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Forum > Nuke Puke

Nuclear Power Industry Mendacious Propaganda

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A more appropriate name for the Breakthrough Institute shameless liars is the BROKEN-RECORD or the BROKEN-THROUGH with NUCLEAR BALONEY Institute. Enjoy this expert and detailed debunking of theses low down lying cads.
The Breakthrough Institute – Why The Hot Air? PART 1 of 2 parts             

June 17, 2013 Thomas

I’ve recently stumbled upon a number of articles by the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) that aimed at discrediting renewable energy on the one hand and on the other preaching about nuclear energy as the solution for the global energy crisis of the 21st century. With their hearts and minds pre-set on pushing their narrative, that some kind of a nuclear salvation is being held back by leftish environmentalists (sinister!), the so called German “Energiewende” (Energy Transition) has apparently become a regular target of the Breakthrough Institute staff’s publications.

Pandora's TURD  ;D

Public displays of ignorance and misrepresentation of facts are neither new nor rare when commentators try to discredit the feasibility of a shift to a renewable energy supply. This most regulary includes unscientific pandering to conventional wisdom. In the case of the Breakthrough Institute’s recent articles on Germany and solar energy, all of the above are certainly the case.

The Straw Men Army

As I mentioned at the top, I am writing this because I’ve recently stumbled upon a couple of Breakthrough Institute articles — I wasn’t too familiar with the “Breakthrough Institute” before that. In the middle of May, the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) published an article comparing the alleged costs of what its analysts call “the German solar program” and the costs of a Finnish nuclear project currently under construction and which is plagued by cost overruns. A couple of weeks later, Michael Shellenberger (BTI President) & Ted Nordhaus (BTI Chairman) published an article defending the previous article against unspecified criticism and making a couple of incredibly silly claims in the process.

Reason I wrote this post.

So here’s a roundup of a few straw men, dubious connections, distortions, and stuff that’s plain and simply silly.

#1 – Irrelevant “Cost” Comparison

[unscientific pandering to conventional wisdom]

Comparing the alleged gross-price tag of Germany’s solar policy with a Finnish nuclear project might seem like a very clever thing to do, but in reality it’s simply silly. The comparison suggests a non-existent equality in circumstances, goals, and preconditions that simply isn’t there.

What I am trying to say is, that if you want to judge two policies or projects, you should judge them foremost by their goals and motivations, not by an unrelated number game.
The motivation and the goals of Germany’s unprecedented solar policy are neither a secret nor hard to research (EEG 2004, Article 1). For decades, the main problem of solar had been identified as it being too expensive to deploy. But, at the same time, only deployment and mass production would lead to significant cost reductions. To overcome this barrier, the German parliament adapted the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) in 2004 to incentivize the installation of solar PV systems, thus creating the first uncapped mass market for solar power. It was  the goal to reduce the technology’s cost through deployment, innovation, and market forces within the solar industry. The plan has succeeded a lot faster than anticipated and the cost of PV is expected to decline by at least another 50% by 2020.

The development of feed-in-tariff rates for solar power (actual production costs / kWh are a bit lower).

In  contrast, the goal of the Finnish nuclear power plant had been to have a fully operational 1.6 GW Generation III+ nuclear reactor by 2009 for $4.2 billion. Since the decision for the new nuclear plant was made in 2000, that would have been 5 years of planing and permitting and 4 years of construction. Since the current estimate is that it might enter commercial operation in 2015 — 10 years after construction began — and at a price of approximately $11.1 billion, it can with no doubt be considered a massive failure.

Everyone can judge for themselves what they want to think about the two political projects.
On one side, a German policy that may have come with a price tag to consumers, but has successfully triggered the global commercialization and industrialization of an energy technology that sat dormant for far too long. (In addition, Germany’s solar industry — far more than solar cell manufacturing — still provides 100,000 high-paying jobs and is registering more patents than ever before.)

On the other side, the newest commercial product of the veteran nuclear industry failing miserably at delivering what it promised.

But there’s no arguing about the outcome. In most places around the world (including Germany), installing solar technology onsite can now lower the bill for households, businesses, and even industries. It takes only a few weeks/months from making the investment decision to producing a relatively certain monthly amount of peak-load power.

For any new nuclear power project, there is no such certainty nor is there a similar market-driven investment incentive at the horizon — even after almost 60 years of commercial nuclear power. (This is all something the BTI didn’t care to mention.)

I won’t delve into how nuclear and solar operate in different technological and economic paradigms at this point, but it should be obvious to everyone that neither solar panels nor a nuclear reactor represent a complete energy system.

#2 – A Dubious Source as the Main Witness

[Questionable Motives]

I was not surprised to find the “100 Billion Euro disaster” paper written by Dr. Frondel of the RWI at the heart of the the first BTI story. What’s amusing is the naïve sort of “a German wrote it, it must be true!” attitude that is rather prevalent in many articles/comments that quote his work. Rarely does any journalist follow the money or intentions, nor does the American press care about the criticism of Dr. Frondels’ work.

In reality, Dr. Frondels’ analysis is nothing more than a simple calculation of a price tag. He then chooses to equate the price tag with macroeconomic costs, by overly simplifying and ignoring the complexity of the economic reality. Basically, the study was written to give lazy journalists easy-to-copy-&-paste headlines and snippets in order to attack solar energy (which is controversial, of course, which brings in readers and makes the journalists look “critical” and “smart”).

Undoubtedly, those economic interests that have commissioned the RWI study and fund the work of people like Dr.Frondel are very pleased to see the BTI making such “good” and uncritical use of their investments.

I’ve created this little infrographic below to illustrate some background information on the history of Dr. Frondels’ study and other somewhat related information. See what you can find.

To give you an even better understanding of the general nature of Dr. Frondels’ work in recent years, I would just like to refer you to the RWI’s publication called “Positionen Nr. 45” from April 2011. The title of this particular RWI paper was, “The Cost Of Climate Protection – A Look At Electricity Prices.” In it, Dr. Frondel comes to the surprising (Who pays the piper, calls the tune) conclusion that German household electricity prices in 2011 could have remained at their 1998 levels if it wasn’t for all that nasty climate action!

I personally find it fascinating how the BTI chooses to utilize Dr. Frondels’ work to discredit renewable energy and attack people like Bill McKibben, while at the very same time, the whole Keystone XL decision is an increasingly important issue in the US.

Well, whatever reasons the BTI may have for its recent urge to make renewables look bad, it did choose not to mention the dubious connections of its main source on the alleged economics of Germany’s renewable energy policy. Its reasoning for withholding this relevant background information is obvious though:  A study comissioned by the American Oil & Gas industry, written by a guy who is involved with a German version of the Heartland Institute simply isn’t a very convincing main witness when you are try to make a simplistic case against renewables in favor of nuclear energy.

#3 – The Emissions Blame Game

[Misrepresenting & Oversimplifying]

The good folks at the BTI love to foster the myth that less nuclear must lead to higher emissions, and that Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear will kill the climate. Unfortunately, there is no denying the fact that emissions did in fact rise in 2012.

However, not mentioning the colder-than-usual winter (including the related French electricity crisis in February 2012) and the increase of coal-powered electricity exports due to the collapse of the European emissions trading system is a willful choice.

For the record, with 317 Mio tons of CO2, the 2012 emissions from electricity generation are still well below the 5-year pre-recession average (2003-2007) of 330 Mio tons. If you consider that the German economy made a strong comeback after the global recession in 2009, with record-breaking employment and export levels, this becomes even more significant (i.e. energy productivity increased).

In fact, 2012 emissions per kWh were almost 10% lower compared to 2002, which was the year with the highest nuclear output in Germany. More info on total GHG emissions (not only the 30% caused by electricity generation) is included below.

#4 – Renewables have had no impact!

[Clown Territory Loss of Reality Disorder(?) / Pandering to conventional wisdom] 

In their opinion piece titled “No Solar Way Around It,” Shellenberger and Nordhaus get carried away and make the following remark:

“In reality, there’s little evidence that renewables have supplanted — rather than supplemented — fossil fuel production anywhere in the world. Whatever their merits as innovation policy, Germany’s enormous solar investments have had little discernible impact on carbon emissions.” – No Solar Way Around It, BTI

This statement is a showcase example of the smartass microcosm the BTI president has chosen to populate with his fact-free wisdom. I don’t know what he was trying to say, but the only thing he could have hoped to accomplish is to reinforce anti-renewable mythology. By doing so, he obviously disqualified himself as a reasonable member of the energy debate. But
I am hopeful that he’ll correct his claim….

Here are the facts, plain and simple, for you to judge:

Click here for PART 2

Why The Hot Air?PART 2

Here are the facts, plain and simple, for you to judge:

Impact of Renewable Energy on the Energy Supply and GHG-Emissions. Source: UBA, AGEB, BMWi

During the first 12 years of this century, the  final energy supplied by renewable energy sources has  more than tripled. Final energy is what is left of primary energy after conversion and transmission losses. At the same time, efficiency increases have reduced the overall final energy demand, despite a growing economy. Both developments did not only compensate for the decline of the marginal nuclear contribution, but  they also supplanted about 9.3% fossil fuel final energy consumption since the year 2000.

The Decline of Fossil Energy. Source: AGEB

Fossil primary energy consumption (energy content of the fuel input of a countries energy system)  declined by 11.5% since 2000 and by  18% since 1990. Which in turn explains the decline of greenhouse gas emissions by 10.5% over the same period and  a decline of 25.5% compared to 1990.

It’s important to keep in mind that the German “Energiewende” (energy policy portfolio) is about improving energy efficiency (since the late 1970s) and increasing the share of renewable energy sources (proactively since 2000) at the same time. While the growth of renewables in the electricity sector gets a lot of attention, it’s by no means the only aspect of the “Energiewende”.

Considering this and the facts mentioned before, it’s only fair to notice that the “Energiewende” has accomplished significantly more during just the last 12 years, than the quite substantial nuclear program did since its inception.

These small details (easy-to-access facts) are a good transition to my next and final point in this post.

#5 – The Germans don’t know what they are doing!

[The Straw Giant]

“What that means is that if Germany doubled the amount of solar, as it intends to do, there might be a few hours or even days every year where the country gets 100 percent of its electricity from solar, even though solar only provides 10 percent of its annual electricity needs.

What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess. Some say Germany could sell its power to other countries, but this would mean other countries couldn’t move to solar since Germany would provide electricity at the same hours it would seek to unload it on their neighbors.” — No Solar Way Around It, BTI

Suggesting that the German long-term energy strategy is somewhat irrational is a very common thread of most BTI attacks on the “German Energiewende.” They want you to believe that Germany – the fourth largest economy of the world and the country that is excessively proud of its engineering art and long history of industrial innovation — is wandering into some kind of fantasy land. In my opinion, this claim alone should make even uninformed readers pause and question what the BTI is suggesting.

Unfortunately, the BTI is probably somewhat successful in reinforcing conventional wisdom on renewable energy and its “green hippies are naïve” narrative, simply because most people usually don’t get quality information about these rather complex issues. This tilts the game in favour of people voicing simplistic messages (e.g. if you care about climate change => go nuclear!).

The BTI might also be successful in confusing the public because it works so hard to misrepresent Germany’s energy strategy (one of the world’s leading positive examples of strong renewable energy policy), arguing almost exclusively against its little straw men army instead of discussing reality. Is it doing so out of ignorance or because reality is infringing on its late 1980s-style nuclear-salvation narrative? I don’t know.

What I do know is that it spends a lot of time, energy, and money suggesting that Germany’s game plan is to simply go solar (with a little wind added in) or that Germany hasn’t run the numbers.

Obviously all those German scientists and engineers, policy leaders, and business leaders didn’t check the numbers, because they didn’t come to the conclusion that there has to be a nuclear component. It can’t be what must not be!

So what’s the takeaway from all this?

In my opinion it’s very simple. Unless you choose to believe all the comfortable conventional wisdom that comes along, you don’t have to be a Raketenwissenschaftler to notice that the Breakthrough Institute is producing a lot of hot air. If you come to that conclusion, the next legitimate question should be to consider its motives.  Why has it chosen to walk down a partisan disinformation alley?

My Humble Opinion

I strongly believe that an informed public is crucial for confronting the global energy crisis so I am obviously kind of disgusted by narrow-minded messages of ignorance being delivered as if they were wisdom from enlightenment. Still, I can not help finding the BTI’s attempts to discredit Germany’s energy vision as quite amusing and at the same time intriguing (more on that at the end).

Why amusing, you wonder?

While there are definatly worse anti-renewable advocates in the US, addressing some of the BTI’s claims gives me the opportunity to relive some of the more ridiculous energy debates that happened 10-40 years ago in my country. In Germany, I can only read and ask people about how previous generations struggled to overcome certain mental barriers. However, due to the internet and the rather asynchronous state of the energy debate globally, I can now experience those struggles firsthand — which is exciting!

Nationwide print campaign by the German power industry back in 1993
Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of anti-renewable and anti-Energiewende advocacy going on in Germany, but it has gotten a lot more sophisticated and insidious in recent years due to an overwhelming pro-renewable public opinion.

In Germany, the goal of anti-renewable advocates has long been to suppress the rise of ambitions within the civil society. There are significant vested interests that profit from the status quo, so they fear any challenge of the current structure of the energy industry. De-activating society by feeding it no-future scenarios or by telling it that meaningful action requires technological breakthroughs that are decades away are just two of the common themes. Pretty standard anti-enlightenment stuff.

In my opinon, the BTI tries to apply the above-mentioned tactics. There is no way for me to prove that opinion or know what the BTI’s intentions or motivations truly are. Perhaps its staff members just sing and dance to the “Status Quo” crowd’s song out of pure personal convictions. What I do know is that they are currently very obviously promoting their upcoming overly emotional pro-nuclear “documentary” Pandora’s Promise. This in mind, I can understand their desire to shoot in all directions, desperately trying to stir up a debate* and get as much attention for their message as possible. (*damn it! it worked on me…)

I can understand it from a PR point of view. Though, I think they are shooting themselves in the feet in the process by attacking renewable energy deployment increasingly often.

A Brave New World

In any case, the Breakthrough Institute is one of America’s first more prominent organizations exercising phase 3 of anti-renewable advocacy designed to discourage those who have realized that there is an alternative, but who are not yet convinced that a rapid transition to renewable energy is feasable or how it might work.

The surprisingly large amount of media coverage which the BTI enjoys — compared to so many institutions and people who are actually having an impact around the world — reinforces my belief that the powerful “Status Quo” crowd wants you to hear their message. This is fact is  intriguing because it would mean that somebody is starting to get worried about a long-overdue, massive energy democracy spill on US soil.

Typical phases of resistance to renewable energy, as descriped by Dr. Herman Scheer are as follows:
 Phase 1 – Belittle & Deny the Renewable Energy Option

 Phase 2 – Denounce & Mobilize Against the Renewable Energy Option

 Phase 3 - Spread Doubt & Misrepresent the Challenges in the Disguise of General Support

(Note: reaching Phase 3 doesn’t mean that Phase 1 & 2 will disappear.  ;))

Today, basically every assault on the transition to renewable energy in Germany comes in the disguise of general support. Whether it’s the current German federal government trying to discourage renewable energy investments or the conventional energy industry that builds coal power stations rendered unprofitable by the rise of renewable community power — everyone is officially 120% in favor of the “Energiewende“.

The common use of such phase 3 tactics by the “Pro–Status Quo” crowd is also the reason why many international analysts and journalists fail miserably at understanding the current developments over here. There is a naïve tunnel vision when it comes to looking at the actual front lines of the German energy debate.

This lack of quality by international commentators is also the reason why partisan criticism by people like Dr. Frondel of the RWI and INSM is so often quoted throughout the international press, while all those numerous other German experts promoting the energy transition are hardly ever heard of — despite the fact that they have obviously shaped the country’s policy.

“Clearly we will win, because we got the better arguments. We are on the right track, the Energiewende is a successful model. We have created great markets, we are leading the world in energy efficency.” – Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert, Head of the Energy Department at the German Institute for Economic Research, during a TV debate in reply to the question “Who will win this “battle” of pro & con arguments — the US (shale gas) or us (German Energiewende)?”


MY COMMENT: Soon the BrokenRECORD Institude of marvelous mendacious nuclear mummblygook will reach STAGE FOUR:  :icon_mrgreen:

STAGE IV = Laughing stock stage when the FINNISH IDIOTS discover the 2/3 nuclear power and 1/3 renewables will cost 3 or 4 times 100% renewables and abandon the nuclear idiocy. LOL

Do any of these nuclear nuts EVER price in the cost of baby sitting used fuel rods for a few CENTURIES!!?

WHO paid to dig those deep caverns in Finland or Norway to store this poison per secula seculorum?

Do ANY OF THESE IDIOTS understand cost accounting?

And in the USA they've got another "bright" idea. They want to use LIQUID SODIUM (of the fast breeder accidents infamy, by the way) to ACCELERATE radioactive decay of fuel assemblies so they will be A-Okay in ONLY a hundred years or so instead of 100,000 YEARS! Aren't they SO thoughtful and kind?

One more thing. Has the BROKEN-THROUGHOUT INSTITUTE ever tried to price the cost of paying nuclear scientists and technicians versus PV panel and Wind technicians and maintenance personnel?

OF COURSE NOT!! The word "nuclear" is code for $$$$$$ and they just don't want to let go of their poisonous cash cow. To HELL with them!


Did you know that rats eat the wires in the pumps used to control the heat at Fukushima?

And we are supposed to trust TEPCO? Arnie Gundersen blasts all the lies, obfuscations and open disregard for all regulations and ethics by the nuclear "industry" criminals and their bought and paid for shills. Arnie claims we are told there are WATCH DOGS taking care of nuclear risks but  they watch dogs are actually LAP DOGS! He suggests googling "Will Shill for Nukes" to see what these "so-called" "watch dogs" are REALLY ALL ABOUT.

I did. Here it is for your reading "pleasure":
Will Shill for Nukes

Decommissioning the nuclear lobby's phony op-ed campaign

By William M. Adler, Fri., April 16, 2004

Will Shill for Nukes
Illustration By Jason Stout

Will Shill for Nukes

At UT and elsewhere, academic scientists are only too happy to lend their names and reputations to the nuclear power industry


From the Desk of ... Big Nuke

Tracing the daisy chain of nuclear PR recycling

On March 4, the Austin American-Statesman published an op-ed article by Sheldon Landsberger, professor of nuclear engineering at UT. Headlined "Funds for nuclear waste storage should be used for just that," the column argues that the government is fleecing electric-utility ratepayers, who contribute mandatory per-kilowatt-hour fees toward the development of the proposed national nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Landsberger charges that a portion of the fees earmarked for the federal Nuclear Waste Fund are diverted to the general U.S. Treasury. "This is stealing money from taxpayers who were required to support the waste management project," Landsberger writes. 

Strong words.

But they're not Landsberger's. Nor are the other 633 words that appeared in the Statesman that morning under Landsberger's byline. "It was something which was written for me," Landsberger told me later on the phone. "I agreed with it, I went over it, read it a couple of times, took all of 15, 20 minutes."

The op-ed was ginned up, assembly-line style, by a Washington, D.C., public relations firm that the nuclear power lobby retains to tilt public opinion in favor of the stalled Yucca Mountain project. (Unmentioned in Landsberger's plea for official rectitude are the myriad of unresolved scientific, technical, and legal questions about the viability of burying high-level waste in Nevada.) Besides reading and approving the column, all Landsberger did to take credit for authorship was insert his name and position at UT, and forward it via e-mail to the Statesman – even that address provided by the PR firm. (He also sent the column to several other Texas newspapers, none of which printed it.)

On Tuesday, the Statesman published a letter from Landsberger apologizing for his misrepresentation.

Landsberger says he doesn't know who actually wrote his column. He received it, via e-mail, from an employee at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. (Landsberger emphasized that he believed the employee, whom he wouldn't name, sent him the column as a private citizen, rather than on behalf of the national lab.) Nor was this the first time; when it comes to deceiving newspaper readers on behalf of a stealth nuclear lobbying campaign, Landsberger is an acknowledged recidivist. "I've been doing this four or five years," he says. "They [op-ed columns] come from Oak Ridge maybe two or three times a year, particularly when there's a hot-button issue."

Landsberger's accomplice is Theodore M. Besmann, an Oak Ridge employee since 1985. Besmann is a prolific correspondent. Beginning at least as far back as 1978, he has had published under his own or others' names dozens of nuclear love songs in newspapers across the country, from The New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle to The Washington Post to the Houston Chronicle to The Christian Science Monitor ("Nuclear: The Environment's Friend," appeared in the Monitor in 1994).

None but a blockhead, Samuel Johnson said, writes for free.   :evil4:  Ted Besmann is no blockhead. He moonlights as a paid consultant to Potomac Communications Group, the Washington PR firm that works for the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry's stentorian voice and lobby. The NEI's current primary concern – besides beating the congressional bushes for tax breaks and subsidies for nuclear power – is opening the atomic garbage dump at Yucca Mountain. Many of the nation's 103 reactors are running out of on-site storage space for their spent fuel rods, the NEI says, and may have to close if the Energy Department doesn't soon open the Yucca Mountain facility.

To spread its message, the electric utility-funded NEI relies on generous campaign contributions to key members of Congress, virtually unbridled access to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and academic "experts" who prostitute their reputations and those of their universities.

Everybody Does It

Enter Sheldon Landsberger, Ph.D. He directs the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab at UT and coordinates the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Program. He's a busy guy. So when Ted Besmann forwarded him the op-ed on Yucca Mountain, Landsberger read it, "signed off" on it, and passed it on to the Statesman as his own, just as he'd done with the Statesman and other papers, once or twice a year for at least five years. Is that such an outrage?

Well, yes, says Jonathan Knight, an ethics specialist for the American Association of University Professors. "If I see an article by Jack Spratt, then I assume that Jack Spratt has indeed developed the ideas that are in his document," says Knight, who directs the AAUP's program on academic freedom and tenure. "If I learn that in fact Jack Spratt has only lent his name to that, I've got a problem in terms of being seriously misled."

Unsurprisingly, the perpetrators of this "public affairs campaign"  ;) see it differently. :evil4: It matters not who writes the piece, says Bill Perkins, founding partner of Potomac Communications, but what the piece says. "Whether the words are largely theirs, or largely not theirs, the views are. Nobody would submit an article if they didn't totally agree with it."   

Besides, Perkins says, everyone does it.   
"I doubt that there is a public affairs campaign by any advocacy group in the country that doesn't have some version of this. The op-ed pages are one of the ways people express their views in these debates."

But Landsberger did not exactly express his views; he appropriated those of the nuclear lobby, in their words. The distinction is crucial. Otherwise, says Knight of the AAUP, he is "foisting an illusion upon us: that he really has come up with those ideas himself."

Landsberger acknowledges an offense – but claims it was he who was victimized. He says that a "few months ago" he had a "sneaking suspicion" that Ted Besmann was forwarding him the same op-ed columns other professors were receiving. "When I started doing this, I was under the impression that rightfully or wrongfully I was the only guy." He said he has since told Besmann he will no longer participate.

Besmann says Landsberger is mistaken about his place in the PR machine. "I do help with letters to the editor," he says. "It's always original material, unique to that person." But Besmann says he only occasionally ghostwrites op-eds, that more often he merely passes them on from the ghostwriters of Potomac Communications Group.

Was Landsberger saying that it's ethical to slap your name on writing that's not yours as long as no one else claims it, too? "I had no problems with them coming to me," Landsberger says, "but then going on to someone else and having them do the same thing, I felt betrayed, duped, whatever the word is."   

No Credit

Suppose, the professor was asked, a student of his submitted a paper he didn't write as his own. Wouldn't he and the university consider that cheating, and how is that different from what he, Landsberger, did?

There was a long, long pause.  "I don't put them both in the same light," Landsberger finally said. "There was no monetary value in here, number one, and number two, there was no credit to be given."

Knight, the ethics expert with AAUP, disagrees: "Whether it's an op-ed in a local newspaper or an article in a learned journal, we're talking about the same phenomenon, which is plagiarism: presenting the ideas as if they were one's own."

Continued in Part 2

The Nuclear Lie Machine Part 2 of 2 parts

University policy appears similarly unforgiving. Under UT guidelines, governing "all research conducted at the university," any allegation of "scientific misconduct" – defined as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism" – would be referred to the associate vice-president for research, Sharon Brown. As for the university's "working definition" of plagiarism, Brown referred me to the federal Office of Research Integrity, which "considers plagiarism to include both the theft or misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work." The ORI defines "unattributed textual copying of another's work" as "the unattributed verbatim or nearly verbatim copying of sentences and paragraphs which materially mislead the ordinary reader regarding the contributions of the author."

For at least 25 years, an Oak Ridge employee named Theodore M. Besmann has had published nuclear love songs in newspapers across the country, under his own or others' names.

If an allegation of scientific misconduct is made, Brown said, she and university ethics officer Lee Smith, an attorney in the legal affairs office, would conduct an initial inquiry to determine "whether there is enough evidence to warrant a full investigation."

Trust Them, They're Experts 

Professor Landsberger is hardly Big Nuke's lone academic conduit for conducting stealth PR campaigns. His March 4 testimonial to Yucca Mountain in the Statesman apparently rolled off the same assembly line as a piece three months earlier in The State of Columbia, S.C. That column, "Time to move ahead on nuclear waste disposal," appeared Dec. 9, 2003, under the byline of Abdel E. Bayoumi, chairman of the mechanical engineering department at the University of South Carolina.

Landsberger's column is at times a replication of Bayoumi's. And when it's not identical, it can be downright fraternal. Take the beginning of Landsberger's last paragraph: "The record demonstrates that since the advent of nuclear electricity more than 40 years ago, scientific organizations across the world have examined the issue of radioactive-waste management." Compare Bayoumi's words: "The record shows that since the advent of nuclear electricity more than 40 years ago, scientific organizations around the world have examined the issue of radioactive waste management." 

Landsberger's column concludes by quoting a line from a 14-year-old study supporting burial underground as the "best, safest long-term option for dealing with high-level waste." Bayoumi quotes the same, "best, safest long-term option" line from the same study, but ends his column with a flourish: "The government should get on with it."   

Landsberger and Bayoumi each told me he was unaware of the other's column.    And while Landsberger now acknowledges his duplicity, Bayoumi insists the language in his column is his alone. How, then, to explain that three paragraphs of Bayoumi's column – as well as his grand "The government should get on with it" finale – appeared in an op-ed piece by a University of Pittsburgh professor in The Buffalo (N.Y.) News on July 26, 1993, a full 10 years earlier? Or that the Buffalo News columnist also used the industry's time-honored refrain: "The record shows that since the advent of nuclear energy more than 30 years ago" – note the earlier time-frame – "scientific organizations around the world ..."    

"I have nothing really to say," Bayoumi replied when asked to explain his verbatim language. "I have no knowledge of that [Buffalo News] column. I have no idea who did what 10 years ago." Bayoumi did allow that some of his "numbers" came from "fact sheets" posted on the Web site of the American Nuclear Society, a professional organization based near Chicago. "But all the writing is my own," he insists, adding, "I didn't consent to let anyone else use it." 

Opinions 'R' Us

But Bayoumi apparently allowed himself to be used. And there he is not alone. Like Landsberger, Bayoumi deceived his hometown newspaper by submitting and representing as his own work what apparently originated as an industry-generated and -funded column. Could these two professors of engineering, one at Texas, the other at South Carolina, be the only beneficiaries of the Nuclear Energy Institute's ghostwriter-in-residence program?

Further investigation has uncovered what might be called Big Nuke's vast op-ed conspiracy: a decades-long, centrally orchestrated plan to defraud the nation's newspaper readers by misrepresenting the propaganda of one hired atomic gun as the learned musings of disparate academics and other nuclear-industry "experts."

The conspiracy stretches from Washington, D.C., home to the NEI and to the inexhaustible pen of Peter Bernstein. Bernstein, a vice-president of the lobby's PR firm, Potomac Communications Group, is the man whose prose stylings have been cloned by nuclear scientists and engineers from Oregon to Florida. (Over the course of two weeks, Bernstein declined to respond to three phone messages and an e-mail requesting an interview.)

In Oregon, for instance, state climatologist and Oregon State University professor George H. Taylor publishes under his name columns written entirely or in part by Bernstein. Says Taylor: "There have been people who have sent me things and said, 'We just want you to say that you wrote this.' And I'm uncomfortable doing that; I'd prefer just to write things myself."  ;)

But an examination of Taylor's collected works reveals he doesn't always get around to dashing off his own words. Asked about his op-ed that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on April 9, 2002, Taylor recalled that he worked from an outline Bernstein sent him and that he "basically did the writing myself and sent it back to them." Somehow, however, between the time Taylor returned his piece to Bernstein and its publication, it came to echo a handful of other op-eds published previously.

Statesman, March 4, 2004
Statesman, March 4, 2004

Each of those other columns, published under similar headlines ("Nuclear Power Provides a Cheaper, Cleaner, Safer Alternative"
is representative) and different bylines in The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Detroit News, The Beaumont Enterprise, Richmond Times-Dispatch (and after Taylor's, in Florida Today, Melbourne, Fla.), used at least one stock sentence: "Far from being an atoms-for-peace relic heading for extinction, nuclear power now sets the competitive bench mark for electricity generation." (Occasionally a minor word was changed – "today" substituted for "now," for example.) And there were a multitude of interchangeable paragraphs or sentences that appeared to be cut-and-pasted from one to another.

Don't Waste Your Words

Before you dismiss this argument as little more than an exercise in LexisNexis-fueled pedantry, consider yet another serial instance of nuclear collusion – a chorus of received and parroted ideas likely to induce cynicism in even the staunchest believer. Here it may help to note that no matter how indefatigably Bernstein yanks his puppets' strings to argue that nuclear power is, well, a "cheaper, cleaner, safer alternative," the industry's Achilles' heel is still the waste question: how to safely manage nuclear waste remains unresolved.

Meanwhile, the radioactive waste piles high. And not just the high-level spent fuel rods, but so-called low-level waste generated in medicine and manufacturing. In the early 1990s, the industry launched a PR campaign to site commercial low-level nuclear waste dumps in various states: Nebraska, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas.

Writing in the Omaha World-Herald of the proposed Boyd County, Neb., dumpsite, Dr. Samuel H. Mehr, the director of nuclear medicine at an Omaha hospital, proclaimed in November 1990 that "the best scientists and engineers available ... believe that the ... facility will be among the safest and best-engineered waste facilities of any type in the country." 

Two years later, a nuclear engineering professor at Penn State, Anthony Baratta, took to the pages of Harrisburg, Pa.'s Patriot to champion a dump in Pennsylvania as, yup, "among the safest and best-engineered waste facilities of any type in the country."

Not to be outdone, Charles M. Harman, a Duke University professor of mechanical engineering, struck a blow in the News & Record of Greensboro, N.C., for a planned facility in Wake County, N.C. "The design of the ... facility," Harman wrote in April 1994, "is such that it would be" – all together now – "among the safest and best engineered of any waste disposal facility."  (Professor Harman also included other language not his own. Here is the last line from Mehr's 1990 Omaha column: "It is past time to move on to real and present problems that lack solutions." Here is Harman's: "It is past time to move on to real and present problems and to available solutions.")

It is also past time to conclude these ruminations, so let us return to the engineering department on the campus that spawned them: the University of Texas. In the June 29, 1996, edition of the Statesman, Dale E. Klein, then associate dean for research and administration of the College of Engineering, published a letter to the editor in support of building the proposed nuclear dump in Sierra Blanca, in far West Texas. (In November 2001, Klein moved from the Forty Acres to the Pentagon. He is presently assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear and chemical and biological defense programs. His wife, Rebecca Armendariz Klein,  is the Republican 
 candidate for U.S. Congress in CD 25.)

Klein wrote in response to coverage of an Austin rally to protest the dump. He declared that to leave the waste "at multiple sites – many in populous areas of the state – is a monitoring nightmare and brings into question the motives of the most strident opponents of the facility."

After insulting those who might wonder why nuclear waste is safe for rural residents but not for city folk, he suggests that an effort be made to tell those many families who trooped to Austin from Hudspeth and surrounding counties that "the food they eat and the water they drink will not be radioactive."

Why's that, Dr. Klein?

Because, he wrote, the Sierra Blanca facility "will be among the safest and best-engineered waste facilities in the country."  :icon_mrgreen:

But of course. end story 


Dear readers and fellow "blockheads" (we write for FREE!  ),
Have you ever heard of the Association of Women in ENERGY (AWE)?.

NOTICE the title says NOTHING about NUCLEAR energy, just that thermonucleardynamic process we all hold dear along with our SUVs.

 Remember that NUKE SHILL wife of another NUKE SHILL that tried to run for congress back in 2004?

The Nuke Pukes take care of their own. And they don't ADVERTIZE the fact that they SHILL for nukes.
--- Quote ---Posted by AWE on Jul 20, 2011 in

Rebecca A. Klein Director, Board Of Directors

Rebecca A. Klein is Principal of Klein Energy, LLC, a regulatory and business consulting company in Austin, Texas. Over the last twenty years she has worked in Washington, DC and in Texas in the energy, telecommunications and national security arenas. She provides business, regulatory and government affairs consulting for international and domestic clients focused in the energy, communications and national security industries. - See more at:

--- End quote ---

The above covers BOILER PLATE Credentials for an "energy Expert" .    Sneaky Reptiles, aren't they?   


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