The DOE vs. Ugly Reality

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Over at the Washington Post, Chris Mooney and the usual suspects are seriously alarmed by a memo sent out by the Transition Team at the Department of Energy. They describe it in breathless terms in an article entitled “Trump transition team for Energy Department seeks names of employees involved in climate meetings“.   The finest part was this quote from Michael Halpern:

Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, called the memo’s demand that Energy officials identify specific employees “alarming.”

“If the Trump administration is already singling out scientists for doing their jobs, the scientific community is right to be worried about what his administration will do in office. What’s next? Trump administration officials holding up lists of ‘known climatologists’ and urging the public to go after them?” Halpern asked.

Oh … you mean like say the Attorneys General of a bunch of states holding up their lists of known “denier” organizations and tacitly urging the public to go after them? You mean like government officials of a variety of stripes ranting about how “deniers” should be brought to trial or otherwise penalized? You mean like having sites like DeSmogBlog making ugly insinuations and false statements about every known opponent of the climate party line? You mean like Roger Pielke being hounded out of his job by the climate mob?

Mr. Halpern, we have put up with just that treatment you describe for years now. Let me suggest that you take your inchoate fears and do something useful with them—you can think fearfully about how you have treated your scientific opponents for the last decade, and you can hope and pray that they are like me, and they don’t demand the exact same pound of flesh from you.

In any case, the Post put up a copy of the memo in the most idiotic form ever—ten separate individual pages, in image form without searchable text, printed sideways. Thanks, guys, it’s clear you’ve only posted them because you have to.

To save your neck from getting a crick from holding your head sideways, I’ve snagged them off the web and OCR’d them so we could all have a look.

usdoe

Now, bear in mind that the Department of Energy has been the conduit for the billions of dollars wasted on propping up failing solar companies like Solyndra, it’s been the “Friends of Obama Funding Agency” … as a result, it’s not the Augean Stables, but it’s close …

So, let’s take a look at this already infamous 74-question memo. In it we’ll find two things: (1) just what is setting their hair on fire, and (2) whatever clues are there about future actions by the new administration. I’ll discuss both individual questions and groups of questions.

Questions for DOE

This memo, as you might expect, is replete with acronyms. “DOE” is the Department of Energy. Here are the memo questions and my comments.

1. Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups, and FACAs [Federal Advisory Committees] currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created? 

If I were at DOE, this first question would indeed set MY hair on fire. The easiest way to get rid of something is to show that it was not properly established … boom, it’s gone. As a businessman myself, this question shows me that the incoming people know their business, and that the first order of business is to jettison the useless lumber.

2. Can you provide a complete list of ARPA-E’s projects?

Critical information for an incoming team.

3 Can you provide a list of the Loan Program Office’s outstanding loans, including the parties responsible for paying the loan back, term of the loan, and objective of the loan?

4 Can you provide a list of applications for loans the LPO has received and the status of those applications?

5 Can you provide a full accounting of DOE liabilities associated with any loan or loan guarantee programs?

6 The Department recently announced the issuance of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles (and perhaps associated infrastructure). Can you provide a status on this effort?

Oh, man, they are going for the jugular. Loan Program Office? If there is any place that the flies would gather, it’s around the honey … it’s good to see that they are looking at loan guarantees for electric vehicles, a $4.5 billion dollar boondoggle that the government should NOT be in. I call that program the “Elon Musk Retirement Fund”.

Folks, for $4.5 billion dollars, we could provide clean water to almost half a million villages around the world … or we could put it into Elon Musk’s bank account or the account of some other electric vehicle manufacturer. I know which one I’d vote for … and I am equally sure which one the poor of the world would prefer.

7 What is the goal of the grid modernization effort? Is there some terminal point to this effort? Is its genesis statutory or something else?

Asking the right questions about vague programs …

8 Who “owns” the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial efforts within the Department?

I love this question. Orphan departments are legendary in big bureaucracies … nobody owns them and they can do what they want. I don’t predict a long future for this Mission Impossible—Clean Energy effort..

9 What is the Department’s role with respect to the development of offshore wind?

Given that offshore wind is far and away the MOST EXPENSIVE of all the renewable options, the answer should be “None”.

10 Is there an assessment of the funds it would take to replace aging infrastructure in the complex? Is there a priority list of which facilities to be decommissioned?

Another critical question, about the state of their own facilities.

11 Which Assistant Secretary positions are rooted in statute and which exist at the discretion and delegation of the Secretary?

Like I said … these guys know how to do what they plan to do, which is to change the direction of the agency. All discretionary Assistant Secretaries must be sweating …

12 What is the statutory charge to the Department with respect to efficiency standards? Which products are subject to statutory requirements and which are discretionary to the Department?

Same thing. They want to find out what they can just cut, where the low-hanging fruit might be. I suspect this is about Obama’s ludicrous CAFE standards mandating a 50+ mile-per-gallon average for all car manufacturers.

13 Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?

Now, this is the one that has the “scientists” involved most concerned. Me, I think they damn well should be concerned because what they have been doing all this time is HALF OF A COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS!!

This is a pet peeve of mine. You can’t just talk of costs in a vacuum. To do that without considering the accompanying benefits is scientific malfeasance. To do it as a policy matter is nothing less than deliberately lying to the public. As a result, I hope that everyone engaged in this anti-scientific effort gets identified and if they cannot be fired for malfeasance then put them to work sweeping the floors. Talk about “fake news”, the so-called “social cost of carbon” is as fake as they come.

14 Did DOE or any of its contractors run the integrated assessment models (lAMs)? Did they pick the discount rates to be used with the lAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper discount rates used with the lAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper equilibrium climate sensitivity?

Cuts to the core, and lets the people know that vague handwaving is not going to suffice. These folks want actual answers to the hard questions, and they’ve definitely identified the critical points about the models.

15 What is the Department’s role with respect to JCPOA? Which office has the lead for the NNSA?

The JCPOA is usually a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”. In this case, however, it refers to the Iran nuclear deal, and is an  interesting question. The NNSA is the National Nuclear Security Adminstration.

16 What statutory authority has been given to the Department with respect to cybersecurity?

Critical in these times.

17 Can you provide a list of all Schedule C appointees, all non-career SES employees, and all Presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation? Can you include their current position and how long they have served at the Department?

Here’s the deal. It’s basically impossible to fire a government worker unless they held up a bank and were caught in the act, and even then you’d have to have full-color video to make it stick. Public employee unions are among the world’s stupidest and most destructive idea … the government unions use their plentiful funds to affect the election of the people who set their pay scale. Yeah, that should go well …

BUT … if you can get rid of their position, then you’re not firing them, you just don’t have further work for them. They are trying to figure out who they can cut. Hair is catching fire on all sides with this one.

18 Can you offer more information about the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge?

Never heard of it, but then I never heard of a lot of things in this memo … which just shows that the memo makers did their homework. Turns out that the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge is another clumsy attempt to get Electric Vehicles Everywhere regardless of the fact that the public mostly doesn’t want Electric Vehicles Anywhere.

19 Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years?

An IPCC Conference of Parties is much more party than conference—it’s basically an excuse to party in some lovely location (think Bali, Cancun, …), with the party occasionally interrupted by the pesky conference. It is a meaningless exercise which ends up with an all-night session that finishes by announcing that everyone has signed on to the latest non-binding fantasy about how to end the use of fossil fuels, drive up energy prices, and screw the poor. And yes, if I were appointed to run the DOE, I would definitely want to know who has gone on these useless junkets.

Now, I know that people are going to complain about “scientific freedom” regarding the memo asking who worked on what … but if you don’t want to tell the incoming team what you’ve worked on … why not? Are you ashamed of what you’ve done? Look, every job I’ve had, if a new boss came in, they wanted to know what I had worked on in the past, and I simply answered them honestly. Scientists are no different.

Finally, government scientists presumably work on what their agency directs them to work on … so the issue of “scientific freedom” is way overblown in this context where they are NOT free to work on projects of their own choice.

20 Can you provide a list of reports to Congress or other external parties that are due in 2017? 

Again, a critical question when you take over an organization—what deliverables is it contracted to produce? Like I said, these folks know what they are doing.

21 Can you provide a copy of any Participation Agreement under Section 1221 of EP Act signed by the Department?

We’re way down in the weeds now. This section of the EP Act allows three or more contiguous states to establish a regional transmission siting agency. Not sure why they’ve asked this, but it does add to their knowledge of the projected vague transmission grid actions, which appears like it could be a big money drain.

22 What mechanisms exist to help the national laboratories commercialize their scientific and technological prowess?

A forgotten task at the DOE, I’m sure.

23 How many fusion programs, both public and private, are currently being funded worldwide?

Huh … looking for duplication of activities.

24 Which activities does the Department describe as commercialization programs or programs with the specific purpose of developing a technology for market deployment?

Incoming administrations, if they’re smart, look for low hanging fruit. In this case if there are commercial programs near completion, they can be fast-tracked to provide evidence that the new administration is on the job.

25 Does or can the Department delineate research activities as either basic or applied research?

This is a critical distinction, and one that they possibly have never made.

26 Can you provide a list of all permitting authorities (and their authorizing statutes) currently held by DOE and their authorizing statutes?

Again, the local denizens will not like this a bit, more hair will spontaneously ignite. In part any bureaucracy prides itself on its power to stop people from doing things … in other words, they demand a permit for an action and then they can refuse to issue it. This asks not just for the permitting authorities, but once again for their authorizing statutes. Again, the easiest way to get rid of something is to show it was built without authorization …

27 Is there a readily available list of any technologies or products that have emerged from  programs or the labs that are currently offered in the market without any subsidy?

Quite possibly not, but if so it would be an interesting list.

28 Are there statutory restrictions related to reinvigorating the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management?

29 Are there any statutory restrictions to restarting the Yucca Mountain project?

These two questions show us that they plan to restart Yucca Mountain, the shuttered nuclear waste repository.

30 Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?

Because you can kiss them goodbye along with the CAP …

31 If DOE’s topline budget in accounts other than the 050 account were required to be reduced 10% over the next four fiscal years (from the FY17 request and starting in FY18), does the Department have any recommendations as to where those reductions should be made?

This is brilliant. It’s like my gorgeous ex-fiancee regarding colors. She asks me what color I like so she can cross it off the list of possibilities … and rightly so given my color sense. This strikes me as the same deal. The new Administration asks where the current denizens would cut ten percent … then when they are told it, they know they might want to cut somewhere else … useful info either way.

32 Does the Department have any thoughts on how to reduce the bureaucratic burden for exporting U.S. energy technology, including but not limited to commercial nuclear technology?

Likely not … but worth asking …

33 Is the number of Assistant Secretaries set by statute? Does the statute establish the number as a minimum or a maximum, or is it silent on the question?

Assistant Secretaries are now on DEFCON 1, or DEFCON 0.5, their hair is totally engulfed in flames …

34 Can you provide a list of all current open job postings and the status of those positions?

35 Can you provide a list of outstanding M&O contracts yet to be awarded for all DOE facilities and their current status?

36 Can you provide a list of non-M&O procurements/awards that are currently pending and their status?

Open jobs, outstanding Maintenance and Operation contracts, non-M&O procurements, they want to find out just exactly what is the current state of play. It will also allow the incoming folks to see what last-minute hires they’ve tried to jam through before the changeover.

37 Does DOE have a plan to resume the Yucca Mountain license proceedings?

They may have shelved or previous plans, good to know if so.

38 What secretarial determinations/records of decisions are pending?

Have they made decisions that are not written down? If so, what? Man, these people are thorough, I wouldn’t have thought to ask that one.

39 What should the incoming Administration do to balance risk, performance and ultimately completion in contracting?

40 What should this Administration do differently to make sure there are the right incentives to attract qualified contractors?

An interesting pair of questions.

41 What is the plan for funding cleanup of Portsmouth and Paducah when the current uranium inventory designated for barter in exchange for cleanup services, is no longer available (excluding reinstating the UED&D fee on commercial nuclear industry or utilizing the USEC fund)?

Back into the weeds, proving that these folks have done their homework. Right now, those shuttered nuclear plants are trading uranium, a valuable resource, for cleanup … what happens when the uranium runs out? Who is on the hook for the costs?

42 What is the right funding level for EM to make meaningful progress across the complex and meet milestone and regulatory requirements?

According to the Energy.gov glossary, “EM” is environmental management. I’m not sure what the DOE is required to do in this, and that’s what they are asking.

43 What is the greatest opportunity for reduction in life cycle cost/return on investment? 

44 Describe your alternatives to the ever increasing WTP cost and schedule, whether technical or programmatic?

45 With respect to EM, what program milestones will be reached in each of the next four years?

47 How can the DOE support existing reactors to continue operating as part of the nation’s infrastructure?

48 What can DOE do to help prevent premature closure of plants? 

49 How do you recommend continuing to supporting the licensing of Small Modular Reactors? 

50 How best can DOE optimize its Advanced Reactor R&D activities to maximize their value proposition and work with investors to development and commercialize advanced reactors?

All of these questions are concerned with the regulation and waste disposal of nuclear plants, suggesting strongly that the new administration is interested in keeping existing plants open and licensing new plants.

Questions for EIA

EIA is the Energy Information Agency charged with collecting and maintaining energy-related data.

51 EIA is an independent agency in DOE. How has EIA ensured its independence in your data and analysis over the past 8 years? In what instances do you think EIA’ s independence was most challenged?

Now this is a fascinating two-part question, especially the second part. Basically they are asking, can we trust the EIA, and what pressures is it subject to?

52 Part of EIA’s charter is to do analyses based on Congressional and Departmental requests. Has EIA denied or not responded to any of these requests over the last ten years?

53 EIA customarily has or had set dates for completions of studies and reports. In general, have those dates been adhered to?

54 In the Annual Energy Outlook 2016, EIA assumed that the Clean Power Plan should be in the reference case despite the fact that the reference case is based on existing laws and regulations. Why did EIA make that assumption, which seems to be atypical of past forecasts?

Uh-oh … caught messing with the books …

55 EIA’s assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain back-up costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?

Since this is an issue I’ve raised publicly in my posts on levelized costs, I’m overjoyed to see them ask it.

56 Has EIA done analysis that shows that additional back-up generation is not needed? How does EIA’s analysis compare with other analyses on this issue?

This seems like they’re talking about some EIA analysis that says that such generation isn’t needed, and asking them to justify it. If not, they are simply forcing them to admit that yes, backup is needed, and no, they haven’t been including those costs … good on them.

57 Renewable and solar technologies are expected to need additional transmission costs above what fossil technologies need. How has EIA represented this in the AEO forecasts? What is the magnitude of those transmission costs?

Again, excellent questions that the EIA has not been posing, much less answering.

58 There are studies that show that your high resource and technology case for oil and gas represents the shale gas and oil renaissance far better than your reference case. Why has EIA not put those assumptions in your reference case?

Yes, they definitely should put those in … but then from all appearances they hate fracking with a passion …

59 Can you describe the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA from outside EIA and compare it to the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA who were currently serving at EIA?

Hiring outside vs promoting inside … interesting question.

60 How does EIA ensure quality in its data and analyses?

61 Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?

I’d love to see the answer to this one.

62 We note that EIA added distributed solar estimations to your electricity data reports. Those numbers are not part of your supply/demand balance on a Btu basis. Why has that not been updated accordingly?

Uh-oh again … someone finally asking the hard questions.

63 How many vacancies does EIA have in management and staff positions? What plans, if any, does EIA have to fill those positions before January 20?

64 Is the EIA budget sufficient to ensure quality in data and analyses? If not, where does it fall short?

More questions to clarify the fiscal landscape.

65 Does EIA have cost comparisons of sources of electricity generation at the national level?

Not that I know of … but then they may have them and have not released them. We’ll see.

Questions on labs

DOE labs are separate from the DOE itself … I knew the DOE had labs but I had no idea they had seventeen of them, viz:

National Energy Technology Laboratory at Albany, Oregon (2005)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at Berkeley, California (1931)

Los Alamos National Laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico (1943)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tennessee (1943)

Argonne National Laboratory at DuPage County, Illinois (1946)

Ames Laboratory at Ames, Iowa (1947)

Brookhaven National Laboratory at Upton, New York (1947)

Sandia National Laboratories at Albuquerque, New Mexico and Livermore, California (1948)

Idaho National Laboratory between Arco and Idaho Falls, Idaho (1949)

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton, New Jersey (1951)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at Livermore, California (1952)

Savannah River National Laboratory at Aiken, South Carolina (1952)

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Menlo Park, California (1962)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at Richland, Washington (1965)

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory at Batavia, Illinois (1967)

National Renewable Energy Laboratory at Golden, Colorado (1977)

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility at Newport News, Virginia (1984)

Let me say that as a businessman looking at that list, it screams “Duplication Of Effort” at about 180 decibels. Hence the following questions:

66 What independent evaluation panels does the lab have to assess the scientific value of its work? Who sits on these panels? How often do they hold sessions? Do they publish reports?

67 Can you provide a list of cooperative research and development grants (CRADAs) for the past five years? Please provide funding amounts, sources, and outcomes?

68 Can you provide a list of licensing agreements and royalty proceeds for the last five years?

69 Can you provide a list of the top twenty salaried employees of the lab, with total remuneration and the portion funded by DOE?

70 Can you provide a list of all peer-reviewed publications by lab staff for the past three years?

71 Can you provide a list of current professional society memberships of lab staff?

72 Can you provide a list of publications by lab staff for the past three years?

73 Can you provide a list of all websites maintained by or contributed to by laboratory staff during work hours for the past three years?

74 Can you provide a list of all other positions currently held by lab staff, paid and unpaid, including faculties, boards, and consultancies?

Well, it sure sounds like the gravy train ride is over, and the labs will be asked to justify their existence. I would not be surprised to see some closed and some merged.

===============

DISCUSSION:

My first take from all of this is that there will be a top-to-bottom shakeup of the DOE, with deadwood cut, permitting carefully reassessed, positions eliminated, labs merged, the EIA charged with giving real numbers, nuclear strengthened, and the climate nonsense moved way down the list.

My second take from all of this is that the people who made the memo are very good at their job. They’ve asked all of the right questions and then some.

However, I don’t find in this anything to support the claim that the new Administration is looking to hold up a list of scientists for opprobrium, or that they plan to interfere in the scientific process. As with every incoming Administration, they DO plan to refocus and redirect the overall future course of the agency, which will inescapably mean that the scientific studies will move in a different direction.

Finally, folks, lets get real. Every Administration has chosen the scientists it want to be studying things, and has told them what the Administration wants them to study. If these DOE scientists don’t want to be re-directed to study different things, this is not an infringement of their scientific freedom. Instead, it is part of the price you pay for being the government’s scientist—just as in any other field of endeavor you do what is directed by the people who sign your paycheck.

Overall, I gotta say … it’s about time, and it couldn’t happen to a better agency,

Regards to all,

w.

AND … if you disagree with someone, please have the courtesy to QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU DISAGREE WITH, so we can all be clear on your objection.

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442 thoughts on “The DOE vs. Ugly Reality

    • Five stars is not enough!

      BTW, what tool do you like & use for OCR’ing things that someone else has already scanned? (The only OCR tool I have comes with my printer/scanner driver, and does OCR as it scans.)

      • Good question, Dave. The easiest I’ve found is Acrobat (not Acrobat Reader but the full program). It’s quick, will do a whole PDF document, and does a clean good job.

        w.

      • If it’s any help, I believe it can be done online for nothing. Plenty of agencies offer PDF to Word conversion, some good, some bad. Nitro is one I recall off the top of my head.

      • HotScot: The PDF’s Willis is dealing with aren’t in their normal ASCII format, but are image files that can’t be converted to Word without first conversion by OCR software to ASCII coding.

      • > BTW, what tool do you like & use for OCR’ing things that someone else has already scanned? (The only OCR tool I have comes with my printer/scanner driver, and does OCR as it scans.)

        FreeOCR (http://www.paperfile.net/) uses the Tesseract OCR engine and does a pretty good job for a free program. There are better commercial options, but I haven’t looked at them in years.

      • @daveburton
        Yep, that’s it. Yes, it will do OCR. That’s been a tool in the full version of Acrobat for a long time. I don’t have XP on any machine at home so I’m out of luck. I believe it’s available at other locations that don’t require handing over personal information, but you may have to dig for them.

    • Yes, excellent initiative Willis. There is so much good news here, I can’t bear to read it all at once. Every question is too the point and well justified. Heads will roll.

      They are not hanging around waiting for Jan 20th. This is so targeted these activist-scientists and mindless bureaucrats will be crapping themselves. From now on it will be the Union of Incontinent Scientists.

    • Well Willis, you seem to have turned over a rock (literally) and found a pile of worms underneath.

      If I happened to be working for any of those TEXT-ile agencies, a questionnaire like that one would have me asking myself: Yeah ! Just what the hell have I been working at, and for what end purpose of benefit to America ??

      It seems that DOE is NOT a synonym for DOD, where it may not be proper to ask the chap at the next desk what she is working on.

      DOE it seems, everyone would want to know who else can I ask about this thing we are supposed to be working on, and what is the chance we will be successful.

      I do think THE DOTUS to be, will be sharpening up the ” You’re Fired ” red pencil ready for January.

      I read about half; and need to come back to the surface for air before reading the rest.

      Thanks for the sideways shuffle Willis.

      G

  1. I would like to live long enough to see some of these people be charged with fraud or criminal deception for their actions over the last twenty years. Surely someone should pay?

    • They have not only attacked skeptics (den!ers) and driven them out of places but even the families of the more visual skeptics like A.W.’s

      What 28 & 29 indicate to me is that President Elect Trump is planning to increase the potential for additional nuclear waste likely by increasing the number of nuclear power plants. Go green through nuclear energy

      • You may be right, but my take on 28 and 29 is that now that Harry Reid is not around to block it, they will put it back on the agenda. If they are unsuccessful this Congress, well, the Dems have a slew of Senate seats up in 2018, including ten in state Trump won\, so they could try again in 2019 with a bigger Senate majority.

  2. This is brilliant and shows that the questioners are really on the ball. The civil servants won’t know what’s hit them. Maybe some of them will have to do some real work. It will come as a shock if they have to work like people in the real world, who have to add value or get fired.

  3. Knock the post’s out (legs) and it collapses. Suddenly many don’t have a job. Very helpful post Willis…Thanks from the UK

  4. One of the suggestions put forward was that the incoming Trump administration should carry out a ‘forensic audit’ of the federal agencies. This set of questions appears to indicate that is what is happening at least with the DOE whose personnel probably thought that their byzantine infrastructure made them secure. This set of questions indicate that this ‘Landing Team’ will not be as easy to fluff as the normal political appointees. If every one of the Landing Teams is taking this hard nosed ‘3rd Party Audit’ approach the sprawling federal bureaucracy will be very nervous.

    • The DOE does not have congressional oversight, unlike other agencies. It’s Secretary answers only to the US President, which gives, and has given, it a lot of cover over the decades. Well, looks like the blanket is coming off. Publicly. Will we see the diddling that’s been going on under the sheets?

      [I suspect, but don’t know, that one of the reasons it was set up (1977) to have no congressional oversight was because of the huge national security issue created by the oil embargo in 1973. The US military services worldwide (Navy, Air Force, Army) discovered that they only had fuel reserves of one day to max a week to sail the ships, fly the planes, and feed/move the troops. It caused an absolute panic at DOD and Sec State. They had not foreseen the problem. Oil became National Security Item #1. Commercial needs be damned, and it has remained thus ever since. Until then (previous admins) oil was left to the private sector to develop, control, and price.

      And the objective became to use up every other country’s oil first, not our own. (For eg, the development of the Alaska Prudhoe Bay fields in the mid-70s was a military and national security decision to prevent Russia from using its new slant-drilling techniques and grabbing it.) Nixon’s taking us off the gold standard internationally in 1971 meant the USA could purchase oil from any country in the world for a keystroke (or the price of printing a $100: $0.07). That did two things: firmly established the USD as the reserve currency (all countries now needed USD to purchase energy needs from the Middle East). and two, set up refinery-building restrictions in 1979 that continue to this day.

      I know this because of a private conversation in 1989 with retired James Schlesinger, the Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975 under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and the first Secretary of Energy under Jimmy Carter. He specifically used the term national security item #1, commercial the public’s needs be damned, he emphasized. The lack of congressional oversight and the ‘answerability to the Prez only’ allowed the DOE to act with Treasury in provisioning itself without congress butting its nose in, allowed siphoning of oil from other countries in a strategic way, and permitted the 10X price increase in oil then to hobble other countries’ economies.]

      • Do you think the Russian would tell, or ask?? Unless you could detect their drilling, they would drill as far as they could. But I imagine that modern acoustic systems could detect a rougue drill-head.

        R

      • The distance between Prudhoe Bay and Naukan on the Russian tip of the Bering Straight is about 630 miles. The record lateral was drilled on Sakhalin Island (a bit further South):

        On 24 April 2015 the world’s longest borehole was drilled and completed from the Orlan Platform in the Chayvo Field, Sakhalin-1 Project with a total measured depth of 13,500m (44,294ft) and a horizontal displacement of 12,030m (39,469ft)

        Only about 622 miles to go…

      • [I tried replying to these comments three times and gave up. For some reason wouldn’t take, altho’ my other comments below did. Will try again.]

        @It doesn’t add up…
        Only about 622 miles to go…
        Whatevah. I’m telling you what SecDef and SecDOE James Schlesinger said were the govt’s (and military’s) concerns at the time; the reason why they allowed the drilling to go through.

        @ralfellis

        Correct. That was at the height of the Cold War; we made all sorts of assumptions about the USSR’s strengths and motivations then. Paranoia reigned. The ‘Prudhoe Bay fields’ were massive. They extended in specific ‘silos’ from the Chukchi Sea to well northeast of Prudhoe in the arctic ocean, shaped like huge tear-drop shaped blackheads, not fields shaped like dumping mercury on a tabletop. They only brought in one or two. They capped the others they found.

      • [I tried replying to these comments three times and gave up. For some reason wouldn’t take, altho’ my other comments below did. Will try again.]

        @It doesn’t add up…
        Only about 622 miles to go…
        Whatevah. I’m telling you what SecDef and SecDOE James Schlesinger said were the govt’s (and military’s) concerns at the time; the reason why they allowed the drilling to go through.

      • It was the height of the Cold War. We made all sorts of assumptions about USSR strengths and motivations then…a Russki hiding under every DC pot, etc. The Soviet leadership was tough and unyielding; Gorbachev was 10-15 years later. In hindsight, paranoia reigned.

        The Prudhoe Oil area fields were massive. There were finds from the Chukchi Sea to well northeast of Prudhoe way out in the Arctic Ocean. Another thing–and I don’t understand the geological importance of this–these other finds were tear-drop shaped, like blackheads, not amorphous fields like mercury dumped on a countertop, defined by the rock around them.

      • Having suffered under the Carter Administration I would guess the reason for not providing oversight was to permit stealing tax money. Even some Democrats objected to the waste, fraud and abuse of Federal money. Easy to play when no one knows what you are doing.

      • The DOE gets its funding through the annual appropriations by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act, the same law that funds DOD. There are oversight committees in the House and Senate, which require DOE leaders to testify aboutntheir programs and budget.

  5. As an ex-Australian public servant, I thought this is wonderful. Think I will refer it to some of our politicians, so that they can consider suitable questions of Ministers. It is lovely to see someone asking the questions that need to be asked. With a bit of luck, the questions will be answered truthfully. If so, most of the people concerned will keep their jobs. If not, if there are refusals to answer questions, heads should roll. I would think that for quite a few questions the answer is “We don’t know. We will try to find out.”

      • Willis, in your view why were the questions phrased “can you provide” instead of “please provide”. It seems to me too easy to say no. Maybe it is because it isn’t yet Jan. 20th and they don’t have the power to demand answers. I have written RFPs with requirements not questions.

        Bob

      • Robert Northrop December 10, 2016 at 5:09 am

        Willis, in your view why were the questions phrased “can you provide” instead of “please provide”.

        Robert, my sense is that it’s just a polite form. For example, when the Peat Marwick Mitchell auditor used to come to my office for the legally mandated annual audit when I was the CFO of a company grossing forty million a year, he’d say something like “Can you get me an aged list of all your receivables?” … however, it was not in any sense a question …

        w.

      • I suspect “can you provide” may be a veiled way of insinuating that the agencies may not be keeping track of things they should be keeping track of. If they say “no”, they are admitting some degree of incompetence.

      • Willis, what gets me is Obama’s DOE gave the Molten Salt Reactor to China who aims to own our invention from the 1950s at ORNL. Nuclear energy 1/3 the cost to build in 1/4 of the time due to low pressure, no water cooling and inherent safety. Insane, that is a Dual Use (military) technology. http://www.egeneration.org

        With its high thermal working temp can be used for emission free Petrochemical process and coal to clean fuel conversion and desalination.

        I would move Wind money to a crash program on the MSR.

      • spot on ferd. i especially look forward to the last set of questions being answered. wonder how many help maintain places like the sierra club website and skeptical science while at work on the tax payer dollar. we desperately need something like this in the uk.

      • The investigations, and legally all transfers of real property in the government involve investigations, always start on a friendly note. Even second and third series of questions will stay polite.

        The new guy coming in, and his boss, need to know exactly what, where and who are being transferred. Down to the nickel if possible.

        All areas of serious concerns should be easily spotted in the answers to the questionnaires.
        The new boss can deal with organizational and directive issues directly.

        Areas where funds or real property are unknown or known missing, tend to be areas where serious investigators are sent.
        Again, their questions will be polite.
        When they come back again and start asking pointed questions; On XX day, when XX was implemented, what was your role… That’s when it is going to get rough; unless, they already have plenty of evidence, in which case you’ll wear handcuffs or get escorted to the door.

        Few things in life are more dangerous than a friendly smiling investigator who is careful and meticulous at reconstructing events and accounts.
        One of the nicest gentlemen I knew was called Dr. Doom, because so many he very pleasantly investigated lost their jobs or were arrested as a result. He was such a nice guy, he hated the nickname the field gave him.

        The questions, as Willis notes above, are darned good; but are the questions that should be asked before any person is asked to accept a job of such magnitude.
        Both the person getting the job and his boss, have every right to know exactly what they are getting; in terms they personally understand.

        We, as citizens, also have a right to know the value and accounts along with liabilities.

        After all, how can we tell if they’re doing a good job or not?

      • “Robert Northrop December 10, 2016 at 5:09 am
        Willis, in your view why were the questions phrased “can you provide” instead of “please provide”. It seems to me too easy to say no.”

        Oh, aye; one can state No!

        A temporary avoidance, at best. Provided there is a D&mn good reason why the answer is no.

        At worst, not only will the questions get answered, but someone else will dig up the answers. While the normal primary respondent considers new occupations or perhaps just new quarters and position. Say, Fairbanks, Guam or some other select place.

        These questionnaires are not the time, method or place for obfuscation, obstruction or falsehoods.

        One boss of mine used to say: “If you hate to travel, you will travel, if you love travel, you’ll never travel again, If you like the outdoors, you’ll stay in the deepest basement we have, if you hate the outdoors, you’ll never step inside, if you’re afraid of heights, you’ll work in the tallest buildings…” Even other bosses avoided ticking him off.

        Another boss of mine fired people and then fought their reinstatement, in the courts for years. Not many people were willing to endure three-four or more years while court cases wind through the court.
        Especially when most of these court fights between job and employee are only sent to a mediator who is supposed to find common ground; another time ticking bureaucracy.

        Guess which Boss I always and immediately committed to writing everything said between us, then forwarded it to him for official approval, before working on any ‘new’ chore? He was as untrustworthy as it sounds.

    • funny you should say that ;-)
      I just sent this TO Cory Bernardi with a suggestion WE need to be asking similar Q’s here too
      especially right now with the power cos grabbing for ever more funding n taxes from us.

    • I’m sure that this action will be warmly welcomed by the DOE as it gives them an opportunity to clearly demonstrate all the excellent work that has been carried out by them over the years.

      For too long they’ve hidden their light under a bushel so that their sterling work has gone unrecognised and unappreciated by the public and body politic at large; but now, no longer!

      I’m sure that any disquiet expressed by some that this is an attack on Science has been taken out of context and I’m confident that 97% of concerned scientists are fully behind this memo.

      Well done lads and lassies – big salary rises beckon in 2017 in recognition of your tireless services to science.

      Many thanks, Willis, for sharing your summary of this very important and seminal document.

      • I think you forgot the /sarc tag at the end there.
        Most of us don’t need one,but we get the occasional visit here from those who need all the help they can get.

      • I work at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park. We have been chronically understaffed for the work we do, for the entire time I’ve worked there (many years).

        We are the world’s cutting edge laboratory in the production and application of directed X-ray beams to scientific studies. That includes everything from medicine to biology to geology to chemistry to physics.

        SLAC has the world’s only free electron hard X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), and has perhaps the premier facility in delivering synchrotron x-ray beams to a world-wide research community, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL).

        It is also participating in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) that is being constructed just now in Chile. SLAC’s part of the project is building the 3.2-gigapixel camera for the telescope.

        SLAC engages a large external research community of scientists, who arrive not only from all over the US but internationally. There is presently a large in-house program in research on advanced batteries and nano-material catalysts.

        It also has a strong student intern program, which brings in young people from all over the country. They participate in research projects, work hard, and end up learning a lot; especially about having to pay attention to detail if you want to do science properly.

        SLAC does public outreach and offers tours of the facility, and is enthusiastic about communicating its science.

        SLAC’s web-site
        LCLS’ web-site
        SSRL’s web-site
        LSST’s web-site

      • @Pat Frank. Some of what your lab does is within proper government involvement, some is not in your apparent mission, and some is iffy:

        We are the world’s cutting edge laboratory in the production and application of directed X-ray beams to scientific studies. That includes everything from medicine to biology to geology to chemistry to physics.

        High-ticket items for basic research – OK. For applied research, OK to centralize it; these may be something that an industrial consortium will not be formed (or such a consortium may pose anti-competitive problems in the market). But such should be funded by industry, not government.

        SLAC has the world’s only free electron hard X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), and has perhaps the premier facility in delivering synchrotron x-ray beams to a world-wide research community, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL).

        Same – big ticket items, probably appropriate for government funding.

        It is also participating in the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) that is being constructed just now in Chile. SLAC’s part of the project is building the 3.2-gigapixel camera for the telescope.

        Is this project really part of your lab’s mission? Camera development is quite a different beast from materials analysis (although of course a support role might involve analysis for quality control of the end product developed by someone else).

        SLAC engages a large external research community of scientists, who arrive not only from all over the US but internationally. There is presently a large in-house program in research on advanced batteries and nano-material catalysts.

        Again, a possible support role within the lab’s mission – but this is applied research, that should be funded by the people that need “advanced batteries” and “nano-material catalysts.” (Note, government may provide seed money for such projects – but only after a market analysis that makes it clear the seed money will be recovered, so far as can be projected. Did that happen here before the projects were initiated?) (Note #2, some of this work may be for other agencies – NASA and DOD come immediately to mind – but they should be funded through those agencies, not DOE – and do those agencies not have labs of their own to centralize administrative costs under?)

        It also has a strong student intern program, which brings in young people from all over the country. They participate in research projects, work hard, and end up learning a lot; especially about having to pay attention to detail if you want to do science properly.

        I waffle about things like this – they are a good investment, but tend to soak up taxpayer money. At the very least, private funding for such programs should be used as much as possible (and university grant budgets should be tapped, too).

        In the end, please realize that I don’t particularly blame you – or even your lab’s administrators – for any waste or duplication occurring at your facility. The root problem is too much money in the Federal Government, and the ability of the Congressional nobility to hand out largesse to their particular swathes of the peasantry. (Which is why the Trump Administration is not going to get as far on the swamp-draining project as some people seem to think it will – these things are mostly spelled out in appropriation bills, not just the fiat of bureaucrats in DC.)

      • And to think, two decades ago my favorite Sci Fi RPG assumed that non Bomb – Pumped X-ray lasers would be at least a tech level above fusion power. ○¿●

        THIS is the kind of science the US needs to be working on, not endless versions of how such and such thing MIGHT be effected by the change in local weather that COULD come from a POSSIBLE temperature increase that is the maximum output of some MODEL. It’s actually somewhat reassuring that the DOE does still support labs doing this kind of work.

        Keep up the good work, Pat.

      • @writing observer, when private industry does stuff at a DOE physics lab, they DO pay for the beam time they use. The National labs are actually contracted so that commercial activity can go on and help defer the costs. Private industry also makes significant donations to the programs they use. And I can vouch for how the labs run on a shoestring because I contracted for two years at Jefferson Lab and there was no gilding there.

      • A very good article Willis, I agree with most of it.

        The only real point were I disagree is on the point of service jobs not creating real wealth. While it’s true that, on their own, a service providing job doesn’t add materially to a society, they do help provide a resource that is every bit as valuable – TIME.

        Take the barber from your example. On an island of only 2 couples, you’re right. He wouldn’t provide enough benefit to offset the others having to provide his sustenance. But what if we increase the population of the island to 50 couples? Now we have a hundred people who need a haircut every month or so. Now, they could go on like the original two couples, cutting their own or each others hair. But that takes time out of each persons life they could be doing something else. Maybe only an hour a month, but with 100 people that’s 100 man/hours, a week or two of work for an average islander, depending on how many hours a day they put in. By having a dedicated barber, each islander is able to use their hour on more productive ventures. And because the barber is specialized in his job, he is able to learn to maximize his efforts and do a better job, faster then each person could learn to do in their spare time.

        This is essentially true of any service job, whether it involves cutting hair, or cooking food, or even healing the sick. All are jobs that NEED to be done, and would be done by everyone if there wasn’t someone to do so for them. By specializing in these jobs, they can do them better and faster then we could, and they transfer the time needed to do the work to themselves, allowing us more time to do what WE can do better and faster. This is the fundamental advantage of job specialization. But it requires a job force large enough that all necessary jobs are covered, and that only enough workers are doing any job to the extent that is needed. This is of course an example of a market force, with the need for specific jobs being done effecting how much we are willing to pay to have them done.

        This even goes for GOVERNMENT jobs. A government employee is (in theory) doing a job that needs to be done, and they can specialize in it to improve productivity. Unfortunately in many countries the number of government workers is NOT market driven. Instead their number expands until they consumes all the resources that they can aquire. It’s like if the chief of our 100 person island declared that haircuts are a fundamental need, and that everyone needed to support all the barbers regardless of how little work they each provided. Eventually there would be as many barbers as could be supported by the few actual workers left. (assuming the non barbers don’t revolt)

        In fact, the only jobs that aren’t producing wealth (real productive work done, through the transferance of time) are those that don’t NEED to be done. These are predominantly Entertainment providing jobs, anything like being an actor, a musician, professional sports player, an artist, or even a video game programmer. While each of these jobs involves creating something we value, the don’t create Wealth, at least not as we are currently describing it.

        Which isn’t to say that these jobs aren’t using the transferance of time and job specialization abilities I’ve described above. But what we are transferring isn’t our productive time, it’s our LEISURE time. And I think it say a great deal about just how wealthy and productive our society has become that we can have billion dollar industries (and all the man/hours that amounts to) based solely on what, when you come down to it, is our time to goof off.

        By that metric, I’m probably ‘wealthier’ then any medieval King… well, at least a Duke. ^¿^

      • schitzree December 10, 2016 at 3:24 pm

        A very good article Willis, I agree with most of it.

        The only real point were I disagree is on the point of service jobs not creating real wealth. While it’s true that, on their own, a service providing job doesn’t add materially to a society, they do help provide a resource that is every bit as valuable – TIME.

        You raise an interesting point and one I’d not considered. If I understand it, your argument is that service industries create real wealth because they allow the wealth producers to create more wealth than they would without them.

        The problem with that argument is that it can equally be applied to an alarm clock. It gets the wealth producer out of bed early allowing the wealth producer to create more wealth than they would without the alarm clock. So by your lights the alarm clock is creating real wealth.

        But if you allow the claim that alarm clocks generate real wealth, then the concept no longer has meaning.

        w.

      • @schitzree

        Think of it as a cycle: all work done by the public sector is at the base funded by taxes collected on the output of the private sector. Economist on the Left would like us to forget that only the private sector which uses capital and HR to produce goods and services customers actually want at a profit that is then taxed actually creates true economic wealth. These tax revenues allow governments to expand the public sector into ever more “services” -whether the tax payers actually wants/needs these or not.

        The wages of the myriad public sector workers are thus ultimately paid for by the original tax revenues derived from the private sector, supplemented by the [recycled] tax revenues derived from the public sector wages. This is how governments have grown to represent some 45-55% of GDP in most developed economies since the 1960s. The problem is that this of course does not add up and the fictitious financial “perpetuum mobile” – a figment of the socialist big government mind – is not sustainable. Which is why without exception governments in Western “developed” economies have been running systematic fiscal deficits for the past 40 years and have accumulated public debts that in many cases [US included] are approaching or exceeding 100% of GDP.

      • @ tetris
        An excellent observation, and very true. And obviously whenever a government grows to be half or more of a nations GDP then it is using up far more resources then it provides benefit for.

        It should be pointed out, nearly every service provided by a government CAN and HAS been provided by the private sector at some point in history, from basic utilities to schools to even the police. There is no intrinsic reason why public service government should be any less economical then if it were run as a business. The true problem is with the people running it. To many people are willing to accept a level of curruption and inefficiency that would never work in the private sector.

        @ Willis
        Hmm, the alarm clock as a service provider. An interesting point of view, but what work does the alarm clock do? For it to count as a transferance of time it has to do a job that you no longer have to do yourself. It may ring, but you still need to be the one to get up and go to work. And if you set it an hour early, it is still your choice to get up then. At most it improves the efficiency of the work you do yourself.

        What the alarm clock really is then is a tool. Like all tools, it does no work by itself, but instead acts as a multiplier for the work you do with it. By using the alarm clock you are able to more productively use the hours in a day, just as a power saw let’s a carpenter cut more wood or a farm tractor let’s a farmer plow and plant more acres. But none of these tools will do work, and thus create wealth, by themselves.

        Which begs the question, CAN a tool or machine do work by itself? Is there a point where the machine could create Wealth itself rather then just multiply the amount of wealth produced by a worker?

        For an example, let’s assume we have a scientist who wants to have breakfast each morning. We’ll call him Doc Brown, just for fun. Now, he could take the time to make breakfast himself, and he could use a number of TOOLS, like a toaster, to make his cooking time more productive, but he has much better things to spend his time on. There is SCIENCE! that needs to be done. Instead, he could do what many of us do, and buy breakfast from a restaurant. He would thus be transferring the time he would have spent cooking to the workers there. Or if he has enough money, he could hire an actual cook to do all the work of cooking, cleaning the dishes, and even getting the groceries. Even more time transfered. But our Doc is a scientist and inventor, so instead he builds a machine to automatically cook him breakfast each morning (and feed the dog too, while he’s at it)
        Now, is that machine just a tool, multiplying the work that Doc put into it? Or is it actually doing work (and thus creating wealth) by itself? And if it is just a tool, at what point of automation does a machine STOP just being a tool? Is a fully automated robotic car factory just a super complex tool, multiplying the work of a few people by an incredible amount? Would a true robot, able to do the work of a miner or construction worker, be creating wealth? And once we finally build self-replecating robots, does each generation just add another exponential on to the work done by creating the first? How would the work done by them be any different then the work done by us?

        Anyway, just some crazy thoughts. I’m spending my leisure time, not my productive time right now. No wealth produced. ^¿^

      • Oh, one last thing. While I would argue that the transferance of time means a service job CAN create wealth, that doesn’t mean it actually DOES. Consider an example.

        We have a nice restaurant in New York. Chefs, waiters, dishwashers, a maitre d, the whole shebang. And according to our theory of transferance of time the work they do allows more time to anyone who eats there, and thus allows a true wealth creator to create even more wealth then they could have made alone.

        So, tonight we have two people eating at the restaurant, who are getting the exact same meal. The first is a auto worker, who is spending his hard earned paycheck on a really nice meal. We’ll call him Bob. The second is a highly successful business man. We’ll call him The Donald. Now The Donald is all about creating wealth. And every minute he doesn’t have to spend cooking his own food, washing his own cloths, cleaning his own house, or even driving his own car can be spent working and dealing. The Donald is a poster boy for the creation of wealth by the transferance of time.

        But what about Bob? He’s getting the same meal, and thus is benefiting from the same transferance of time. Does that mean he also creates more wealth? Well, no. Bob already put in his eight hours today. And even if he wanted to use the extra time he got by not having to cook his own food to work more, the factory isn’t currently allowing overtime. In effect, Bob didn’t transfer productive time from the cooks to himself, he converted the cooks productive time into more leisure time for himself. And as we already said leisure time doesn’t create wealth, no matter how you spend it.

        And here’s the real kicker, the cooks, and waiters, and dishwashers, and every other service provider have NO CONTROL over how the people they transfer their time to actually spend it, and therefore have no way to decide if their work will create wealth or not. In fact, the probability that their work creates wealth is inversely proportional to both the number of other service providers there are in the workforce AND to the amount of leisure time that the workforce enjoys.

        Add in a masive government sucking in all the wealth that IS being created, and it’s a wonder there’s any left at all.

      • As a capitalism advocate, coming from me this may seem odd, but it is true: It does not make any difference to wealth creation if the means of production are privately owned or public. The USSR made great quantities of steel and created huge national wealth increases, as did capitalist USA and kairetsu Japan. Wealth creation ability depends on a level of technology and choices to employ it.

        Where capitalism wins is from competition reducing feather bedding and pushing innovation (not invention… properly used, innovation means the use and diffusion of new ideas across an economy. It doesn’t matter what new things you invent if they never get innovated into the production process). It also ruthlessly prunes bad ideas. Both government and business have very bad ideas, but government lets them grow to gigantic size while businesses die off if they do not self prune bad ideas.

        In short, the only real difference to productivity is competition.

        Per services: All human labor is coupled with capital stock in the productive process. Even if just shoes and clothes as the capital. (Or, if naked, the pole for the dancer…) You could make a case for all labor being a service to capitol stock. So what really divides “wealth creation” goods from service work product? Mostly the duration in time of the product persistence. The chef DOES manufacture a physical product. That meal will only keep for minutes, while a car lasts for years (or a flower garden months). IMHO, all are wealth creating (in the sense of life improving… and what else is real wealth?)

        The problem is entropy. To increase in net wealth, the ratio of durable goods to volitile goods must result in a longer average wealth lifespan than lifespan consumed by entropy processes.

        Now some goods (and services) leverage production to make more. These we tend to call tools. It doesn’t really matter if the tool is a hammer, a frying pan, or an alarm clock. They are just part of the physical capital stock. The more and better tools you have, the more product you can produce per unit resource. The more durable wealth we can all possess, and the more volatile wealth we can enjoy.

        The goal of a sane economy would be to make as many durable tools as possible (including robots, and those giant robotic machines we call factories) so as to let us spend more time dining out and less time fixing hammers or building ploughs. (Folks afraid of automation miss that point).

        Sidebar on taxes: As tax is added to a product, the value of economies in production drops. Eventually it is no longer an advantage to me to buy the product, but is advantaged to make it myself. Say a company, using lots of machines, has a 30% efficiency at making soup. If 35% tax is then added, it is cheaper to make it without the factory (and the tax) even though less efficient. For many goods, we are now in that state. I have started making home canned soups, since they cost me about 50 ¢ each, while range from $1.25 to $2 each at the store. I don’t particulary want to be a soup factory, but it pays me to do it. Now figure to get the $2 to spend, I must earn $4 so after tax, I have $2 so I can buy a $1/2 value can of soup. This is why no economy long survives once total tax (govt size TOTAL at all levels) exceeds 50%. It starts to pay most folks a lot to Go Gault and stop working for others while DIY blooms

        Essentially, when too much nonproductive government is added to production, folks are paid to DIY even if significantly less efficient (or just can’t accumulate the post tax money to buy, so simply stop using that product). Then the commons decay sets in and the spiral of collapse starts. similarly, cut taxes, more is worth buying from others, more efficient production happens, and total production of wealth increases. The limit at present tech level is about % 18 to the Feds, a few more to State and local. Once at 50% total, collapse of the economy follows (that is actual take, not nominal rate).

        So is your alarm clock creating wealth? I assert that is a “Mu!” question. It is a (simple) robot tool to increase your efficiency, be that creating wealth at a job, consuming work product at the cafe, or bypassing wealth consuming taxes via canning your own soup.

      • You could make a case for all labor being a service to capitol stock. So what really divides “wealth creation” goods from service work product? Mostly the duration in time of the product persistence. The chef DOES manufacture a physical product. That meal will only keep for minutes, while a car lasts for years (or a flower garden months). IMHO, all are wealth creating (in the sense of life improving… and what else is real wealth?)
        The problem is entropy. To increase in net wealth, the ratio of durable goods to volitile goods must result in a longer average wealth lifespan than lifespan consumed by entropy processes.
        Now some goods (and services) leverage production to make more. These we tend to call tools. It doesn’t really matter if the tool is a hammer, a frying pan, or an alarm clock. They are just part of the physical capital stock. The more and better tools you have, the more product you can produce per unit resource. The more durable wealth we can all possess, and the more volatile wealth we can enjoy.

        E.M. you start a little off, but do get back to the point.

        The only thing of value is our ability to do labor. The more efficiently you can create value from your labor, the more wealth you can create. All ultimately all more work to be done in less time, allowing us to do other required work, and so on.

        The more leverage your labor has, the greater it’s value is. Usually money, but power, image, etc.
        A plow is more efficient than a shovel, and so on, but Bill Gates deployed the base OS that has transformed the world, all those businesses creating tools to make you more efficient, all the people in those companies, all that labor he has a huge impact on, and his net worth shows it.

        The rest right back on point :)
        Nanotech assemblers are due anytime in the next qtr century, the amount of new tech, the leveraged labor, creating devices that do even more. Computers helping humans design and manufacture newer more powerful computers for less money, designing robots that make the stuff (including more robots) for less.

        We’ll shortly get to a point where most of our stuff can be made on demand on some box, and besides the raw materials (and how expensive is the carbon that goes into carbon fiber?) and the IP that defines the thing. And like software, there are people who build things and give it away.

        As this happens, manufacturing as we know it now will go away, likely some assembly, much will be made in the customers home. But I think there will become a boom in human made things, hand made clothes, art, things humans life with.
        So on one hand, everything we need will be cheap and easy to get, probably won’t even need to work, but to get the unique stuff, the human made stuff will go up, and will be a status symbol.

        Next 50 years.

      • Thank you E M Smith. Your little article should rank close up to Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Easy Lesson”. I would like to send this to various Liberal Party members, and various parliamentarians. As you own the copyright, would you give me (and perhaps others) permission to pass it on to persons who might (should) be interested?

      • @micro6500:

        There were two points. The first one is not “off”; it addresses a different point. Look upthread, both labor vs wealth and govt vs private are discussed by others, so I addressed both.

        Only a few small thing manufactures will move into the home. Steel, for example, needs gigantic scale to make. Similarly, fabricating ships and ore hauler trucks. Sure, you will make your own plastic pots for plants, but you will not make your own window glass, or sofa.

        Per the Labor Theory Of Value (that you use, but did not name): It has a long history, and generally is not complete. Yes, embodied labor is part of the value, but other things contribute to value as well. Shipping, for example. 10 lbs. of potatoes in Idaho have zero value to me, despite the embodied labor. In my local market, they have more value. In my kitchen, even more. Even if delivered by robots with zero human labor involved. BOTH capital and labor contribute value. Communication has value added. It reduces my search costs. Thus all the marcom money spent to advertise. The net total value to me embodies all of the labor to produce, the capital stock used, the mechanical labor in fuels to ship, and the advert that informed me I could keep $2 of my money via buying at Walmart today. Labor is only a small part of value creation in modern economies.

        BTW, the Labor Theory Of Value reaches back to Ricardo, Marx, and even Adam Smith gave it a try
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_theory_of_value
        but after a couple of hundred years it still “has issues”…

      • The problem with that argument is that it can equally be applied to an alarm clock. It gets the wealth producer out of bed early allowing the wealth producer to create more wealth than they would without the alarm clock. So by your lights the alarm clock is creating real wealth.

        The alarm clock does not perform activities that the wealth producer would otherwise be responsible for. It’s actually no different from hiring a clerk to do filing – the boss is more productively engaged in doing higher-level (business-wise) activities than filing his own documents. Likewise, he is more productively engaged in doing his job than in mowing the lawn.

    • Another great article Willis! Thank you. And thank you as well for that link, I enjoyed that article, as well as the piece on why ‘We Need Democrats’. Great work.

    • Willis….I have learned more about DOE from this post that in 30 years of poking around the edges as a consumer. Sincerely hope that you will be able to follow up on this and help give us some insight into the responses to the questions.

      Thanks again for a great post.

      • Thanks, Cliff. The questions were leaked, but I don’t imagine we’ll see the answers, and I’m OK with that.

        w.

    • Thx Willis, Good observations & hopefully good signs for the future. I similarly have been tasked with performing audits of companies about to be acquired to identify problem areas & prioritize new management focus on those problem areas. Its a hectic time and requires both experience and proper vision to ask the right questions, followup and break through the fog. I wish the transition team all the success possible and hope that they can effect necessary changes in the DOE as well as other federal agencies.

      • I once learned (the hard way) to ask during interviews “Are there any current or pending lawsuits involving the department I will be running?” and “What is the nature of any HR issues being worked?”

        It’s a long story….

  6. This is one of the most exciting posts I have ever read!!!
    It is great to know the authors of the questions are getting to the heart of things. Nice, too, to learn of a possible refocus onto nuclear.
    Over the last few years it has been absolutely agonizing to read in WUWT, JoNova, etc of the sheer craziness that has infected government and academia. The Trump win brought some hope. Now some resolution.

    • Couldn’t agree more. It’s like slowly waking from a long and terrible nightmare to find that the sun is still shining and the birds are singing outside your window.

      • At 2:30 AM election night I woke my beloved Libby and told her “Trump Won”. She said “Thank God” and got up to watch the news. A week or so ago I asked her what she felt at that moment. She said “Relief”. My exact feelings.

  7. The great mistake that the msm/leftard elites make is that because Trump is wealthy enough to act like a bit of a dick when it suits him that he is a complete dick and not worth several billion dollars. His choices for defence and security secretaries shows that he know exactly the sort of clear but hard headed people he wants and is putting in charge. His chat with the Taiwanese President was done in the full knowledge that the mainland Chinese regime would whine about it but would also get the message that the US is back in the game to win. This shot across the bow of the EPA privateers is just that and, as Willis so beautifully sets out, this is not some 18th century cannon shot, this is a modern, multiple guided warhead, JOINT projectile with precision targetting.

    Methinks this is going to be so much fun watching the rodents scurry and squirm in the lead up to January 20. And after that… JDAM it looks like its gonna be a lot of fun!

  8. “Given that offshore wind is far and away the MOST EXPENSIVE of all the renewable options, the answer should be “None”.”

    Best at hiding bird carcasses though.

    • The best thing about offshore wind is that the bird carcasses vanish in the ocean. Sort of an auto-coverup.

      • Craig, that’s good, but there’s more. If you think of it as an automatic fish feeding station offering pre-cut meals you can add ocean fish production into the “monetized benefits” section of the usual imaginary accounting!

        w.

  9. Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, called the memo’s demand that Energy officials identify specific employees “alarming.”

    It would appear that Mr Halpern & his associates have fallen at the first hurdle, one can be scientific, or one can be democratic, & as science is not democratic, it cannot be both! Questions the calibre of some of these “concerned” scientists!

    • Are you casting nastersums at Anthony’s dog there?

      (I’m presuming that membership is still current)

    • The UCS of which I was an original charter member, was started by genuine concerned scientists. But over time the scientists and engineers were pushed out, until only the fundraising politicians, and nut case fringe marxists remained. But there are still a few left but they work the 2nd and 3rd shift as these sanitary and janitory engineers ply their work on floors and toilets,

      • It is very much worth one’s time to examine the UCS web site and look at the qualifications of their staff.
        Except for two physicists well into their late 80’s who are on the board, there is no one there who has
        a degree in a hard, quantitative science. Yet they make very authoritative -scientific- sounding proclamations have no basis. These just promote their purely political agenda.

  10. Well, someone has been doing their homework, and so has Willis.
    Can’t wait for answers to Qs 55 to 58.
    But one nit pick – to all the questions which have the words “Can you provide ….. ” in them, all they have to do is answer “yes” or “no”. The words should have been “Please provide ….. .”
    And to Dudley in Aus, maybe there should be an instruction saying “If you don’t know the answer right away, find out asap.”

    • I thought of that as well, but if you think about it a bit more, when the POTUS says “Can you” he means “Do it now, and if you dare have the temerity to answer yes or no, I’ll find someone who’ll give me the answer I’m looking for, don’t test me, you’ll come off second best”.

      • Yes, HotScot, but they will obfuscate and prevaricate and bluster as much as they can because many of them know that when they give a final answer the P45 will arrive the next morning. (For transatlantic readers, P45 = termination of employment notice.)

      • You can also take it as wanting a simple “Yes” or “No” to the “Can you..” question. If it is “Yes”, they are ordered to provide it, if the answer is “No”, then the next question is “Why not”.
        This is a tactic that can be used to box someone in, then you slowly shrink the boxes to tighten the focus of the following questions so they cannot escape.

      • >>>Note that Trump is President #45 or P45.

        Errr, that needs some explaining. In the UK a P45 is a notice of termination of your job. Or rather it is the notice to the taxman that you have lost your job. So yes, a bit prophetic…

        Ralph

    • When I was a little kid at school, another kid would sometimes ask “Sir, can I go to the toilet?”. One master would answer “Smith, I am not medically qualified to answer that question. I suggest you ask your doctor.”

    • Agreed.
      “Can you provide” should have the “Can you” removed.
      Refusal should mean dismissal and an audit.

    • By asking “can you provide …” you are putting the department in an untenable position. Answer no, and the person/department is essential saying ‘we were not doing our job’ because it was their job to do such work. That can used against them in many ways. Answer yes, and they admit the work is there and so will have to show it at some time.

      • The best answer is

        “Yes. To compile complete documentation will require Xxx man hours and approximately y weeks. Would you like us to proceed? If so we will require orders from zzz.”

        I’ve been in this situation, and it’s important to recall this process does take away from day to day activities and quite often requires budgeting.

      • To which the investigator responds”Fine, in 24 hours you have all relevant documents listed and involved individuals in this office, after that time United States Marshals will handle the issue. Have a nice day.”

      • Fernando: if given that response, my reply would be, if you don’t have the answer to that question on hand, then the program is not being administered properly, and all employees are hereby classified as redundant. Your budget is now zero.

    • I have a limited experience doing audits but enough to know how the “can you” question works. If the answer is affirmative the next step is to review what is produced. So for instance, if I ask can you provide training records for your employees, the next question is of course, can you show me those records. That’s when the truth telling begins.

    • No fool that has ever been in professional employment would misunderstand, “can you…”. You are either here to do, or it’s time to move along.

    • Oldseadog December 10, 2016 at 3:27 am

      Well, someone has been doing their homework, and so has Willis.
      Can’t wait for answers to Qs 55 to 58.
      But one nit pick – to all the questions which have the words “Can you provide ….. ” in them, all they have to do is answer “yes” or “no”. The words should have been “Please provide ….. .”

      Hey, Seadog, always good to hear from you, I trust the ladies are well. Please pass our regards.

      Regarding “can you provide”, you gotta remember that these are people fighting to keep their jobs. Answering “yes” or “no” will move them a long ways towards the door … they’ll try to delay and obfuscate, but I suspect the incoming businessmen and businesswomen won’t put up with this for long …

      Stay safe on the ocean, my friend …

      w.

    • No, “can you provide” is appropriate to determine of the records have been kept and are available. The politeness is honorific at best. When the POTUS says “please” it’s an order. They’ll jump for Trump, or they’ll be sidelined and dumped.

  11. “These two questions show us that they plan to restart Yucca Mountain, the shuttered nuclear waste repository.”

    Please don’t restart that boondoggle. It buries enough energy to power us for a thousand years.

      • ozspeaksup: “and NOT as DU weapons huh?”

        You’ll probably never understand how ignorant that comment is. Just totally laughably ignorant.

      • Indeed, reprocess. The vast bulk of long lived radioactivity from nuclear “waste” comes from uranium, plutonium, and assorted transuranics, most of which can be used as fuel in a properly designed reactor.

      • “and NOT as DU weapons huh?”

        Ozspeakup, I dont feel the need to feel superior so can respond slightly informatively. The product of DU is at the other end of the cycle as a by product of the enrichment phase.

    • rokshox December 10, 2016 at 3:28 am

      “These two questions show us that they plan to restart Yucca Mountain, the shuttered nuclear waste repository.”

      Please don’t restart that boondoggle. It buries enough energy to power us for a thousand years.

      Dang … and me with RockShocks front forks on my mountain bike …

      In any case, from memory it would be stored but not sealed off, so if needed it could be taken out.

      That’s how I’d do it at least … and yes, I agree that we need to reprocess spent fuel. But at the end of the day, reprocessed or not, we need to decide how to deal with high-level waste.

      w.

      • No, I worked on that project. The expectation was that the tunnels would collapse over the buried “waste” and it would be irretrievable.

      • In fact, just to show you how ridiculous it was, they had “models” for the size of chunk that would fall down on the (almost pure nickel) waste containers when the tunnels collapsed.

        The containers couldn’t withstand the modeled chunk, so they engineered titanium carports over the waste containers. These shields would easily use up the world’s supply of titanium.

        All to shield the public from the potential egress of radioactivity 6 miles away from where open air atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons occurred and in a basin with no effluent.

      • 10,000 years.
        ===========
        more likely over that timespan yucca will end up like old mine tailings. a rich ore body once the appropriate technology becomes available.

      • eer, in ten thousand years, we will be at the beginning of the next glacial. Can’t we just let the Earth sort it out from there?

    • “These two questions show us that they plan to restart Yucca Mountain, the shuttered nuclear waste repository.”

      “Please don’t restart that boondoggle. It buries enough energy to power us for a thousand years…..”

      Fourth Generation nuclear power technology folks: GE-Hitachi’s PRISM, Bill Gates’ Travelling Wave Reactor, and the molten salt reactor.

      I don’t know for certain that any of these technologies will make it in to commercial use someday—I am not saying that they will. However, as I understand it, they can all use plutonium as their input to generate electricty,

      I believe PRISM is at the NRC licensing stage (which I know takes many years). The other two are still in their development phase, so let’s just wait and see before we decide to PERMANENTLY dispose of plutonium at Yucca Mountain.

      • “once the appropriate technology becomes available”

        Well, that will never happen, since technology development by humans has frozen in time and nothing will ever improve and humans can’t adapt and we’re all gonna fry and

    • Excellent summary Willis.

      One minor nit. M&O is not “Maintenance and Operation contracts” it is Management & Operating Contracts.

    • If you worked there, then you should know that ability to retrieve the spent nuclear fuel from a repository for 100 years is mandated by the current law.

      Also the repository was not only for storage of spent nuclear fuel but also for disposal of defense nuclear waste and naval fuel. While spent nuclear fuel can be reprocessed, defense waste can’t and I doubt that the navy would want their classified waste reprocessed.

      The titanium shield were not to guard against rock fall, they were planned as shields against the potential of any dripping water, that’s why they were called drip shields.

      The 10,000 year criterion was morphed into a one million year criterion by the EPA and then the NRC.

      • BZ – This correct. I was one of the reviewers for the TSPA.

        Early models did not have the ‘waste package’ start leaking for about 40k years. However, fighting everything in court resulted in models that ignored geology and metallurgy by assuming early waste package failures.

        Even after hundreds of thousands of years, there is not a problem.

  12. This is one of the reasons I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of me on November 8.
    Finally someone is asking the right questions, and anything that worries the known climastrologists is probably a good thing.
    Indeed… the gravy train is going to shed a lot of passengers, and this sounds like a great leap FORWARD in Science is gearing up.

      • More likely someone on the Trump team wrote these questions. But a key mark of a good manager is who he choses to surround himself with.

      • “A first rate manager hires first rate help

        A second rate manager hires third rate help”

        Baxter Black

      • “I like to think Trump wrote these questions himself.”

        I didn’t see the words “unbelievable”, “amazing”, “Incredible”, “crooked”, or “believe me” in there, so doubtful.

  13. We called this the “The bonfire of the Quangos” in the UK when Labour was last kicked out under Gordon Brown.

    I don’t think it was nearly as comprehensive as Trump’s though.

  14. “32 Does the Department have any thoughts on how to reduce the bureaucratic burden for exporting U.S. energy technology, including but not limited to commercial nuclear technology?”

    Get rid of the ridiculous Dept of Commerce “Export Controlled Information” regulations. Completely ties the hands of domestic nuclear energy technology producers and threatens us with jail at every turn.

  15. Great post, thank you. At various times I have asked similar direct questions of my federal Australian politician about several of our Australian agencies and all I have got is trash in response. With some modifications the list of questions you have highlighted is a pro-forma for many agencies that could be used by anyone empowered enough to ask them.

  16. Two important UK TV presenters lost their livelihood over a couple of comments about AGW/GW being of no concern. The BBC and others dropped them immediately. Over 10 years ago:

    David Bellamy – Botanist

    Johnny Ball – Mathematics/Arithmetic for children

    There will be many others I suspect.

    Questions as above need to be re configured and fired at our UK Energy Authority (Govt). Cue Lord Monckton perhaps?

  17. “Savannah River National Laboratory at Aiken, South Carolina (1952)”

    Well 1952 is wrong there.More like 1995 or so. When under the competent leadership of DuPont, there was never any need or desire to obtain a “national lab” designation for the research facility supporting the important work performed at the Savannah River Site.

    Where they were once able to build large scale facilities important to our national defense in 7 months.

    Once DuPont left and a less desirable contractor took over, it was all about whatever it takes to grub taxpayer dollars. For nothing. I was there.

    • A little more info. In July 1950, HST wrote to Crawford Greenewalt, president of DuPont Company, requesting DuPont undertake the design, construction and operation of a new atomic facility, as yet to be sited. In October of that year, DuPont agreed to undertake that project for cost and a fee of $1 per year. By February of 1954, R reactor was brought up to design rating. By March 1955, all five reactors were operational. “In less than five years after DuPont had agreed to take on the Savannah River Project, a site had been chosen, five reactors and their ancillary heavy water and fuel production facilities and utilities had been designed, built and operated and all reactors were producing safely at well over their design ratings.”* Savannah River Laboratory’s mission under DuPont was technical support of operations. DuPont notified DOE of their intent to step back from SRP operations in 1989 with a one year transition to a new operator.
      * “History of DuPont at the Savannah River Plant”, W.P. Bebbington, 1990.

  18. But, but…the media reports have it that the Trump transition is in complete disarray! Surely, this is fake news, or something…I guess.

    Seriously, my bet is a loud silence from the agency under the cover of a media barrage.

    BTW, Willis, you provided me with a huge laugh over your wife’s negotiating tactics on color. Oh, the humanity!!!

    Best to all,

  19. 59 Can you describe the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA from outside EIA and compare it to the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA who were currently serving at EIA?

    Civil servants should not have an agenda. They should professionally do the jobs they are mandated to do.

    Hiring a lot of managers from outside the civil service is a red flag. Something’s wrong one way or the other.

      • That’s a yuge problem. The big bucks are in industry. Civil servants won’t do anything to upset industry if they think they can get better paying jobs with said industry. If the civil servants don’t see the possibility of promotion in the civil service, it multiplies the problem times at least two.

        regulatory capture == fox guarding henhouse

    • The civil service in America is very different from that in the UK, or Australia. In the US, many civil servants are tied to one or other of the parties. They will leave the service when the “wrong” party wins power and re-enter it years later when the “right” party gets back in. In management, this appears to be nearly 100%. For instance, the secretary of the department is a political appointment and will be changed with every new government.

      It is extremely rare for the secretary of a department in the UK or Australia to be changed by the minister. It happens, but only when the secretary has become so enamoured with a previous governments policy that they are unable to follow the new minister’s directions.

      • Not quite true.

        Most civil service employees may belong to a party, but they do not need to reveal that to anybody, ever. Nor do these employees leave the government employ when the Administration changes parties.

        There are political appointees to head a number of the agencies. The number of appointees is not great.
        Properly or perhaps better stated as traditionally, all appointees submit their resignations when a new President takes office; technically even when a President is re-elected.

        These appointees and the President’s cabinet are the people who the President elect is building his Administration; and their approach looks to be solid business from the start.

        The secretary, frequently referred to is not actually a stenographer typist clerk, but is the head of the State Department; known as the Secretary of State. One of the more powerful positions of a President’s cabinet.

        Every president gets to pick their own cabinet.

  20. Yeah, and can someone maybe do a calculation for the the LCOE of coal generation WITHOUT carbon sequestration technology. All that I see these days, are comparisons between absurd intermittents and LOOK – coal is now really expensive TOO – because we added ludicrously priced CCS to our coal calculation and got the total to come out in the region of pedal-power!!
    Here’s an example, where costs are compared, but where we don’t get to see the cost of conventionally burned coal. Here’s my idea – maybe they should stop trying to hide the truth by playing silly games: http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/assumptions/pdf/table_8.2.pdf

    • ‘Correct’ Calculations for USC coal, CCGT, and onshore wind were guest posted at Judith’s Climate Etc maybe 18 months ago in essay True Cost of Wind. All the corrections to EIA are discussed in transparent detail, with refrences. The EIA costing malfeasance is much greater than just omitting wind backup as noted by Q 55. We identified four major additional areas. Blatant Augean Stables stuff. The ‘answer’ is CCGT LCOE ~ $56/MWh depending on natural gas price assumptions, USC coal ~$60 based on Powder River low sulfur subbituminois, and onshore wind ~$144 based on ERCOT grid backup actuals.

    • My guess is the EIA was constrained by the EPA’s existing 111 (B) requirement for IGCC w/ Carbon Capture as the Best Available Technology for new coal plants and 111 (D) rules for existing plants. The bottom line being that the EIA assessed costs are based on existing regulation and on a forecast of expected regulation. When the EPA regulations are changed the EIA base case assessment will follow.

      Problem is solved if: 1) the new EPA administrator reopens the GHG endangerment finding and concludes little danger or too much uncertainty (thus gutting the EPA GHG regulations), 2) the new EPA administrator simply changes the EPA’s 111 (B) Best Available Standard to new pulverized coal unit (as well as the 111 (D) rule for existing plants [i.e. the Clean Air Plan]), or 3) Congress defangs the EPA with respect to GHG’s and Ocean Acidification.

      • Thankyou for that detailed explanation.
        I was unaware that the economic nonsense of CCS had been cast in stone as a regulatory requirement.
        No wonder people are complaining that America has gifted an unfair advantage to their trading partner, China.
        I’m shocked. I still assumed that CCS would never fly due to exhorbitant costs associated with the technique.

  21. Besides the fact that these are very complex questions that even a dedicated Department would find very hard to answer, these questions will never get through the political appointees in the DOE before the transition.

    It will be professional bureaucrats trying to answer the question properly against the political appointees who are trying to stifle the answers which say “we did not have statutory authority to spend these billion dollars”. I suppose some stuff will get brown-enveloped over to the transition team, but professionals in government normally respect the chain of authority even if the political appointee/authorities will be gone in a few months.

    When new people are put in charge after the transition, the professional bureaucrats and lawyers will be trying to provide the correct answers to protect their jobs but they will be stonewalled by the appointees still remaining in the Department. There will also be professionals still remaining in positions of authority who are genuinely captured by the climate change religion that they will also stonewall the answers.

    It will take many months before these very complex questions have full objective responses. There has got to be room for Willis to participate in this somehow. Anyone involved in the transition that reads this should take note.

    • Trump may not be able to do anything about elected members of House of reps or Congress, but he can run the bureaucracy as a business. Stonewall too much and you get fired or forced into early retirement. These ‘professionals’ as you call them are used to dealing with politicians and not to ruthless businessmen.

    • Agreed. There are some questions there which even a willing bureaucracy might take years to answer. An unwilling bureaucracy will do what they do best namely set up interdepartmental committees which never tie things up in knots.

    • Also, don’t forget the power of the budget process. For many of the questions failing to provide a complete answer may result in program cuts or outright termination.

    • looks like a democratic way to elect volunteers for the guillotine.
      i eagerly anticipate the concensus…

    • Or President Trump could do a PATCO on the whole department. I’m sure he’d be delighted to have a sacrificial lamb to show potential transgressors that the way is hard.

      The usual suspects would, of course, make an unseemly squeal, but that would easily be drowned out by the cheers of tens of millions of taxpayers nation-wide.

    • The entrenched bureaucrats will dig in and take forever at answering the questions. They will treat this like a filibuster and claim it will cost millions of dollars to come up with the answers.

      • Good!

        Outright refusal to comply is a denial of responsibility and grounds for job termination.
        Obfuscation and obstructionism are falsehoods and grounds for reassignment, at minimum.

        As pointed out earlier, the easiest way to clear a position is to recognize the job is worthless since it isn’t performed properly and eliminate the position.
        bye bye bureaucrat.

    • Reading though the questions, I suspect a number of fed-up DOE professionals, both retired and active, were involved in the development of the questions above.

  22. The next step should be calling lobbying by its true name- corruption. I live in China at the moment and lobbyists and their companies would be arrested and imprisoned and probably have their assets confiscated. China has grown soft these days. They used to execute them, harvest their organs and issue a bill to the family for the cost of the bullet.

  23. Anyone asks: What does he mean “Drain the Swamp”?
    Well, here we go.
    We’ve just pulled the plug at the DOE.
    Comeuppance for them.
    Schadenfreude for me.

  24. When Australian governments change, the bureaucracy in every department prepares a brief for the incoming minister, which details such things as:
    – what the department does
    – how it is structured
    – how it’s budget is structured
    – issues it is dealing with at the moment, as well as longer term
    – and many other items to allow the incoming minister to take over, relatively seamlessly.

    Much of the questions which Trump’s Transition Team are asking falls into these categories and is quite unremarkable. However, there are also questions which suggest a plan exists to transition the DOE into a new direction. The fact that Trump may think he is allowed to run the DOE in the way he wants, is what appears to be igniting the hair of greenies all over America.

    • Hivemind December 10, 2016 at 4:51 am

      The fact that Trump may think he is allowed to run the DOE in the way he wants, is what appears to be igniting the hair of greenies all over America.

      The fact is that he CAN run it the way he wants, and he WILL run it the way he wants. The thing that astounds me is that the Democrats are surprised by this … what on earth did they expect, that he’d nominate Leonardo DeCaprio?

      w.

      • I would have asked DeCaprio to lead my new Environmental rehabilitation department.
        When he said yes, I would have handed him a shovel and told him the job required him personally to plant enough trees to counteract his use of fossil fuels in his cars and airplanes.
        That would keep him busy for decades, and might actually get him to do something useful.

      • The Democrats expected the usual Republican capitulation. Problem is, they didn’t get the usual or a Republican.

    • Numerous questions asked about statutory authority, suggesting that the incoming administration is aware that the law may impose boundaries on what they may do.

      Pretty much anything not required by law is discretionary, and the president is generally understood to have sole discretion (as the head of the executive branch of government).

      If congress thinks that the president is going to far, it can enact law limiting his efforts.

      Within those constraints, I’d be of the opinion that the president _can_ run the DOE precisely the way he wants, which is exactly how the government was designed to function.

      • Equally NASA and other executive branch functions. Some presidents have taken advantage of that relationship in the past. It isn’t without precedent.

  25. Willis, EM is about cleaning up the cold war environmental hotspots. It involves very big, as in money, general fund(s). I think they are looking at not only the money and accounting, but whether it has been usurped past the legislated remit. They will need the statutory authorizations, etc just as they requested about EIA. The cleanup of the Savannah River site is one.

  26. 14 Did DOE or any of its contractors run the integrated assessment models (lAMs)? Did they pick the discount rates to be used with the lAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper discount rates used with the lAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper equilibrium climate sensitivity?

    “My guess is that they’re trying to undermine the credibility of the science that DOE has produced, particularly in the field of climate science,” said Rob Jackson, a Stanford climate and energy researcher, in response to the question about the integrated assessment models.

    Oh dear – “undermine the science”? No wonder they’re worried. When you shine a light on “climate science”, it vaporizes vampire-like.

    • But surely undermining (or trying to do so) the accepted view is a cornerstone of science.

      If what has been produced by the DOE can’t withstand scrutiny then it was not god science in the first place. On the other hand, anything that *does* withstand scrutiny is more reliable.

    • Doesn’t that just establish Rob Jackson as an anti-scientific mountebank. The whole point of science is that you do everything in your power to undermine every bit of it. The scraps remaining which cannot be undermined represent the current state of the art. That the idiot Jackson doesn’t even understand that much is why he is into voodoo junk science.

      • Bingo!

        Note that Rob Jackson is himself dependent on the climate money flow. He might have to find real work, after parasitizing citizen taxes, his cover letter will not be as credible with real research outfits.

  27. Wonderful way to start the weekend, sitting here with a nice dark roast, toast, blackberry jam and all these delicious questions to the DOE… life is good.

    Thanks Willis

    • I agree witgh John Picirrilli–the sort of questions being asked look like someone on the inside of the DOE is giving advice, and already knows the answer to a vast percentage of the questions already. Trump is thus far surprising me pleasantly.

  28. I worked at the DoE national laboratory in Idaho for 32 years; now retired. I’ve worked on nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, and environmental R&D. Worked with many of the other national laboratories, as well as our foreign counterparts.
    The group who wrote this memo has put serious work into analyzing DoE. I am very impressed. DoE is a complete mess and someone wants to fix it.
    Digging deep into the analyses and data of EIA is particularly wise. There are all sorts of assumptions baked into their models (what a shock) such as a risk penalty that reduces the projection of future nuclear power.
    EM has huge obligations (and huge costs) at Hanford, Savannah River, Idaho, and elsewhere to clean up portions of the national laboratory complex that are contaminated and no longer used. Buildings, waste burial sites, and so forth. BTW, i totally agree with the comment about DuPont’s tenure at Savannah River.
    Yucca Mtn needs to be repurposed and then opened. Burying used commercial nuclear fuel is stupid because ~95% of the material has high energy content. The used commercial nuclear fuel needs to be recycled. At the same time, there are all sorts of wastes that do need permanent disposal and DoE owns them. From a geochemistry standpoint, some belong at the salt waste site in New Mexico. Others belong in Yucca Mtn. We might actually make huge progress on nuclear waste, infuriating the anti=-nuclear organizations who thrive on keeping nuclear waste an active controversy.

    • One of the controversies around EM has been funding, and what the money used is actually funding. The cold war problem goes back all the way to Carter, maybe before. I worked for a firm in the mid 80’s that wanted to get part of the contract and send me to Hanford. Part of the problem is DOE and NRC is that often regulations are even worse for them and with even more reporting and oversight. Looking at the general structure, it appears to me that the questions also indicate not only a new direction, but a new emphasis as well. Businesses get it from all sides and with required comments and addressing these comments, progress is not only slow but can be stopped easily.

    • Agree. Ford’s fear about proliferation led tomthe bury spent fuel silliness. Yucca can be used as a partial solution to the Hanford mess. Dry casked spent fuel should be reprocessed usingnthe MOX process. Japan has a complete facility at Rokkasho that will be underutilized if it phases out nuclear.

    • I have struggled with DOE a long time. Here is an email from 2013. The link to our published paper for a proposal to clean up the radwaste at Hanford no longer works (surprise!) but I can post it if anyone is interested.

      DOE Hanford 5/1/2013

      I requested information from DOE about progress and cost of cleaning up the radwaste at Hanford on Feb 23rd and have not received an answer,
      Rather than repeat myself below is a copy of the email I have just sent to Senator Ron Wyden in the hope he will be more interested.
      I wasted some months of my life trying to get DOE to consider better proposals than their RFP specified without success. See my paper linked below.

      To Senator Ron Wyden 5/1/2013 Re radwaste at Hanford.

      As you are mentioned in the article here, I thought you might be interested that if DOE had followed our proposal it would have saved $100 billion and all the liquids would have been vitrified by now. See http://people.duke.edu/~mgg6/A67402113108.pdf

      This note was prompted by the piece in the Daily Kos linked below
      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/05/1198971/-Hanford-s-Radwaste-Tanks-Leaking-Explosive-Waste-Treament-Plant-Unsafe-Whistleblowers-Vindicated#

      It looks like the problems are even worse than we forecast. It seems that DOE has not vitrified ANY of the liquid waste, yet if they had accepted our proposal it would all have been vitrified by now. I also requested information on progress in cleaning up the radwaste and the cost so far from DOE and have not received a reply from them either.

      I thought DOE was supposed to respond to inquiries. My direct experience is that DOE is no longer technically competent and just relies on outside contractors for advice when it comes to something complicated like this. Why has no one been held accountable for this extremely expensive disaster? It is becoming a farce.

      Adrian Ashfield

      • Once a RFP (Request for Proposals) is issued, it takes someone with an iron will to tell the procurement department that the RFP must be cancelled, rewritten and reissued.

        Many employees prefer to let the RFPs die naturally, quietly.

  29. It is my hope that the Trump administration defunds the left whenever possible. Everyone is right to worry about crony capitalism, but the left has invented crony NGO-ism, where government agrees to a deal with an NGO not to payoff in money but to pay off in achieving the same ideological goal. The icing on this cake is that government somewhere along the line finds a reason to also give the NGO a grant to study this or that urgent issue. It is horribly corrupt.

  30. Thanks Willis. Interesting and very good to have. Lot of work, I’m about half way through. On #21 Participation legislation – this is important for the costly high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines “needed” to support the movement of energy from windy regions to population centers. While there are good practical HVDC applications and usage – the scale and cost of some of these proposed projects to support renewables (Clean Line) appear way out of the money relative to benefits and uncounted additional costs and burdens they would impose. A big question on these is who benefits and who pays.

    • Thanks for that clarification, it makes sense. To allow for massive input of uncontrollable wind and solar energy they need to revamp the whole transmission system.

      w.

  31. Excellent article. Nicely done.

    Wondering why the request wasn’t available directly from transition team.

    Here’s hoping EPA, Energy, n Interior, Homeland, Education, and more get similar specific requests. Although I suspect as Illis has stated that no action will happen until after the new folks are fully in place. In the least all agencies should now be required to fully release the data, algorithms and such used in developing the cost / benefits of any specific findings leading to rule making, and provide follow-up results measured against those findings.

    One thing about this election …there was NO hope with one candidate, and at least SOME hope with the winner. This article allows me to feel there is even MORE hope.
    Thanks Willis.

    • Responses that contain good information from scientific minds can and should be put into the MAGA transition page by the author. A suggestion to read this article with commentary would be good also.

      It is very easy to get ideas across now. I do believe that each response is being read, and the more intelligent and helpful ones are forwarded to appropriate persons.

  32. “What was DOE’s opinion on the proper equilibrium climate sensitivity?”

    That is a good question. The gut feeling by IPCC on that question is everything from a walk in the park to catastrophe:
    “The equilibrium climate sensitivity quantifies the response of the climate system to constant radiative forcing on multi-century time scales. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at equilibrium that is caused by a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence)( Note 16 ).”

    Note 16 “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies.

    IPCC; WGI ; AR5; Summary for policymakers; Page 16

  33. Great post. Just one quibble….”Folks, for $4.5 billion dollars, we could provide clean water to almost half a million villages around the world … or we could put it into Elon Musk’s bank account…”

    Nope. America’s government shouldn’t be interested in foreign villages water supplies either. Not their concern.

    That 4.5 billion dollars needs to be returned to the American taxpayer and all taxes reduced so that it isn’t taken from them next time…. Americans are being treated as Tax Slaves. Time it stopped.

    • bingo … Willis just wants to spend the money on the things that HE considers virtuous … the government should no business in virtue signaling …

      • Kaiser, where did Willis write or indicate he “wants to spend the money on the things that HE considers virtuous”?

    • That 4.5 billion dollars needs to be returned
      ==============
      agreed. while it may seem harsh, foreign aid almost always causes massive problems in the country that receives it, because it undermines the local economy.

      what would happen in the US, if for example Saudi Arabia started giving the US all the free oil they wanted, and the US government wasn’t powerful enough to prevent it? The US oil industry would collapse. And if the Saudi’s then turned off the oil? The country would collapse, without a shot being fired, due to energy shortages, because the US oil industry would no longer exist..

      This is what happens in the 3rd world when aid is given the removed.

      • Take your $10 bill to the toilet and flush it, same effect. We have been drilling wells and telling people to boil their drinking water, to not urinate/defecate in springs/streams/lakes/rivers for 200 years. It. Don’t. Work. Until they can stop embracing socialism and wake the f**k up nothing will help them. Throwing money at them certainly has not.

      • But now that I think about it, an addendum to the federal tax return would be good.

        “I want to pay for drilling wells for foreigners: Y/N.”
        “I want to pay for green-energy subsidies: Y/N.”
        “I want to pay Elon Musk to go to Mars: Y/N.”
        “I want to spend lavishly on politicians’ lifestyles: Y/N.”
        “I want to pay to send our young men and women to some crapholestan to get slaughtered and maimed in a misguided attempt to bring so-called democracy to inbred cave-men who can barely govern their local bazaar: Y/N”

        Answering “no” gets you a tax credit for the prorated amount.

        I would answer “yes” to the third if I could stipulate that it was Elon Musk who was to go, personally, and never return. And take his stupid taxpayer-subsidized “businesses” (con-games) with him.

  34. Re Questions 70 – 74 seem to relate to the productivity of the lab staff. (“Can you provide a list of all peer-reviewed publications by lab staff for the past three years?; Can you provide a list of current professional society memberships of lab staff? Can you provide a list of publications by lab staff for the past three years? Can you provide a list of all websites maintained by or contributed to by laboratory staff during work hours for the past three years? Can you provide a list of all other positions currently held by lab staff, paid and unpaid, including faculties, boards, and consultancies?”)
    Do the incoming administration suspect that lab staff have been putting effort into their own little extra-curricular projects, ’causes’, charities, etc. and furthering their own career (by increasing their ‘paper-count’) all at the DOE’s expense?

    • Having worked in energy storage materials in my own company (several issued US patents, two fundamental) I have interacted for a decade with some of these DoE labs such as Oak Ridge, Sandia, Idaho, Argonne, and NREL, both directly and via technical conferences. Their scientific output is feeble or worse. Many investigators will have produced no papers the past few years. A lot of their ‘studies’ are case histories of what somebody in the private sector did with federal grants and subsidies from ARPA E, or feasibility speculations (what if, if we just had…) justifying some harebrained program. Have seen it up close and personal. Plus, lots of duplication at different labs.
      My guess is you could trim deadweight and duplication by half, and end up with a more managable and productive national lab system focussed on potentially useful stuff like 4th gen nuclear rather than future wind power options if we just had a nationwide HVDC transmission backbone.

      • Rud: About three days ago I put a note in Trump’s suggestion box nominating you to be his national science advisor.

      • You description does not at all apply to SLAC, Rud. There’d be no problem supplying published work and describing contributions to science.

  35. Chopping dead wood makes noise. The US media will continue to publicize the context free commentary of USC and like minded political groups to undermine an administration it opposes. Our hope is that the new administration which owes them nothing proceeds with its agenda.

  36. Thanks Willis. This is what got me started looking into this climate stuff back before climategate. Someone had tried to get information out of OUR government about how it was funding IPCC and CRU and Phil Jones. Where were the audits of how the money was spent? Where were the receipts? Who was responsible? Turned out it was just a big slush fund for Mike Mann, Phil Jones and the whole cabal. And what did we get for all those millions? Nothing.

  37. WIllis: many thanks for your efforts in putting this article together.

    Regarding questions 55-57 (LCOE calculations):

    Rud Istvan and Planning Engineer wrote The True Costs of WInd Electricity, which disputed the EIA LCOE figures for wind generation. The two main errors were (1) plant lifecycle assumptions that were unreasonably optimistic for wind and at the same time unreasonably pessimistic for coal, and (2) hiding the assumption of a carbon tax in the capital fund rate to finance coal plants (9.5% for coal vs. 6.5% for wind).

    A thorough review of the official LCOE figures from the EIA would be an excellent initial action from incoming Secretary Pruitt.

    Man, this is going to be fun to watch.

    • AW, glad you liked it. Russ and I had great fun putting it together. Not the only place I have caught EIA in complete screwups. Essays Reserve Reservations (California’s Monterey shale) and Matyoshka Reserves (Russia’s Bahzenov shale) in mymebook Blowing Smoke illustrate two other collossal basic blunders.

  38. 23 How many fusion programs, both public and private, are currently being funded worldwide?

    IMHO, the answer should be zero (speaking of plasma fusion). To this point fusion research has been all costs and no benefits. Time to stop beating our heads against this particular wall and devote our resources to something more likely to pay off.

    • AW, I agree with the possible exception of Lockheed skunkworks high beta reactor. Thatnhas gone dark; i suspect the Navy might be mighty interested. Essay Going Nuclear gave the reasoning behind shutting NIF and exiting ITER.

      • Thanks; I have not read that essay. Compact, reliable and safe reactors would be a huge win, not just for grid power, but also for marine propulsion. The carriers and subs can run for years, but all the escort ships have to refuel. We need more than just one heavy-duty icebreaker (Polar Star), and that’s another application severely limited by fuel endurance.

      • The Polar Sea is the Polar Star’s sister ship, and is currently laid up a a “hangar queen.” (to mix service metaphors) The big problem with the design is the fuel weight is what enables the ship to break ice, long before the fuel is used up, the ship is too light. Gut the hull, put in a very heavy nuclear plant. {We can’t build hulls like those in the US now, We need heavy steel plants to (re)open first}

    • When I was in graduate school (mid 1970s) my lab director let me in on a very interesting not-so-secret. The DoE interest in fusion research was basically a pretext for research into the physics of fusion reactions…for the benefit of their nuclear weapon design theory. There was never any serious concern about producing commercial energy. The experiments were generally pointed at the ability to ignite a fusion reaction in laboratory circumstances, such that the reaction could proceed indefinitely (so-called breakeven energy margin).

      The other not-so-secret was that any such reactor would produce copious radioactive waste in the form of a neutron-degraded “first wall” that would require complete replacement every decade. What to do with tons of radioactive steel? This was common knowledge then, and has been ever since…except of course among greenie media writers.

      And the final detail was that the reactions easiest to ignite require tritium as one half of the fuel composition. Tritium does not occur in nature but must be produced by neutron bombardment of lithium, which requires fission reactors. Yes, you can run the whole show with deuterium (not all that easy to separate), but only at a much higher ignition temperature. Much tougher problem.

      Like I say, this is Old News.

    • I disagree. Fusion is now advancing beyond basic physics research to applied engineering design, I will wager any amount you wish that a grid contributing Fusion plant will be licensed and operating BEFORE any Molten Salt Fission reactor is licensed built and on the grid contributing,

      Fission is inherently dirty, There is a large cache of radioactive materials. MSR eddy concentrations leading to fission output flares are extremely difficult to predict and design against, You underestimate the NRC licensing problems. The Operating temperatures are very high requiring teh development and use of exotic materials, . It took thirty years to merely license the improved Gen III+ designs that merely completed the designs that were immature but have over 100 reactors operating for years in the USA,

      Fusion has no large cache of radioactive materials to be concerned about, and the Fusion will simply go out as candle in the midst of a hurricane. Getting it to simply function is very difficult and emergencies will cause automatic shutoff. The first Demonstration commercial detailed designs Fusion Plants,are ready to begin.

      • I would guess they might be trying to find funds to undertake a first commercial Fusion Power Plant design & build project. The technology is susceptible to where rocketry science was, at the beginning of Apollo. That would be a fundamental advance ending Energy questions for all time, and a world altering advance for all Mankind.

      • Need to dispose of radioactive first wall on a periodic basis.

        True, but it will just be a lot of low level neutron irradiated inconel (probably), that will be safe in a fairly short period of time for such things.

  39. Very interesting post Willis. I suspect that the questions were an inside job. By the way, is that a typo in your response to question 37?

    • There is the response if they say “NO”
      “Well if you can’t , your services are no longer required, as you obviously are not qualified, perhaps we will have better luck with your replacement.”

    • Answering “no” is an admission of incompetence, which I suspect may be a leading indicator of a new application for unemployment benefits.

  40. I’m curious to know who wrote the questions. Where has this person/team been for the last 15 years?

    Have they in fact been asking these questions and getting no traction, or have they just been waiting for the next Republican president?

    The level of detail and knowledge of internals is really interesting.

    • DOE transition team led by Mike McKenna. Worked at DOE under Bush (so knows where bodies are buried). Currently has Koch Industries as a client. You can bet he surrounded himself with a small smart group of knowledgable staffers, like lend lease Koch execs.

    • My question too.

      Where did they find this guy/gal, so quickly? When they have not even taken office? Did they advertise for the position? Or was someone banging at their door, wanting to be heard?

      This sounds like a list compiled by insiders, so I imagine there must have been an internal memo, soliciting ideas.

      R

    • Perhaps they got input from the insider (“Carlin” or something like it) who wrote a critique of their bias toward warmism at the time and was forced out.

    • I thought Congress pretty much cut him off after it was found that he’d ‘lost’ all the data behind his work.

  41. 1996-1998 Investigation of Patterns of Organized Large-Scale Climatic Variability During the Last
    Millennium, DOE, Alexander Hollaender Postdoctoral Fellowship [M.E. Mann] $78,000

    1998-2000    Validation of Decadal-to-Multi-century climate predictions, DOE [Principal Investigator: R.S. Bradley (U. Mass); Co-Investigators: H.F. Diaz, M.E. Mann]

  42. “$8.5 billion of the Energy Department’s 2017 budget was to be spent on energy efficiency, renewable and nuclear energy research and development. The Department of Energy funds 80 percent of the budget for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that researches renewable energy and energy efficiency technology. Trump has said he will promote fossil fuel development and nuclear power, but it’s unclear how renewable energy will be affected”. I guess they’re going to find out pretty soon.

    http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2016/12/09/the-undermining-of-climate-science/

    • You may correct. The point is that refusing to answer any of these questions places a very visible target on the source of the non-response. The obvious follow up question would be along the lines of “if you can not answer the question by tomorrow morning, then perhaps you can explain why you are still here?”

  43. w. ==> Now that’s a piece of work….thank you for making the effort required to pry out the questions.

  44. What are the chances that the current DOE administration simply doesn’t answer these questions? If I were them that’s an alternative I’d explore.

  45. I suspect DoE is not the only dish on this particular menu. I would not be surprised to see Congress getting into the act.

  46. Unless this was part of a subpoena, and these knuckleheads don’t have subpoena power yet and even if they did and it was, I would tell them to go stick their heads in a cold bucket of water.
    #JosephMcCarthy

  47. Mr. Trump’s threat to recruit agency heads from the business community rather than social justice warriors with law degrees from ivy league progressive training camps, is beginning look like a campaign promise he intends to keep.

    This is great news for climate realists. Sort of off topic here, but I can’t help thinking what a boon to America’s future will result if a similar approach is mounted at State, Justice, Education, Commerce (including NOAA)…. the list is almost endless.

    We all have seen in WWII movies, scenes of the German military staff panic-burning documents before they could be captured by the approaching Allied army. That effort was probably a pale preview of the binary blitzkrieg that will be waged within the data departments of the federal government between now and January 20.

    • I believe that anyone who destroys government information is committing a felony.

      It sounds like now is the time for each government employee and contractor to sign a document stating that they acknowledge their understanding that altering or destroying government documents or files is a crime punishable by incarceration and fines.

    • How about “The Federal Government should get out of the business of science as it’s not within the enumerated powers?”

      • @Roy, Would John Glenn have agreed? Who cares?

        You can pick out lots of heroes from various wars, but their existence doesn’t justify the war, nor does their opinion on the rationale for the war really matter. My speculation on the views of a dead hero matters even less, and certainly doesn’t change the constitutional scope of the federal government.

      • Without US government funding of science and technology there would have been no NASA. John Glenn would never have gone into space and hardly anybody, even in America, would ever have heard of him.

    • As I mentioned above, I dropped Rud Istvan’s name in Trump’s suggestion box. He was expertise in many fields, like a polymath, and he’s a quick study, and he has a good writing style.

      Another possible choice would be Prof. Robert Brown from Duke, who used to comment here regularly.

  48. A good model to follow for other countries to follow.

    In the UK, as stated earlier, the department permanent civil servants brief the incoming team. 99 times out of a 100, the information briefed is never released.

    The new team just carries on doing the same old stuff.

    The new team will make announcements and changes to some polices but the same old stuff keep on occurring.

    That why the Trump effect is so good.

    Change is now happening.

    I hope it happens in the UK as well.

  49. A very thorough review, Willis. Thank you.

    I agree with whomever opined that this was an inside job, in the sense that the questions represent pre-existing knowledge of the organization’s terms of reference, structure, activities, programs and practices. That said, A substantial amount of the structural and programmatic questions could have been generated by prior DOE personnel still watching their former organization.

    Regardless of source, these questions, if interpreted as messages to the DOE ( Can you = area of transparency interest = intended accountability), informs them and that this administration plans the DOE to be evaluated from top to bottom, understood in terms of statutory authority, scope of work, pending deliverables and cost of operations, and alignment to the mission statement. And, with the questions asked this way, sets the baseline for decision making and ‘truth-in-communications’ going forward.

    Like others here, I am very interested to see how things progress, and hopeful for the beneficial outcome.

  50. I’ve been to Idaho National Laboratory. It’s a ghost town. Plus, the airport at Idaho Falls has 1 gate. It’s numbered.

    • Really my daughter that got off the airplane a couple months ago through gate 4 must have imagined that gate number and they employ a lot of ghosts there over 4000 ghosts and ghost interns

  51. C’mon, these are just the ravings of a racist, homophobic lunatic loose cannon who is going to get us all killed by climate change and an epidemic of male pattern baldness and psoriasis. He’s stupid and doesn’t know what he’s doing. The only reason he wants to be president is so he can make a new reality show.

  52. This is rich: “What’s next? Trump administration officials holding up lists of ‘known climatologists’ and urging the public to go after them?” Halpern asked.”
    This is right out of the Obama/Alinsky/socialist/communist/leftist playbook. They are always hunting for lists of donors, voters, employers… so they can attack them.

  53. This is why we need more businesspeople with real world experience working in Washington – this kind of analysis of the makeup and operational procedures of government bureaucracies streamlines, clarifies and creates cost accountability essential to the Congress – who funds these – and voters who rely on these.
    Bravo! I certainly hope the new administration gets answers and quickly acts on them.

  54. I’d ask one more question:
    “Which of these topics or questions have already been asked by Congress or via FOIA requests or subpeanas, but to which the DOE has yet to respond or only partially responded?” That might smoke out some issues…

  55. Harry Read Me file, the encore !

    Berlioz, Op 14, fourth movement would suite the feeling of the article above,
    but I would suggest an alternative : Beethoven`s 5th

    I would believe that the future at the DoE is actually brighter than most think.
    A bureau with no direction, from above, will be similar to a team without a coach ; they may all be exceptional. but will be working to their own tempo, in their own way and not achieving.
    Give an American team a clear, positive, reality based, objective, and backed up with direction and support and they will achieve beyond your best expectation.
    Turn the DoE from `doing things right` to `doing the right thing` and watch it go, just Imagine if all that energy expended and work done currently by the DoE was re-focussed.
    Asking a person for an answer is never as beneficial as asking for a self reflecting answered, I would suggest that although each question is a simple request for information they are a re-focusing exercise and self reflecting when taken as a whole, by the time the answers are in the wheel will already have started to turn.

    In 4 years time if the trump team are free they could always find a new home for their energy and do the same for the NHS in old Blighty

  56. I see the “Can you provide… questions as two-pronged:

    1) It implies that any good manager, political appointee or top or mid-level managerial bureaucrat, should have the info at hand. If you can’t answer “yes,” you’ll be gone and someone who can provide the answer will be taking your place.

    2) It’s an announcement of performance expectations and the direction the Department will be taking under the new administration. Pay attention to the questions and be prepared to get on board or get thrown off the train.

    P.S. Thanks, Willis. Much appreciated.

  57. #13: The social benefits of carbon have become transparent to climate doomsayers. Might as well quantify the social benefits of photosynthesis or sunshine. Any rational balanced analysis and it’s game over for the concept of carbon regulation. In fact it’s probably more like let’s cancel the game altogether because it would be cruel to play it. People who took the grossly distorted approach seriously should be called on it.

  58. A good post by Willis on a great set of questions.

    On a somewhat related note, I wonder if there will be a similar set of questions for the US Geological Survey whose motto appears to be “science for a changing world”. That sure opens the door to “mission creep”… before you know it the study of rocks, fossils, earthquakes, volcanoes, and glaciers will expand to something as unrelated to geology as tracking polar bears by satellite.

    Oh, wait… they’re already doing that.

  59. Willis,

    Thank you for researching and posting this. I hope that each federal agency is receiving an equally probing list of questions. If the goal is to drain the swamp, I believe that this is an outstanding first step.

    Brooks

  60. Too many of those questions contain superfluous words, “Can you” indicates to a public servant an option as to whether to answer the question or not.

    “Provide” is all they require, it also sets the tone.

    • I’m sure it’ll change to ‘provide’ after Jan 20th. In this transition team phase, they can’t order without the backing of the current administration.

      But it clearly sets the tone and puts the whole of the bureaucratic behemoth on notice!

  61. Oh My!!! This is wonderful!! What a difference to have successful business people rather than lawyers or professors calling the shots. They are treating this like buying a failed business with the goal of turning it around!

    If this is done as a mindset throughout the whole government, watch out!

  62. great post Willis, nice to read the actual questions with informed commentary clearly separated. Especially enjoy the questions that seem to indicate they are reaching for the plunger to work on the clogs in the nuclear energy pipeline. It would be nice to see an analysis of the cost over runs at the decommissioning of the Hanford facility and a clearly defined path to sequestering nuclear waste until it can be recycled or re- purposed

  63. As far as cutting or streamlining labs.

    Those are in congressional districts, Republican and Democrat, where cuts are strongly resisted. Congressional pork politics. A better fight is to streamline the DC bureaucracy first. Then slowly strangle the labs efforts to start new programs.

  64. If you really want to catch the people who profited during the corruption you should pay attention to the profiteers who will pick up the equipment and technologies at discounted values. It’s the standard names … the typical groups. Great questions btw. Unfortunately most ppl play the 2D game while the thieves play 3D.

  65. DOE labs are separate from the DOE itself … I knew the DOE had labs but I had no idea they had seventeen of them,

    The rule for every new government facility is: it will be located in the home district of some Senator or Congressman whose support was essential to get it approved.

    Looking at the list, I’m surprised there isn’t one in West Virginia. Take a look at this list of places named after Robert Byrd. I think he holds the record.

  66. Two things occur to me:

    1. An inference: Consider that this degree of incision is probably typical for the Trump approach to all other government agencies and departments.

    2. Question 75: “Will any of our present nuclear weapons actually detonate and deliver their designed yields?” This is the crux of the whole reason for the existence of the DoE, which was originally concerned with the design and verification of nuclear weapons, NOT nuclear power. It has been so long since any operable weapon has been tested, I think there is reasonable doubt over their functionality.

  67. NBC is reporting that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson will be named Secretary of State. Get your umbrellas and rain slickers ready so you don’t get splattered by all the exploding heads …

    • Secure the borders
      Remove obstacles to grow wealth

      In the meantime we the little people should laugh at some of the hypocrisy

  68. Sounds like the Fifth Labour of Hercules – cleaning out the Augean Stables. And since it was achieved with a dam, it can all be done with renewable energy… ;-)

    Ralph

  69. Great thread and in-depth reasoning, Willis.

    The speed of and pointed detail contained in these questions suggests that they have largely originated from within the Dept. Probably someone who has seen what has been going on but has not dared to raise their voice due to the known retaliation against people not ‘on message’.

    Makes me wonder how many others will come forward now that control is being ripped from the alarmists.

    There could be some interesting tales emerging from within now that their bread is being buttered on the other side.

  70. Government WASTE is a CRIME against the tax paying CITIZENS of the USA.
    WASTE by government employees is a huge problem in our wasteful govn’t.
    They SIT and even SLEEP threw these ENDLESS “MEETINGS” NO they are NOT ‘Meetings” they are EXCUSES to get a free lunch and avoid any real work!

    FIRE the TIME BANDITS MR.PRESIDENT TRUMP! IT”S JUNK SCIENCE.

    I have seen conference rooms capable of seating 200 persons reserved and locked off for 2 TWO employees, bs ing each other doing NO WORK.

    The old term ” Good enough for GOVERNMENT work” may be changing now we have a REAL PRESIDENT instead of a GOLF BUM!

  71. One question I have is what is the policy and requirements for documenting DOE funded studies and research projects and making them available on-line. In my former employment, years ago, we were developing coal liquefaction and gasification with partial DOE funding. We were required to write monthly and Quarterly reports documenting progress, results including pilot plant and Lab data. These reports are still available on line. I have recently tried to get reports on recent research and development projects including claims for energy generation, without result. Possibly someone on this site knows the current reporting requirements for DOE funded projects?

    • Federal Records Act requires that ALL information generated to make a decision concerning the scope of the required action be made a federal record.

      • Knutesea,
        Thanks for your comment, but I am not talking about documentation associated with making a decision, but rather periodic reports on funded research projects for each project where research or development is undergoing with taxpayer dollars. If the research is not documented it is likely money wasted and might lead to duplication of effort later. As I mentioned we used to prepare monthly and quarterly reports that had nothing to do with the DOE action but allowed others to review the results and subsequently be aware of the potential application of the technology developed for potential future action.

      • All data gathered via a taxpayer funded project …. including raw data is subject to the federal records act. It’s straightforward but rarely pursued because the system is corrupt.

  72. Willis, I have been reading your posts on WUWT for a number of years but one passage in this really upset me. You want me to quote the exact words? OK

    “If you like this business-based analysis of the DOE memo, you might enjoy my post “How a Businessman Takes Over A Different Industry” …

    w.”

    Why the hell have I not found out about this blog until now?
    It will be on my daily must-read from now on.

    Thanks for your work on this. I live in hope you will be able to deconstruct a similar questionnaire for the EPA and others.

    • John Gross December 10, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Willis, I have been reading your posts on WUWT for a number of years but one passage in this really upset me. You want me to quote the exact words? OK

      “If you like this business-based analysis of the DOE memo, you might enjoy my post “How a Businessman Takes Over A Different Industry” …

      w.”

      Why the hell have I not found out about this blog until now?

      Well, it’s because I just cobbled my own blog together after the election.

      Heck, I haven’t even figured out yet how to have a front page on WordPress with just the first part of each article showing, so the front page just contains all of my posts in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Any suggestions appreciated on that … the blog is called “Skating On The Underside Of The Ice”.

      w.

      • Ok so it’s not polished but I am the type who is more interested in the contents than the shape of the bottle. And your writings sure have a kick to them. Thanks

      • Willis, thanks for your insights here and the links to the new blog. Anthony may have someone on the WUWT team that either knows that detail (how to constrain the home page listings) or have some thoughts on what templates can do that.

  73. Hi there- Thanks very much for the great write-up! In addition to the list of questions, it’s great to see a write up from someone knowledgeable about the topic.

    • Thanks. I’m actually not all that knowledgeable about the inner workings of DOE, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the business world dealing with government bureaucracies, and that’s let me see just what the questions are designed to uncover.

      Regards,

      w.

    • Guessing a call compounding on Fraud and Stupidity of AGW at all TLA Fed Agencies.

      You know it was stupid when Pentagon started chanting that AGW was greatest threat to U.S. security.

    • John F. – re possible HRC memo:

      I’d imagine it would say, “Create X number of positions so I can reward my donors.”

  74. “you can hope and pray that they are like me, and they don’t demand the exact same pound of flesh from you.”

    Unlike Willis, I want my pound of flesh! These AGW Climatologists and their Political activists Hacks have fraudulent bilked Taxpayers and consumers out of hundreds of Billions of dollars over last two decades.

    As a Taxpayer forced to fund Fraudulent Science, and waste money on unnecessary Go Green products and services, I want to see the entire AGW ShamWow cabal’s personal assets seized and them placed behind bars.

  75. What a beautiful set of questions. They should form the template for any incoming administration in all departments.

  76. After reading through questions – here is a helpful tip for all those working at Fed TLA’s (specifically EPA, BLM, DOE, DHS, CIA, DOJ, IRS) and NASA. Dust off your Resumes, and remove any hint at having worked for Big-bloated Gov.

  77. Thank you Willis.

    Please see my point #3 below written in 2002 re “clean water” for the third world – obviously I agreed with you on this point, and a quite few others – see also #8 re “green energy”.

    We KNEW all these facts by 2002, and published them with confidence when we saw this climate-and-energy wagon being deliberately steered into the ditch. Fourteen years later, that wagon is finally being hauled out of that ditch, at least in the USA.

    Some venues, such as Canada, are now veering that same wagon into that same ditch. We cannot even learn from the egregious (and predicted) errors of others.

    Ergo, we are governed by scoundrels and imbeciles.

    Happy Holidays, Allan

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/05/28/greens-blame-donald-trump-for-crumbling-paris-climate-accord/comment-page-1/#comment-2225581

    WHAT WE KNEW AND WHEN WE WROTE IT:
    [excerpt]

    2002 DEBATE ON THE KYOTO ACCORD

    Here is our predictive track record, from an article that Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Dr. Tim Patterson and I published in 2002 in our debate with the Pembina Institute on the now-defunct Kyoto Accord.
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/KyotoAPEGA2002REV1.pdf

    Our eight-point Rebuttal includes predictions that have all materialized in those countries in Western Europe that have adopted the full measure of global warming mania. My country, Canada, was foolish enough to sign the Kyoto Protocol, but then was wise enough to ignore it.
    [Our 2002 article is in “quotation marks”, followed by current commentary.]

    1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
    NO net global warming has occurred for more than 18 years despite increasing atmospheric CO2.

    2. “Kyoto focuses primarily on reducing CO2, a relatively harmless gas, and does nothing to control real air pollution like NOx, SOx, and particulates, or serious pollutants in water and soil.”
    Note the extreme pollution of air, water and soil that still occurs in China and the Former Soviet Union.

    3. “Kyoto wastes enormous resources that are urgently needed to solve real environmental and social problems that exist today. For example, the money spent on Kyoto in one year would provide clean drinking water and sanitation for all the people of the developing world in perpetuity.”
    Since the start of global warming mania, about 50 million children below the age of five have died from contaminated water, and trillions of dollars have been squandered on global warming nonsense.

    4. “Kyoto will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs and damage the Canadian economy – the U.S., Canada’s biggest trading partner, will not ratify Kyoto, and developing countries are exempt.”
    Canada signed Kyoto but then most provinces wisely ignored it – the exception being now-depressed Ontario, where government adopted ineffective “green energy” schemes, drove up energy costs, and drove out manufacturing jobs.

    5. “Kyoto will actually hurt the global environment – it will cause energy-intensive industries to move to exempted developing countries that do not control even the worst forms of pollution.”
    Note the huge manufacturing growth and extremely polluted air in industrial regions of China.

    6. “Kyoto’s CO2 credit trading scheme punishes the most energy efficient countries and rewards the most wasteful. Due to the strange rules of Kyoto, Canada will pay the Former Soviet Union billions of dollars per year for CO2 credits.”
    Our government did not pay the FSU, but other governments did, bribing them to sign Kyoto.

    7. “Kyoto will be ineffective – even assuming the overstated pro-Kyoto science is correct, Kyoto will reduce projected warming insignificantly, and it would take as many as 40 such treaties to stop alleged global warming.”
    If one believed the false climate models, one would conclude that we must cease using fossil fuels.

    8. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
    Governments that adopted “green energy” schemes such as wind and solar power are finding these schemes are not green and produce little useful energy. Their energy costs are soaring and many of these governments are in retreat, dropping their green energy subsidies as fast as they politically can.

    IN SUMMARY:
    All the above predictions that we made in 2002 have proven correct in those states that fully adopted the Kyoto Accord, whereas none of the global warming alarmists’ scary warming projections have materialized.

    ***********************************************************

  78. Pat Frank December 10, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I work at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park. We have been chronically understaffed for the work we do, for the entire time I’ve worked there (many years).

    We are the world’s cutting edge laboratory in the production and application of directed X-ray beams to scientific studies. That includes everything from medicine to biology to geology to chemistry to physics.

    Thanks, Pat, good to hear from you. I suspect that the labs will be asked to do two things. One is to justify the work that is being done based on results, and the other is to show that that work is not duplicated elsewhere.

    From the sound of your post, your lab passes both tests, so I doubt that you’ll see great change … but we are definitely in new times.

    My best to you,

    w.

  79. Great work Willis! I can’t decide, what is more impressive, the list of questions, or you analysis. I hope that the new administration is doing the same for all of the departments. Would love to see what they are asking at the justice and state departments.

  80. With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
    Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
    Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of Proper Management

  81. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    It looks like things are going to get shaky at DOE. Which is a good thing as DOE needs to stop playing advocate for every POS hokum that’s out there and keeping the Green gravy train running and get back to the basics of physics research.

  82. Note: EM is the Office of Environmental Management, which is responsible for the cleanup of the Manhattan Project and its successor nuclear weapons program sites: http://energy.gov/em/office-environmental-management These include the Hanford Site in Washington State, the Savannah River site in South Carolina, and the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee. Due to large amounts of contamination and many tanks of highly radioactive waste, this is an expensive program.,

  83. It seems to me that many of these same questions, if they were properly generalized somehow, could be sent to most if not all government agencies. Maybe they could create the Boilerplate of Doom and set multiple hairpieces on fire . :-)

    • It seems to me that many of these same questions, if they were properly generalized somehow, could be sent to most if not all government agencies. Maybe they could create the Boilerplate of Doom and set multiple hairpieces on fire . :-)

      I use to tell customers while implementing company wide design tools the sure way to set expectations was after a reasonable acclamation period, take the engineer who was causing the most trouble out into the parking lot and shoot them. Engineers are smart, only takes a couple to get lots of cooperation.

  84. I remind the President, and all readers, that all non-political (i.e. “career”) employees must serve their first three years as “career-conditional” employees. That is, it takes three years to get tenure. These employees are subject to immediate administrative dismissal for any purpose, or none, They can be let go for any reason during the three-year period, and may not appeal such dismissal.

    The President should make liberal use of this provision.

  85. Do we have any idea if Obama or any other administrations asked these same questions before/when they moved into the White House?
    My hopes for the next four years weren’t very high but this raises them quite a bit. I’m just worried they all do this and it represents nothing.

    • interesting question and though I don’t know anything for sure it seems more likely that with the Obama administration there were only two questions; Are you a registered Democrat? and “If yes, how much have you donated or bundled for the party or Dem candidates?”

      Cheers,

      Joe

  86. Great post! Maybe BEST ever. 2nd, this is exactly what I was hoping for when I voted for Trump. THIS approach and methodology COULD completely change the way the entire government (finally) works. 3rd, some have said this is setting some DOE (and leftist) hair on fire. Maybe so, but if I were in another dept. of the Federal Gov. (say the EPA) and my dept. DID NOT get a similar “memo of discovery”, my hair would REALLY be on fire and I would polish-up my resume real quick. A great businessman doesn’t care about or what is going on in a dept. he is going to eliminate.

    • O.K. i’m glad Trump ‘Won’ but what is this Electoral College thing that could ‘Pull The Rug’ so to speak? (re-earlier post)
      Just curious on the American system of electing a ‘President’.

      • D.I., very simple. It’s NOT the “american” system. It’s the UNITED STATES’ system of electing an administrator of the NATIONAL government. WE the people, reside in individual Communities, in individual Counties, in individual States that are UNITED but separate. The STATES collectively, and in some cases separately, are EQUAL to, or in some cases GREATER than, the NATIONAL government. The citizens of each State tell their respective State representatives (within the Electoral College) by the democratic voting process, who we want as the “CEO” of the enterprise that manages the activities of the administrative branch of the said NATIONAL organization. Here is your “executive summary”: It’s the STATES collectively via their respective Electoral College, NOT the CITIZENS collectively (or directly) that determine who is going to be President of The UNITED STATES of America. It’s called: Federalism.

  87. Feely touchy Jimmy Carter could not very well name DOE the ‘department of making weapons of mass destruction’ to keep up with the commie rat bas@rds.

    If Handford is a superfund site what would you call cesspools like NYC and Chicago?

    The nice part of living in a small city like Richland, Washington is all the smart scientist and the lack of left wing mayors who can not protect your children from drug dealers.

    DOE lost its vital mission and got stuck with trivial problems created by fear mongers.

  88. For those on twitter who’d like to see this post get wider circulation, I’m @WEschenbach, and I’ve tweeted it under the hashtag #doememo. I’m a twitter noob, go easy …

    w.

  89. “6 The Department recently announced the issuance of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles (and perhaps associated infrastructure). Can you provide a status on this effort?

    Oh, man, they are going for the jugular.”

    And the Electric Vehicle salesman are going for the Jaguar. For themselves at least.

    Wonderful news and informative article. Thanks for breaking this story on WUWT in a full write-up.

  90. It seems to me that the EPA should be pleased to demonstrate how they are a transparent department in the Obama administration. Obama promised transparency – didn’t he? Well, here is their chance to prove it – or not!

  91. 28 Are there statutory restrictions related to reinvigorating the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management?

    29 Are there any statutory restrictions to restarting the Yucca Mountain project?

    Okay time for the “UN-Screw Nevada” bill. Unlike the previous bill which would let everyone else dump all their nuke waste onto Nevada (the Screw Nevada bill) here is an idea.

    Give Nevada the LFTR research project to build a facility to consume all that waste. It goes from having being a 1000-20,000 year danger to a 300 year danger for 17% of the waste and a 10-12 year danger for 83%. The people of Nevada get inexpensive electricity and free fuel for centuries out of the deal.

    • @TRM

      How many pedestrians die in Las Vegas per years? How many have been hurt by spent fuel in the US?

      Does calling Yucca Mountain a dump make it make it dangerous?

      • Okay, everyone gets to “ship” their nuclear waste to Nevada rather than dealing with it themselves. I view that as putting my garbage on someone else’s lawn because they have a better place for it. Just my take on it. I’m not from Nevada or even the USA.

        While technically Yucca mountain is as good as it gets for long term storage of nuclear waste the citizens of Nevada have successfully held up the project with legal challenges.

        So why not offer the carrot of a LFTR to burn it to Nevada? Negotiation usually works better than confrontation. They get jobs building it, free fuel for however long the others ship it to them and whatever electricity comes out.

        Time to catch up to and hopefully pass the Chinese on this technology.

  92. Thank you for dissecting this and getting it from 90 degrees off to straight up.

    I can only hope similar demands are being made of the EPA, FDA, USDA, DOD and all other agencies!

    • You know it. I am sure the cabinet includes WUWT readers.
      I just can’t wait to hear all the crying and whining when the Alarmists are purged, along with their fake-science programs. The global-warming gravy train will come to an abrupt halt.

  93. WOW! That list of questions indicates the ‘Landing Team’ is intent on a ‘D-Day’ invasion…. and the DOE is ‘Omaha Beach’, with more landing teams churning their way to the US departmental shores!!! I am really, really impressed and deeply encouraged by this!

  94. How many of us thought before the election that WUWT be having this discussion? It seems to good to be true.

    Trump means business. Not in the sense only of pro-business but of serious in his aims. The only part that has me worried is the prospect of a trade war.

      • Thank yewwwww, Willis. I concur. I had a similar epiphany when I understood the implication, the real implication, of going off the gold standard in 1933, and how FDR was able to use it to craft his massive domestic jobs program, put millions back to work, and subsequently create the middle class. Such was the power of the fiat currency that Republican Mormon banker Marriner Eccles urged FDR to adopt which he claimed would end the Great Depression. Eccles started his appearances and pleadings before Congress a year before FDR won (FDR made him his first Chairman of the Fed in 1935); he was apparently more popular than Miley Cyrus. Eccles spoke plainly and in language the average person could understand, altho’ taciturn and direct; he had immense sympathy for his Utah countrymen and clients who were harmed by the Great Depression. (He kept his banks operating by doing things like having his tellers walk at half-speed during potential runs on his banks to slow the demands for cash.) Eccles preached the same ideas that Keynes published three years later in his General Theory. He was unique. Eccles was a millionaire by the time he was 22, he never finished high school. The Federal Reserve bldg in DC was his name on it.

        Reinert, the author of that book, also properly lays blame at the feet of Paul Samuelson (Larry Summers’ uncle, Summers is a putz imo) who claimed to tbe the keeper of Keynes’ theory, laid the foundation of what 99% of today’s economists believe is the basis of macroeconomics in his 1947 textbook, but in a 1989 interview admitted he never understood what Keynes was talking about and didn’t finished reading the book! All the people here who occasionally wave the anti-Keynes banner and label things “Keynesian” in disdain as if they know what they’re talking about have never read it either.

        Before the new fiat currency backed by the full faith and credit of the US federal government came into being, the US made, protected, its prosperity exactly as Reinert describes. In the mid-1800s, Britain was on us like white on rice to accept “free trade” and open our markets to them, and Ulysses S Grant said No, when the US is as rich as Britain, we’ll reconsider.

        [excuse all typos and disjointed writing. getting the evil eye here for being on the computer too much.]

  95. The level of non science from the so-called skeptics is through the roof as long as a few bloggers who BELIEVE in the bulsh** are allowed to control the dialog through running character assassination parades against real scientists who told all of you: from day one: THIS SCAM WAS NEVER REAL.

    People need to have it explained to them why no websites teaching the GHE is real have any tutorials and mini-courses on just the basics of calculation of gas properties.

    How the actual law of thermodynamics for solving temperature of gases, takes into account every pertinent detail about gases and NO equations related to the law of thermodynamics for compressible fluids, refers to any quantity of unexplained warmth. There is NO reference to green house ANYthing in REAL GAS EQUATIONS.

    People need to have it explained to them that the proponents of GHG ”theory” – it’s not even a functioning hypothesis – try to tell people that adding refractory material to a fire blanket makes the cold side of the blanket hotter.
    This is patently impossible. The very gases listed on ALL sunlight top-of-atmosphere vs Earth surface charts – green house gases – stop some 20% of all sunlight ever thermalizing at the surface. Refracted energy is energy lost when there’s a source of energy, a ‘blanket’ as it were, and an object behind/beneath it.
    There’s no such thing as adding more of the gases that already refract away 20% of sunlight till say, 22% sunlight is refracted away,
    and that lead to more infrared leaving than when more was arriving. It’s so fake the proponents of it refuse to even try to explain it for anyone, because they claim they -the frauds and people who believed in it – are smarter than everyone who doesn’t believe in it.

    Everyone
    who has said they believed in it
    has been engaged in all out war on real scientists. who told the whole world, : IT’S ALL fraud.

    RIGHT down to the concept you can add more refractory material to an atmosphere
    and create more light at the surface
    than when more light arrived.

    Wrong answer(S) to ALL the standard physics questions which busted this scam out so thoroughly from the very beginning.

  96. “Folks, for $4.5 billion dollars, we could provide clean water to almost half a million villages around the world … ”

    Just for reference, it would take twenty billion dollars to provide clean water to everyone on the planet. It is about the cost of a one month war in Iraq.

  97. The first example of POTUS Obama ignoring science and environmental regulations is Yucca Mountain. The courts reminded Obama that he was not above the law. He was ordered to resume the NRC license review.

    POTUS has a legal mandate to build Yucca Mountain with the funds already paid by nuclear utilities.

    • The lack of a Yucca Mountain repository means de facto repositories everywhere that the nuclear waste IS being kept now.

      • I used to worry about that 20 years ago. Once spent fuel is in dry cask storage it does not matter where it sits.

        Concerns about spent are manufactured by anti-nukes.

  98. Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. I hope the rest of America wakes up to the subterfuge being played on us by our government. I also hope they notice the attempts by the handlers of the current administration to hide the truth.

  99. Haven’t seen this anywhere on the thread for the total DOE budget:

    The President’s budget request for FY 2017 (for the DOE) includes $69.4 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $1.3 billion over the 2016

    I think we can pair that down…

    JPP

  100. According to Joe Romm’s “Think Progress”, Bloomberg beat the WaPo to this one:

    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-transition-team-singles-out-energy-department-employees-f6c627624ef#.w0f91ysyz

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-09/trump-team-s-memo-hints-at-broad-shake-up-of-u-s-energy-policy

    But this IS hilarious. Long time coming. Head explosions ahead.
    As though the New New Emperor decided to put a real tailor in charge of the Ministry of Fabric.

  101. Excellent queries by the transition team except for one. Statutory vs discretionary. I would never take the word of the liar on that score, I would go to the Congressional Budget office and ask them which SS numbers are. If the under secretaries at DoE are statutory their salary expense line will be so coded.

    • No reason both cannot be done. So which people are honest and which are not if their answer and the congressional answer do not match then ‘Houston we have a problem.’

  102. Full disclosure here, I’ve spent thirty-five years in nuclear construction and operations. My internet handle “Beta Blocker” reflects the situation that most of my occupational rad dose has come from beta-gamma sources of radiation.

    It has been my opinion for the last three years that under current political and market conditions, nuclear power cannot compete with cheap natural gas in the United States. The market disparity between nuclear and natural gas is further fed by the reality that natural gas is technically better suited than baseload nuclear for supplying grid backup for state-mandated wind and solar facilities.

    It is also my opinion that retaining nuclear power in the face of current market conditions is strictly a public policy decision. If we aren’t going to put a tax on carbon, then nuclear power can survive in the short and mid terms only if it is being subsidized as a hedge against possible future increases in the price and availability of natural gas.

    Concerning the issue of what to do with America’s nuclear waste, the Obama Administration has labeled the Yucca Mountain project as “unworkable.”

    Yes, the Yucca Mountain project is indeed unworkable. It is not just that a consent-based approach is needed; it is also because other factors just as important as a consent-based siting strategy are in play.

    What the advocates of nuclear power inside DOE know, and what their key supporters on Capitol Hill also know, is that Yucca Mountain is unworkable because the entire Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982/1987 as currently written is unworkable and is not in alignment with emerging technical and cost realities.

    Burying America’s current stock of spent nuclear fuel in a geologic repository makes no sense whatsoever. This material still has 90% of its energy left in it. Depending upon how the economics and technology of nuclear energy evolve over the next fifty to one hundred years, that spent nuclear fuel could be reburned in Generation 4 reactors or else be reprocessed for use as working feedstock in molten salt reactors.

    In the meantime, it makes no sense to spend the enormous sums of money needed to manage a geologic repository as both an underground interim storage facility with a retrievability option, and as an underground permanent disposal facility for waste material which has no future economic value.

    The cost difference between storing spent nuclear fuel underground in retrievable status versus what it costs to store that material on the surface in retrievable status is huge. The added security benefits of storing spent fuel underground versus what it costs to store on the surface are meager in comparison with the enormous costs involved.

    It is for this reason that it makes even less sense to be burying our commercial spent nuclear fuel alongside America’s valueless defense wastes from Hanford and Savannah River, as dictated by the NWPA.

    In addition, it makes no sense to be vitrifying Hanford’s tank wastes for burial at Yucca Mountain at enormous expense — possibly a hundred billion dollars or more over the next fifty years — when in fact the material in Hanford’s tanks could be retrieved and packaged as Remote Handled TRU and be buried at the WIPP facility in New Mexico at perhaps one-third the total lifecycle cost.

    The decision made twenty years ago to vitrify Hanford’s tank wastes at the WTP facility — still far from complete in December, 2016 — for disposal at Yucca Mountain was strictly an administrative decision based on the political dynamics of the US Northwest, not a decision founded in radiation protection science.

    Given what we now know about the true costs of managing America’s nuclear material; given what kinds of serious issues the Nuclear Waste policy Act of 1982/1987 is known to have, then bringing back the Yucca Mountain project is an ill-conceived waste management strategy.

    We should store spent commercial fuel on the surface, either where it is now or else at a centralized, consent-based surface facility. We should send America’s defense wastes to the WIPP underground repository in New Mexico at far less cost than what the NWPA now dictates.

    • Burying America’s current stock of spent nuclear fuel in a geologic repository makes no sense whatsoever. This material still has 90% of its energy left in it.

      Agree. Good informative post. Thank you.

  103. … haven’t read all the comments, but just for fun, to mirror Willis’ opening paragraphs:

    You mean like blacklisting specific journals that publish opposing viewpoints ?
    You mean like waging major character assassination campaigns against specific, well-credentialed scientists who happen to disagree with the IPCC ?
    You mean like disregarding a particular expert’s previous contributions to other critical areas of science and now calling this exact same expert a “crackpot”, because he disagrees with the IPCC ?

    Ah, the hypocrisy !

  104. Reblogged this on electricityasia and commented:
    Fantastic analysis by Willis Eschenbach here. Changes at the US DOE and EPA have significant reverberations in energy and environmental policies in developing countries like the Philippines and others in Asia.

  105. Spot on! It seems these sorts of probing questions need to be asked of every government agency as part of ongoing audits. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  106. TRM wrote: “Okay, everyone gets to “ship” their nuclear waste to Nevada rather than dealing with it themselves. ”

    First off much of the difficult high level waste is the result of making the weapons that ended WWII and kept the USSR from ruling the world. The waste is the responsibility of all in the world that enjoy freedom.

    Second, commercial reactor operators do not have a problem dealing with the waste. However, in the US spent nuclear fuel belongs to the federal government and utilities pay a fee (aka tax) for the DOE for long term storage.

    “… citizens of Nevada have successfully held up the project with legal challenges.”

    Not true! POTUS Obama as a favor to Majority Leader Reid held it up. Other states and utilities went to court and won. The court told Obama that he is not king and must follow the rule of law. That the thing about democracy. It is about the greater good.

    “So why not offer the carrot of a LFTR to burn it to Nevada? ”

    Because it a stupid idea technically and politically. Many of the Manhattan project’s location were chosen because of the remote location. Communities around these understand nuclear issues and support the industry. It is a few anti-nukes in distant cities that oppose anything nuclear.

    Furthermore, Yucca Mountain is next to the Nevada Test Site. This particularly barren and ugly part of the country is where we used detonate nuclear weapons. On the other hand the places that operated government reactors are not in Nevada.

    I live part of the year in Nevada and part in Washington State. The Hanford Site would be a great site for a new reactor and the local citizens would welcome it.

    As far a ‘citizens’ are concerned, we live in a democracy where some ‘citizens’ think they have the right to shout others down. I have been to several public meeting on nuclear issues. There are those who are not local but well organized.

    “Time to catch up to and hopefully pass the Chinese on this technology.”

    Doing something 50 years after we did it in the US is not leadership. The first new commercial reactor I worked at was 35 years ago. It was a LWR just like the reactors we operated in the navy. My last one was in China. Also a light water reactor.

    Since the people who build and operated pick LWR with a few exceptions, maybe we know something that others do not.

    China is learning from the west. It is about time they figured out controlling a population by starvation is not very productive.

  107. Actually can fire an SES, where a GS-14/15 you have to walk a much more complex process. Schedule C is low-hanging fruit.

  108. “25 Does or can the Department delineate research activities as either basic or applied research?

    This is a critical distinction, and one that they possibly have never made.”

    DOE *has* to make this distinction, due to differences in appropriated funding streams for “basic research” (6.1 money) and “applied research” (6.2 and 6.3 money). Hoo boy, but if they get cross-ways on this, Congress gets to take a chunk out of DOEs leg.

  109. Excellent work, Willis Eschenbach.

    Ought to be on the priority list of the Transition Team – and specific employees.

    Anyway, retreat battles are the nastiest and enduring.

  110. After the response is received, it will be awesome to see the consequences. 2017 is going to explode the traffic to this web site. I predict it will take wattsupwiththat 2/3rds of the way to #1 in Alexa ranking by summer.

  111. After the response is received, it will be awesome to see the consequences. 2017 is going to explode the traffic to this web site. I predict it will take wattsupwiththat 2/3rds of the way to #1 in Alexa ranking by summer.

    32 Does the Department have any thoughts on how to reduce the bureaucratic burden for exporting U.S. energy technology, including but not limited to commercial nuclear technology?

    Can you sat “Thorium” and other techs shut out by the revolving door between GE/Westinghouse and the DOE/NRC?

  112. The national laboratories do basic and applied research. The Pacific Northwest National Lab does about 30% of its work for DOE. It also has research contracts and grants from DOD, Homeland Security, and other Federal agencies, plus contracts with universities and tech companies. PNNL has been operated by Battelle Memorial Institute, a not for profit research organization based in Columbus Ohio, since 1965. It holds patents in many different technologies, and earns royalties on them. Some of the labs, like Los Alamos, do nuclear weapons research, including preventing nuclear wespon production by rogue states.

  113. There are several good questions about aspects of the Environmental Management program. EM is one of three major programs in DOE: Weapons, Research, and Cleanup. The budget for cleanup at the Hanford Site in eastern Washington, which used to manufacture plutonium for bombs, is $2 billion per year, the most costly Superfund site in the US, due to the difficulty of dealing with radioactive waste. The WTP or Waste Treatment Plant is being built to turn 55 million gallons of highly radioactive chemical waste into glass logs which can safely be stored deep underground in the Yucca Mountain Repository. Nuclear reactors and plutonium processing plants are being demolished. Hanford covers 580 square miles, including 35 miles of the Columbia River in Federal ownership. The cleanup process and its costs are driven by deadlines dictated by EPA and the State of Washington. EPA can penalize DOE if it misses those deadlines.

  114. Excellent analysis of this news, Willis. I’ve done work with two of the national labs, and interacted with several others. I agree, there is much fat to cut, and a tremendous amount of valuable research has not been utilized (my personal favorite being the Integral Fast Reactor, developed by Argonne National Lab, which was killed off by Pres. Clinton….fascinating process, it burns nuclear waste and bomb-grade material, see: http://www.ne.anl.gov/About/reactors/integral-fast-reactor.shtml)

    However, before we dance in the streets, let me warn everyone….each national lab has a very strong political constituency, and politicians of all stripes will fight doggedly to protect them in their states and districts. National labs are a point of great pride for the states they reside in, and like cherished children, they will be protected fiercely.

    That being said, the concept of replacing MIT professor and DOE Director Dr. Ernest Moniz with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is sure to set some heads ablaze!! I’ll have to ask some of my DOE friends what they think of that….this article will give you a hint: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060045642

  115. I have been reading WUWT for many years. This post by Willis is the most important and significant in those years.

    ANTHONY, make it a sticky post please.

    As for WUWT and Willis personally: +1776 trillion

  116. “Overall, I gotta say … it’s about time, and it couldn’t happen to a better agency,”

    Don’t know if the Department of Education is a better agency or not, but it certainly needs to happen to them too.

  117. “PERFECT” !

    I could go much further on the penalties point, Prison for “ALL” who faked and forged Government Documents, and I’m talking [ Long-Term-Sentences ] including confiscating their Personal Property and Bank Accounts !!

    LOCK-THESE-UP !!!

  118. So they refuse to comply….now. Someone needs to explain to these people (and management) that anything they do while employed by the government that’s associated with their position/job is under the control of their employer. I’m sure they walked around these meetings/conventions with name tags and “DOE”. Also, how do they think they were invited or allowed to come anyway? You just don’t apply for acceptance without a connection that’s approved and they don’t just invite at random. They’re only making it more difficult on themselves by stonewalling.

    http://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/12/13/us-energy-department-balks-at-trump-request-for-names-on-climate/21626985/

    • The AOL story says that they are refusing to comply. Today this is hubris, however on the 20th of January, it will be insubordination and there will be accountability in the Department of Energy..

  119. In the course of CPA audits at corporations, information retrieval is not optional for the worker.

    We saw a lot of workers decide if they felt like going to congress or felt like answering questions. Trump will not allow passive resistance.

    Later in January, “can you provide” requests will have deadlines. The questions about meetings indicates using this agency for political purposes is going to wind down.

  120. “It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

  121. From ABC News Dec. 14 13:03 EDT

    Donald Trump’s transition team is backing away from a controversial questionnaire sent to the Department of Energy demanding names of employees who assisted in the Obama administration’s climate policy efforts.

    The Trump transition team has repeatedly declined to respond to ABC News’ requests for comment, but in a statement to ABC News today, an official said, “The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled.”

    Doesn’t name the “official”, but it sounds like a blink to me.

    • I think it was known and intentional. I shouldn’t be, but I’m thoroughly enjoying all the histrionics around Trump from the Liberals.

  122. I would love to know if other depts have been submitted similar interrogatories. And has this happened before any other change of administration?

    • Sdharms

      I would love to know if other depts have been submitted similar interrogatories. And has this happened before any other change of administration?

      Yes. When Clinton first came into office after the 1992 election, the first thing he did (1-2 days after taking the oath) was to fire ALL 50 federal attorney generals for EVERY state. This stopped investigations agaiinst democrats (including himself and Hillary Clinton in three different states, and investigations against correcupt democrats (but I repeat myself) in several other states. The fired attorney generals were all eventually replaced with acceptable alternatives, or with the originals – if they were deemed suitably cowed by the Clinton administration (and Hillary.) On a smaller scale, Hillary also demanded the lucrative White House travel agency be closed (all staff were fired) when her favored travel agency (owned by her donors) was turned down for a contract.

  123. I saw a little mention of this yesterday, but not this article.

    I thought, wait a minute. They are alarmed because they are assuming their people will get the Obama administration treatment which has been far from fair or nice. We saw how the IRS treated conservative organizations and we see still how the FBI and AG won’t render opinions against Dems.

    What I’ve seen to date is Trump having Al Gore and Leonardo di Caprio visiting him over climate change (formerly known as global warming) issue. Did Obama give the other side any attention when he came in? Trump is being more than fair so far.

    And, I bet he would want those who disagree with his non-expert opinion to state their cases so as to try to convince him they have a better view than he does. If they can’t explain it to his liking, it’s bullshit.

    Case closed.

  124. Just one thought … what’s with the “Can you …” bit with the requests? How about straight up “Please provide …” Don’t beat around the bush or give these guys any chance of weaseling out. “Well, yes we can.” “Do you know what time it is?” “Why yes I do.”

    Give them a command. “Please put together the following information by XX date.”

    • A few thoughts. First, the transition team is not the boss of the DOE. They are interlopers preparing for the transition. As such they do not have the authority to order anyone to do anything.

      Second, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

      Third, if they were smart they were hoping someone refused. If you want to identify the leaders, just let a useless rebellion foment …

      It’s useless because in a month they have new bosses.

      w.

  125. The best thing that can be done for our grid is to stop making “alternative energy” must take. It is destroying our base load system by making it unprofitable.

  126. Willis, you make a serious error on trade, like a Marxist you think fixed-pie when the evidence otherwise is all around you that people create and produce.

    Trade is just people dealing with people.
    Typically it’s based on “division of labour”, which focusses talent and expertise on what each person can best do.
    And uses a broader range of materials and climates than available locally. For example, bauxite ore to make your aluminum boat hull comes from outside the US, but has been smelted in the US because low-cost energy was available from hydro-electric dams. (Now that energy costs in the US have risen, more smelting is being done elsewhere, for example one island in the Caribbean has much natural gas but little need for it so they’ve set up a smelter, which is also closer to a major source of bauxite.)

    • Willis:
      Loss of higher paying jobs is a concern, but let’s look at some reasons why:
      – unions making change in production and procedures very difficult
      – unions pushing wages up (grocery store employees in SW BC decades ago for example had wages completely out of line with value of the job. That speeds automation and causes companies to fail because they did not adapt.
      – governments that support union exploitation
      – unions blocking people from jobs (such as shoving black-skinned conductors off of trains a century ago, and blocking females from becoming airline pilots after WW II)
      – governments propping up incompetents like Chrysler and GM, instead of letting them fail and more competent people buying up the pieces (if they failed, imminent failure would sharpen some minds).
      – governments preventing re-development.
      – governments putting barriers against employment, such as making it difficult for an employer to fire someone thus discouraging an employer from giving someone a chance, and creating monopolies that bar people from employment at what they are capable of and passionate about doing.
      – people tolerating bad behaviour, such as that of the young-black-male culture that accounts for a huge proportion of murders (mostly killing each other, young black fems do much better, perhaps as they take the responsibility of caring for the offspring of dalliances with the jerks.
      – individuals failing to plan ahead and upgrade their skills.
      – taxpayer funded colleges that don’t serve real needs and adapt slower than molasses flowing, yet impede private colleges (in fact the Obama administration drove private colleges out of business).

      I recommend you read the economic educational books by George Reisman and Andrew Bernstein, and think positive about humans.

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