The Hill Editors - 07/23/13 12:00 AM EDT
The Environmental Protection Agency will be at the center of several debates this week on Capitol Hill.
On Monday, House Republicans unveiled their plan to slash the EPA’s budget by 34 percent in fiscal 2014. The budget blueprint would also block federal rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants.
The lower chamber has also put two energy bills on the floor agenda this week.
Rep. David McKinley’s (R-W.Va.) measure challenges the EPA’s decision to label coal ash as a hazardous material. The bipartisan bill — backed by many Republicans and Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) — cleared the Energy and Commerce panel 31-16.
Rep. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) legislation, the Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013, calls for more stringent cost-benefit analyses of pricey regulations. That bill passed the Energy panel along party lines, 25-18.
Last week, the Senate, as part of the deal to avert the “nuclear option,” approved Gina McCarthy as head of the EPA. She will be very busy.
President Obama, whose legislative effort on climate change fell short in 2009 and 2010, is now tackling the thorny issue through administrative actions.
Proponents of the president’s climate plan will fight to defeat the GOP’s effort to gut the EPA’s funding levels.
But there are some Democrats, especially centrists who are up for reelection in 2014, who are wary of how active the EPA will be over the next several years.
Congressional Republicans usually schedule votes on energy when gas prices are rising, as they are now.
Last week, an official with AAA told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that motorists shouldn’t expect gasoline to ever fall below $3 a gallon.
That’s one of the many reasons energy and the EPA will be hot-button topics for years to come
Look at the massive amount of shares sold short. The only way to close out a short position is to buy the stock. Any mildly good news, like increased government funding, can have a disproportionate effect on share price. We just finished a short squeeze, but USEC has had multiple short squeezes in the past. Last year the shares rallied from $3 to $30 on genuine good news. Recent news has been only mildly positive.
The Environmental Protection Agency is in the early stages of revising the federal regulations for radiation safety at nuclear plants originally written in 1977.
An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the agency's website initiated the public process for updating 40 CFR part 190, “Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations.” Enforced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, these apply to both power plants and fuel cycle operations. Under current limits, radiation measured outside such facilities barely registers above background levels. It's widely noted among nuclear power supporters that the radiation exposure among people who live near a coal plant exceeds the federal limits that would apply to a reactor.
"These standards were the earliest radiation rules developed by EPA and are based on nuclear power technology and the understanding of radiation biology current at that time," the EPA wrote. While it could choose to leave existing standards in place, the agency will also consider potential changes to incorporate advances in health physics and biology. The EPA is seeking public comments through Aug. 3 on exposure limits, dose calculations, new fuel cycle technologies and other related topics.
Naked shorting is illegal. If they got burnt, I have no sympathy and I hope the SEC looks into it.
I feel somewhat bad for the people who bought USU during the squeeze thinking it would go to twenty. On the other hand, they say education is always expensive.
I suspect we have a new crop of short sellers then those who were short a month ago. Any short who lived through last year's short squeeze is probably thinking this one wasn't so bad. Last year remains the record holder.
Well, that was fun. It went higher and lasted longer than I thought, but with the squeeze mostly over, I think the stock will be hunting for a new "fair value" price. I hope it can stay around $5 until the next real news.
When they update the "short interest" figures it will be very interesting to see how many people are still willing to short a stock capable of these types of price movements.
Maybe the Energy Secretary will throw USEC a bone and approve the loan guarantee and we can get another squeeze.
A 6.8-magnitude earthquake has hit Japan's northern coast near the nuclear power plant crippled in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan's Meteorological Agency says the quake struck early Saturday 6 miles below the sea surface off the coast of Fukushima, northeast of Tokyo.The agency issued tsunami advisory along the Japanese northern coast.
Public broadcaster NHK says the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is checking if there is any damage from the quake.
The 2011 disaster killed about 19,000 people. That disaster also triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima plant. More than 100,000 people are still unable to go home due to fear of radiation contamination from the plant.
"The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service," according to The Washington Times. Why not take this additional power? The IRS already garnishes everyone's paychecks for taxes, not to mention penalties. And we all know how trustworthy that agency is. The Times notes the case of a Wyoming homeowner who built a pond on his rural property and was fined $75,000 by the EPA. Now the agency is evidently claiming the power to take those sorts of fines right out of your paycheck, and to do so without review because it isn't a "significant regulatory action." We'll bet people on the "giving" end disagree.
If the Obama Administration can't or won't reign in its rogue agencies American democracy is threatened.
I heard about that on CNBC. They called the building where the company says it's headquartered and nobody there ever heard of it!
The federal loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects is officially back in business.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced Thursday that the Energy Department is taking applications for up to $4 billion of federal loan guarantees for renewable and energy-efficiency projects. It's a restart of the federal program that garnered heavy Republican criticism for backing a handful of failed ventures, most notably the $535 million loan guarantee awarded to now-bankrupt solar panel-maker Solyndra.
Moniz, however, has doubled down on the loan guarantee portfolio -- Thursday's development builds on an earlier retooling of an alternative vehicle loan program that has $8 billion of debt authority remaining. Moniz has noted that losses have stayed far under the $10 billion Congress set aside for the loan portfolio, and has credited it with invigorating the clean technology industry.
"Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today's announcement will help build on and accelerate that success," he said.
House Republicans have already taken aim at the loan guarantee program through the budget process. The budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which the House passed in April, zeroed out funding for the effort.
"If you look at what we've done thus far with all the money that came out of the stimulus bill that we spent on so-called alternative energy and green energy, it was a complete disaster. We have nothing to show for all of that," Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said in a recent interview. "When you look at the number of companies, I lost track of how many companies have now gone bankrupt, taking the taxpayers' money with them."
Old news. Barron's is referring to the USEC press release which caused an initial 9% pop in the stock before the short squeeze took hold.
Mexico City (AFP) - The theft of a vehicle in Mexico containing a potentially deadly radioactive material briefly raised alarm Friday -- but the container was found with no leak or harm to the population.
The truck, which was transporting deadly iridium-192, a radioactive substance used in making some industrial products, had been stolen Thursday, federal civil defense officials said.
The substance "can be dangerous for human health if removed from its container," according to an official statement cautioning that the material could be lethal even if handled for only a brief time.
The truck was found shortly after it disappeared, but the radioactive material remained missing, National Civil Protection Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente posted on his Twitter account.
Puente confirmed a few hours later that the radioactive material had also been located.
The container "was not violated, it contains the material, which was measured," he added in an interview with Milenio television.
"As it wasn't manipulated, there was surely no risk to people," Puente said.
The theft in Mexico state had prompted officials to issue an alert throughout the capital region and in neighboring states.
Obama asks China, India to stop using coal
Coal may have played an integral role in turning the U.S. into the world’s top economic superpower, but President Obama is actively pushing China, India and other emerging economies to ignore the fuel that powered the Industrial Revolution and instead embrace renewable sources favored by those on the political left.
As part of his passionate push on climate change, the president recently implored developing countries to “leapfrog” old energy sources, which are the primary drivers of carbon emissions. So far, however, there’s little evidence those countries intend to listen to Mr. Obama, with China’s coal consumption, for example, skyrocketing and projected to keep growing for the foreseeable future. The country now accounts for nearly 50 percent of all global coal consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Some energy analysts say that expecting the president’s sermon — in which he urges nations to now do as we say, not as we did for more than a century — to dramatically alter the worldwide energy landscape is a glaring example of the “dream world” that Mr. Obama and his backers in the environmental movement call home.
Coal, the most carbon-intensive of the fossil fuels, accounts for 70 percent of energy used in China today and is responsible for about three quarters of electricity generation.
•In just 5 years, from 2005 through 2009, China added the equivalent of the entire U.S. fleet of coal-fired power plants, or 510 new 600-megawatt coal plants.
•From 2010 through 2013, it added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. again.
•At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added roughly two 600-megawatt coal plants a week, for 7 straight years.
•And according to U.S. government projections, China will add yet another U.S. worth of coal plants over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for 10 years.
Laser-sparked fusion power passes key milestone
The dream of a completely clean, high powered and almost limitless renewable energy source is getting closer. Nuclear Fusion is the process by which atoms fusion power are compressed to such a degree that their nuclei fuse, releasing a huge amount of energy. Essentially it is the opposite of current Nuclear Power, based on fission whereby large nuclei are torn apart to release energy. This is the process which happens in stars, turning Hydrogen into the heavier Helium, and all other natural elements.
The National Ignition Facility in California began experimenting in 2009 to slow progress. They are using lasers and X-rays to compress a fuel pellet with a frozen Hydrogen Isotope, but it takes significantly more energy to start the fusion reaction than the process actually produced, making it currently ineffective as a fuel source.
However, an article in Nature this week confirmed that a milestone had been passed, whereby of the amount of energy actually delivered to the pellet, the reaction released a surplus of energy. The next step is to improve the efficiency of how the lasers deliver energy to the pellet. However, this is still a long way away, perhaps decades, but once that has been refined, mankind will essentially be able to build miniature stars to produce nearly unlimited energy.
According to The Economist:
“The Chinese Academy of Sciences claims the country now has “the world’s largest national effort on thorium”, employing a team of 430 scientists and engineers, a number planned to rise to 750 by 2015. This team, moreover, is headed by Jiang Mianheng, an engineering graduate of Drexel University in the United States who is the son of China’s former leader, Jiang Zemin (himself an engineer). Some may question whether Mr Jiang got his job strictly on merit. His appointment, though, does suggest the project has political clout. The team plan to fire up a prototype thorium reactor in 2015. Like India’s, this will use solid fuel. But by 2017 the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics expects to have one that uses a trickier but better fuel, molten thorium fluoride.”
Easy to Mine and Refine
Thorium is cheaper and easier to refine that uranium or plutonium.
Only 0.7% of natural uranium is the fissionable isotope 235U. The rest is 238U, which is heavier due to three more neutrons and does not undergo fission because of the stability these neutrons bring. This is why uranium has to be enriched by the process of centrifugation.
Plutonium is made by bombarding 238U with neutrons in a manner similar to the conversion of thorium into 233U. Thorium, on the other hand, only has to be extracted from its ore, which, as we noted above, is plentiful and near the surface.
On a side note, you do need a bit of uranium or plutonium to start the fission for a thorium-based nuclear power plant, but once started, it will continue until the fuel is used up.
Another upside to thorium is that thorium reactors can run for years, while uranium reactors must be shut down every 18 months to replace fuel rods. Shutdowns cost money.
Assuming the short squeeze is over (we'll know on Monday) the magnitude was not as big as the one last year but the volume was amazingly huge. I wonder what accounts for that? Institutional ownership (the so-called smart money) has declined by a huge amount. Are all remaining shares in the hands of speculators?
Even today share volume traded was twice what it was at the peak of last years short squeeze and ten times normal, even though the markets closed early before the three day weekend.
I notice the "Mother of All Short Squeezes" began in early July 2013, when the stock moved from $3.25 to $29.02. It was also a very rare multi-day short squeeze. Volume at the peak was 3,869,000 in one day. That short squeeze actually lasted ten days. We're in day 2 of the short squeeze with 26,529,000 THAT'S ONE HUNDRED TIMES NORMAL VOLUME!!!
I don't think USU will hit $29, but I didn't think it would get this high either, so I won't be making a prediction.
It will be fun to watch tomorrow.
Congrats to all longs who bought at least a week ago!
They don't last long. On the other hand a stock as thinly traded as USU can have an explosive move on mildly good news. Unless there is news out there that hasn't gone public, I don't think the last press release can keep the stock at $5+.
I would never short this particular stock and I feel bad for anybody who gets a margin call from their broker, but those are the risks you take.
This may move the stock///
On June 27, 2014, USEC Inc. ("USEC" or the "Company") entered into Amendment No.
003 ("Amendment No. 003") to the agreement dated May 1, 2014 with UT-Battelle, LLC, as operator of Oak Ridge National Laboratory ("ORNL"), for continued research, development and demonstration of the American Centrifuge technology in furtherance of the U.S. Department of Energy's ("DOE") national security objectives (the "American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations Agreement" or "ACTDO Agreement"). Amendment No. 003 amends the ACTDO Agreement to provide for additional funds of approximately $2.5 million, bringing total funding to approximately $16 million. The other terms and conditions of the ACTDO Agreement were not changed by the Amendment.
The ACTDO Agreement provides for continued cascade operations, the continuation of core American Centrifuge research and technology activities, and the furnishing of related reports to ORNL. The agreement is a firm fixed price contract with a total price of approximately $33.7 million for the period from May 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014. The agreement provides for payments of approximately $6.7 million per month and is incrementally funded. Funds currently allocated to the ACTDO Agreement are expected to cover the work to be performed through July 11, 2014. The agreement also provides ORNL with two options to extend the agreement by six months each. Each option is priced at approximately $41.7 million. ORNL may exercise its option by providing notice 60 days prior to the end of the term of the agreement. The total price of the contract including options is approximately $117 million.
After peaking briefly around 60 million barrels per day in the mid-1970s, global oil production resumed its upward march. And now it’s firmly above 90 million barrels per day, according to the latest data from Energy Intelligence Group.
Here are the two major reasons Hubbert’s Peak Oil theory breaks apart when put into practice…
First off, a peak in production doesn't mean a peak in availability. In other words, even if production spikes and tapers off, it’s not an indication that oil’s running out.
Second, Hubbert’s theory ignores “unconventional” fossil fuel sources like tar sands, heavy oils and shale oil. They weren’t easily accessible back in his day, hence they couldn’t be considered affordable and/or available. Fair enough.
Fast-forward to today, though, and Peak Oil adherents still hold onto Hubbert’s idea. They ignore, or grossly discount, the impact of unconventional sources on availability.
Yet five decades’ worth of technological advancement has made many of these sources very accessible – and much more affordable. And vast amounts of oil have been discovered in these unconventional sources.
The end result? As my colleague, Matthew Weinschenk, said back in June, “New developments have rendered Hubbert’s curve ineffective, or at least delayed it by many decades.”
I’ll go a step further and declare it useless.
So what about America’s prospects for energy independence?
They’re improving. The biggest impediment to energy independence is President Obama's religious belief in Global Warming, resulting in the worst energy policies in our lifetime. In two more years, we may begin to see real progress and the economy will benefit.
GE is no "friend of USEC", but it may end up buying USEC's assets post-bankruptcy. Currently they are working on Silex which may-or-may-not work. If it doesn't work, USEC's ACP is the next-best enrichment technology. GE can just put off announcing that Silex doesn't work until USEC's ACP is selling for pennies on the dollar. Nobody else will buy the ACP while Silex remains a threat to its future.
If GE does put in a bid, they may start a bidding war but GE can use its political influence to prohibit foreign bidders.