Bush Fuel Economy Plan Rejected By The Courts

The Bush administrations fuel economy plan was rejected by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Thursday. The court ruled that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “failed to address why the so-called light trucks are allowed to pollute more than passenger cars and didn’t properly assess greenhouse gas emissions when it set new minimum miles-per-gallon requirements for models in 2008 to 2011,” according to the Associated Press.

The court ordered the White House to examine why it continues to consider light trucks differently than cars. Regulators made a distinction between cars and light trucks decades ago when most trucks were used for commercial purposes.

NHTSA had argued that it considered the intent of the manufacturer in making light trucks, rather than their actual highway use, in developing the new fuel standards.

“But this overlooks the fact that many light trucks today are manufactured primarily for transporting passengers,” Fletcher wrote for the three-judge panel.

Fletcher also wrote that the administration failed to consider the benefit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“It did, however, include an analysis of the employment and sales impacts of more stringent standards on manufacturers,” Fletcher wrote.

The court also took the administration to task for refusing to include in the new standards trucks weighing more than 8,500 pounds, a class that includes the Hummer H2, Ford F250 and other popular large vehicles.

The court ordered NHTSA to develop fuel standards for these large trucks or give a better reason than the agency’s argument that it has never regulated those large trucks and that more testing needs to be done.

“This historic ruling vindicates our fight against fuel economy standards that are a complete sham and a gift to the auto industry,” said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who also joined the lawsuit.

Oh no, someone has irritated Richard Blumenthal. Now their destruction is assured.

Court Rebukes Bush Fuel Economy Plan [AP]
(Photo:George E. Norkus)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Sonnymooks says:

    Like it or not, this will get turned on appeal.

    The 9th circuit gets overturned more then any other court does.

  2. humphrmi says:

    Oh no, someone has irritated Richard Blumenthal. Now their destruction is assured.

    Yeah, I bet the White House is shaking in their boots.

  3. Logan26 says:

    1. It was a stupid ruling
    2. anyone who thinking humans are the primary reason for the world getting warmer needs their head examined
    3. Thank god the 9th court gets over ruled more times than most people can count the stupid liberal ass court.

  4. DallasDMD says:


    Warming might be debatable but pollution and environmental damage due to pollution are irrefutable facts.

  5. redkamel says:

    I am pretty sure over 8 billion wasteful organisms destroying the environment have some effect on the atmosphere and environment.

    there is nothing to lose by having a cleaner environment and using resources more efficiently (unless you enjoy a wasteful life, care naught for other people and animals, or are a megacorp bent on pillaging the earth)

  6. Logan26 says:


    You know, I’ll give a rats ass when the rest of the world starts going after countries who have 0 epa controls what so ever. China for starters.

  7. stinerman says:

    Can you recommend a mental health practitioner for me?

  8. Mr. Gunn says:

    Logan26: Go back to masturbating to Ann Coulter ‘shops, troll.

    I’m just glad they closed the damn Hummer loophole I’ve been complaining about for ~5 years now.

  9. JiminyChristmas says:

    A couple things:

    1. The “debatability” about global warming is like the debate about evolution. On one side you have the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community whose conclusions are founded on verifiable data and tested hypotheses. On the other, you have people who, while they may have strongly held opinions can’t produce any evidence that supports their argument.

    2. As for the other countries who have “0 epa controls”, ask yourself this: Where did all of the CO2 already in the atmosphere come from? It came from us and our European forebears, who have enjoyed the benefits of an industrial economy for over 150 years. When we started burning massive amounts of coal most Chinese were still feudal peasantry. Doesn’t it make sense that those who have enjoyed the ‘benefits’ of polluting the Earth should be the first ones to try and rectify the situation?

  10. bohemian says:

    The entire global warming issue aside, gas is becoming a fought over commodity and rising demand is running the price up. We need to quit wasting so much gas as a country. The US automakers won’t change unless forced.

  11. humphrmi says:

    The US automakers won’t be forced by the US government to change their designs. Only consumer dollars can change that.

  12. synergy says:

    YES. Now please someone bring it home to mama!

  13. karmaghost says:

    Other’s have said it better, so I’ll just add my own point;

    LAWL @ Logan26!

    (BTW, was just plain “Logan” taken? Where are the other 25 Logans on Gawker?)

  14. DallasDMD says:

    @Logan26: So its okay to pollute and be wasteful as long as everyone else is doing it? Great thinking!

    Who do you think is buying the products that those toxic Chinese plants are making?

  15. JiminyChristmas says:

    The US automakers won’t be forced by the US government to change their designs.

    Well, the fuel efficiency standards we have now aren’t exactly voluntary. The government doesn’t have to mandate a particular design, they can set a higher standard and let the automakers figure out how they want to meet it.

  16. Namilia says:

    I’ll partially agree with Logan. Until I see absolute proof of global warming or climate change or whatever the trendy name for it is now, it will appear to me to just be part of the normal cycles that the earth has gone through for countless millenniums.

  17. DallasDMD says:

    @Namilia: So the pollution and dwindling oil resources mean nothing to you?

  18. Namilia says:

    Crap, I wasn’t done.

    HOWEVER, I am not so naiive as to ignore the fact that pollution has affected the environment, and in that sense we as a nation and as a planet need to be conscientious of what we are doing.

    I guess I just really have a problem with the idea that all the worlds problems can be “linked” to global warming/climate change instead of the real problems being fixed.

  19. Namilia says:

    Dallas, I hit comment a bit early without thinking, sorry ^^’

    And yeah, I do care. We are already in a war over oil..and the situation will only get worse. Even if we pulled out of Iraq, removing Hussein created a power vacuum that thus-far it seems the Iraqi government has not entirely been able to fill. Maybe in time they will. That+Iran+Pakistan…yeah. Prices have jumped from I believe $1.50 in 2003 to over $3.00 in about four years…I do not look forward to what future prices will be, neither.

    Sorry that I rambled a little off topic, but wanted to finish my train of thought…^^’

  20. cde says:

    @Meg: “Oh no, someone has irritated Richard Blumenthal. Now their destruction is assured.”

    How snarky Meg. Add this to the “enjoy your refund” comment on the makeup post, I’d coulda swore I was at Jezebel…. I like :D

  21. Does the H2 actually weigh more than four and a half tons?

    No wonder I feel nervous when one of those long-nailed Carmela Soprano types is tailgating me in an H2. No brakes in the world could stop something that heavy in the distance a half-asleep Honda Civic driver could.

  22. Namilia says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: Either that or a tailgating F-250/350 on a road notorious for accidents and deaths = one nervous as hell car driver.

  23. RISwampyankee says:

    Is that Ann Coulter’s Hummer?

  24. Domichi says:

    Wikipedia places the curb weight at over three tons, but that doesn’t include passangers or cargo.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    @RISwampyankee: No, because if it was Coulter’s she’d have immigrant children mushed under the wheels.

    LOVE how they always yammer on about the “costs” of doing the right thing, while ignoring the much-higher costs of fixing an obviously stupid policy.

  26. Alvis says:

    Ordering the White House to examine its policies is meaningless. Ordering them to defend them before the court is another.

  27. mac-phisto says:

    richie – that’s my boy!

    this sets the stage for a ussc showdown on states’ rights – i can’t wait!

    it’s simple: if the nhtsa doesn’t want to do their job (for whatever reason – most likely b/c it interferes with their tee times), then the states will do it for them.

    @humphrmi: you don’t know richie, do you? take a look at his track record: he sues everyone (& wins most of the time). maybe the white house isn’t shaking in their boots, but you might want to take a look at their pockets – that’s generally where he likes to strike.

  28. @Namilia: just to play the devil’s advocate here…Heavy Duty pickup trucks have tremendous brakes. I have a mazda 626, a mitsubishi montero, and a dodge 2500 (in its heaviest trim). Which stops the fastest from 60? The dodge. More surface area on the road + 4 or 5 times the braking power on only 3 times the weight means that so long as the person who is “tailgating” you is 3/4 of a second behind (1.5x the average reaction time in that situation), he isn’t going to hit you.

    Of course if he’s fully loaded and weighing about 20 thousand pounds you’re pretty well fucked.

  29. Rusted says:

    @RamV10: I have a two ton Subaru Baja that stops pretty well. Disk brakes all the way around. Had to use it too, quite a few times. That thing can STOP.

    Cafe standards don’t work as near as well as the marketplace. Three dollar gas will push people to more efficient ways of getting around. Betcha four and five dollar gasoline in a year or two.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    Unfortunately, most owners of the super-sized SUVs are soccer moms applying their makeup or overweight suburban middle-aged former junior high football players gone badly to seed, waving a Big Gulp in one hand while screaming at the AM radio about immigrants or The Gays, Ron Paul or what have you. Brakes – and what’s ahead – is several items below what they’re focused on.

  31. Trai_Dep says:

    @Rusted: Unfortunately, there’s a lot of collateral damage that hits before the marketplace affects demand. Exporting an extra $2 TRILLION dollars/yr to Middle Eastern despots, a $600 MILLION/yr war in Iraq, all the wasted money from the households selling their Hummers at a loss before they get repossessed…

    And those are only pure, economic costs. Let alone the soft costs, such as particulates, pollution, road wear & tear, worse traffic, environmental damage, which are HUGELY expensive but difficult to track but are substantial.

    That’s why they were bad policy to begin with. Their true economic cost should have been factored in, and all the gov’t meddling stripped out of truck/SUV pricing. That’s the problem with the “free market” approach – in the real world, there are very few markets that are genuinely “free”.

    Had this been the case, then people that needed trucks/SUVs would buy and use them, which is fine. They’re needed, just not by everyone.

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    Oops, that’s two billion/year in extra money going to oil exporters this year.

    Oh, and a collapsing dollar. Add that little grenade to the collateral damage list as well.

  33. Logan26 says:


    All the CO2 in the air did not come just from US and Europe. Neither did the CO or SO2. In one major erruption, a valcano can release as much pollutents into the air as US does in 1 year. Mt. St. Helens releases daily roughly 10 tons or more of pollutents into the air and that is just 1 volcano. SO again, anyone who thinks it is just the human race needs their head examined.

    @Mr. Gunn:

    Nothing has been closed yet and as I stated before, the 9th liberal “we should all be hung” circuit court will be over ruled.


    mushes illeagals would be more like it and there would be nothing wrong with that in my mind. And here is nothing wrong with the policy as trucks should be allowed to have lower MPG ratings. They are made for a certain type of job. Dont blame the manufactures for low MPG trucks, blame the idiots who buy he damn things and never use them for what they were built for, working.

  34. ancientsociety says:

    @Logan26: “All the CO2 in the air did not come just from US and Europe. Neither did the CO or SO2. In one major erruption, a valcano can release as much pollutents into the air as US does in 1 year. Mt. St. Helens releases daily roughly 10 tons or more of pollutents into the air and that is just 1 volcano. SO again, anyone who thinks it is just the human race needs their head examined.”

    No one here (or any scientist) is saying that humans are the ONLY cause of global warming, just that we’re the MAJOR cause. Please read some of the current scientific literature on global warming, you might actually learn something….

    Also, How many Mt. St. Helens/Krakotoan/etc.-level volcanic eruptions are there every year? Since 1900, there’s only about 1-1.5 every 10 years, usually like clockwork. That’s a fairly miniscule amount of particulates/greenhouse gases on a fairly regular basis to account for the rapid upturn in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, esp. considering there has not been an upturn in volcanic activity in the past 200 years.

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    Yeah, the “we’ll never be 100% non-polluting so why bother trying” argument is akin to saying, “since we’ll never get crime down to 0%, I’m removing my front door”. Utter nonsense.

  36. Logan26 says:


    You say noone is blaming the human race and then turn around and dismis volcanic activity as a major contributor and rest the vast amount of the blame on the human race. I’m sorry, I dont buy it and I damn sure as hell dont buy the flawed, its the trendy thing to agree with findings of those who have it in there best interest to follow the liberal line of global warming or lose their funding/be stripped of their title. Id the world getting warmer? Sure, but I’m more inclined to believe its going thru a cycle then to blame things we have done.

  37. Logan26 says:


    Wanna help stop polluting big time? Wanna reduce the amount of Oil the US uses on a daily basis. Get congress to allow more Nuclear Power Plants to be built to replace those using Oil based products that use up over 1/2 the oil that is shipped into the US every day.

  38. ancientsociety says:

    “You say noone is blaming the human race…”

    No, what I said was no one was saying humans were the ONLY factor. Way to twist my words.

    “liberal line of global warming or lose their funding/be stripped of their title…”

    I was willing to debate your stance until you made this about partisan politics. You’ve proven that you’re simply one of those hardcore political sycophants with more misplaced zealotry than common sense.

    Guess what? The world is a bit more complex than trying to find the “liberal” or “conservative” agenda in everything.

  39. spinachdip says:

    @ancientsociety: As a great man once said, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

  40. Logan26 says:


    Kinda to argue my points when they are true. Countless people have lost there jobs as meteroligists because they didn’t buy into or tow the “Global Warming” line. Numbers of others have lost funding because they also didn’t cow tow and follow the “Global Warming” agenda or had the courage to challenge the findings of the “Global Warming” junk science. Everyone, including yourself seems to think it can’t be anything other than what it says.

  41. Namilia says:

    @RamV10: True, but it still unnerves me even though it is highly improbable that they will hit me.

    @Logan26: This map by a top meteorologist and climatologist basically backs up your cycle idea..[www.longrangeweather.com]
    I believe that the reason that the most recent swing as shown on the graph is that way because we’ve only monitored global temperatures for a relatively short time. I could be wrong, though.

  42. Trai_Dep says:

    @Logan26: Sure. I’ll do that as soon as you volunteer to house the 3 million tons of spent nuclear waste (that will continue to be toxic beyond human imagining for 3,000,000 times as long as homo sapiens learned to write) in your backyard.
    And your kids’ backyard. And your grandkids’ backyard. And your great-grandkids’ backyard. And your great-great-grandkids’ backyard. And your great-great-great-grandkids’ backyard. And your great-great-great-great-grandkids’ backyard. And your great-great-great-great-great-grandkids’ backyard. And your great-great-great-great-great-great-grandkids’ backyard. And your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandkids’ backyard.

    Not a perfect solution, since we’ll need to find some suckers in Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia. But it’s a start!

    Thanks, Logan!

  43. Trai_Dep says:

    @Logan26: (countless lost jobs)

    And I’m sure many cartographers lost their jobs when they insisted the world was flat after a general consensus was reached that it was, in fact, round.

    The glory of the Scientific Method is, adapt or die. Guess who didn’t adapt?

  44. ancientsociety says:


    As soon as a Republican administration stops censoring scientific climate data on tests done by government agencies that don’t jive with its “global-warming-is-a-liberal-conspiracy” agenda (as the Bush admin has done since it entered office), only then can you start talking about “liberal” bias.


  45. Logan26 says:


    There is nothing wrong with the way things are stored today, and I would have no issue if they got the rights to put the stuff 3000ft below the ground near where I live. By the way, hows it feel to be a NIMBY and the main cause behind over 50% of the electricity made today being that from Petrol based plants. You want us to reduce emmissions but are unwilling to do anything besides make vehicles run on alternate fuels or be hybrids.


    Or maybe they have people who dont buy into the junk science that everyone else has been brainwashed into believing. Yourself for example.

  46. CurbRunner says:

    Screw the global warming debate!

    The question is why are these so-called light trucks are allowed to pollute more than passenger cars? What’s so light weight about a 10,300 lb. Hummer?
    Why in the fuck should some overblown, gas guzzling, Yuppie pickup truck get a pollution break over my lighter weight, higher milage car?

  47. surewriting says:

    I personally can afford the gas prices as it is, so I ride my bicycle instead. Though people around where I live have yet to acclimate to having to share the road with their giant trucks that cant take a speedbump and a bicycle. I’ve been hit riding twice, and still live to tell the tale, astonishingly enough. Once by a white SUV, the other by a power-crazed station wagon.

  48. Trai_Dep says:

    Cur, yup, exactly. That’s the point. The law when made (and we were ignorant) was senseless and now it’s folly. Treat ’em as they are: fashion accessories with tires. For insecure people who aren’t particularly well-endowed.

    Logan – you really don’t have a scale of what is involved w/ half-lives. Bury-and-forget-it might work for a human life, but try looking at things at the geologic scale. It should give you pause. Rather, it’d give any thinking person pause.

  49. adg00 says:

    Sorry if mentioned before, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has the most overturned rulings because, out of all the courts of appeal, it takes in the most cases – Its percentage of rulings overturned are inline with the rest of them.


    But, by all means, let’s not let facts intrude our nice little anti-responsibility bubble. I mean, China has shitty (or weakly enforced) labor and manufacturing laws so we should follow suit – Why should they have such an unfair advantage?!?!?!

    Um, people, how sad is it that you let China’s lack of responsibility dictate US policy? Why don’t we just go ahead and hand over the government to them since we’ve decided that we’re not going to sacrifice the easy way for the right way until they do.

  50. Lurker64 says:

    If they really want to cut down on the pollution cars create the Feds should mandate all states perform emissions testing. You car should not pollute more than it did when built. The poorly tuned, oil burning wrecks that are all over our nations roads spew more pollution in a month than all the new cars sold today produce in a year. Soon we will all be living under Calif. Emissions standards the way it is going anyhow.

    I know it will tick off people, but the only way to really cut emissions is adopt the Japanese plan. 3 years or 60 K and you have to junk it.

    Imagine a world with no classic cars, that would suck

  51. Logan26 says:


    Actually I do have a good understanding of half-life and it doesn’t bother me at all that it litteraly would take forever to render itself inert. I have no issue with the storage and disposal of the by products of Nuclear power waste so long as hose who do it exceed the standard when doing, which good companies do, those that dont, and there have been a few in the past, dont stay in business. I’m so glad you want us to use alternate fuels just so long as it doesn’t affect you watching TV, having hot water, heat or light in your house. The best place for use to reduce our dependency on oil is to start with electrical power plants which use over half the oil imported to the US every day. And power plants dont have the same emmission standard(they are less stringent and allowed to pollute more) as the vehicles we all drive. So go ahead, keep being a NIMBY, hopefully, we’ll one day have a congress who will be smart and use some of the closed military bases in the middle of nowhere and allow them to be used by companies who wish to build a nuclear power plant to lessen our dependency and use of oil.

    And your comment on the trucks, you are wrong in your conclusion. All trucks, unless they run on deasel, get the same emmissions as you passenger car. They just dont get the same milage. Hell some trucks actually are lower in the emmissions department then alot of cars on the road.

  52. Logan26 says:

    A link for those to look over who think Global Warming isn’t some liberal nut job scam.


  53. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Logan26: Being highly opinionated and extremely ignorant are not two things that go well together.

    Let’s start with this one:

    …electrical power plants which use over half the oil imported to the US every day.

    Well, according to the US Department of Energy petroleum liquids (aka: oil) account for 0.01% of fuel inputs for electrical generation. That means your assertion of “half” is off by a factor of about 5000. Refer to the table in section 1.1 and do the math yourself if you care to.


    All trucks, unless they run on deasel, get the same emmissions as you passenger car. They just dont get the same milage. Hell some trucks actually are lower in the emmissions department then alot of cars on the road.

    Follow with me here: One car and one truck emit the same amount of pollutants per gallon of gasoline used. Assume the car gets gas mileage X, and a truck gets mileage of 0.75X. Ergo, for the same distance traveled the truck has emissions 1.33X greater than the car; or 33% more. Get it? You can have the same emissions per unit, but if you burn more units, you create more pollution.

  54. JiminyChristmas says:

    A link for those who think global warming is some liberal nutjob scam:

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    The IPCC categorically states that global warming is occurring and is caused by human activity. This statement has been ratified by representatives from over 130 countries, including the United States. Likewise, the conclusions of the IPCC are based on the peer-reviewed research and analysis of over 1200 scientists and analysts.

    I’ll take their opinion over that of the few dozen fringe elements and tv weathermen represented at the site you link to.

  55. Her Grace says:

    And I think we can throw in [realclimate.org], too. Yay for actual science instead of pseudoskepticism.

  56. Sian says:

    Please close the light truck loophole! It’s only encouraged abuse and SUV bloat over the last 20 years.

  57. Buran says:

    @DallasDMD: Not only that, but lots of published peer-reviewed research proving that the above statement is BS?

  58. JanetCarol says:

    Have not heard many people say this – I guess most people only care if it is going to directly affect them in some catastrophic way.

    Even if global warming did not exist, we should still be doing all we can not to destroy our planet.

  59. Skiffer says:

    @trai_dep: The half life of transuranics may be +10,000 yrs, but heavy metals such as the arsenic and mercury spewed into the air from fossil fuel plants is forever.

    I once did a calculation that showed that if you took ALL the spent nuclear fuel up to this point in the U.S., and stacked it side-by-side in an area the size of a football field, it would only be 3-4 feet high.

    Doesn’t seem like that much waste for 50+ years of power, does it?

  60. Skiffer says:

    @Skiffer: Another of my favorite stats:

    A coal plant releases more radiation into the atmosphere annually than a nuclear plant (due to natural uranium in the coal).

  61. Skiffer says:

    @JiminyChristmas: I won’t pretend to know the real numbers, but your evidence is flawed:

    That 0.01% of oil used for electrical generation could very well be 50% of the imported oil – you’re comparing two different numbers.

  62. Trai_Dep says:

    (see, since we’ll never get the crime rate down to zero, I’m removing my front door)

    And, since we’re discussing football analogies, how many people would a football-sized lump of spent uranium poison when it leaks into a reservoir or the Colorado River? A city?

    That Russian reporter that was poisoned a few months back with isotopes died a horrible, wasting death because of micrograms of the stuff. But nice try at shifting perceptions thru deceitful half-truths. Really.

  63. Skiffer says:

    @trai_dep: Deceitful half-truths? Never heard basic verifiable scientific facts labeled that…

    All I did was point out the misconception some people have between the weight and volume of nuclear waste (i.e., uranium is really really dense).

    No one said nuclear waste isn’t harmful, just that the waste from fossil plants is also harmful (think, football-shaped lump of mercury or lead).

    But the nuclear industry practices something that none of the fossil plants do – stewardship. They manage their waste. Sure, the fossil plants have to regulate SOX/NOX emissions, but there’s a lot more that they don’t have to regulate (beyond just CO2), and no one realizes that.

    There’s nothing wrong with generating waste (Everyone poos). For nuclear power, you get a heck of a lot of energy, from domestic resources, and all the waste is in a small containable volume.

    Even animals know to shit in the corner…

  64. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Skiffer: Right you are. Unlike certain right-wing commenters here, I will do my best to correct the error.

    According to the EIA the US imports 3.7 billion barrels of oil per year.

    Here, they state that 310,000 barrels of oil are used per day for electrical generation, which translates to 113.2 million barrels per year.

    So, divide 113.2million by 3.7billion and you get 0.03, or 3%. Ergo, our climate change denier is off by a factor of only about 17, rather than 50.

  65. mac-phisto says:

    @Skiffer: i’m not sure where your data comes from, but i don’t think it’s very accurate. perhaps all the spent fuel would fill that area, but there is much, much more waste to account for. here’s the super-short list: [www.nrc.gov] (click links on LLW, HLW, & uranium mill tailings to get an idea of what each category contains).

    But the nuclear industry practices something that none of the fossil plants do – stewardship. They manage their waste.

    i challenge you to investigate just one site – the savannah river project. i know a few individuals that worked down there at the beginning of the cleanup, when waste was literally just dumped on the ground (i believe the term is “open containment” – haha!). perhaps there would have been just a few tons of waste had it been properly managed the first time, though it’s doubtful considering that site had been producing & utilizing heavy water for our weapons program for almost 50 years.

    now, i know you’re gonna try to say something along the lines of our nuclear fuel program is separate from our nuclear weapons program, but i think we’re all intelligent enough to realize that’s a red herring. if it were even remotely true, we would have retrofitted our reactors for the PUREX process 20 years ago to generate more power from less fuel & produce extremely less toxic waste (but then we couldn’t have stockpiled >30,000 warheads). oh yeah, that & weapons-producing facilities (like savannah) are managed by the DOE.

  66. Skiffer says:

    @mac-phisto: I’m having some trouble understanding what exactly your arguing points are…

    My original response was to Trai_Deeps comment:

    Sure. I’ll do that as soon as you volunteer to house the 3 million tons of spent nuclear waste (that will continue to be toxic beyond human imagining for 3,000,000 times as long as homo sapiens learned to write) in your backyard.

    As such, yes – I was only pointing out the volume/weight difference for high level waste – and arguing that the “3 million tons” of “spent nuclear waste” wasn’t really that much volume.

    The calculation in my original white paper was roughly:

    50,000 metric tons of spent fuel * 19 g/cm^3 (uranium density) = 209272 ft^3
    20972 ft^3 / (120 * 60 yards^2) => 3.23 ft high

    It seems my former employer revised the calculation to account for actual fuel assemblies (instead of assuming it was pure uranium), before providing it to the NEI. It seems the final number is “a football field 6 yards deep”:


    Still, I consider being off by a factor of 7.4 to still be accurate enough for a blog post…especially when you have people using “3 million tons” when “50,000 tons” is more appropriate.

    As for the Savannah river site, all I can offer is that is not the status quo at your typical nuclear power plant. If Savannah’s open containments were used for low level waste, that isn’t too bad – most low level waste is either buried in (specially designated) landfills or incinerated. There is a much larger volume of low-level waste generated every year (adding roughly 2 ft/year to our football field)…but it’s typically only radioactive for a century or less, which isn’t that bad, again, considering the infinite half lives of the heavy metals released from fossil plants.

  67. Trai_Dep says:

    @Skiffer: the deceitful truthiness part is suggesting the problem with energy waste is bulk, and insinuating that since the total direct waste (apart from equally harmful indirect waste, as Macphisto aptly points out), which containing shockingly low mass, is absurdly toxic at miniscule levels for time scales that are barely conceivable. Par for the course, but still…

    Back to the point, I’m genuinely at a loss to explain how people – supposedly ones that care about their kids, nephews, nieces, etc. – can play semantic games with rhetorical flourish over matters which will literally make their children’s lives barely worth living. What do they say to them? “Tee hee – polar bears – all extinct. Sorry, hon. But wasn’t it a giggle delaying Global Warming for a decade?”

    No wonder their children grow up to hate them so.

  68. QuiteSpunky says:

    I think those concerned with the environment should reconsider nuclear power, since it’s perhaps the only viable fuel source that doesn’t releases greenhouse gases. Awhile ago I heard Patrick Moore, the founder of Greenpeace, talking on the radio about how he supported it. He pointed out that today’s reactors are of a far better design than yesteryear, making a meltdown highly unlikely, and that it was the association with nuclear weapons that turned a lot of environmentalists off in the first place. I’m far from a supporter of nuclear weapons, but if what MAC-PHISTO says is true (that over 30,000 warheads are already stockpiled) then building more nuclear plants now probably won’t make a difference in the number of nuclear weapons.

  69. Skiffer says:

    @trai_dep: Sorry, Logan26’s “global warming isn’t real” comments got mixed up with his “we should build more nuclear plants” comments…

    I definitely agree that global warming is real and we need to do something about it – I’m arguing that I think what we need to do is build more nuclear plants.

    And I never argued, or tried to hide, how toxic nuclear waste was – I just pointed out that it’s a much smaller volume (not mass) than most people realize – which makes it easier to contain vs. fossil plant waste.

    There’s some good stats here on C02 emissions prevented due to nuclear power:

    I wish wind/solar/hydro were viable options for non-CO2 power, but the truth is we can’t implement those on the scales needed for the bulk of our electricity generation. (You’d need around 1,000 wind turbines for each nuclear reactor, with the wind blowing full-time).

  70. Trai_Dep says:

    Skiffer –

    I totally agree that we have some very difficult choices to make. It’s not as though there’s a magic bullet we can simply choose to continue going like we are. I tend to lean towards conservation/lifestyle/expectation changes, then work outward from there. But even that is only a dent. And that’s only accounting for the US.

    I also like how you’re presenting things in an open way. Sorry if I reacted poorly (heh, hackles raised by previous commentators, my bad).

  71. mac-phisto says:

    @Skiffer: i was simply arguing that the idea that nuclear waste takes up a little more than an acre (even 6 yards deep using your 2nd calculation), is inaccurate. it doesn’t take into account other byproducts of the generation. for example, your link simply defines HLW as spent uranium fuel. what of the uranium, thorium, radium & plutonium that are byproducts of the mining, milling & enrichment processes? or the solid waste that arises from the process of decommissioning a reactor? these are not considered spent fuel (& are not addressed by the NEI page, yet in many cases they are classified by the IAEA as HLW.

    let’s talk about total cost here. nuclear power has its place, but imo, the future holds much more promising sources of fuel. they may not contain such high energy as fission ( i don’t think either of us will be alive for the advent of cold fusion – if it’s ever realized), but couple low-level power generation on a massive scale with a collective reduction in wasted energy & i think we’ll find a way to make it work.

    think forward -> don’t produce more; waste less.

    even though we’ve strayed a bit, i think overall this has been a pretty great discussion. nuclear’s definitely on the table & people can certainly take issue with fossil fuel power plants as much as vehicle fuel standards – the energy cos. have been dodging their responsibility for pollution for decades. & in the end, i don’t think global warming is even the issue…it’s reducing our impact on our environment to make the world more liveable for more people. at least, that’s what i think.

  72. Trai_Dep says:

    One of the reasons why the nuke industry has gotten a past is that they use “costs” that don’t account for externalities, such as how to store something that is mind-blowingly toxic that even if it merely touches something else, that thing is toxic too. And remains mind-blowingly toxic for not one, two or three times a human lifetime, or even ten times that. But for a healthy multiple of the entire time since humanity learned to write. That’s freaky. And beyond our scale of reference to reliably trust viable solutions to emerge.

    Another thing is that, since the DOE runs much of these places, and Der Homeland Security the rest, any malfeasance is automatically classified. And spills, leakages, cost overages part of “our” national security.

    I’m sure that if Detroit had the same advantages, SUVs would have official MPG ratings far exceeding imports. Since they’d run off of puppy-breaths, unicorn eyelashes and other wholesome things.