should this Administration do differently to make sure there are the right incentives to attract qualified contractors?

An interesting pair of questions.

41 What is the plan for funding cleanup of Portsmouth and Paducah when the current uranium inventory designated for barter in exchange for cleanup services, is no longer available (excluding reinstating the UED&D fee on commercial nuclear industry or utilizing the USEC fund)?

Back into the weeds, proving that these folks have done their homework. Right now, those shuttered nuclear plants are trading uranium, a valuable resource, for cleanup … what happens when the uranium runs out? Who is on the hook for the costs?

42 What is the right funding level for EM to make meaningful progress across the complex and meet milestone and regulatory requirements?

According to the Energy.gov glossary, “EM” is environmental management. I’m not sure what the DOE is required to do in this, and that’s what they are asking.

43 What is the greatest opportunity for reduction in life cycle cost/return on investment? 

44 Describe your alternatives to the ever increasing WTP cost and schedule, whether technical or programmatic?

45 With respect to EM, what program milestones will be reached in each of the next four years?

47 How can the DOE support existing reactors to continue operating as part of the nation’s infrastructure?

48 What can DOE do to help prevent premature closure of plants? 

49 How do you recommend continuing to supporting the licensing of Small Modular Reactors? 

50 How best can DOE optimize its Advanced Reactor R&D activities to maximize their value proposition and work with investors to development and commercialize advanced reactors?

All of these questions are concerned with the regulation and waste disposal of nuclear plants, suggesting strongly that the new administration is interested in keeping existing plants open and licensing new plants.

Questions for EIA

EIA is the Energy Information Agency charged with collecting and maintaining energy-related data.

51 EIA is an independent agency in DOE. How has EIA ensured its independence in your data and analysis over the past 8 years? In what instances do you think EIA’ s independence was most challenged?

Now this is a fascinating two-part question, especially the second part. Basically they are asking, can we trust the EIA, and what pressures is it subject to?

52 Part of EIA’s charter is to do analyses based on Congressional and Departmental requests. Has EIA denied or not responded to any of these requests over the last ten years?

53 EIA customarily has or had set dates for completions of studies and reports. In general, have those dates been adhered to?

54 In the Annual Energy Outlook 2016, EIA assumed that the Clean Power Plan should be in the reference case despite the fact that the reference case is based on existing laws and regulations. Why did EIA make that assumption, which seems to be atypical of past forecasts?

Uh-oh … caught messing with the books …

55 EIA’s assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain back-up costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?

Since this is an issue I’ve raised publicly in my posts on levelized costs, I’m overjoyed to see them ask it.

56 Has EIA done analysis that shows that additional back-up generation is not needed? How does EIA’s analysis compare with other analyses on this issue?

This seems like they’re talking about some EIA analysis that says that such generation isn’t needed, and asking them to justify it. If not, they are simply forcing them to admit that yes, backup is needed, and no, they haven’t been including those costs … good on them.

57 Renewable and solar technologies are expected to need additional transmission costs above what fossil technologies need. How has EIA represented this in the AEO forecasts? What is the magnitude of those transmission costs?

Again, excellent questions that the EIA has not been posing, much less answering.

58 There are studies that show that your high resource and technology case for oil and gas represents the shale gas and oil renaissance far better than your reference case. Why has EIA not put those assumptions in your reference case?

Yes, they definitely should put those in … but then from all appearances they hate fracking with a passion …

59 Can you describe the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA from outside EIA and compare it to the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA who were currently serving at EIA?

Hiring outside vs promoting inside … interesting question.

60 How does EIA ensure quality in its data and analyses?

61 Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?

I’d love to see the answer to this one.

62 We note that EIA added distributed solar estimations to your electricity data reports. Those numbers are not part of your supply/demand balance on a Btu basis. Why has that not been updated accordingly?

Uh-oh again … someone finally asking the hard questions.

63 How many vacancies does EIA have in management and staff positions? What plans, if any, does EIA have to fill those positions before January 20?

64 Is the EIA budget sufficient to ensure quality in data and analyses? If not, where does it fall short?

More questions to clarify the fiscal landscape.

65 Does EIA have cost comparisons of sources of electricity generation at the national level?

Not that I know of … but then they may have them and have not released them. We’ll see.

Questions on labs

DOE labs are separate from the DOE itself … I knew the DOE had labs but I had no idea they had seventeen of them, viz:

National Energy Technology Laboratory at Albany, Oregon (2005)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at Berkeley, California (1931)

Los Alamos National Laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico (1943)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tennessee (1943)

Argonne National Laboratory at DuPage County, Illinois (1946)

Ames Laboratory at Ames, Iowa (1947)

Brookhaven National Laboratory at Upton, New York (1947)

Sandia National Laboratories at Albuquerque, New Mexico and Livermore, California (1948)

Idaho National Laboratory between Arco and Idaho Falls, Idaho (1949)

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton, New Jersey (1951)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at Livermore, California (1952)

Savannah River National Laboratory at Aiken, South Carolina (1952)

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Menlo Park, California (1962)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at Richland, Washington (1965)

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory at Batavia, Illinois (1967)

National Renewable Energy Laboratory at Golden, Colorado (1977)

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility at Newport News, Virginia (1984)

Let me say that as a businessman looking at that list, it screams “Duplication Of Effort” at about 180 decibels. Hence the following questions:

66 What independent evaluation panels does the lab have to assess the scientific value of its work? Who sits on these panels? How often do they hold sessions? Do they publish reports?

67 Can you provide a list of cooperative research and development grants (CRADAs) for the past five years? Please provide funding amounts, sources, and outcomes?

68 Can you provide a list of licensing agreements and royalty proceeds for the last five years?

69 Can you provide a list of the top twenty salaried employees of the lab, with total remuneration and the portion funded by DOE?

70 Can you provide a list of all peer-reviewed publications by lab staff for the past three years?

71 Can you provide a list of current professional society memberships of lab staff?

72 Can you provide a list of publications by lab staff for the past three years?

73 Can you provide a list of all websites maintained by or contributed to by laboratory staff during work hours for the past three years?

74 Can you provide a list of all other positions currently held by lab staff, paid and unpaid, including faculties, boards, and consultancies?

The answer:

Energy Department spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said Tuesday the Energy Department will not comply.

“Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of (the Energy Department) and the important work our department does to benefit the American people,” Burnham-Snyder said.

“We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,” he added. “We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”

He added that the request “left many in our workforce unsettled.”