Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Issue for The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA): IS ANSTO’s NUCLEAR REACTOR VIABLE?

December 26, 2021

ISSUES FOR URGENT RESOLUTION BY ARPANSA
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the national regulator of all federal government aspects of nuclear and radiation sources and activities with the prime objective of protecting and keeping safe the nation’s population and environment from the harmful effects of radiation and other nuclear pursuits.

In its regulatory role ARPANSA will shortly have to address issues linked to nuclear waste and collectively are probably the most important and significant situation that has had to be dealt with by ARPANSA since its foundation over twenty years ago

ANSTO VIABILITY
The first is the need for ARPANSA to obtain an independent andcomprehensive assessment and report on the proposed increased
production of nuclear medicine by reactor generation by the AustralianmNuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at its Lucas Heights precinct

The reason behind this is that ANSTO is relying on its production of nuclear medicine as the mainstay of its activities and intends to become a major international producer and exporter of reactor generated nuclear medicine.

However this appears to be a misconceived and purposeless intention since nuclear medicine generated by reactor isotopes is in significant decline throughout the world due to its dangerous inherent state in being used in medical diagnosis and treatment

There is a world wide turning away by the medical profession from using reactor generated nuclear medicine because of its sever danger to patients coupled with its extremely high production costs.

More alternatives to this form of nuclear medicine are already extensively used as they are far safer and pose little risk to patients and additionally are much cheaper to produce with the involvement of major international drug companies

ARPANSA should seek the independent and expert assessment and review of the proposal and intentions by ANSTO as part of the licensing process for the increased storage facility for nuclear waste at Lucas Heights recently proposed by ANSTO

The assessment and review must include a financial examination to determine commercial and economic viability of the activities and proposals by ANSTO as this is an essential ingredient of the qualifications for the licence for the increased storage capacity

Since the suitably qualified experts for the assessment are not in Australia (as in any case this could create a conflict situation) ARPANSA will need to rely on and engage the highly qualified experts in this field available
from overseas

From the general tenor and prescriptions of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and applicable regulations – which are referred to as the enabling legislation – it seems quite certain that the commercial and financial aspects must be included by ARPANSAin considering an application for a licence

This should be even more imperative since the funds sought by ANSTO for the increased storage capability at Lucas Heights are being provided by the federal government which is in direct and colloquial terms taxpayers’ money and it is an obligation of the government to protect public revenue and expenditure

There has never been any publicly released information by ANSTO on the financial aspects of the production and sale of its nuclear medicine but as justification for the production ANSTO has relied on the emotivearguments that in their lifetime everyone has or will have a need for nuclear medicine.

ANSTO claims that it has given to the government a recently commissioned independent study into future nuclear medicine supply in Australia and this study should be given to ARPANSA with all supporting information for assistance for its assessment and review as part of the licensing process.

Europe to pay half for raising Russia’s dangerous sunken submarines, – while Russia builds new ones!

December 25, 2021

The sunken submarines K-27 and K-159 are the potential source of contamination of the Arctic, the riskiest ones,”

As Moscow this spring took the Chair of the Arctic Council, the need to lift dangerous nuclear materials from the seabed was highlighted as a priority.

No other places in the world’s oceans have more radioactive and nuclear waste than the Kara Sea.

Europe to pay half … it is a dilemma that international partners are providing financial support to lift old Cold War submarines from the ocean, while Russia gives priority to building new nuclear-powered submarines threatening the security landscape in northern Europe. 

EU willing to co-fund lifting of sunken nuclear subs from Arctic seabed  https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/nuclear-safety/2021/11/europe-offers-pay-russia-raise-sunken-nuclear-subs The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) has decided to start a technical review aimed to find a safe way to lift two Cold War submarines from the Barents- and Kara Seas. By Thomas Nilsen   

“We are proceeding now,” says a smiling Jari Vilén, Finland’s Ambassador for Barents and Northern Dimension.

Projects aimed to improve nuclear safety are some of the few successful arenas for cooperation still going strong between the European Union and Russia.

“In roughly two years time we will have the understanding on what and how it can be done, what kind of technology has to be used,” Vilén elaborates with reference to the two old Soviet submarines K-159 and K-27, both rusting on the Arctic seabed with highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel elements in their reactors.

(more…)

While the French government promises a nuclear revival, its supreme auditing body warns of serious obstacles to this.

December 25, 2021

The Court of Auditors (Cour des comptes) is the supreme body for auditing the use of public funds in France. It is independent from the Government and Parliament. It has financial jurisdiction and is in charge of auditing, issuing rulings and certifying the State and Social Security accounts, as well as contributing to the evaluation of public policies.

Nuclear revival: the Court of Auditors highlights many obstacles  https://reporterre.net/Relance-du-nucleaire-la-Cour-des-comptes-pointe-de-nombreux-obstacles 19 Nov 21,

In a report published this Thursday, November 18, the Court of Auditors questions our “ability to build a new fleet of [nuclear] reactors on time and at reasonable costs”. This, while “maintaining a 50% nuclear share in electricity production (…) beyond 2050 would require ultimately not having seven EPR or EPR2, but 25 to 30 in the assumption that the current reactors would almost all be shut down by this time, ”the text specifies. And that the composition of the new mix must be decided between 2022 and 2027, believes the institution, given the delays in the construction of new plants.

The report from the Court of Auditors

In this document entitled “The choices of electricity production: anticipating and controlling technological, technical and financial risks”, the wise men of the rue Cambon recall the slippages of cost – 19 billion euros instead of the 3 billion planned – and of deadlines – at least eleven years late – of the Flamanville EPR site. “The gaps are similar for the Olkiluoto RPE in Finland,” they said. In July 2020, the Court of Auditors detailed these troubles at length in a report dedicated to the EPR sector.

Several points of real concern are mentioned.

One is the locations of these new reactors, “as climate change can make the installation of sites along rivers more complicated”.

Management of spent fuel and waste: the construction of new reactors planned to operate until 2100 would in fact involve “either renewing the fuel reprocessing plant at La Hague (…) and creating new sites for ‘warehousing and then disposal of nuclear waste, or to propose another mode of management of spent nuclear fuel and waste which would be, in such a hypothesis, much more voluminous ”, we read in the note.

Another imperative element for the implementation of this half-nuclear mix emphasized by the Court is “the start of the Cigeo radioactive waste disposal project” – a project that is also marred by many uncertainties.

The cost, finally. “EDF will not be able to finance the construction of new nuclear reactors on its own when it has to bear the cost of extending the current fleet and of the“ post Fukushima ”safety investments, face the future costs of dismantling and the uncertain evolution regulated access to historic nuclear power since its inception in 2011, and that it is already indebted to the tune of 42 billion euros, ”warns the Court of Auditors. The project to build six new EPRs had been estimated at 46 billion euros by EDF and could be half-financed by the state, as reported by Reporterre. The cost of the investment has since been reassessed from 52-56 billion euros to 64 billion euros, according to a working document released at the end of October by the media Context.

The implementation of a 100% renewable energy mix also represents many challenges, nevertheless warns the Court of Auditors. It would thus be necessary to define modalities for storing energy (batteries, etc.) at an affordable cost and to overcome implementation difficulties linked to geography, regulations and even social acceptability.

In any case, “the holding of an informed democratic debate would encourage choices made with full knowledge of the facts and then followed up with lasting effects”, recommends the institution. This debate could take place in 2023 during the preparation of the next multiannual energy program, the roadmap for France’s energy policy.

The publication of this report comes at a time when debates rage on the definition of the electricity mix of the future. On October 25, the electricity transmission manager unveiled its six electricity scenarios for 2050: three give pride of place to the atom. Less than three weeks later, Emmanuel Macron promised the construction of new nuclear reactors in France during a televised address.

Terra Power’s Natrium nuclear reactor will be an economic lemon

December 25, 2021

This host of factors makes it reasonably certain that the Natrium will not be economically competitive.

In other words, even if has no technical problems, it will be an economic lemon.


Ramana, Makhijani: Look before you leap on nuclear   
https://trib.com/opinion/columns/ramana-makhijani-look-before-you-leap-on-nuclear/article_4508639b-d7e6-50df-b305-07c929de40ed.html, Oct 16, 2021  

The Cowboy State is weighing plans to host a multi-billion dollar “demonstration” nuclear power plant — TerraPower’s Natrium reactor. The long history of similar nuclear reactors, dating back to 1951, indicates that Wyoming is likely to be left with a nuclear lemon on its hands.

The Natrium reactor design, which uses molten sodium as a coolant (water is used in most existing commercial nuclear reactors), is likely to be problematic. Sodium reacts violently with water and burns if exposed to air, a serious vulnerability. A sodium fire, within a few months of the reactor starting to generate power, led to Japan’s Monju [at left] demonstration reactor being shut down.

At 1,200 megawatts, the French Superphénix was the largest sodium-cooled reactor, designed to demonstrate commercial feasibility. Plagued by operational problems, including a major sodium leak, it was shut down in 1998 after 14 years, having operated at an average capacity of under 7 percent compared to the 80 to 90 percent required for commercial operation. Other sodium-cooled reactors have also experienced leaks, which are very difficult to prevent because of chemical interactions between sodium and the stainless steel used in various reactor components. Finally, sodium, being opaque, makes reactor maintenance and repairs notoriously difficult.

Sodium-cooled reactors can experience rapid and hard-to-control power surges. Under severe conditions, a runaway chain reaction can even result in an explosion. Such a runaway reaction was the central cause of the 1986 Chernobyl reactor explosion, though that was a reactor of a different design. Following Chernobyl, Germany’s Kalkar sodium-cooled reactor, about the same size as the proposed Natrium, was abandoned without ever being commissioned, though it was complete.

All these technical and safety challenges naturally drive up the costs of sodium-cooled reactors, making them significantly more expensive than conventional nuclear reactors. More than $100 billion, in today’s dollars, has been spent worldwide in the attempt to commercialize essentially this design and associated technologies, to no avail.

The Natrium design, being even more expensive than present-day reactors, will therefore be more expensive than practically every other form of electricity generation. The Wall Street firm, Lazard, estimates that electricity from new nuclear plants is several times more than the costs at utility-scale solar and wind power plants. Further, the difference has been increasing.

To this bleak picture, Terrapower has added another economically problematic feature: molten salt storage to allow its electric output to vary. Terrapower hopes this feature will help it integrate better into an electricity grid that has more variable electricity sources, notably wind and solar.

Molten salt storage would be novel in a nuclear reactor, but it is used in concentrating solar power projects, where it can cost an additional $2,000 per kilowatt of capacity. At that rate, it could add a billion dollars to the Natrium project.

This host of factors makes it reasonably certain that the Natrium will not be economically competitive. In other words, even if has no technical problems, it will be an economic lemon.

To top it all off, the proposed Wyoming TerraPower demonstration project depends on government funds. Last year, the Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million in initial taxpayer funding; this may increase $1.6 billion over seven years, “subject to the availability of future appropriations” and Terrapower coming up with matching funds.

Despite government support, private capital has recently abandoned a more traditional project, the mPower small modular reactor, resulting in its termination in 2017. And it was Congress that refused to appropriate more money for the sodium-cooled reactor proposed for Clinch River, Tennessee when its costs skyrocketed, thereby ending the project in 1983.

A much harder look at the facts is in order, lest Wyoming add to the total of many cancelled nuclear projects and abandoned construction sites. Of course, the Natrium lemon might be made into lemonade by converting it to an amusement park if it is never switched on, like the Kalkar reactor, now refashioned into Wunderland Kalkar, an amusement park in Germany, near the border with the Netherlands. For energy, the state might look to its natural heritage – its wind power potential is greater than the combined generation of all 94 operating U.S. nuclear reactors put together, which are on average, about three times the size of Natrium.

M. V. Ramana is Professor and Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and the Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia. Dr. Ramana holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Boston University.

Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley.

‘Profiteers of Armageddon’: Report Reveals Who Benefits From US ‘Nuclear Modernization’ Plan

December 25, 2021

While “a handful of prime contractors” are the initial recipients and main beneficiaries of public money spent on bombers, missiles, and submarines, “the funds trickle down to subcontractors” that often include other prominent companies. The report names firms such as Bechtel, General Dynamics, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.

Hartung directs attention to the millions of dollars in political activities by key contractors, writing that “while not all of this spending is devoted to lobbying on nuclear weapons programs, these expenditures are indicative of the political clout they can bring to bear on Congress as needed to sustain and expand the budgets for their nuclear weapons-related programs.”

They also spent $57.9 million on lobbying last year, employing 380 lobbyists, over two-thirds of whom “passed through the ‘revolving door’ from top positions in Congress, the Pentagon, and the Department of Energy to work for nuclear weapons contractors as executives or board members.”

And it should be noted that the revolving door swings both ways,” the report adds, noting that “three of the past five secretaries of defense worked as lobbyists or board members of major nuclear weapons contractors before taking up their positions in the Pentagon: James Mattis (General Dynamics); Mark Esper (Raytheon); and Lloyd Austin (Raytheon).”

Profiteers of Armageddon’: Report Reveals Who Benefits From US ‘Nuclear Modernization’ Plan, While taking aim at special interest lobbying and corporate profits that impede “sensible” policy, the author argues the “only way to be truly safe from nuclear weapons is to eliminate them altogether.”      https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/10/12/profiteers-armageddon-report-reveals-who-benefits-us-nuclear-modernization-plan

JESSICA CORBETT  A short list of contractors that pour large sums of money into campaign contributions, lobbying, and industry-friendly think tanks benefits from the U.S. government’s ongoing, decadeslong “nuclear modernization” plan worth up to $2 trillion, according to a report out Tuesday.

The issue brief—entitled Profiteers of Armageddon: Producers of the next generation of nuclear weapons—was authored by William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy, who also outlined his report in Inkstick.

Hartung details how the U.S. departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy (DOE) are ramping up a plan to build the next generation of nuclear-armed bombers, missiles, and submarines as well as warheads, and the beneficiaries are major contractors along with operators of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) nuclear weapons complex.

The brief notes the U.S. nuclear weapons budget has climbed in recent years to over $43 billion in the Biden administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022, and warns that “this figure will grow dramatically,” pointing to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate that parts of the Pentagon’s plan “will cost tens of billions each over the next decade, including $145 billion for ballistic missile submarines, $82 billion for the new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), and $53 billion for the new nuclear-armed bomber.”

“And the costs will not end there,” the report continues, noting that “the estimated lifetime cost of building and operating the new ICBM is $264 billion.”

While “a handful of prime contractors” are the initial recipients and main beneficiaries of public money spent on bombers, missiles, and submarines, “the funds trickle down to subcontractors” that often include other prominent companies. The report names firms such as Bechtel, General Dynamics, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.

Hartung directs attention to the millions of dollars in political activities by key contractors, writing that “while not all of this spending is devoted to lobbying on nuclear weapons programs, these expenditures are indicative of the political clout they can bring to bear on Congress as needed to sustain and expand the budgets for their nuclear weapons-related programs.”

From 2012 to 2020, campaign contributions from contractors mentioned in the brief topped $119 million, more than a quarter of which was in the 2020 cycle alone. They also spent $57.9 million on lobbying last year, employing 380 lobbyists, over two-thirds of whom “passed through the ‘revolving door’ from top positions in Congress, the Pentagon, and the Department of Energy to work for nuclear weapons contractors as executives or board members.”

And it should be noted that the revolving door swings both ways,” the report adds, noting that “three of the past five secretaries of defense worked as lobbyists or board members of major nuclear weapons contractors before taking up their positions in the Pentagon: James Mattis (General Dynamics); Mark Esper (Raytheon); and Lloyd Austin (Raytheon).”

The brief also pushes back against “routinely exaggerated” claims about job creation that both companies and lawmakers use to promote nuclear weapons programs, and points out that contractors pump millions into supporting think tanks that opine on relevant policy.

Continued lobbying for the modernization plan “ignores the fact that building a new generation of nuclear weapons at this time will make the world a more dangerous place and increase the risk of nuclear war while fueling the new arms race,” Hartung argues. “It’s long past time that we stopped allowing special interest lobbying and corporate profits stand in the way of a more sensible nuclear policy.”

While asserting that “the only way to be truly safe from nuclear weapons is to eliminate them altogether,” in line with a global treaty that states with such weapons continue to oppose, Hartung also highlights that “the organization Global Zero has outlined an alternative nuclear posture that would eliminate ICBMs, reduce the numbers of bombers and ballistic missile submarines, and implement a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons as part of a ‘deterrence-only’ strategy that would reduce the danger of a nuclear conflict.”

Global Zero CEO Derek Johnson welcomed Hartung’s brief in a tweet Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Calif.) led the reintroduction of legislation (S.1219/H.R. 2603) to establish that “it is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first,” but the bill has not advanced in Congress, despite pressure from progressive lawmakers and campaigners.

Peace Action of Wisconsin’s Pamela Richard said in August that while activists encourage the passage of Warren and Smith’s bill as well as a related one (S. 1148/H.R. 669) from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), “our long-term goal is total nuclear disarmament.” 

The nuclear industry is dying. Bitcoin to the rescue?

September 14, 2021

Some lawmakers have called for greater regulation of cryptocurrency, citing the enormous amount of resources required to produce it. “There are computers all over the world right now spitting out random numbers around the clock, in a competition to try to solve a useless puzzle and win the bitcoin reward,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said in June, calling for a crackdown on “environmentally wasteful cryptocurrencies.”

Zero-carbon [?] bitcoin? The owner of a Pennsylvania nuclear plant thinks it could strike gold

Talen Energy plans to build a $400 million bitcoin mine at its Pa. nuclear plant. “I think this is a great opportunity to prolong the life of a lot of nuclear plants.”

Could bitcoin mining be the salvation of the embattled nuclear energy industry in America?

The owners of several nuclear power plants, including two in Pennsylvania, have formed ventures with cryptocurrency companies to provide the electricity needed to run computer centers that “mine” bitcoin. Since nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases, [ except that the whole nuclear fuel chain DOES] the project’s investors say, the zero-carbon [ a lie] bitcoin would address climate concerns that have tarnished the energy-intensive cryptocurrency industry.

  Talen Energy, the owner of the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station near Berwick, Pa., announced this week that it has signed a deal with TeraWulf Inc., an Easton, Md. cryptocurrency mining firm, to build a giant bitcoin factory next to its twin reactors in northern Pennsylvania. The first phase of the venture, dubbed Nautilus Cryptomine, could cost up to $400 million.

Talen’s project could eventually use up to 300 megawatts — or 12% of Susquehanna’s 2,500 MW capacity. It’s the second bitcoin-mining venture in the last month that involves owners of Pennsylvania nuclear facilities.

Last month Energy Harbor Corp., the former power-generation subsidiary of First Energy Corp., announced it signed a five-year agreement to provide zero-carbon [nuclear is NOT zero-carbon] electricity to a new bitcoin mining center operated by Standard Power in Coshocton, Ohio. Energy Harbor owns two nuclear units in Ohio and the twin-unit Beaver Valley Power Station in Western Pennsylvania.

A nuclear fission start-up, Oklo, also announced last month it signed a 20-year deal with a bitcoin miner to supply it with power, though the company has not yet built a power plant.

In recent years, commercial nuclear operators have struggled to compete in competitive electricity markets against natural gas plants and upstart renewable sources such as wind and solar. Unfavorable market conditions have hastened the retirements of several single-unit reactors, such as Three Mile Island Unit 1 in Pennsylvania. Lawmakers in New Jersey, New York and Illinois have enacted nuclear bailouts, paid by electricity customers, to stave off early retirement for other plants.

The cryptocurrency deals would provide nuclear generators with reliable outlets for their power, and bitcoin miners with predictable sources of power at cheap prices, along with a zero-carbon [nuclear is NOT zero-carbon] cachet…….

The nuclear industry views the crypto craze not as a crutch but as a launching pad for expansion. “U.S. nuclear power plants are ready and able to supply miners with abundant, reliable carbon-free [ but nuclear is NOT carbon-free] power while also providing new business pathways for the nuclear developers and utilities, increasing their operating profits, and potentially accelerating the deployment of the next generation of reactors,” John Kotek, senior vice president of policy development and government affairs at Nuclear Energy Institute, said……

 Energy and cryptocurrency experts say several trends are shifting the market in favor of U.S. nuclear power producers. 

In May, Chinese regulators announced new measures to limit bitcoin mining in several regions that failed to meet Beijing’s energy-use targets. Bitcoin production levels have fallen since then, forcing bitcoin producers to relocate to places with low operating costs and cool climates to reduce the costs of cooling the bitcoin data centers. The state of Washington, which has lots of inexpensive hydroelectric power, has undergone a huge boom in bitcoin mining.

How mining is done

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer virtual currency, operating without a central authority, and which can be exchanged for traditional currency such as the U.S. dollar. It is the most successful of hundreds of attempts to create virtual money through the use of cryptography, the science of making and breaking codes — hence, they are called cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin mining is built around blockchain technology, and it involves generating a string of code that decrypts a collection of previously executed bitcoin transactions. Successful decryption is rewarded with a new bitcoin. The supply of bitcoins is limited to 21 million — nearly 90% have already been mined. So the remaining bitcoins become increasingly scarce and more difficult to extract

Data centers operated by bitcoin miners randomly generate code strings, called “hashes,” to solve the puzzle and earn new coins. Worldwide, miners on the bitcoin network generate more than 100 quintillion hashes per second — that’s 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 guesses per second, according to Blockchain.com. The first phase of the Nautilus project in Pennsylvania would generate five quintillion hashes per second.

Such guesswork requires muscular [doncha love that word ”muscular” when they mean ”huge”] computing power, robust internet connections, and lots of electricity. Smaller bitcoin miners have teamed up in consortiums to pool their computing power. Bigger players have built huge data centers devoted exclusively to producing lines of random code.

“Mining cryptocurrency is an international, profitable, and energy-intensive business,” ScottMadden a management consulting firm, said in a paper it published last year. Bitcoin mining consumes an estimated 0.5% of the electricity produced worldwide or about as much as the country of Greece. 

Some lawmakers have called for greater regulation of cryptocurrency, citing the enormous amount of resources required to produce it. “There are computers all over the world right now spitting out random numbers around the clock, in a competition to try to solve a useless puzzle and win the bitcoin reward,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said in June, calling for a crackdown on “environmentally wasteful cryptocurrencies.”


………. Unlike other crypto projects in which the power generator is an arms-length electricity supplier, the Nautilus Cryptomine is a 50-50 venture between Talen and TeraWulf. The project would be directly connected to the Susquehanna plant — “behind the meter,” in industry parlance — and would avoid any transmission costs from the grid…….

The cryptomine would be located inside a 200,000-square-foot building — about four football fields. The mining operation would be built on a data center campus that Talen is developing next to the Susquehanna plant……..

“As you look across the United States, and you look at kind of the challenges that are facing nuclear plants, I think this is a great opportunity to prolong the life of a lot of plants,” said Dustin Wertheimer, vice president and divisional chief financial officer of Talen Energy   https://www.inquirer.com/business/cryptocurrency-bitcoin-pennsylvania-nuclear-power-talen-susquehanna-20210806.html

Bitcoin’s electricity use is boundless. No wonder that Elon Musk etc now want nuclear power to fuel it.

September 14, 2021

Here’s what a modern massive Bitcoin mining operation in upstate New York looks like:

Greenidge Generation’s bitcoin mining operation at their power plant in New York State.

How Bitcoin is Heating This Lake and Warming the Planet more https://earthjustice.org/blog/2021-june/bitcoin-dirty-power?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_term=page&fbclid=IwAR30Z3V5q_FlRtyr1NnIZCQ6tU34tMs1AQUp8rgFRVGNTYaNoXl7I6Au8dg

Bitcoin is bringing dirty power plants out of retirement. Earthjustice is fighting this new trend in order to put an end to fossil fuels once and for all.By Ben Arnoldy | June 1, 2021 Seneca Lake in upstate New York is drawing attention to Bitcoin’s impact on the environment. A nearby Bitcoin mining plant is heating the lake waters — and the climate.

Bitcoin, the first and most famous cryptocurrency, is now burning through as much energy and pumping out as much greenhouse gas as entire nations.

Current estimates put the currency’s electricity usage on par with countries like the Netherlands. This is, shall we say, not helpful at a time when humanity is racing to switch to clean energy before we cook the planet.

In fact, Bitcoin’s energy demands are so high that the people who get rich from producing it want to pull dirty power plants out of retirement to power their operations. Earthjustice is urging regulators not to let that happen.

Bitcoins aren’t physical coins, so you might be asking why does a virtual currency require much energy?

The appeal of Bitcoin for some people is it allows them to trust no person, bank, or government. Bitcoin is entirely decentralized. But there needs to be some system to prevent fraudsters from making copies of the coins and trying to spend them twice.

To solve this, the system incentivizes many people rather than one trusted entity to devote computing power to validating transactions. The system is competitive, awarding new Bitcoins only to one “miner” who completes the validating and other tasks first, leading to an arms race of ever faster and more powerful computer rigs. While other cryptocurrencies use much less energy, Bitcoin’s particular solution to security without trust, it turns out, is extremely energy-intensive.

That monster requires a lot of energy to run the machines and to keep them from overheating. The cooling system for this rig uses cold water from Seneca Lake and discharges it back at temperatures reportedly as high as 98 degrees — with a permit to go even higher — harming trout and promoting algal blooms. For years, Bitcoin miners have sleuthed for places to set up shop where power is cheap and the climate cool, such as China’s Inner Mongolia or the hydro-abundant Pacific Northwest.

But the mining operation pictured above went next level. They own their own damn power plant:

Investors bought this plant in 2014. It was a fixer-upper. Mothballed power plants lying around for sale tend to be dirty fossil fuel plants.

The Greenidge Generation station in New York had been built in the 1930s as a coal-fired power plant. By 2011, there was not enough demand for its costly, dirty power and it was shut down. After not operating for several years, the new owners switched its fuel to dirty gas and re-started its operations, using the plant’s old pollution permits.

The plant struggled to find demand for its electricity, and the operators turned their attention instead to mining Bitcoin. Pollution started to skyrocket. In just one year, emissions of greenhouse gases increased ten-fold. The plant currently uses 19 MW of power, enough to power 14,500 homes if it weren’t mining Bitcoin. And it has plans to go to 55 MW and the capacity to go to 106 MW. At full capacity, the plant would blow past its current pollution permit — but that permit is up for renewal.

Earthjustice and the Sierra Club have sent a letter to regulators urging them not to allow the company, Greenidge Generation LLC, to expand the air permit and to take notice of the emerging trend of cryptocurrency miners taking over power plants and operating them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. At least one other plant in the region is planning to get in on the game, and there are nearly 30 plants in upstate New York alone with the potential to convert to full-time Bitcoin mining. A coal plant in Montana is also ramping back up for cryptocurrency mining.

“The aim of the letter to the New York Department of Conservation is to say this is not some random or isolated thing. Cryptocurrency is real and increasingly important, and dirty power plants are coming back from the dead,” says Earthjustice attorney Mandy DeRoche. “Greenidge just gave other retired, retiring, or peaking plants a roadmap of how to do it, how to recruit investors, how to go public on NASDAQ.”

Earthjustice has spent years fighting in public utility commissions around the country to ensure old, dirty power plants get pushed into retirement — and if replacement power is needed, steer clear of dirty gas in favor of clean energy. Our goal is to hasten the day when everything is powered with 100% clean energy.

New York state has a new climate law, and DeRoche says the commitments made in that law won’t be met if dirty power plants get resurrected and operate 24/7. That should spur legislators and regulators to clarify the regulatory gray zone that miners have exploited here with power generation that’s not sent to the grid.

There are many ways to tackle this issue, and we are exploring them,” says DeRoche. “One solution may be to require renewable generation for cryptocurrency mining, with an excess renewable generation requirement on top, so that the mining is not preventing renewables from going directly into the grid. We need that clean power on the grid as fast as possible to mitigate the unequal and most harmful impacts of climate change.”

The climate crisis is accelerating, and we have less than a decade to dramatically cut our carbon emissions if we hope to preserve a livable planet. Tell your members of Congress it’s time to build a sustainable and just future with the American Jobs Plan.

How the war industry captures government (extract from A People’s Guide to the War Industry )

June 17, 2021

A People’s Guide to the War Industry -2: Profits & Deception  Consortium News, May 26, 2021   Christian Sorensen ”…………….Capitalists running the war industry utilize a five-step strategy to capture government:

  • Pull retiring military officers into war corporations
  • Stack the deck by placing ex-industry officials in the Pentagon’s leadership
  • Finance congressional campaigns
  • Lobby creatively and expansively
  • Fund think tanks & corporate media

War corporations recruit retired high-ranking military officers. War corporations use these eager retirees to open doors, influence policy, and increase sales. Generals and admirals retire from the U.S. Armed Forces and then join war corporations where they set to work converting their knowledge (about the acquisition process, senior military and civilian leaders, long-term military policy, and how the Pentagon works) and connections into profit.

Corporate jobs for these retired officers include manager, vice president, lobbyist, consultant, and director. Only a small number of 3- and 4-star officers declines this systemic corruption. War corporations have plenty to pull from, as there are more generals and admirals in uniform today in 2021 than there were at the end of World War II. Mere issuance of a bulletin announcing the hiring of a former high-ranking general or admiral often leads to a boost in stock price.

U.S. military officers benefit professionally and financially from implementing MIC aggression. There is no downside for high-ranking officers who support nonstop war. They’ll soon retire with full benefits, and likely go work for a war corporation. Officers who make it to the highest military ranks are very good at conforming to the system.

These officers support nonstop wars of choice and broad military deployments, and defer to pro-war pretexts and jargon coming from industry think tanks and pressure groups. They judge military activity in terms of numbers (dollars spent, weapons purchased, bases active, troops deployed) instead of clear soldierly goals.

Many officers are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the needs of a war corporation and the needs of a professional uniformed military. These U.S. military officers don’t see war corporations; they see a total force in which military and industry work together. An officer who dissents in a forceful manner risks their career. As the MIC crafts pretexts to justify its own existence and expansion, officers who go against the system from the inside are isolated, shed, or spit out.

Reality is difficult to stomach: There is an absolute dearth of class consciousness and moral courage within the Pentagon. The upper ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces are rife with a caliber of officer predisposed to seek out profit and reward upon retirement.


Executives move smoothly from corporations to the Pentagon, particularly the sundry civilian offices (secretary, deputy secretary, and assistant deputy secretary). These men and women who run the Pentagon have been raised in an environment of profiteering; they are steeped in corporate thought; their allegiance is to corporate success. They bring with them their industry contacts and an exploitative ideology. They turn to corporate products when presented with a military problem. They benefit professionally and financially.

Industry executives, the most rapacious of the capitalist class, enter “public service” and influence programs and policies. This invariably boosts the profits of former industry employers, who, thenceforth, capture and direct more of the U.S. military establishment. (Such actions, profit invested to make more profit, is money functioning as capital.)

Giant corporations finance the campaigns of people running for congressional office. Those people, once in office, help out the corporations. Washington is so corrupt that they’ve basically legalized this process — they’ve legalized bribery. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that limits on election spending are unconstitutional; in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the Supreme Court distorted the First Amendment’s free speech clause, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political contributions; and in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014), the Supreme Court got rid of limits on the total number of political contributions one can give over a two-year period.

We are told that the Supreme Court defends liberty and provides a check against the executive and legislative branches, however, the function of the Court, as its rulings demonstrate, is to abet corporate authority and financial interest in line with what the Executive and Legislative branches pursue.

The war industry targets both houses of Congress, particularly elected officials on relevant committees (Armed Services, Appropriations, Intelligence, Foreign Relations). The war industry finances many political action committees, or PACs. These are tax-exempt organizations that aggregate donations to fund political campaigns or influence federal elections. Super PACs (a.k.a. independent expenditure-only committees) allow unlimited contributions. Funding congressional campaigns directly impacts the way U.S. elected officials vote.

Politicians and their war industry bosses are proficient at claiming the “defense” industry creates jobs. Take caution when a war corporation throws the word “jobs” around. Many of these jobs are part-time, temporary, or menial (e.g. painter, welder, roustabout), parsed out to an increasingly desperate workforce. Some are construction jobs that vanish in a year or so. Working-class jobs in the war industry are often in difficult conditions.

Industry jobs that pay very well typically require advanced degrees, which the majority of the population does not have. Furthermore, some jobs are non-U.S. jobs (e.g. microchips manufactured overseas). Other jobs are induced (e.g. the mom making less-than-minimum wage on a ridesharing app driving an industry executive from work to a pub, or the waiter at a St. Louis restaurant where a missile engineer dines). Industry inflates job tallies. The goal is to confine the congressional side of the MIC, which cites the inflated jobs numbers and goes along for the ride.

The claim that the “defense” industry brings jobs is a stale public relations ploy. It hides the truth: Spending on healthcare, education, or clean energy creates more jobs than spending on the military.

The war industry can inflate job numbers because there is no accountability coming from Washington: Capitol Hill is largely content letting Corporate America police itself. Readers are likely familiar with cases where corporations get to inspect their own product (e.g. the airline industry, the pork industry) instead of external government inspectors doing the job.

Corporations policing corporations is rampant in the war industry, like when the advertising agency GSD&M measures the effectiveness of its own efforts at recruiting working class youth into the military. Sometimes one corporation polices part of industry, like when Calibre Systems conducts “cost and economic analysis of major weapons system programs and associated acquisition/financial management policies and procedures.” ………  https://consortiumnews.com/2021/05/26/a-peoples-guide-to-the-war-industry-2-profits-deception/

A People’s Guide to the War Industry, by Christian Sorensen

June 17, 2021

“The main role of the federal government under capitalism is to maintain the capitalist economic system and set the general conditions by which large corporations and billionaires are able to accrue more and more profit.”

A People’s Guide to the War Industry, by Christian Sorensen — Rise Up Times A People’s Guide to the War Industry -2: Profits & Deception  https://consortiumnews.com/2021/05/26/a-peoples-guide-to-the-war-industry-2-profits-deception/May 26, 2021   Christian Sorensen maps out the global system of weapons mongering. Second in a series of five articles on the U.S. military-industrial-congressional complex.   By Christian Sorensen

Special to Consortium News   War corporations are spread across the United States. The top war industry hubs in the U.S. are Huntsville, Alabama; greater Boston; greater Tampa, Florida; the Dallas-Fort Worth region; southern California; and the corridor stretching from northeast Virginia, through Washington, to Baltimore (consistently home to the wealthiest counties in the country).

The U.S. war industry profits well through global supply chains, including setting up subsidiaries in allied capitalist countries and using those countries’ industrial bases to produce parts of a weapons platform (such as the costly, underperforming F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, parts of which are built in locations as diverse as Italy and Japan).

War corporations manage global chains by organizing, coordinating, and enforcing a hierarchical command structure upon disparate locations. Orders flow down the chain and capital flows up, allowing the corporation’s executives, and ultimately Wall Street — not workers who make the products — to harvest enormous amounts of wealth. This exacerbates inequality, not just in Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania, and Marietta, Georgia, but also Rochester, England, and Aire-sur-l’Adour, France — all locations where U.S. war products are made. War corporations paint these actions as “building lasting capacity” and other euphemisms.

A euphemism is a kinder, gentler term used in place of a direct, often more accurate one. The MIC employs euphemisms adeptly. Public relations gurus know the English language very well. Recall George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language:”

”In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible… Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

With the care of a sommelier, MIC propagandists select the perfect euphemisms to mask their activities and present death and destruction in comfortable terms. Getting rid of euphemism, pursuing an honest language, is one step toward achieving a system that benefits people and planet.

Globe-Spanning Installations

Military installations are avenues through which corporations route goods and services. Sometimes the U.S. military sets up an installation overseas with permission from the allied capitalist regime. Sometimes the ruling class orders the military to take the land by force. It stole land in Guam, compensating locals a paltry sum or nothing at all. It took the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It stole Vieques, Puerto Rico. It teamed up with the Danish government to remove the indigenous Inughuit to make way for Thule Air Base in northwest Greenland. And the Pentagon and State Department teamed up with the United Kingdom to remove Chagossians from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean in order to set up what is now called Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia.

Incredible corporate profit (e.g. base operations, ordnance, platforms, construction, fuel, maintenance) runs through each military installation. Most U.S. military bases overseas are not located in active war zones. The largest concentrations of U.S. troops are on bases in the Persian Gulf, Europe, and the Western Pacific.

There are thousands of U.S. military installations inside the United States (land stolen from the Native Americans). As contract announcements indicate, Corporate America is sometimes put in charge of studying and documenting the effect a planned base or weapons range might have on the surrounding community — aircraft noise, potential for mishaps and accidents, and the extent to which land use works with or against local designs — even though Corporate America stands to benefit if the base or range gets established.

Duping Workers

In the capitalist economic system, relatively few people control the means of production (e.g. machinery, factories). In order to survive, most people (the working class) sell their ability to work. They receive a wage in return. A worker’s work is what makes money for the ruling class. This is true across all industries, including the war industry.

Workers who design and assemble the major weapons of war form the core of the working class within the war industry. They put together missiles at Raytheon’s factory in Tucson, Arizona. They manufacture drones at General Atomics’ factory in Poway, California. They fabricate land vehicles at AM General’s factory in South Bend, Indiana. They build landing craft at Textron’s factory in New Orleans, Louisiana. Whatever the workers produce is not theirs to use or sell. Instead, their output belongs to the capitalist class. These rulers (literally sitting in corporate suites) decide what to produce, how to produce it, and to whom to sell it.

The ruling class profits by underpaying the workers. A given worker on a given day produces value, which we’ll call A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The corporation pays the worker a wage comparable to F and G. The rest (A, B, C, D, E) is “surplus value.” This difference between what a worker is paid in wages and the value a worker creates is how the corporation profits

Those profits go toward executives’ compensation (CEO pay at the top five war corporations totaled almost half a billion dollars over the course of 2015-2019); boost stock price and allow for stock buybacks; and are invested to make more profit. Money used to expand business to increase future profits is functioning as capital. An example of this is General Dynamics building a 200,000-square-foot building for submarine assembly at its Groton, Connecticut, shipyard in order to make more goods to sell for profit.

The ruling class inundates the working class with various forms of advertising, public relations gimmicks, propaganda, and disinformation in order to keep the working class (which greatly outnumbers the ruling class) passive and compliant. Many within the working class have swallowed such deception.

Working class jobs within the war industry are various, and include administrative assistant, analyst, armed mercenary, astrophysicist, data officer, engineer, lawyer, lobbyist, linguist, mathematician, public relations specialist, technician, and tradesperson. From the haughtiest academic to the humblest welder, what propaganda have they seized in order to justify working in the war industry?

Civilian Use

Unlike products from other industries, the public cannot eat, consume, play with, learn from, or interact with most goods and services sold by the war industry. Employees of war corporations invoke civilian applications of military technology: The internet, the jet engine, radar, and satellite technology all came about from military funding.

But these are ancillary benefits. Imagine what technological benefits society could achieve if $750 billion per year was directed intentionally toward research and development of technology that benefits human wellbeing and the natural world, not military and war.

We can harness the human mind in many ways. Nonetheless, so far — by the numbers — the U.S. government has only spent significant monies on military and war. Try throwing that kind of money at the sciences and arts every year — via other federal departments, such as Interior, Agriculture, Health & Human Services, Transportation — and see where unpressured, non-militarized research and development lead.

Distancing 

Lockheed Martin’s director of communications once said, “The missile has nothing to do with the manufacturer… Lockheed Martin was not the one that was there, firing the missile” (Robert Fisk, Independent,May 18, 1997).

Such distancing is no different from an engineer at a U.S. university who justifies her work on nuclear weapons along the lines of, “Well it’s not me pushing the button. Surely, there are military professionals in charge of these weapons.” Other workers in the war industry rationalize by arguing, “I might disagree with the wars, but I’m not the one elected to make such decisions. I’m just doing my job.” Those who resort to distancing focus on their own daily, incremental tasks, blocking out all consequence.

Traditional Patriotism 

Traditional patriotism rallies a person around the flag and shuns holding authority to account. Traditional patriotism allows the wars to continue. True patriotism, however, involves questioning government, making government accountable, and changing government when it is polluted and corrupt. True patriotism, as retired Major Danny Sjursen puts it, is “participatory and principled.”

Support the Troops 

Some people justify working for the war industry by saying they do it for the troops. Journalist Jeffrey Stern describes how one machinist at a missile factory rationalizes his role:

“[T]he thing that he said made him most proud about working at Raytheon was helping to keep American servicemen and women safe. The company makes a point of hiring veterans with combat injuries, which reminds him of whom he’s working for and why. He feels it when he sees the gigantic photos of service members that the company hangs in the most prominent parts of the plant. The photos, he explained, are of relatives of Raytheon workers. When he’s at work, the notion of helping American servicemen and women is not abstract. It’s almost tactile.”

Well played, Raytheon! The phrase “support the troops” is a clever slogan through which the MIC throws a blanket of patriotism over the underlying issue: supporting the wars. “Support the troops” has been very effective in getting the working class to line up in favor of war.

Delusion & Moral Bankruptcy 

Many people within the war industry are deluded or morally bankrupt and therefore have no problem working in such a destructive industry. Delusion and moral bankruptcy are the direct result of decades of refined capitalist propaganda and indoctrination. Many workers don’t understand that the system exists because of their exploitation. Many don’t understand that the war industry exists as a means of profit. Nor does the increasingly privatized and standardized public-school system emphasize the critical thinking needed to alter such a sad state of affairs.

Lack of Courage

Many smart people, blissfully comfortable with the paycheck that being part of the war industry work brings, lack the courage to act. Consider one plucked at random from the middle ranks of a war corporation. The man’s résumé is impressive: degree from a prestigious university, awards from industry and the Pentagon, and not one ounce of moral courage. His participation in the war industry leads directly to the deaths of innocents abroad and perpetuates war.

This flexible, powerful recipe allows one to justify working in the war industry.

A few people within the MIC recognize the gravity of the situation — that funneling so much money toward military, espionage, and war has a negative effect on U.S. security because it drains manpower, time, and capital, and forestalls social care — but are afraid of the consequences of speaking up.

Group think, hierarchy, compartmentation, economic incentive, and chain of command enforce the status quo. Violence and social isolation deter the few who push back against the machinery of war. The minor whistleblower is ostracized and demoted, the leaker fined and locked up. When just a few people push back, the MIC crushes them. When the working class pushes back, united and together, the MIC has a problem on its hands.

The ruling class employs other devices to ensure the workers continue to sell their labor power. Divide and conquer is a popular device: pit the workers against one another, profiting the capitalist while exhausting the worker. Wedge issues, such as race and nationalism, further split the working class along arbitrary, divisive lines, as seen when U.S. workers buy into the demonization of Arab, Persian, or Chinese workers.


Capitalists also elevate a few workers here and there above other fellow workers (think of the foreman in a Virginia shipyard or a taskmaster in an office producing signals intelligence software). These elevated few are given a tad more money in exchange for keeping the majority of the workers in line.

Replacing workers with machines and automating jobs keeps the workforce desperate. With so many people unemployed and underemployed, capitalist rulers get to pick the most passive laborers for war industry jobs, the ones who will keep their heads down and not raise a fuss about the relative pittance they’re paid. Purchasing the necessities of life (e.g. food, exorbitant healthcare, sky-high rent, utilities) requires that workers continue to sell their labor (the products of which maim and kill the working class in other countries) through which the ruling class becomes fantastically wealthy.

Academia

Education in the United States exists within narrow confines. The working class educated in elementary and secondary schools are not given the opportunity to learn about capitalism, let alone the horrific nature and devastating effects of the U.S. war industry. They are not taught about how the interests of the ruling class (including the Pentagon’s leadership, industry executives, Wall Street financiers, and Congress) clash head-on with the interests of the working class. An uneducated population will not mobilize effectively against its oppressors. This atmosphere of ignorance greatly benefits the MIC.

The war industry and the Pentagon fund extensive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives across the U.S. and in allied countries. By attracting students into STEM careers, the war industry and the Pentagon prepare and safeguard their future. Industry promotion of STEM lays the groundwork for future design, engineering, and production capacity, while the Pentagon promotes STEM in order to foster a technologically literate workforce and future generations of enlisted troops who are capable enough to operate the war industry’s products. STEM efforts are comprehensive, covering a wide geographical area and all ages, from elementary through university.

Many universities in the United States are part of the U.S. war industry. The role of these academic institutions is threefold: research and develop technology, serve as a holding station (e.g. Harvard’s Belfer Center) for MIC elites before they rotate into government or corporate suites, and accept philanthropy from war profiteers thereby whitewashing capitalist brutality. The main academic participants in the war industry include but are not limited to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the University of Dayton, and Georgia Tech.

The U.S. government runs many research labs pursuing military and intelligence R&D. The Army Research Lab and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity are located in Maryland. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research are in Arlington, Virginia. The Air Force Research Lab is run out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, northeast of Dayton, Ohio, with branches in New Mexico and upstate New York. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research & Development Center is in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Most work in and for these labs is carried out by corporations and academic institutions, not uniformed military personnel.

report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued in September 2020 detailed, “DOD does not know how contractors’ independent R&D projects fit into the department’s technology goals.”


“Brain drain” happens when industry herds intelligent people toward purposes of war, like when a graduate of an engineering school goes to work for a war corporation instead of a municipality. Humanity thus loses skilled human beings as a result. Brain drain is a great tragedy, and the war industry’s biggest success. In Boston, the U.S. Air Force alone funds ninety different research projects, according to the Air Force Secretary. And that’s just the publicly declared actions of one branch of the military in one city.

Lockheed Martin alone employs nearly 50,000 scientists and engineers, according to its CEO in her presentation to the Society of Women Engineers. Imagine if these minds were working on problems and projects for the betterment of humanity and the planet, instead of devising more ingenious ways to surveil or murder. Imagine the possibilities.

Effective science is based on free, open discussion. Military funding and stipulations (compartmentation, shoehorned focus, classification, near-term deadlines, stove-piped fields) oppose free, open discussion. Breakthroughs benefitting humanity rarely happen when people are tied to military-industry funding priorities, schedules, and narrow cognitive confines. Military and industry shun and condemn the polymath, the free thinker, and the uninhibited tinkerer. Military and industry embrace and fund the careerist, the complicit academic, the rigid functionary, the greedy corporatist, and the aspiring bureaucrat. Military-industry science may possess strong minds, but it does not often make the scientific breakthroughs society needs.

Influence

Strategy involves establishing priorities, making choices, and then matching available resources to goals, means to ends. Capitalists running the war industry utilize a five-step strategy to capture government:

  • Pull retiring military officers into war corporations
  • Stack the deck by placing ex-industry officials in the Pentagon’s leadership
  • Finance congressional campaigns
  • Lobby creatively and expansively
  • Fund think tanks & corporate media

War corporations recruit retired high-ranking military officers. War corporations use these eager retirees to open doors, influence policy, and increase sales. Generals and admirals retire from the U.S. Armed Forces and then join war corporations where they set to work converting their knowledge (about the acquisition process, senior military and civilian leaders, long-term military policy, and how the Pentagon works) and connections into profit.

Corporate jobs for these retired officers include manager, vice president, lobbyist, consultant, and director. Only a small number of 3- and 4-star officers declines this systemic corruption. War corporations have plenty to pull from, as there are more generals and admirals in uniform today in 2021 than there were at the end of World War II. Mere issuance of a bulletin announcing the hiring of a former high-ranking general or admiral often leads to a boost in stock price.

U.S. military officers benefit professionally and financially from implementing MIC aggression. There is no downside for high-ranking officers who support nonstop war. They’ll soon retire with full benefits, and likely go work for a war corporation. Officers who make it to the highest military ranks are very good at conforming to the system.

These officers support nonstop wars of choice and broad military deployments, and defer to pro-war pretexts and jargon coming from industry think tanks and pressure groups. They judge military activity in terms of numbers (dollars spent, weapons purchased, bases active, troops deployed) instead of clear soldierly goals.

Many officers are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the needs of a war corporation and the needs of a professional uniformed military. These U.S. military officers don’t see war corporations; they see a total force in which military and industry work together. An officer who dissents in a forceful manner risks their career. As the MIC crafts pretexts to justify its own existence and expansion, officers who go against the system from the inside are isolated, shed, or spit out.

Reality is difficult to stomach: There is an absolute dearth of class consciousness and moral courage within the Pentagon. The upper ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces are rife with a caliber of officer predisposed to seek out profit and reward upon retirement.


Executives move smoothly from corporations to the Pentagon, particularly the sundry civilian offices (secretary, deputy secretary, and assistant deputy secretary). These men and women who run the Pentagon have been raised in an environment of profiteering; they are steeped in corporate thought; their allegiance is to corporate success. They bring with them their industry contacts and an exploitative ideology. They turn to corporate products when presented with a military problem. They benefit professionally and financially.

Industry executives, the most rapacious of the capitalist class, enter “public service” and influence programs and policies. This invariably boosts the profits of former industry employers, who, thenceforth, capture and direct more of the U.S. military establishment. (Such actions, profit invested to make more profit, is money functioning as capital.)

Giant corporations finance the campaigns of people running for congressional office. Those people, once in office, help out the corporations. Washington is so corrupt that they’ve basically legalized this process — they’ve legalized bribery. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that limits on election spending are unconstitutional; in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the Supreme Court distorted the First Amendment’s free speech clause, allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political contributions; and in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014), the Supreme Court got rid of limits on the total number of political contributions one can give over a two-year period.

We are told that the Supreme Court defends liberty and provides a check against the executive and legislative branches, however, the function of the Court, as its rulings demonstrate, is to abet corporate authority and financial interest in line with what the Executive and Legislative branches pursue.

The war industry targets both houses of Congress, particularly elected officials on relevant committees (Armed Services, Appropriations, Intelligence, Foreign Relations). The war industry finances many political action committees, or PACs. These are tax-exempt organizations that aggregate donations to fund political campaigns or influence federal elections. Super PACs (a.k.a. independent expenditure-only committees) allow unlimited contributions. Funding congressional campaigns directly impacts the way U.S. elected officials vote.

Politicians and their war industry bosses are proficient at claiming the “defense” industry creates jobs. Take caution when a war corporation throws the word “jobs” around. Many of these jobs are part-time, temporary, or menial (e.g. painter, welder, roustabout), parsed out to an increasingly desperate workforce. Some are construction jobs that vanish in a year or so. Working-class jobs in the war industry are often in difficult conditions.


Industry jobs that pay very well typically require advanced degrees, which the majority of the population does not have. Furthermore, some jobs are non-U.S. jobs (e.g. microchips manufactured overseas). Other jobs are induced (e.g. the mom making less-than-minimum wage on a ridesharing app driving an industry executive from work to a pub, or the waiter at a St. Louis restaurant where a missile engineer dines). Industry inflates job tallies. The goal is to confine the congressional side of the MIC, which cites the inflated jobs numbers and goes along for the ride.

The claim that the “defense” industry brings jobs is a stale public relations ploy. It hides the truth: Spending on healthcare, education, or clean energy creates more jobs than spending on the military.

The war industry can inflate job numbers because there is no accountability coming from Washington: Capitol Hill is largely content letting Corporate America police itself. Readers are likely familiar with cases where corporations get to inspect their own product (e.g. the airline industry, the pork industry) instead of external government inspectors doing the job.

Corporations policing corporations is rampant in the war industry, like when the advertising agency GSD&M measures the effectiveness of its own efforts at recruiting working class youth into the military. Sometimes one corporation polices part of industry, like when Calibre Systems conducts “cost and economic analysis of major weapons system programs and associated acquisition/financial management policies and procedures.”

The claim that the “defense” industry brings jobs is a stale public relations ploy. It hides the truth: Spending on healthcare, education, or clean energy creates more jobs than spending on the military.

The war industry can inflate job numbers because there is no accountability coming from Washington: Capitol Hill is largely content letting Corporate America police itself. Readers are likely familiar with cases where corporations get to inspect their own product (e.g. the airline industry, the pork industry) instead of external government inspectors doing the job.

Corporations policing corporations is rampant in the war industry, like when the advertising agency GSD&M measures the effectiveness of its own efforts at recruiting working class youth into the military. Sometimes one corporation polices part of industry, like when Calibre Systems conducts “cost and economic analysis of major weapons system programs and associated acquisition/financial management policies and procedures.”


Second in a five-part series by the author. Part 3 on Friday: ‘Bribery and Propaganda’

Christian Sorensen is an independent journalist mainly focused on war profiteering within the military-industrial complex. An Air Force veteran, he is the author of the recently published book, Understanding the War Industry. He is also a senior fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), an organization of independent veteran military and national security experts. His work is available at War Industry Muster

The huge carbon footprint and massive energy use of online activities and of Bitcoin

May 3, 2021
Graphic courtesy of Alice Eaves on Rehabilitating Earth website

This is a most timely article.    Why is  the world not noticing this?   Elon Musk and other billionaire Bitcoin fans are also fans of space travel –   another energy-gobbling thing.   They are fans of nuclear energy.  The thing that nuclear energy fans have in common with space travel fans and Bitcoin fans is their religious fervour for endless growth and endless energy use.

Unfortunately our entire culture, the Western consumer culture, has swept the world  with a mindless belief in ever more stuff, ever more digital use, with no awareness of the  energy used.   So we tink that our billions of trivial tweets are up ”in the cloud”, – not even realising that they are in dirty great steel data buildings that use massive amounts of energy just to keep cool, This ever- expanding energy and resource gobbling is going to kill us, – and Bitcoin is just one glaring, sorry example of this.

Truth or fiction: Is mining bitcoin a ticking time bomb for the climate?  Rehabilitating Earth   By Jennifer Sizeland 2 May 21

While many of us may consider the carbon footprint of buying a physical item like a jumper or a toaster, it is truly mind boggling to think about the environmental impact of time spent online. This may be why the huge carbon footprints of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are going largely under the radar for many of us, including investors and climate activists.

Yet the real-world cost of bitcoin cannot be underestimated. A University of Cambridge study found that the network burns through 121 terawatt-hours per year, putting it into a category of a top-30 country in terms of electricity usage. In fact, the carbon cost was largely ignored altogether until 2017 when prices surged and the general population started to take more notice. Aside from the significant carbon footprint of bitcoin, it’s important to understand what bitcoin is and why it’s so popular.

Decoding Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin is created by mining a 64-digit hexadecimal number (known as a ‘hash’) that is less than or equal to the target hash that the miner is looking for. The miner gets paid in crypto tokens for all the currency they make. The act of solving these computational equations on the bitcoin network makes the payment network trustworthy. It proves the worth of the bitcoin and verifies it at the same time so that it can’t be spent twice. Essentially, an online log makes records of the transactions made and once approved, they’re added to a block on the chain, hence the phrase ‘blockchain’.

What makes it all the more confusing is that not only is cryptocurrency fairly new to the general population, but the way it is created is shrouded in secrecy due to its niche status. This makes it much harder for miners to be held accountable for their intensive carbon usage, in a time when every company needs to consider their impact on the planet.

The secrecy is also what excites investors about bitcoin since it isn’t tied to a certain location or institution and it’s completely decentralised – unlike a bank. Investors trust bitcoin as inflation is controlled algorithmically by cutting the reward rate periodically, rendering the rate of new bitcoin supplies as unalterable by design. The issue remains that there is no government or organisation to hold them to account for their carbon footprint. A footprint which is intrinsically tied to its value as the demand for it increases, using more and more energy. With every market jump, the cost to the planet is greater.

The price of one bitcoin is $57,383 at the time of writing, which takes the market cap value above that of Facebook and Tesla. The wider cryptocurrency market that includes dogecoin, ethereum and litecoin has reached an estimated $1.4 trillion and counting.


From a financial perspective, miners want cheap servers to increase their profit margins which is why much of the bitcoin activity is done in China. As the industry is unregulated there is no reason why activity wouldn’t surge in the place where it costs the least to do it. Currently, China does not have a cost-effective renewable energy supply so two thirds of the grid is fuelled by dirty coal power stations.

Another problematic caveat to the bitcoin story is the amount of so-called green companies and investors that are buying into it. Some of them are not disclosing this element of their portfolio due to the immense carbon footprint but those that are publicly traded have no choice. Perhaps one of the most high-profile companies to reap the rewards from bitcoin is Elon Musk’s Tesla, who have made $1 billion in 10 weeks from their investment. It remains to be seen whether these businesses are doing their due diligence regarding the origins of their bitcoin and if it is mined from a sustainable source. While this may give Tesla more money to invest in green infrastructure, it’s hard to say whether this is the more ethical way to do so……….

One important lesson we can take from this is that it demonstrates how the digital world has a very real impact on planet Earth. Whether we’re buying cryptocurrency or simply scrolling the internet, we are impacting the planet in one way or anotherhttps://rehabilitatingearth.com/2021/05/02/truth-or-fiction-is-mining-bitcoin-a-ticking-time-bomb-for-the-climate/