Babylon the Great Creates the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Withheld and Misrepresented Critical ...Nuclear Regulatory Commission Withheld and Misrepresented Critical Information Used to Evaluate and Approve the Siting of the Spectra AIM Pipeline Alongside Indian Point

On Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. at the Hendrick Hudson Library in Montrose, NY, at a special presentation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Petition Review Board, nuclear expert Paul Blanch revealed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission withheld and misrepresented critical information used to evaluate and approve the siting of the Spectra Algonquin Incremental Market Project’s 42-inch diameter gas pipeline adjacent to the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Therefore, the Certificate for the Spectra AIM project, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 3, 2015, which was based on the NRC’s faulty analysis, must be rescinded immediately.

Map of Potential Impact Radius of 42

Mr. Blanch began his presentation with this powerful statement:

“The NRC has threatened the safety of more than 20 million residents and the infrastructure of the greater NY metropolitan area and is risking trillions of dollars of damage and possibly the US economy by basing its safety assessment on a calculation that was recently obtained from the NRC under FOIA[1].This new information confirms that this NRC ‘calculation’ which was partially handwritten, unapproved, undated and unsigned, used fictitious, false and unsupported assumptions. This NRC calculation supported the FERC approval of the AIM project and the transportation of thousands of tons of TNT equivalent across and in the vicinity of the Indian Point nuclear plants. This ‘back of the envelope-type calculation,’ which misled Congressional representatives, FERC and the general public, must be invalidated and an independent, transparent, structured risk assessment, as outlined in an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) methodology, must be undertaken.”

Hand-written document submitted to NRC as part of Entergy Safety Assessment of AIM Pipeline. (Source: see FOIA below)

Nationally recognized pipeline expert Richard Kuprewicz, engaged by the Town of Cortlandt to analyze the project, provided formal comments to FERC in November and December. Mr. Kuprewicz participated in the NRC Petition Review Board call. He stated:

“In reviewing the various analyses of information provided to date, it has become obvious that those attempting to perform rupture dynamics of the 42-inch pipeline should not be doing such work, as their analyses consistently fail to capture the fundamental basics of gas pipeline rupture dynamics, especially on this system in the vicinity of the nuclear plant.  From my perspective, it appears the permitting agencies are attempting to take advantage of a loophole that permits the NRC to dismiss risks if such analysis can be categorized below a certain threshold value, while ignoring the severe consequences that might prevent the nuke plant to safely shutdown.”

Mr. Blanch discovered the new information through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of NRC correspondence resulting from a letter to Assemblywoman Sandy Galef from the NRC.   The links to the FOIA documents are available here:

Link to FOIA document #1

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9zj5jrshSGjNThTek5VczhuNTgyTEZwUlJaSHRkMkoyanZB/view?usp=sharing

Link to FOIA document #2

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9zj5jrshSGjTjBKUlE1Y2MzQXEzX0RzcjJkdTVJeG9FaDh3/view?usp=sharing

Assemblywoman Galef, who hosted the press conference prior to the presentation said, “At the press conference I joined my colleagues and elected officials to hear more about the grave concerns with the siting of the Spectra AIM pipeline so close to the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant. We will continue to advocate for greater scrutiny and a halt to this project unless and until it can be determined that this is safe.  Right now, we have no such assurances.”

Background:

According to another FOIA of until-now-private NRC emails, a rupture of a gas pipeline of this pressure and diameter, would release about 4 kilotons of energy a minute. To put this in perspective, the nuclear blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were about 15 kilotons[1]. While this energy release wouldn’t cause the same type of damage, it could cause continuous explosions, which could destroy systems required to shut down the Indian Point reactors, which could cause major release of radioactive material that could impact a 50 mile radius (like Fukushima). Yet, the NRC continues its claim of “no additional risk.”

The risk analysis performed by Entergy and confirmed by the NRC states that if the pipeline ruptures, Spectra Energy’s operators in Houston would be able to shut down the gas flow in 3 minutes. Most gas line ruptures require field verification, which takes additional time.  When a pipeline in San Bruno, CA ruptured, it took hours to get it under control.

If the NRC had used accurate information concerning the dynamics of a pipeline rupture, the impact radius of the explosion and heat flux would have been dramatically expanded. This would have demonstrated that a rupture could lead to a total electrical failure including back-up systems regardless of whether they shut the valves in 3 minutes or 1 hour.

Had the NRC provided accurate information to FERC and the involved agencies, the siting of the pipeline alongside Indian Point would most certainly not have been approved.  While Fukushima was caused by an unforeseeable tragedy, putting the AIM pipeline next to Indian Point creates the potential for an avoidable tragedy.

[1] NRC FOIAs 2015-00176 and 0246 include an NRC internal email that discusses gas release rate of 376,000 kg per minute, which is nearly 1 million pounds per minute of explosive gas. Natural gas contains 10 times the energy per pound than TNT.

About Paul M. Blanch

45 Years Nuclear Power Experience, Navy Submarine Reactor operator and instructor, BS Engineering 1972, Registered Professional Engineer, Westinghouse Engineer of the Year, Participated in design of Millstone and Connecticut nuclear plants, Three Mile Island expert witness, Davis Besse expert witness, Testified before US Senate, Vermont and Massachusetts legislatures.

Employed by/Consultant to:

  • Millstone
  • Connecticut Yankee
  • Maine Yankee
  • Indian Point (Consolidated Edison and Entergy)
  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
  • Nuclear Entergy Institute (NEI)
  • State Agencies
  • Numerous Law Firms
  • Riverkeeper

Expert Witness for License renewal (10 CFR 54)

  • Indian Point License Renewal
  • Vermont Yankee License Renewal
  • Pilgrim License Renewal
  • Seabrook License Renewal

Identified numerous shortcomings in the NRC’s License Renewal programs/reviews including:

  • Piping degradation
  • Unqualified submerged vital cables
  • Failure to require aging management programs for numerous passive components

Identified and petitioned the NRC to take action related to gas transmission lines at Indian Point

About Richard Kuprewicz

Mr. Kuprewicz has over 40 years experience in the energy industry offering special focus on appropriate pipeline design and operation in areas of unique population density or of an environmentally sensitive nature. He is currently a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (THLPSSC) representing the public, a position appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation. He has also served in the past on the Washington State Citizens Committee on Pipeline Safety a committee appointed by the Governor of the state that advises federal, state, and local governments on all matters related to pipeline safety, including routing, construction, operation and maintenance. He is a chemical engineer, experienced in production, pipeline, and refinery design, construction, operation, maintenance, risk analysis, management, acquisition, emergency response, and safety management processes, including hazard analysis. He has also authored many papers on pipeline safety, both nationally and internationally, and has proved various inputs throughout the development of federal pipeline safety regulation including liquid and gas pipeline safety rulemaking.

Errors Leading to the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Independent pipeline study needed

 

Riverkeeper has joined calls for an independent study to assess the risk to the Indian Point nuclear power plant from the Algonquin pipeline expansion.

In a Jan. 16 letter the Ossining-based environmental group said a safety evaluation prepared by Entergy, the company that operates Indian Point, didn’t adequately account for the effects of a natural gas pipeline rupture. The Algonquin pipeline runs through the power plant’s Buchanan property and it would lie more than 1,600 feet from the power plant structures.

Riverkeeper’s letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission echoed an assessment made by Accufacts, a public records research company that called Entergy’s analysis “seriously incomplete, even dismissive.”

On Tuesday Entergy defended its safety study.

“Entergy places plant and community safety first and foremost and is required by federal regulation to analyze new potential safety impacts, such as potential impacts of the proposed AIM pipeline project,” Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi wrote in an email. “Entergy engineers spent hundreds of hours analyzing data provided by Spectra Energy and concluded the project, if built, would pose no increased risks to safety at the plant. Experts at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted their own independent analysis and reached the same conclusion. Entergy takes no position on the pipeline project itself.”

Spectra Energy needs New York and federal permits to expand a pipeline that runs through Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties. More than 15 miles of the pipeline would be dug up in New York.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation will hold public hearings this week on the pipeline expansion.

The Jan. 21 meeting at 6 p.m. will be held in the auditorium of the Henry H. Wells Middle School, 570 Route 312, Brewster. The 6 p.m. hearing on Jan. 22 at the Stony Point Community Center, 5 Clubhouse Lane, Stony Point.

Twitter: @ErnieJourno

Indian Point Pipeline is NOT Safe (Revelation 6:12)

Demonstrators protest the pipeline near Indian Point in August 2016. (Photo by Erik McGregor)

In February 2016, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commissioned a study of the risks of running a gas pipeline through the Indian Point nuclear plant site. Seven months later, the state told the consulting firm preparing the $275,000 assessment to complete it by Dec. 31, 2016.

More than a year after that deadline, the study hasn’t been released and its status remains unclear. [Editor’s note: In June the state released the executive summary of the report.]

After repeated efforts to pry loose the document through Freedom of Information Law requests, activists are urging Cuomo and local officials to do something. Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), formed as the pipeline plans took shape, is among the groups that will take part in an “interfaith climate vigil” for Feb. 25 outside Cuomo’s Mount Kisco home.

Known as the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project, the 42-inch pipeline began operation in January 2017 despite opposition from environmentalists and scientists who argued that a high-pressure pipe cannot be safely snaked through 2,300 feet of a nuclear power complex, much less one, like Indian Point, in an earthquake fault.

Although Indian Point is scheduled to close by spring 2021, critics contend that dangers of a pipeline accident will remain because spent radioactive fuel will be stored at the facility indefinitely.

Constructed by Spectra Energy, AIM is a link in a system to carry natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania into New York, beneath the Hudson River, and across Putnam County into Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the pipeline, although critics contend that its decision was based on erroneous data.

On Feb. 1, Philipstown resident Paula Clair asked the Town Board to call for the study to be released, saying that “we who live close to the nuclear plant have a right to know” of the hazards. Clair, who sits on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, said that the proximity of the gas pipeline to spent nuclear fuel means that “if there was an explosion or a fire, it would be a catastrophe.”

A draft resolution she proposed noted that a radioactive release caused by an explosion could “render Philipstown uninhabitable for generations.”

Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea agreed that the study, paid for with taxpayer funds, should be released, and promised that the board would consider passing a measure soon. “I don’t think it’s going to be a problem” approving it, he said.

Susan Van Dolsen, co-founder of SAPE, said her organization has been attempting to get a copy of the study through FOIL and other means since mid-2016, without success. Instead of the study, the state sent stacks of emails and other items, often of dubious relevance, she said, with large portions blacked out.

Sandy Galef, who represents Philipstown and Beacon in the state Assembly and serves on the task force looking at the impact of Indian Point’s closure, also wants the assessment released.

In a Jan. 19 letter to Cuomo, she reminded the governor that she had previously asked to see the document, which, she said, becomes especially important as the task force looks at possible re-uses of Indian Point after its nuclear operations cease. “I don’t think we can move forward without all possible information,” she wrote.

As of Thursday (Feb. 22), the governor’s office had not responded to questions posed a week earlier by The Current about the study. The state Office of General Services, which oversaw the contract for the study, on Feb. 14 referred inquiries to the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, which also did not respond.

The Nuclear Event at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19: Aerial view of the Indian Point nuclear power plant along the banks of the Hudson River in Westchester County.
UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 19: Aerial view of the Indian Point nuclear power plant along the banks of the Hudson River in Westchester County.PHOTOGRAPH BY SUSAN WATTS/NY DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Nuclear energy is not the answer to America’s necessary clean energy transition. It’s an expensive, dirty, and dangerous fuel, which is why seven electrical engineers at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) noted, last week, significant safety concerns with all but one of the nation’s 100 nuclear power plants.Signaling the NRC engineers’ concerns, last month one of America’s oldest nuclear power plants leaked radioactive tritium into its groundwater below – at radioactivity levels 65,000% higher than normal.

It’s time to rethink what constitutes “clean energy,” as nuclear power is often grouped into the clean energy category since its greenhouse gas emissions are less than heavier emitting oil, coal, and gas. On the heels of the international climate talks in Paris, as the United States struggles to meet its carbon-related commitments in light of the Supreme Court’s stay of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, the ramp up of “clean energy” solutions is now paramount.

But just what defines “clean” is the question, especially when radioactive leaks abound? The plant responsible for the latest radioactive leak – Indian Point Energy Center, owned by Entergy, just 25 miles north of New York City – is just one of the many aging nuclear power plants in America that is getting narratively re-positioned as clean energy. This is happening along with hydropower and even natural gas – diluting, in the public’s mind at least, what clean energy really is (a term that should be reserved primarily for renewable energy).

In fact, Indian Point is anything but clean, which is why it has moved quickly to the front of New York State’s political burner lately as the company’s operating licenses, which expired a while ago, are getting a strong rebuke from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who doesn’t want a Fukushima-style nuclear disaster happening to New Yorkers.

There would be nothing remotely clean about that, which is why the New York governor ordered a probe into the multiple, unexpected and forced shutdowns at the plant. And while the governor is not keen to close all of New York’s nuclear power plants, as he transitions the state off carbon-emitting fossil fuels, he has made it abundantly clear that he wants this particular nuclear plant shut down due to safety concerns.

Everyone should take note. While “terrorism” dominates the presidential campaign debates, given front runner Donald Trump’s hometown familiarity with one of America’s most frequent terror targets (i.e. New York City), it’s surprising that they don’t do more, rhetorically at least, to protect the safety of America’s financial capital. To be fair, however, if you’d ask New Yorkers about potential threats to Manhattan, they too may not know the security risk that looms miles up the Hudson River.

But even if they did, the knowledge would be only marginally useful as the roads wouldn’t be able to handle the escaping throngs and the iodine tablets (which is what affected residents are encouraged to take) wouldn’t help. And with the Nuclear Threat Initiative saying in January that we’re only making slow progress on preventing nuclear terrorism, with cyber attacks increasing, we must take these warnings seriously, especially in our backyard.

Add to the precariousness of the security situation a new Spectra gas pipeline, approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will cross Entergy property in proximity to the plant (storing 1500 tons of radioactive waste) – a move members of Congress are calling into question given recent successful cyber attacks on local New York infrastructure. And just last week, Governor Cuomo rightfully called for a halt to the construction of the pipeline citing the dangers of its proximity to Indian Point.

And yet, despite all of that, Indian Point Energy Center continues to operate. The permits for the two plants were set to expire in 2013 and 2015 but were extended by the NRC, an agency known for its close ties to the nuclear power industry, which recently relaxed Indian Point’s testing requirements. This could all be easily avoided. We could keep debating the serious security concerns, as they will continue to compromise the safety of millions of Americans in the New York City area even if the licenses are renewed. Or we could nip this in the bud now, once and for all, and transition the region to something more sustainable and safe. It’s totally doable. And it’d be legitimately clean.

Based on a recent Synapse Energy Economics study, we know that we ‎can replace Indian Point Energy Center by expanding energy from renewables and efficiency and that the costs of doing so would be minimal. So let’s do this. We’ve got sufficient capacity to support a reliable electric system without Indian Point, with new, less dangerous and more renewable energy sources that also come with clear health benefits. And if Governor Cuomo is going to reach his 50% renewable energy goal by 2030, this is a great place to start.

This is the clean energy future. By exploiting large amounts of untapped energy efficiencies, maximizing surpluses and reserves, expanding renewables and improving generation and transmission, we know we can retire the nuclear plant hovering above Manhattan on the Hudson River. And we should do everything in our power to transition the bright minds at Indian Point into the clean renewable energy sector in New York, which is growing daily. Let’s keep them employed – and then some. But most importantly, let’s keep this country safe.

Michael Shank, PhD is an adjunct assistant professor of sustainable development at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs graduate program.

Lies that lead to the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Inspector General issued a report about the agency's review of the Algonquin Pipeline expansion near Indian Point.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Inspector General issued a report about the agency’s review of the Algonquin Pipeline expansion near Indian Point. (Entergy)

Feds Lied About Pipeline Near NY Power Plant: Inspector General

Officials are demanding a briefing from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about a report that found false statements and flawed science.

By Lanning Taliaferro, Patch Staff 
 | 

CORTLANDT, NY — Nuclear regulators failed to properly analyze the safety impact of the expansion of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline near the Indian Point Energy Center as part of the process for the pipeline’s approval by energy regulators, a federal watchdog found in a new report.

In 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it analyzed the effect of a pipeline rupture,including the jet flame, cloud fire, vapor cloud explosion and unconfined explosion that would result. The regulators concluded the power plant could be safely shut down if a pipeline accident occurred, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission used that conclusion in its finding that the larger pipeline would not increase safety problems at the plant.
An opponent petitioned nuclear regulators, saying the company and the agency made false statements in their reports and used a scientifically flawed analysis to reach their conclusions.
It turns out Paul Blanch, the nuclear expert who filed the petition, was correct, the nuclear commission’s inspector general’s office said in a report issued Feb. 13.

The nuclear commission’s safety review and energy commission conclusions were deeply flawed, with flawed engineering analysis based on incorrect data and a clear and consistent violation of the process for responding to challenges of the analysis and the data, according to the report. The nuclear commission then conducted a flawed check of its findings and lied to the engineer who challenged them, the report found.

The report said:

  • The NRC’s inspection report contained inaccuracies suggesting additional analysis had been conducted, when this was not the case.
  • NRC’s underlying independent analysis was conducted using a computer program that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which developed the program, said it was not designed for. Moreover, the NRC reported its results based on flawed data into the model and tweaked outcomes.
  • The NRC analyzed a non-existent hazard. Most of NRC’s independent analysis described the impact of a potential rupture on an above-ground point on IPEC property that NRC believed presented the most credible risk due to its exposure; however, the as-built 42-inch pipeline does not come above ground anywhere on IPEC property. And the NRC scientists knew that.
  • FERC incorrectly portrayed NRC’s independent analysis as significantly more conservative than it actually was.

When inspector general investigators briefed a deputy executive director at the nuclear agency about what they learned, they said he was concerned: “engineering judgment does not mean winging it.”

News of the findings astounded public officials.

“I am appalled and furious to hear that a report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Inspector General shows that the NRC failed to properly examine the safety impact of the placement of a natural gas pipeline near Indian Point during the pipeline’s approval process,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer said. “This is a gross failing on the part of the agency that is charged with keeping this community and the families that live here safe. It is particularly appalling when coupled with the fact that this is the same agency charged with overseeing the decommissioning of Indian Point – a process that is occurring right now.”

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey called for an immediate briefing from Kristine Svinicki, the chairman of the nuclear commission.

“The IG findings show outrageous failings by an agency charged with the important responsibility of protecting the health and safety of our communities,” Lowey said in a news release. “This report indicates repeated failings to use proper analysis by the same commission that oversees the decommissioning of Indian Point. NRC must immediately explain to our communities the risks they face as a result of the agency’s faulty processes and take steps to protect the public from any dangers that have resulted from the pipeline’s approval and installation. That is why I have called for an immediate briefing on this critical matter from NRC Chairman Svinicki.”

The inspector general opened its inquiry because Blanch filed a petition with specific details about how the process was both factually wrong and procedurally incomplete.

Here’s one detail from the report just about Blanch’s assertion that Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, Spectra, then-owner of the pipeline, and the nuclear agency were making “material misstatements of fact.”

The report says:

In response to the stakeholder’s assertion that it would take longer than 3 minutes for the pipeline operators in Houston, Texas, to close the valves, thereby stopping the flow of gas, NRC misrepresented the assumptions used in the followup bounding analysis that was conducted to assess the impact of 60 minutes of gas released. While NRC’s response to the stakeholder described having conducted an assessment that assumed an infinite source of natural gas with the pipeline valves open for an hour, OIG’s investigation found that NRC assessed only 1 minute of gas released. Moreover, NRC never confirmed the validity of the licensee’s assumption that the valves could be closed in 3 minutes. OIG contacted the pipeline operator who estimated it would take at least 6 minutes after detection of a leak to close the valves.

Latimer said he wants the nuclear agency to come to Westchester for a public meeting.

“I want the NRC here to tell the people of Westchester County that they have failed them, and to explain what steps they are taking to protect the public from the pipeline that now crosses the Indian Point property as part of the Algonquin Incremental Market Project,” he said.

Meanwhile, in response to inspector general questions about whether the power plant was operating in an unanalyzed condition due to risks posed by the new 42-inch pipeline, the nuclear agency ‘s deputy executive director for reactor preparedness said: “The only reason I would hesitate…to just jump in and say we are in an unanalyzed condition is Entergy did analyze it. I have questions about how well we validated their analysis, so I think we have more work to do, but I don’t think I would say they are in an unanalyzed condition at this point.”

Giving US Gas at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

To get good public policy, ask the right questions

May 19, 2015 2:00AM ET

Our federal government says that it’s safe to build a giant high-pressure natural gas pipeline 105 feet from the Indian Point nuclear power plant complex along the Hudson River near New York City.But its reasons for making that judgment are secret.

How this decision was reached illustrates a basic public policy problem vexing our nation: We often ask the wrong questions. How we frame public policy questions often shapes the answers. And if we get the answers wrong because we didn’t ask the right questions in the first place, death and disease, needless accidents and a less prosperous future will result.

In the case of a pipeline 42 inches in diameter moving natural gas under more than 800 pounds of pressure per square inch, the wrong question is ‘What are the odds that the pipeline will explode right where it passes a nuclear power plant?’

The right question asks whether the pipeline could be laid on an alternate route so that in the extremely unlikely event that it did explode it would pose no danger of a nuclear plant meltdown that would turn metropolitan New York City into a deadly radioactive zone.

Granted, the risk of a properly built modern pipeline exploding is extremely small. And the risk of this pipeline exploding right outside the nuclear power plant with its diesel fuel storage tanks, backup generators and stored nuclear fuel rods is infinitesimal.

But reducing risk to infinitesimal odds and eliminating risk are not the same. Even infinitesimal odds can become reality. Consider the first Boeing 747 to fly paying passengers in 1970.  Boeing risk analysts calculated that the odds that two of its jumbo jets would collide were incredibly small. But just seven years later on a runway in the Canary Islands, a KLM 747 crashed into the very Pan Am 747 that made the first 747 commercial flight in the deadliest aviation accident to date.

One year later, an Air India 747 crashed because of multiple instrument failure. The risk of such a mishap had been calculated at a billion to one, Boeing engineers testified.

We don’t know the odds of the pipeline exploding outside the Indian Point nuclear plant, because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission made most of its report secret. After all, we wouldn’t want terrorists to get such information, would we? Of course, the location of the pipeline won’t be a secret, suggesting that we are not asking the right questions about what information should be kept secret (if it can be) and what should be the subject of robust debate.

Similar examples of not asking the right questions abound. Consider the morning after the fatal Amtrak crash last week in North Philadelphia. Despite years of warnings that insufficient funds were being spent on railroad safety, the House of Representatives voted to cut the Amtrak budget.

Asking the right public-policy questions is essential to our long-term economic and social well-being.

The question being asked by House Republicans was “How much can we reduce current federal spending?” It was not “How we can move people safely and efficiently up and down the Boston-Washington corridor where a fifth of Americans live and work?” Nor was it about the long-term economic and social costs of cutting such transportation spending.

How about the way we frame questions about our crumbling physical infrastructure — antiquated bridges, potholed interstate highways, leaking water mains and waterways filling with silt?  The questions typically raised in congressional and legislative hearings as well as campaign debates is “How do we relieve taxpayers of these burdens?” Many lawmakers say the answer is that we simply cannot afford to build new infrastructure or to maintain the existing public furniture.

The right questions are: “How do we finance the bridges, roads, water systems and canals needed to move people, goods and equipment around the country efficiently? How much are we wasting on damage to vehicles from crashes caused by potholes to excessive numbers of wheel alignments? Would building new rail lines improve economic efficiency and reduce highway congestion?”

Questions that focus narrowly on what will make us better off today, but at the expense of our long-term interests, are typically wrong questions.

Such short-term thinking undermines the investment in scientific research responsible for the country’s remarkable economic success in the postwar era. Think about how much of our economy today is tied to physics, mathematics, chemistry and metallurgy. Taxpayers financed major advances in all of those fields. Basic research has no immediate commercial application; it depends on government spending.

Today we are reaping the benefits of research done in the last century in physics, mathematics and chemistry. We have cell phones, the Internet and satellites in low Earth orbit that enable automobile navigation systems, all because of taxpayer investments made when this country was not nearly as rich as today.

We fly about the world in jetliners whose engines often remain on the wing until the plane is worn out. The metals in jet engines are the product of massive taxpayer investments, primarily to advance military aircraft.

Until the 1970s newspapers and the old telephone yellow pages were full of ads for shops that would swap out your car engine for a new one in a matter of hours. Cars required frequent tune-ups and tires had to be recapped every 8,000 miles or so. Engines often threw a rod, a phrase unknown to those under 50 today.

Thanks to taxpayer investments in materials science, we have automobile engines that can last hundreds of thousands of miles without a tune-up and tires that may go more than 80,000 miles.

The lesson from U.S. history is clear: Asking the right public-policy questions is essential to our long-term economic and social well-being. If we heed this lesson, we will ask how far a high-pressure natural gas line should be located away from a nuclear power plant to eliminate all risk of a nuclear disaster to the New York metropolitan area. The alternative is folly.

David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize while at The New York Times, teaches business, tax and property law of the ancient world at the Syracuse University College of Law. He is the best-selling author of “Perfectly Legal,” “Free Lunch” and “The Fine Print” and the editor of the new anthology “Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

The Iranian Horn Continues to Grow (Daniel 8:4)

Iran will continue to enrich uranium

Tehran, Apr 9 (Prensa Latina)Iran warned that it will continue to enrich uranium at the wished level and volume,if the European Union (EU) fails to guarantee the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament issued a declaration in that regard that was reproduced by local media on Thursday.

In a report on that issue, the parliamentary commission denounced Europe’s inactivity and indifference in light to President Donald Trump’s comments and behavior, and the US withdrawal from the agreement.

The communiqué explained that neither Europe nor the United States paid any price for Trump’s decision to leave the JCPOA, which should have been responded by Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Iran is complying with the agreement as confirmed by dozens of inspections to its facilities by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Iranian committee asked the EU to demand Washington to comply with its commitments to the JCPOA and facilitate Iran’s oil exports and revenues.

jg/mem/arc