Bob Fri, Energy and Environmental Policy Guru, Dies at 78

Robert W. Fri, long a major figure in environmental and energy policy in Washington, although better known to the public as a director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, died October 10 at Sibley Hospital in Washington. The Washington Post obituary said the cause was lung cancer. He was 78. As an [...]

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Beyond Common Sense

The Sierra Club’s frequently silly “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign just got a whole lot sillier. Last week, the New Jersey chapter put out the claim that repowering an old coal- and oil-fired power plant in Cape May with natural gas would hurt area reliability. If that sounds like an odd statement from an environmental group, [...]

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Love, War, and Politics 2: Coal and Kentucky

If you judge that West Virginia’s coal politics are slimy this electoral season, take a look at Kentucky. In an earlier blog posting, I took exception to the way Republican-oriented outside groups were sliming the West Virginia Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Natalie Tennant. Now it’s time to turn the tables, look at neighboring [...]

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Where’s the Heat?

In the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination contest, Sen. Paul Tsongas repeatedly charged the establishment in his party with lacking “new ideas.” When he and front-runner Walter Mondale, former senator and vice president, locked up in a televised debate, Mondale correctly pointed out that Tsongas had no new ideas. Riffing on a popular Wendy’s TV ad, [...]

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Love, War, and Politics

My home in Maryland is just across the Potomac River from West Virginia – I can see my neighboring state when I walk out of my front door and look to the left – where a U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs in the coming election. Well, only nominally up for grabs. There’s very [...]

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The Truth about Fracking

Let’s get frank about fracking. As I see it, horizontal well drilling and hydraulic fracturing of tight rock formations to release hydrocarbons is the best thing to happen in U.S. energy in 40 years. I’ve reported on fracking developments in the context of power generation since 2008. I’ve covered energy issues, with a focus on [...]

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MISO Confronts Capacity Problems

For much of its 15-year history, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (nee the Midwest Independent System Operator) didn’t pay much attention to the topic of “resource adequacy.” The regional transmission organization, in a region rich in baseload, coal-fired power plants, had a 30%-35% reserve margin through most of its years of operation. That excess in [...]

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Who Runs U.S. Grid Security?

An article in today’s Washington Post troubles me greatly. It outlines severe retention and moral problems at the Department of Homeland Security, the uber-agency created in the aftermath of the 9/11 horror. DHS – much like the Department of Energy in 1977 – was cobbled together in haste in 2002 from some 22 disparate agencies [...]

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Deadlock Strikes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The perils of having only four members in a five-member regulatory agency were on display this week at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The commission deadlocked 2-2 over whether to consider a complaint from activists claiming that the owner of the 1,530-MW coal-fired Brayton Point generating station near Boston manipulated an ISO-New England forward capacity [...]

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Dump ‘Nukespeak’ to Reach Broader Audiences

Washington, D.C. – A recent editorial in the industry news service World Nuclear News struck an intellectual and emotional chord for me. The editorial argues that the nuclear industry must “ditch the jargon” of the nuclear industry in order to reach out more effectively to the financial community. I agree completely and would broaden the [...]

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