63 Comments

Very well documented, logical and fact?data based.

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I posted a link to this article in the FaceBook forum Renewable vs Nuclear Debate. Looks like a good discussion. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2081763568746983/posts/3541738229416169

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And here in Australia we have a political ban on nuclear energy based on that well-known formula: FEAR + IGNORANCE = STUPIDITY!

It would seem that you are afflicted with that same formula in the U.S. of A. ...... (Although you don't have a stupid nuclear ban!)

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Michael Shellenberger runs a pro-nuclear group called Environmental Progress that I support.

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I think one of the most vile is Bulletin of Atomic Scientists - they endlessly conflate nuclear power with weapons, they never fail to dump on any new developments that make the already safest energy source even safer . . . the levels of hypocrisy is flabbergasting ( bought and paid for scare mongering )

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Well of course Pritzker vetoed a pro nuclear bill at the bidding of the Anti-Nuclear NGOs. He just got re-elected to a four-year term so voters won't remember. Plus, he wants to be waiting in the wings in case Biden somehow drops out of the Presidential race and the Democratic nomination is up for grabs. Being pro-nuclear could be an automatic disqualifier.

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Thanks for this piece. I was the Senior Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region IV, and I had much interaction with this anti-nuclear industry. I believed the NRC should be pushing back hard against the anti-nuke crazies, but management seemed to have a strange, symbiotic relationship with them. They seemed to think satisfying the demands of the anti-nukes was good for business, that the anti-nukes actually played a constructive role somehow. They seemed oblivious to the fact that anti-nukes can never be satisfied -- the only solution they would ultimately accept is complete termination of nuclear power. However, in the short term, ramping up regulation of the nuclear industry served the interests of NRC bureaucrats and they were fine with that. I got in trouble with the Chairman of the Commission once because I criticized the anti-nuke crazies in a comment I made to a WSJ editorial. Amazing! People can convince themselves of most anything if they think it furthers their careers. I've often noted that the anti-nuke movement is now a lucrative career for too many folks, so it's going to take some kind of apocalypse to dislodge them.

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Breck, strange relationship indeed! Region IV includes Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP). Over the years, I've encountered a number of anti-nuclear power zealots at NRC meetings. The most accurate statement from opponents came in a conversation between DCPP advocates (Californians for Green Nuclear Power at https://CGNP.org) and some opponents at a Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee meeting. They said, "Don't try and convince us (of the value of DCPP) - our minds are already made up!

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Paradoxically this situation shows the beauty of a decentralized system. The good is it can effect and shape policy, the bad is that taken to far bad policy can be implemented with no accountabillity. Criminal actions like closing Nuclear Plant-Inidan Points & the 40 others that happen in the United States-for the sake for Gaia, forcing utilities to burn more natural gas & coal their contributing to pollution and emission increases-notice emission and pollution are not the samething. Air pollution kills an estimated 60,200 per year in America. These groups are directly responsible for deaths yet are treated with a sense of reverence while bring enviormental destructive less carbon efficient more material dense useless energy.

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It's amazing that there's a whole industry aimed at guaranteeing we have fewer people and life is worse for the ones we do.

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Back in the mid 70s I was a newspaper reporter tasked with explaining the origins of the anti-nuclear crowd.

What I found was that the fellows behind the the anti-nuclear power were skillful propagandists who convinced the public that the milk being sold in our nation was contaminated by nuclear fallout, and thus a serious danger to children.

Not much has changed since then.

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Were you aware of the "Tooth Fairy" project? That anti-nuke brainstorm purported to prove that nuclear power plants were spewing radioactive materials all around by finding I think it was Strontium in baby teeth of young children. It was completely bogus, since Strontium isn't one of the elements nuclear power produces, AND there is nothing being "spewed" from any nuclear power plant. So it went nowhere, fortunately.

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Joseph Magano (creator of the "Tooth Fairy" project ) and his nonprofit were front-page news in San Luis Obispo, California when he alleged that cancer clusters were in the vicinity of Diablo Canyon Power Plant. (DCPP) All he did was to "cherry pick" census tracts showing higher cancer incidence - and not age-correcting the raw mortality data. He was soundly debunked by the San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health.:

SLO County health department report refutes study about Diablo County health risks

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/04/14/3021084/slo-county-health-department-report.html

By David Sneed

dsneed@thetribunenews.com April 14, 2014

2014-04-14 18:45:18Z

JOE JOHNSTON ­ jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

The county Public Health Department has released a report that refutes a recent study that found that people living near Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant have higher disease rates.

Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer, said the report issued by the World Business Academy of Santa Barbara used “flawed methodology and selective exclusion of populations on interest” to reach its conclusion that living near Diablo Canyon increases the likelihood of low birth weight babies, childhood leukemia and adult cancers.

The World Business Academy is a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit think tank whose mission is “to inspire business to assume responsibility for the whole of society.”

“As health officer for San Luis Obispo County, I take the health of our residents very seriously, and when a claim was made that excess cancer and infant mortality was occurring in our county, I made an immediate priority to investigate further,” Borenstein said.

Diablo Canyon owner PG&E said the author of the World Business Academy report, New Jersey-based epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, has a history of doing flawed work.

“Given Mr. Mangano’s history of discredited reports due to poor science, and that this newer report draws on the previously discredited work, PG&E is not giving this report any consideration,” said Blair Jones, PG&E spokesman.

Specifically, the county’s 14-page report said ZIP codes were included and excluded selectively to reach the alleged effects on birth weights claimed in the World Business Academy report.

For example, the World Business Academy report excluded the Santa Maria ZIP code 93454. If that ZIP code is included in the analysis, the low birth-weight ratio shows a slight decrease.

The county also concluded that the use of crude rates in analyzing cancer cases in the county distorted the true change in rates over time. Crude rates are total numbers that do not take into consideration factors such as age and ethnicity or disease rates within subgroups of a population.

The State Cancer Registry examined the report and found that the use of crude rates in analyzing cancer cases in the county distorted the true change in rates over time.

Age-adjusted cancer rates in the area have remained unchanged or declined, Borenstein said.

The full county Public Health Department report can be found at www.slopublichealth.org.

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why did they not go after the naturally occurring radioactive Potassium - they could easily lie about where it came from - thank god for incompetents

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Anti-nuclear activists are not just wrong; they're evil. And their primary victims are the poor.

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For other than real charities, why does tax-exempt status exist at all? Tax exemption amounts to the government paying organizations to influence government policy.

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It gets much much worse when actual government grants go to NGOs in a sort of tail swallowing act.

EPA does this all the time. They seem to be fully captured by the "green" NGOs to the point tht EPA is now helping to finance them.

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These are Mercenary Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, ENGOs. And they make their income by doing the dirty work for $billionaires and even entire Nations (i.e. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE) by using Environmental Regulations and Fear Porn to kneecap their funders competition. Not just Nuclear.

An example, "The Center for Biological Diversity" , is a very wealthy Schlock Mercenary Environmental Organization know for its mass of lawyers and constant litigation to the profit of its $billionaire benefactors. Their latest target is SpaceX. Suing the FAA to block all Starship launches touting what are in reality absolutely negligible environmental effects on the local region. So who's hiring these creeps to shutdown SpaceX? The also very Litigious Jef Bezos with his Blue Origin, can't-get-off-the-ground, public funded porkbarrel project? Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Jacobs, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman protecting their $30B, 100-1000X more expensive and non-reusable, one-launch-per-year SLS boondoggle? They were previously paying a couple Moon Astronauts to lobby Congress to block funding to SpaceX because "they are unsafe for astronauts".

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This was a very good statement of how loss of public sentiment can damage an industry whether the sentiment is sound or not. I did work in the light water reactor business for many years. There were well run utilities and others not so good. In its early phases the smaller 2-loop PWRs for example were built for modest costs and offered reasonable complexity for improving operations. By the time the industry scaled to larger 4-loop plants the costs for construction spiraled out of control. The industry languished for more than 30 years with the legacy. Save for the PRC, there doesn't seem to exist a capital market that will underwrite the investment in new facilities. I'm not sure this has as much to do with anti-nuclear sentiment as it does with basic finance. I think the moment capitalism gets out of its lane is when it supports the construction of things that are NOT RESPONSIBLE for their fully loaded cost. I am sure there are modern designs that may be economically feasible. It just seems unlikely these are sound long-term investments in a fast-changing world that has the multiplier effect in place for the development of battery infrastructure. It is unfortunate but it may be the window for broad dependence on fission reactors has passed. The French model will likely be the outlier exception.

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Vogtle cost $12,766/kWe. Essentially identical reactors in China cost $2,920/kWe in Shandong Zhejiang provinces. Six new orders have been approved for $2,666/kWe. Olkiluouo, a French design, cost $7,500/kWe. When it entered service, the delivered price for electricity dropped from €245.98 per MWh to €60.55. While Vogtle Unit 4 was undergoing initial hot tests, excessive vibration was found in a pile. In an ordinary industrial operation of that scale, it would have been addressed by a $30,000 pipe brace. At Vogtle it resulted in a $3 million license revision.

The problem isn't in the technology.

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That's still cheaper than what they are now paying for Offshore Wind in the NE US. Without killing all those whales. And even Solar PV likely costs that much when you put it in the form of a realistic competitor, that is an Apples to Apples comparison. i.e. Solar PV + Overbuild/Curtailment + Battery storage + H2 storage + 5X oversized long distance transmission.

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Advocates for solar and wind only ever quite what they'd like you to believe is the generated price. They never do any system engineering. What's the cost of storage if you want firm power? (ten times total USA GDP every year.) What's the cost to transmit wind from Oklahoma to Tennessee? How much copper would be needed for an all-electric world? (five times the amount known to exist.)

Are they lazy, ignorant, stupid, or intentionally deceptive?

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I choose: All of the above.

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I read a great technology story years ago. It was about the development of the Shinkansen trains throughout Japan in the 1950s forward. They were a remarkably successful program. There is a a great difference as you describe between the technology and the implementation. Here we sit 50+ years later and the US has a handful of Acela Amtrak trains. It was the PRC that wisely let the Japanese bullet train network be the inspiration for their high-speed network. They did a similar program with nuclear power. They absorbed the intellectual property of the original AP-1000 Westinghouse design. Designing versus building something, as you describe are markedly different things. Now, in both cases, they are in the improvement and optimization phase. It is interesting nevertheless, despite the PRC early success with the AP-1000 program, they have slowed the rollout MARKEDLY. They are competing against Solar PV and Offshore Wind and battery technology. ALL THREE of them are on a learning curve. Large-scale improvement arrives YEARLY. The curve for solar PV is unnerving to a competitor. 90% improvement over a ten year cycle. A banker would be suicidal to finance a 60 year pipe dream for a new reactor in such an environment.

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You are very confused about hte meanings of learning curve and efficiency and how they apply to wind and solar.

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I wrote about the unlikely continued growth of wind. I think the biggest risk to the industry is the foolishness of the scale. This is characterized by natural limits like balsa wood pressure in Ecuador for the blades. Having to build dedicated ships to carry the blades, etc. I think wind is merely a complementary technology since it can coexist with large land use crops like corn and soybean fields. Solar is a different matter and people much smarter than me have documented the characteristic performance of solar. The remarkable and durable performance of the transistor started in 1947. Naysayers have been assuring us Moore's Law is dead for a long time. Most off them like their smartphones and pretend they never said it. The performance of power density and cost has followed what is CLEARLY a learning curve since about 1975. Naysayers are sure it will end. Perhaps it will. 50 years is a pretty good trend. Perskovite and different substrates, flexibility and multi-side solar are all baked in to continue the parade for at least the next ten years. I think the 2035 performance of solar is a worthwhile bet.

Battery production was magic only twenty years ago and violent fires on planes made news. Great businessmen like Musk have ridden the wave. Good little batteries suitable for iPods, Smartphones, Laptops and now automobiles. What does a learning curve look like? Gottlieb Daiimler and the gang started with ICEs and lived within the confines of Carnot efficiency. They were DOOMED to polish the apple. In fact even the Wright Bros managed to craft an aluminum engine. With advanced hybrid assists and five cycle Atkinson optimization a WELL-DESIGNED hybrid can now provide nearly 45% combined efficiency (only possible due to electronic controls) 100+ years of polishing the apple of a mature technology (combustion) has eked out 12% -- hooray. A well designed electric motor operates at 80%+ efficiency. The accompanying steady improvements in batteries is a learning curve wave. Sure material science might become the limiting factor. That is possible. My guess would be different battery chemistry will likely stack on top. That is really how a learning curve continues. While the source of the referenced chart might cause you to shoot the messenger, the underlying data that defines the graphs are not in contention. The only CONSTANT disagreement is whether the learning curve will continue. Even casual observers who used solar lights knew LiFeP chemistry was on the horizon. This is how the learning curve works. LiFeP is not MAGIC -- it was an incremental improvement that relieves pressure to find cobalt and reduced lithium. Why is this a worthwhile bet? Lithium batteries have been creating billionaires for decades. This technical advancement will continue to march. This is quite different than trying to suspend Carnot.

https://blog.ucsusa.org/peter-oconnor/what-is-the-learning-curve/

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Oh no, another believer in the Moore's Law or Swanson's Law for Solar & Wind FABLE. You need to read the last Robert Bryce posting and the report: "The Distortions of Cheap Energy" analysis by Goehring & Rozencwajg:

https://info.gorozen.com/2021-q4-market-commentary-the-distortions-of-cheap-energy

"...The 2010s were unique for two reasons: the lower cost of capital in human history and a 90% peak-to-trough fall in energy cost. Many investors understand how cheap capital leads to malinvestment, but cheap energy has the same impact. How? Cheap energy encouraged the rollout of energy-hungry renewables. Read on to see why 2022 will be the year everyone finally understands the limitations of wind and solar.

Our newest commentary, The Distortions of Cheap Energy, looks at how low oil and gas prices have obscured the terrible energy efficiency of many “green transition” technologies. A look at what really drove down the price of wind and solar – it's not what you think!..."

https://robertbryce.substack.com/p/the-iron-law-of-power-density-part

And also here:

Moore’s Law Misapplied:

https://manhattan.institute/article/the-new-energy-economy-an-exercise-in-magical-thinking

The price declines in Wind & Solar have already reversed.

https://davidturver.substack.com/p/trouble-at-the-windmill

Wind/Solar requiring ~50X the material inputs per delivered TWh is ultimately going to put an end to that boondoggle. It is telling that wind & solar still demand massive subsidies, mandates and exemptions to compete on Electricity Markets. They should be required to bid on the Day-Ahead Market for a fixed block of power and if they don't deliver pay stiff penalties. And any subsidies for low carbon should be in the form of a Revenue Neutral Carbon Fee & Dividend, applied equally to ALL energy tech.

To see what REAL WORLD wind & solar costs, look at:

There is a linear price relationship between wind/solar grid penetration and price of electricity by Ken Gregory, P.Eng, graph Euro/kwh by country 2019: Conclusion: European Wind Plus Solar Cost 6 Times Other Electrical Sources

friendsofscience.org/index.php?id=2550

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I love a good fable. Vanguard 1 in 1959 had a 1 watt solar panel aboard. That silly phone you might be typing on is part of the same fable -- the 1890 census on punch cards to a world where we produce more transistors in a year than all the leaves on all the trees on the planet. Not a fable. In my community a direct 45MW panel array will provide for more than 30% of the baseload of one of the largest oil refineries in the Midwest. When a Koch refinery implements your fable it might be time to thing again. Silicon and the technologies on top of it are a pretty good fable and the happy ending is for all of us to enjoy. QED

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No your 45MW solar panel WILL NOT supply 30% of the baseload. That's not how the power grid works. To supply 30% of the baseload it would need to supply that 24/7, 365 days per year. Now you add batteries, H2 storage, long distance transmission costs, overbuild/curtailment costs to achieve that and see what your solar will cost. Your Moore's Law fable will not look so good any more.

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Look it up. No need to be angry. The Flint Hills refinery built a significant CoGen build out about 4 years ago. I am quite knowledgeable on some of the details. They are FAR AND AWAY the largest retail customer for the local utility -- about 110 MW. That step reduced their requirements to about 65-70MW for daily operations. The current solar project is over 100K panels. It is the largest DIRECT SOLAR installation of its kind perhaps in the world. Check it out before you speculate. They will be operational later this summer. This is not a fable. The Koch are not the fable types. This is about operational efficiency. This is far and away the best way to improve their operational efficiency. Here's a pretty good primer on the project -- you will appreciate the simplification of avoiding the transmission issues you felt were significant to raise.

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/05/10/2440160/0/en/Flint-Hills-Resources-to-Build-Largest-of-Its-Kind-Solar-Installation-to-Help-Power-Its-Minnesota-Refinery-Operations.html

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Take a closer look at those new designs that may be economically feasible. A couple of them could work right now. The nuclear industry is probably on a 100 year launch phase. Broaden the X-axis on the nuclear development time scale. You can be more optimistic than your statement implies. Tell the truth now, did you think Elon Musk could build re-useable rockets when he first started talking about it?

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This seems sensible. I think the Westinghouse AP-1000 design early deploys in PRC went well and now full IP technology transfer will be interesting. If PRC continues to build more and drives construction times and costs downward, that will be a great model. This just has never been achieved in the US during the last major build outs here. I think the challenge is renewables are on a learning curve while fission generation never got there so far. Competing against technology on a learning curve is very hard to survive and even more difficult to finance.

The raptor engines are amazing

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The only reason Nuclear is not on a learning curve that completely dominates all other sources of energy is described in this very article. Did you even bother reading it?

It is bad enough that the Solar, Wind, Coal, Gas & Oil Industries see upstart Nuclear as their archenemy. But we have a ruling elite in the West that are Club-Of-Rome Malthusian Psychopath Parasites and even more so despise Nuclear Energy. Imagine an unlimited Energy supply for the planet. They just can't allow that.

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I am sorry but this is a misunderstanding of what a learning curve is. Concrete, Steel, Pumps and Turbines are MATURE technologies and are hence not reasonable candidates for a learning curve. It has been unfortunate that continuous improvement in the physics and thermodynamics of reactor designs have not been optimized. If and when such things are scaled improvements may arrive. I think the realization in some countries there is a place for industrial policy will be the impetus for advancement of nuclear generation. I think there is a CHANCE the PRC will successfully scale the AP-1000 design upward on some scale.

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BTW, John Doerr in the past has claimed to support nuclear.

https://freakonomics.com/podcast/what-is-john-doerrs-plan-to-save-the-planet/

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If Doerr wants nuclear energy to succeed, he might want to stop providing resources to a group led by refugees from the Sierra Club.

I am also leery of giving someone a pass if they choose to say that they support "safe nuclear" as if there is something unsafe about the current fleet of operating reactors.

Advances in nuclear energy technology are real and should be supported, but they are primarily aimed at making nuclear plants more fuel efficient, easier to build, simpler to maintain and more affordable to plan and license. It's really hard to make a technology that has an almost unblemished safety record over 70 years of large scale operations any safer.

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His plan is impractical, in fact impossible. He should read some Robert Bryce on materials inputs, like his recent article about the Goehring and Rozencwajg EROI analysis.

Nowadays, since the rabid anti-nuclear types have been exposed for their insane Climate Change hypocrisy, you here lot's of individuals and groups feigning support for nuclear. But where the Rubber-Meets-The-Road, they are nowhere to be seen. "I support Nuclear, but only safe Nuclear" is the typical dodge they use. Like the UCS - Union of Concerned non-Scientists are a good example of that grift. As anti-nuclear as you can get but they claim they just want safety. Nuclear already being by far-and-away the safest energy supply on the planet.

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Union of Corrupt Shills.

Got that from one of the commenters on Rod Adam's site many years ago.

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NRDC is also spending big money in the anti-gas front. They fund a lot of the press you read about how your gas range is killing you, and the studies they use to back those articles. Getting rid of gas ranges is key in killing gas period because it is the personal connection most people have ro gas.

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Also The Rocky Mountain Institute, Amory Lovins' baby. They were one of the primary purveyors of the original bogus "gas causes ashma" study.

Retracted as a bad study almost immediately, but hte damage is done. The grifters continue to use it and quote it and the media goes along, never mentioning that they study was discredited almost as soon as it was published.

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They are afraid of Grid Defection, when homes and business install NG powered CHP generators, rather than pay +50 cents/kwh for Wind & Solar electricity, that is when they are available. When they are not, energy rationing will result, and rationing they want to be just another day in the week for us lowly serfs. The Feudal Society.

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🤣 too late, I already have my generator all plumbed to my NG.

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Not too late, when they get the power, they will have all homes & residences cut-off from NG. And they will also ban propane for households. Got to save the world from climate change. Check out what Vivek had to say on that.

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Well I am in Ohio, we have a ton of infrastructure and wells here. They might, but this will be one of the last states to fall.

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That's why you need to fight back, before it is too late. Where did that RINO Republican Governor of yours come from? Get rid of that A-hole.

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