Quotes from people I interviewed in the last 3 months

Hi all, I am well aware that I have not posted in the last three months. To make amends here are quotes from some of the people I have interviewed in the last 3 months, from colorful to boring to somewhere in-between:


Burton Richter, Nobel laureate in physics, Professor at Stanford University and Director Emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

[On criticizing the Dept. of Energy] “The DOE may get mad at me but I’m approaching my 84th birthday and I really don’t care.”

[On the US nuclear weapons program] “Weapons work is BORING. You can’t make anything go boom. … A problem with the Dept. of Energy is how do you keep the best of the younger generation of scientists working on the weapons program when all they get to do is work on boring things. ”

[On Congress’s lack of expertise with technical/technology-related matters] “It is entirely the fault of Newt Gingrich, and you can quote me. … Newt Gingrich, as part of his Contract with America, abolished OTA [US Office of Technology Assessment].”

Allison Macfarlane, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who resigned in January after only 2.5 years in the role (was confirmed through 2018)

[“How comfortable would you be living next to a nuclear plant on a fault line, such as Diablo Canyon?”] “Well nobody would be living right next to Diablo Canyon because it’s quite separated from living areas, it’s quite a long drive in.”

[“Within 50 miles?”] “Yeah.”

Alain Castro, CEO of California-based Ener-Core, a company that turns waste gas from industrial and manufacturing processes into clean energy

“When you’re flaring your gases it’s not just an environmental concern, but you’re literally burning money.”

“In a global scale, the amount of gases that is being wasted is about 65,000 MW of power that could be generated. That’s enough to power about 1/3 or 1/2 of the United States population.”

Sara Barczak, program director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE)

[On Southern Company’s delayed and over-budget nuclear project Vogtle in Georgia] “Southern cannot point the finger at the regulator, in this case the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as being the problem.”

Anonymous [Not in the last 3 months but thought to throw in]

[On the formation of the DOE loan guarantee program] “[Dick] Cheney was really really opposed to the loan guarantee program. …

“[The loan guarantee office was] assigned a political appointee, a lawyer from the general counsel’s office, who was telling them what they could do and couldn’t do, and he was coming up with all kinds of bizarre stuff. …

“The guy who was doing this turned out to be in direct contact with Cheney’s office and was basically under instructions to develop a rule, sort of a final rule, to make this program unworkable. … if you know anything about project finance or energy finance and you go through this final rule [30-page document on the loan guarantee program for 1705][ATVM portion was just 4 pgs] you’re going huh? what? There are parts that are just weird.”

John White, CEO of Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT)

[On how to harness technologies to achieve California’s plan of 50% renewable generation by 2030] “The thing about California is that we sort of need to go from being a garage band, with instruments sort of playing apart and on their own, to sort of an orchestra.”

Mark Jacobson, director of Stanford University’s Atmosphere and Energy Program, presented plan to California Governor Jerry Brown’s staff for California to achieve 100% renewable power by 2050

[“It’s sort of cloudy and rainy here in DC.”] “Oh, there’s perfectly blue sky right now.” (laughs a lot) “I’m sorry.”

Aaron Tilton, CEO of Blue Castle Holdings, which aims to build a privately-financed nuclear plant in Utah

[On developing a nuclear reactor] “If you don’t have water, you really don’t have a project.”

Franz Geiger, chemist at Northwestern University, who found that in some cities ethanol use in cars raises ground level ozone

“There are people who will keep on buying ethanol because they think it’s good for the environment.”

“You have to make space for the people who just love their Pepsi-cola and will not drink Coke.”

Martin Greenwald, physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and former chair of the Department of Energy’s fusion energy advisory committee

[On the extremely large and expensive international nuclear fusion tokamak project, ITER] “I’m only speaking for myself, but at the time we agreed to participate in ITER, a minority of us physicists in the US actually preferred a high field approach. We thought that we should build a smaller, higher field device instead.”

Stephen Dean, head of nuclear fusion advocacy group Fusion Power Associates

“As Edward Teller said, trying to contain plasma is like trying to hold jello with a rubber band.”

Charlie Drevna, president of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers

[On predicting the Renewable Fuel Standard ethanol targets] “My crystal ball has had cataracts for a long time.”


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