Indian Point Energy CenterNuclear power plant in Buchanan, New YorkIndian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York, just south of Peekskill. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 36 miles (58 km) north of Midtown Manhattan. The plant generates over 2,000 megawThe Main Cause of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12) atts (MWe) of electrical power. For reference, the record peak energy consumption of New York City and Westchester County (the ConEdison Service Territory) was set during a seven-day heat wave on July 19, 2013, at 13,322 megawatts. Electrical energy consumption varies greatly with time of day and season.Quick Facts: Country, Location …The plant is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, and includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors—designated “Indian Point 2” and “Indian Point 3″—which Entergy bought from Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority respectively. The facility also contains the permanently shut-down Indian Point Unit 1 reactor. As of 2015, the number of permanent jobs at the Buchanan plant is approximately 1,000.The original 40-year operating licenses for units 2 and 3 expired in September 2013 and December 2015, respectively. Entergy had applied for license extensions and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was moving toward granting a twenty-year extension for each reactor. However, after pressure from local environmental groups and New York governor Andrew Cuomo, it was announced that the plant is scheduled to be shut down by 2021. Local groups had cited increasingly frequent issues with the aging units, ongoing environmental releases, and the proximity of the plant to New York City.ReactorsHistory and designThe reactors are built on land that originally housed the Indian Point Amusement Park, but was acquired by Consolidated Edison (ConEdison) on October 14, 1954. Indian Point 1, built by ConEdison, was a 275-megawatt Babcock & Wilcox supplied  pressurized water reactor that was issued an operating license on March 26, 1962 and began operations on September 16, 1962. The first core used a thorium-based fuel with stainless steel cladding, but this fuel did not live up to expectations for core life. The plant was operated with uranium dioxide fuel for the remainder of its life. The reactor was shut down on October 31, 1974, because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements. All spent fuel was removed from the reactor vessel by January 1976, but the reactor still stands. The licensee, Entergy, plans to decommission Unit 1 when Unit 2 is decommissioned.The two additional reactors, Indian Point 2 and 3, are four-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors both of similar design. Units 2 and 3 were completed in 1974 and 1976, respectively. Unit 2 has a generating capacity of 1,032 MW, and Unit 3 has a generating capacity of 1,051 MW. Both reactors use uranium dioxide fuel of no more than 4.8% U-235 enrichment. The reactors at Indian Point are protected by containment domes made of steel-reinforced concrete that is 40 inches thick, with a carbon steel liner.Nuclear capacity in New York stateUnits 2 and 3 are two of six operating nuclear energy sources in New York State. New York is one of the five largest states in terms of nuclear capacity and generation, accounting for approximately 5% of the national totals. Indian Point provides 39% of the state’s nuclear capacity. Nuclear power produces 34.2% of the state’s electricity, higher than the U.S. average of 20.6%. In 2017, Indian Point generated approximately 10% of the state’s electricity needs, and 25% of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County. Its contract with Consolidated Edison is for just 560 megawatts. The New York Power Authority, which built Unit 3, stopped buying electricity from Indian Point in 2012. NYPA supplies the subways, airports, and public schools and housing in NYC and Westchester County. Entergy sells the rest of Indian Point’s output into the NYISO administered electric wholesale markets and elsewhere in New England. In 2013, New York had the fourth highest average electricity prices in the United States. Half of New York’s power demand is in the New York City region; about two-fifths of generation originates there.RefuelingThe currently operating Units 2 and 3 are each refueled on a two-year cycle. At the end of each fuel cycle, one unit is brought offline for refueling and maintenance activities. On March 2, 2015, Indian Point 3 was taken offline for 23 days to perform its refueling operations. Entergy invested $50 million in the refueling and other related projects for Unit 3, of which $30 million went to employee salaries. The unit was brought back online on March 25, 2015.EffectsEconomic impactA June 2015 report by a lobby group called Nuclear Energy Institute found that the operation of Indian Point generates $1.3 billion of annual economic output in local counties, $1.6 billion statewide, and $2.5 billion across the United States. In 2014, Entergy paid $30 million in state and local property taxes. The total tax revenue (direct and secondary) was nearly $340 million to local, state, and federal governments. According to the Village of Buchanan budget for 2016–2017, a payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of $2.62 million was received in 2015-2016, and was projected to be $2.62 million in 2016–2017 – the majority of which can be assumed to come from the Indian Point Energy Center.Over the last decade, the station has maintained a capacity factor of greater than 93 percent. This is consistently higher than the nuclear industry average and than other forms of generation. The reliability helps offset the severe price volatility of other energy sources (e.g., natural gas) and the indeterminacy of renewable electricity sources (e.g., solar, wind).Indian Point directly employs about 1,000 full-time workers. This employment creates another 2,800 jobs in the five-county region, and 1,600 in other industries in New York, for a total of 5,400 in-state jobs. Additionally, another 5,300 indirect jobs are created out of state, creating a sum total of 10,700 jobs throughout the United States.Environmental concernsEnvironmentalists have expressed concern about increased carbon emissions with the impending shutdown of Indian Point (generating electricity with nuclear energy creates no carbon emissions). A study undertaken by Environmental Progress found that closure of the plant would cause power emissions to jump 29% in New York, equivalent to the emissions from 1.4 million additional cars on New York roads.Some environmental groups have expressed concerns about the operation of Indian Point, including radiation pollution and endangerment of wildlife, but whether Indian Point has ever posed a significant danger to wildlife or the public remains controversial. Though anti-nuclear group Riverkeeper notes “Radioactive leakage from the plant containing several radioactive isotopes, such as strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, nickel-63 and tritium, a rarely-occurring isotope of hydrogen, has flowed into groundwater that eventually enters the Hudson River in the past, there is no evidence radiation from the plant has ever posed a significant hazard to local residents or wildlife. In the last year[when?], nine tritium leaks have occurred, however, even at their highest levels the leaks have never exceeded one-tenth of one percent of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission limits.In February 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a full investigation by state environment and health officials and is partnering with organizations like Sierra Club, Riverkeepers, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Scenic Hudson and Physicians for Social Responsibility in seeking the permanent closure of the plant. However, Cuomo’s motivation for closing the plant was called into question after it was revealed two top former aides, under federal prosecution for influence-peddling, had lobbied on behalf of natural gas company Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to kill Indian Point. In his indictment, US attorney Preet Bharara wrote “the importance of the plant [CPV’s proposed Valley Energy Center, a plant powered by natural gas] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down.”In April 2016 climate scientist James Hansen took issue with calls to shut the plant down, including those from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “The last few weeks have seen an orchestrated campaign to mislead the people of New York about the essential safety and importance of Indian Point nuclear plant to address climate change,” wrote Hansen, adding “Sanders has offered no evidence that NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] has failed to do its job, and he has no expertise in over-riding NRC’s judgement. For the sake of future generations who could be harmed by irreversible climate change, I urge New Yorkers to reject this fear mongering and uphold science against ideology.”Indian Point removes water from the nearby Hudson River. Despite the use of fish screens, the cooling system kills over a billion fish eggs and larvae annually. According to one NRC report from 2010, as few as 38% of alewives survive the screens. On September 14, 2015, a state hearing began in regards to the deaths of fish in the river, and possibly implementing a shutdown period from May to August. An Indian Point spokesman stated that such a period would be unnecessary, as Indian Point “is fully protective of life in the Hudson River and $75 million has been spent over the last 30 years on scientific studies demonstrating that the plant has no harmful impact to adult fish.” The hearings lasted three weeks. Concerns were also raised over the planned building of new cooling towers, which would cut down forest land that is suspected to be used as breeding ground by muskrat and mink. At the time of the report, no minks or muskrats were spotted there.SafetyIndian Point Energy Center has been given an incredible amount of scrutiny from the media and politicians and is regulated more heavily than various other power plants in the state of New York (i.e., by the NRC in addition to FERC, the NYSPSC, the NYISO, the NYSDEC, and the EPA). On a forced outage basis – incidents related to electrical equipment failure that force a plant stoppage – it provides a much more reliable operating history than most other power plants in New York. Beginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening an investigation with the state public utility commission, the department of health, and the department of environmental conservation. To put the public service commission investigation in perspective: most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers. By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.In 1997, Indian Point Unit 3 was removed from the NRC’s list of plants that receive increased attention from the regulator. An engineer for the NRC noted that the plant had been experiencing increasingly fewer problems during inspections. On March 10, 2009 the Indian Point Power Plant was awarded the fifth consecutive top safety rating for annual operations by the Federal regulators. According to the Hudson Valley Journal News, the plant had shown substantial improvement in its safety culture in the previous two years. A 2003 report commissioned by then-Governor George Pataki concluded that the “current radiological response system and capabilities are not adequate to…protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point”. More recently, in December 2012 Entergy commissioned a 400-page report on the estimates of evacuation times. This report, performed by emergency planning company KLD Engineering, concluded that the existing traffic management plans provided by Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties are adequate and require no changes. According to one list that ranks U.S. nuclear power plants by their likelihood of having a major natural disaster related incident, Indian Point is the most likely to be hit by a natural disaster, mainly an earthquake. Despite this, the owners of the plant still say that safety is a selling point for the nuclear power plant.Incidents In 1973, five months after Indian Point 2 opened, the plant was shut down when engineers discovered buckling in the steel liner of the concrete dome in which the nuclear reactor is housed. On October 17, 1980, 100,000 gallons of Hudson River water leaked into the Indian Point 2 containment building from the fan cooling unit, undetected by a safety device designed to detect hot water. The flooding, covering the first nine feet of the reactor vessel, was discovered when technicians entered the building. Two pumps that should have removed the water were found to be inoperative. NRC proposed a $2,100,000 fine for the incident. In February 2000, Unit 2 experienced a Steam Generator Tube Rupture (SGTR), which allowed primary water to leak into the secondary system through one of the steam generators. All four steam generators were subsequently replaced. In 2005, Entergy workers while digging discovered a small leak in a spent fuel pool. Water containing tritium and strontium-90 was leaking through a crack in the pool building and then finding its way into the nearby Hudson River. Workers were able to keep the spent fuel rods safely covered despite the leak. On March 22, 2006 The New York Times also reported finding radioactive nickel-63 and strontium in groundwater on site. In 2007, a transformer at Unit 3 caught fire, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised its level of inspections, because the plant had experienced many unplanned shutdowns. According to The New York Times, Indian Point “has a history of transformer problems”. On April 23, 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant $130,000 for failing to meet a deadline for a new emergency siren plan. The 150 sirens at the plant are meant to alert residents within 10 miles to a plant emergency. On January 7, 2010, NRC inspectors reported that an estimated 600,000 gallons of mildly radioactive steam was intentionally vented to the atmosphere after an automatic shutdown of Unit 2. After the vent, one of the vent valves unintentionally remained slightly open for two days. The levels of tritium in the steam were within the allowable safety limits defined in NRC standards. On November 7, 2010, an explosion occurred in a main transformer for Indian Point 2, spilling oil into the Hudson River. Entergy later agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty for the transformer explosion. July 2013, a former supervisor, who worked at the Indian Point nuclear power plant for twenty-nine years, was arrested for falsifying the amount of particulate in the diesel fuel for the plant’s backup generators. On May 9, 2015, a transformer failed at Indian Point 3, causing the automated shutdown of reactor 3. A fire that resulted from the failure was extinguished, and the reactor was placed in a safe and stable condition. The failed transformer contained about 24,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, which is used as an insulator and coolant when the transformer is energized. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that about 3,000 gallons of dielectric fluid entered the river following the failure. In June 2015, a mylar balloon floated into a switchyard, causing an electrical problem resulting in the shutdown of Reactor 3. In July 2015, Reactor 3 was shut down after a water pump failure. On December 5, 2015, Indian Point 2 was shut down after several control rods lost power. On February 6, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo informed the public that radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility.Spent fuelIndian Point stores used fuel rods in two spent fuel pools at the facility. The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are not stored under a containment dome like the reactor, but rather they are contained within an indoor 40-foot-deep pool and submerged under 27 feet of water. Water is a natural and effective barrier to radiation. The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are set in bedrock and are constructed of concrete walls that are four to six feet wide, with a quarter-inch thick stainless steel inner liner. The pools each have multiple redundant backup cooling systems.Indian Point began dry cask storage of spent fuel rods in 2008, which is a safe and environmentally sound option according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Some rods have already been moved to casks from the spent fuel pools. The pools will be kept nearly full of spent fuel, leaving enough space to allow emptying the reactor completely. Dry cask storage systems are designed to resist floods, tornadoes, projectiles, temperature extremes, and other unusual scenarios. The NRC requires the spent fuel to be cooled and stored in the spent fuel pool for at least five years before being transferred to dry casks.Earthquake riskIn 2008, researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory located a previously unknown active seismic zone running from Stamford, Connecticut, to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, New York—the intersection of the Stamford-Peekskill line with the well-known Ramapo Fault—which passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast, but scientists dispute how active this roughly 200-million-year-old fault really is. Many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. Visible at ground level, the fault line likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.In July 2013, Entergy engineers reassessed the risk of seismic damage to Unit 3 and submitted their findings in a report to the NRC. It was found that risk leading to reactor core damage is 1 in 106,000 reactor years using U.S. Geological Survey data; and 1 in 141,000 reactor years using Electric Power Research Institute data. Unit 3’s previous owner, the New York Power Authority, had conducted a more limited analysis in the 1990s than Unit 2’s previous owner, Con Edison, leading to the impression that Unit 3 had fewer seismic protections than Unit 2. Neither submission of data from the previous owners was incorrect.According to a company spokesman, Indian Point was built to withstand an earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale. Entergy executives have also noted “that Indian Point had been designed to withstand an earthquake much stronger than any on record in the region, though not one as powerful as the quake that rocked Japan.”The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Indian Point was Reactor 2: 1 in 30,303; Reactor 3: 1 in 10,000, according to an NRC study published in August 2010. Msnbc.com reported based on the NRC data that “Indian Point nuclear reactor No. 3 has the highest risk of earthquake damage in the country, according to new NRC risk estimates provided to msnbc.com.” According to the report, the reason is that plants in known earthquake zones like California were designed to be more quake-resistant than those in less affected areas like New York. The NRC did not dispute the numbers but responded in a release that “The NRC results to date should not be interpreted as definitive estimates of seismic risk,” because the NRC does not rank plants by seismic risk.IPEC Units 2 and 3 both operated at 100% full power before, during, and after the Virginia earthquake on August 23, 2011. A thorough inspection of both units by plant personnel immediately following this event verified no significant damage occurred at either unit.Emergency planningThe Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.According to an analysis of U.S. Census data for MSNBC, the 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Indian Point was 272,539, an increase of 17.6 percent during the previous ten years. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 17,220,895, an increase of 5.1 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include New York (41 miles to city center); Bridgeport, Conn. (40 miles); Newark, N.J. (39 miles); and Stamford, Conn. (24 miles).In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima incident in Japan, the State Department recommended that any Americans in Japan stay beyond fifty miles from the area. Columnist Peter Applebome, writing in The New York Times, noted that such an area around Indian Point would include “almost all of New York City except for Staten Island; almost all of Nassau County and much of Suffolk County; all of Bergen County, N.J.; all of Fairfield, Conn.” He quotes Purdue University professor Daniel Aldrich as saying “Many scholars have already argued that any evacuation plans shouldn’t be called plans, but rather “fantasy documents””.The current 10-mile plume-exposure pathway Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) is one of two EPZs intended to facilitate a strategy for protective action during an emergency and comply with NRC regulations. “The exact size and shape of each EPZ is a result of detailed planning which includes consideration of the specific conditions at each site, unique geographical features of the area, and demographic information. This preplanned strategy for an EPZ provides a substantial basis to support activity beyond the planning zone in the extremely unlikely event it would be needed.”In an interview, Entergy executives said they doubt that the evacuation zone would be expanded to reach as far as New York City.Indian Point is protected by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including a National Guard base within a mile of the facility, as well as by private off-site security forces.During the September 11 attacks, American Airlines Flight 11 flew near the Indian Point Energy Center en route to the World Trade Center. Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers/plotters, had considered nuclear facilities for targeting in a terrorist attack. Entergy says it is prepared for a terrorist attack, and asserts that a large airliner crash into the containment building would not cause reactor damage. Following 9/11 the NRC required operators of nuclear facilities in the U.S. to examine the effects of terrorist events and provide planned responses. In September 2006, the Indian Point Security Department successfully completed mock assault exercises required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. However, according to environmental group Riverkeeper, these NRC exercises are inadequate because they do not envision a sufficiently large group of attackers.According to The New York Times, fuel stored in dry casks is less vulnerable to terrorist attack than fuel in the storage pools.RecertificationUnits 2 and 3 were both originally licensed by the NRC for 40 years of operation. The NRC limits commercial power reactor licenses to an initial 40 years, but also permits such licenses to be renewed. This original 40-year term for reactor licenses was based on economic and antitrust considerations, not on limitations of nuclear technology. Due to this selected period, however, some structures and components may have been engineered on the basis of an expected 40-year service life. The original federal license for Unit Two expired on September 28, 2013, and the license for Unit Three was due to expire in December 2015. On April 30, 2007, Entergy submitted an application for a 20-year renewal of the licenses for both units. On May 2, 2007, the NRC announced that this application is available for public review. Because the owner submitted license renewal applications at least five years prior to the original expiration date, the units are allowed to continue operation past this date while the NRC considers the renewal application.On September 23, 2007, the antinuclear group Friends United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE) filed legal papers with the NRC opposing the relicensing of the Indian Point 2 reactor. The group contended that the NRC improperly held Indian Point to less stringent design requirements. The NRC responded that the newer requirements were put in place after the plant was complete.On December 1, 2007, Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer called a press conference with the participation of environmental advocacy groups Clearwater and Riverkeeper to announce their united opposition to the re-licensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of the Attorney General requested a hearing as part of the process put forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In September 2007 The New York Times reported on the rigorous legal opposition Entergy faces in its request for a 20-year licensing extension for Indian Point Nuclear Reactor 2.A water quality certificate is a prerequisite for a twenty-year renewal by the NRC. On April 3, 2010, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ruled that Indian Point violates the federal Clean Water Act, because “the power plant’s water-intake system kills nearly a billion aquatic organisms a year, including the shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species.” The state is demanding that Entergy constructs new closed-cycle cooling towers at a cost of over $1 billion, a decision that will effectively close the plant for nearly a year. Regulators denied Entergy’s request to install fish screens that they said would improve fish mortality more than new cooling towers. Anti-nuclear groups and environmentalists have in the past tried to close the plant, which is in a more densely populated area than any of the 66 other nuclear plant sites in the US. Opposition to the plant[from whom?] increased after the September 2001 terror attacks, when one of the hijacked jets flew close to the plant on its way to the World Trade Center. Public worries also increased after the 2011 Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and after a report highlighting the Indian Point plant’s proximity to the Ramapo Fault.Advocates of recertifying Indian Point include former New York City mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph W. Giuliani. Bloomberg says that “Indian Point is critical to the city’s economic viability”. The New York Independent System Operator maintains that in the absence of Indian Point, grid voltages would degrade, which would limit the ability to transfer power from upstate New York resources through the Hudson Valley to New York City.As the current governor, Andrew Cuomo continues to call for closure of Indian Point. In late June 2011, a Cuomo advisor in a meeting with Entergy executives informed them for the first time directly of the Governor’s intention to close the plant, while the legislature approved a bill to streamline the process of siting replacement plants.Nuclear energy industry figures and analysts responded to Cuomo’s initiative by questioning whether replacement electrical plants could be certified and built rapidly enough to replace Indian Point, given New York state’s “cumbersome regulation process”, and also noted that replacement power from out of state sources will be hard to obtain because New York has weak ties to generation capacity in other states. They said that possible consequences of closure will be a sharp increase in the cost of electricity for downstate users and even “rotating black-outs”.Several members of the House of Representatives representing districts near the plant have also opposed recertification, including Democrats Nita Lowey, Maurice Hinchey, and Eliot Engel and then Republican member Sue Kelly.In November 2016 the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the application to renew the NRC operating licences must be reviewed against the state’s coastal management program, which The New York State Department of State had already decided was inconsistent with coastal management requirements. Entergy has filed a lawsuit regarding the validity of Department of State’s decision.ClosureBeginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening investigations with the state public utility commission, the department of health and the department of environmental conservation. To put the public service commission investigation in perspective, most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers. By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.In January 2017, the governor’s office announced closure by 2020-21. The closure, along with pollution control, challenges New York’s ability to be supplied. Among the solution proposals are storage, renewables (solar and wind), a new transmission cables from Canada  and a 650MW natural gas plant located in Wawayanda, New York. There was also a 1,000 MW merchant HVDC transmission line proposed in 2013 to the public service commission that would have interconnected at Athens, New York and Buchanan, New York, however this project was indefinitely stalled when its proposed southern converter station site was bought by the Town of Cortlandt in a land auction administered by Con Edison. As of October 1, 2018, the 650 MW plant built in Wawayanda, New York, by CPV Valley, is operating commercially. The CPV Valley plant has been associated with Governor Cuomo’s close aid, Joe Percoco, and the associated corruption trial. Another plant being built, Cricket Valley Energy Center, rated at 1,100 MW, is on schedule to provide energy by 2020 in Dover, New York. An Indian Point contingency plan, initiated in 2012 by the NYSPSC under the administration of Cuomo, solicited energy solutions from which a Transmission Owner Transmission Solutions (TOTS) plan was selected. The TOTS projects provide 450 MW of additional transfer capability across a NYISO defined electric transmission corridor in the form of three projects: series compensation at a station in Marcy, New York, reconductoring a transmission line, adding an additional transmission line, and “unbottling” Staten Island capacity. These projects, with the exception of part of the Staten Island “unbottling” were in service by mid-2016. The cost of the TOTS projects are distributed among various utilities in their rate cases before the public service commission and the cost allocation amongst themselves was approved by FERC. NYPA and LIPA are also receiving a portion. The cost of the TOTS projects has been estimated in the range of $27 million to $228 million. An energy highway initiative was also prompted by this order (generally speaking, additional lines on the Edic-Pleasant Valley and the Oakdale-Fraser transmission corridors) which is still going through the regulatory process in both the NYISO and NYSPSC.Under the current plan, one reactor is scheduled to be shut down in April 2020 and the second by April 2021. A report by the New York Building Congress, a construction industry association, has said that NYC will need additional natural gas pipelines to accommodate the city’s increasing demand for energy. Environmentalists have argued that the power provided by Indian point can be replaced by renewable energy, combined with conservation measures and improvements to the efficiency of the electrical grid.
The Palestinian youth are a ticking “time bomb” with a lost generation increasingly making the Israeli occupation more challenging to sustain, says one of Israel’s highest military officers.
Israel’s former chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), has warned that the country is heading towards a one-state reality with the Palestinians, and with it, the “destruction of the Zionist dream.”
Eisenkot, who headed the military from 2015 to 2019, said the country needs to consolidate the country’s illegal settlements, which Israel thinks are legal. Still, there is a consensus under international law that all set settlers living beyond 1967 borders are illegal.
“One does not have to be a genius to understand the significance of millions of Palestinians mixed in with us along with the complex situation with Arab-Israelis,” said Eisenkot.
The former chief of staff warned that the country’s politicians have no vision for what a settlement with the Palestinians would look like resulting in an increasingly unstable political climate in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Eisenkot also warned that recent Palestinian flareups bode ill for the future occupation of Palestinian land and that Israel was “a hair’s breadth away” from a third intifada – a general revolt by Palestinians.
Increasingly young Palestinians who have known nothing by the Israeli occupation call themselves the “lost generation”, Eisenkot said. Israeli intelligence, warned the former IDF military officer, is finding it increasingly difficult to predict what this generation could do, calling it a “timebomb.”
“One day, sometime in the future, some esoteric, completely marginal event will happen, and the government will think it’s nonsense and will use some force, tackle the issue with a hammer on the head, and only after a few weeks will understand that the genie came out of the bottle and has no intention of returning,” Eisenkot said about how easily a conflict could erupt in the occupied territories.
Even as Israel sought to clamp down on the Palestinian resistance movement that controls Gaza, Hamas, according to Eisenkot, remains wildly popular in the West Bank with support in the region of “70 percent and 80 percent.”
A poll released in June of last year, however, found that 53 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas is “most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people,” while only 14% prefer the incumbent Fatah party.
Hamas’s popularity was in part a “direct result of our policies,” said the IDF chief, who advised the country’s establishment to engineer “an alternative” that Israel could live with.
“The question is not whether there will be another outbreak, but when and how intense it will be. It is quite clear that this will happen. There’s no way that it’s not going to happen,” he said in an interview with the Israeli publication Maariv.
A divided house
Eisenkot also warned that Israeli society is increasingly polarised and divided owing to the country’s fractious politics.
“I think that the rifts in Israeli society, and the attacks from both sides, the decline in governance, the decline in faith in state institutions, in the courts, crime — all these are the greatest threats for the country’s future,” he said.
In May of 2021, Israel declared a state of emergency in the central city of Lod after protests by Israeli Palestinians against discrimination and, in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank, threatened to spill over to other areas of the country.
Israel, which prides itself as being the “only democracy in the Middle East”, has long presented so-called “mixed cities” like Haifa and Lod as a model of coexistence between Jews and Palestinians.
Long-standing grievances among Palestinian citizens of Israel – over police brutality, government surveillance, and being forced to suppress their Palestinian identity – exploded, and inter-communal violence spread in several places.
It’s against this backdrop that Eisenkot warned in his interview that “people are worried, not because of the Iranian threat, but because of internal weakness, loss of cohesion, inequality, friction between different communities. Entire groups of the public are not being absorbed into society.”
“We need to understand that there is no national security without societal solidarity, and there is no societal solidarity without national security,” he added.
A declining sense of social solidarity is also resulting in reduced participation in the IDF, said the former chief. In 1978, Eisenkot said 88 percent of those eligible to join the army enrolled but by 2015 that number had dropped to 67 percent.
Increasingly he said younger recruits are afraid or unwilling to volunteer to enter combat units where they would have to kill Palestinians or face being killed themselves.
“The willingness to go to combat units, to kill or be killed, to go into danger, is in decline,” he said.
Russia proceeded to instigate and fuel a war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed some 14,000 lives so far. Last year, Russia began massing a force of more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern and northern border and in the occupied Crimea, and taking other provocative actions.
US President Joe Biden said on January 19, 2022, about Putin: “Do I think he’ll test the West, test the United States and NATO, as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will.”
Ukraine as an independent state was born from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Its independence came with a complicated Cold War inheritance: the world’s third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Ukraine was one of the three non-Russian former Soviet states, including Belarus and Kazakhstan, that emerged from the Soviet collapse with nuclear weapons on its territory.
The US, in a burst of diplomatic energy and at a time of unmatched global influence, worked to prevent the unprecedented collapse of a nuclear superpower from leading to history’s largest proliferation of nuclear weapons.
This diplomatic activity manifested in security assurances for Ukraine embedded in what has become known as the Budapest Memorandum
With the entrance of Ukraine into the international order as a non-nuclear state, Russia, the US and the UK pledged to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”
The memo reaffirmed their obligation to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.” The signatories also reaffirmed their commitment to “seek immediate” UN Security Council action “to provide assistance to Ukraine … if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression.”
Ukraine, in turn, gave up the nuclear weapons within its borders, sending them to Russia for dismantling.
In light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its current threat to Ukrainian sovereignty, it’s fair to ask: What is the significance now of the Budapest Memorandum?
The memorandum, signed in 1994, is not legally binding.
Nonetheless, it embeds and reaffirms the solemn assurances that are the hallmark of the international system. These include respect for state sovereignty, the inviolability of international borders and abstention from the threat or use of force.
Ukraine’s decision to give up nuclear weapons signaled its desire to be seen as a member in good standing of the international community, rather than an outlier.
The decision was not just symbolic. While Ukraine did not inherit a fully-fledged nuclear capacity – Russia still held important parts of the nuclear infrastructure – Ukraine had the necessary technological and industrial ability to close the gaps.
Many in Ukraine feel that the country’s 1994 decision to give up its nuclear arms was a mistake.
‘No changing of borders by use of force’
Russia has blatantly violated the Budapest Memorandum. And the initial response to the annexation of Crimea by the other signatories, the US and UK, was hesitant and restrained.
The Biden administration has also threatened severe economic sanctions in the event of Russian aggression, backed by sustained efforts to build support among allies. The administration’s resolute approach is consistent with the security assurances of the Budapest Memorandum.
We are both foreign policy scholars; one of us is a former US ambassador to Poland. The strong defense of the fundamental principle of the international system – no changing of borders by use of force – has consequences for all of Europe, for US-Russia relations and for other potential flashpoints, including China and Taiwan.
Whether the strong actions – such as the promise of military support for Ukraine and the threat of sanctions on Russia, backed by diplomacy by the United States and its allies – will be enough to deter Russia is uncertain and, many say, unlikely.
The size and scope of the Russian military buildup are deeply troubling: Shifting 100,000 troops across Russia’s vast territory is a costly operation. The Kremlin is unlikely to pull back that kind of force without any diplomatic or military wins, such as closing the door to Ukraine’s future membership in NATO, which the United States has ruled out.
International law matters, but it does not determine what states do. Strong deterrence, diplomacy and international solidarity can influence Russian decision-making. The US is also actively working with Ukraine, an essential element to a successful diplomatic and deterrence strategy.
Ultimately, however, the de-escalation decision is Russia’s to make. The role of the US, its NATO allies and Ukraine is to make sure the consequences of Russia’s decisions are clear to the Kremlin and that they can be carried out with strong and united Western backing in the event Russia chooses the path of war.
Lee Feinstein is founding dean and professor of international studies at the Hamilton Lugar School of Indiana University. Mariana Budjeryn is research associate at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.
S. Korean officials say North Korea tested cruise missiles
People watch a TV showing file images of North Korea’s missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. North Korea on Tuesday test-fired two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth round of weapons launches this month, South Korean military officials said, as it displays its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the United States. The Korean letters read: “North Korea fired two cruise missiles.” (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)Share BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday test-fired two suspected cruise missiles in its fifth round of weapons launches this month, South Korean military officials said, as it displays its military might amid pandemic-related difficulties and a prolonged freeze in nuclear negotiations with the United States.
One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules, said South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials were analyzing the launches, but didn’t provide further details. Another military official, who requested anonymity over similar reasons, said the tests were conducted from an inland area, but didn’t specify where.
North Korea has been increasing its testing activity recently in an apparent effort to pressure the Biden administration over the stalled diplomacy after the pandemic unleashed further shock on an economy broken by crippling U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons program and decades of mismanagement by its own government.
North Korea last Thursday issued a veiled threat to resume the testing of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles targeting the American homeland, which leader Kim Jong Un suspended in 2018 while initiating diplomacy with the United States.
They say Pyongyang’s leadership likely feels it could use a dramatic provocation to move the needle with the Biden administration, which has offered open-ended talks but showed no willingness to ease sanctions unless Kim takes real steps to abandon the nuclear weapons and missiles he sees as his strongest guarantee of survival.
Tuesday’s launches could have been followup tests of a weapon North Korea has described as a long-range cruise missile and first tested in September, said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies.
State media in reports at the time said the missiles were fired from launcher trucks and could strike targets 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away. It described those missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance” — wording that implies they were developed to carry nuclear weapons.
While halting the tests of nuclear devices and intercontinental range ballistic missiles, Kim Jong Un since 2019 has been ramping up tests of various shorter-range weapons apparently designed to overwhelm missile defenses in the region. Experts say the North’s expanding missile arsenal reflects an aim to apply more pressure on its rivals to accept it as a nuclear power in hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions and convert the diplomacy with Washington into mutual arms-reduction negotiations.
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HAMID January 26, 2022 2 min read
While the United States and Russia have slightly reduced their stockpiles of nuclear weapons, China continues to expand its atomic arsenal. One description published on June 14 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), indicates that the People’s Republic produced an additional 30 warheads during the year 2021. The institute estimates that the Xi Jinping government now has 350 weapons of mass destruction, an increase of 10% compared to the year 2020. There were 320 atomic bombs in Beijing.
And China does not intend to stop there. Report from the Pentagon published in February 2020 even predicted that the People’s Republic will double its nuclear arsenal within a decade. “The Xi Jinping government not only wants to further modernize the country but to assert itself as a world power and finally compete militarily with the United States”, could we read in this document. Even doubled, the Chinese arsenal would only reach 700 bombs. This is not enough to worry the Pentagon, which believes, however, that Xi Jinping’s government is also trying to modernize its ballistic weapons to make them faster and less easily detectable. The security of the United States would then be seriously threatened.
In addition to new ballistic missiles, China is developing fighter jets that can fire nuclear weapons. The Army of the People’s Republic could also fill their arsenal with numerical weakness by deploying them in various parts of the globe to make them harder to destroy. So American officials believe that Beijing could launch its missiles into Pakistan, Seychelles, Angola, Indonesia or even Sri Lanka. “This enhancement of China’s nuclear capabilities will pose a serious threat to U.S. national interests and threaten the security of international order,” the Pentagon further warned in its report.
This is even more important as the risk of conflict between Beijing and Washington increases every day because of the Taiwan issue. Security expert Caitlin Talmadge told the South China Morning Post, that a normal war between the People’s Republic and the United States could escalate into a nuclear war. For the analyst, if the United States were to defend Taiwan from Chinese invasion, one of the two countries could use atomic weapons instead of risking too bitter a military defeat. Today, this scenario remains unbelievable. However, Chinese and American think tanks warn it could one day come true and urge leaders on both sides of the Pacific to prioritize dialogue on military force.
From left: Muqtada al-Sadr and Masoud Barzani. File photo/handout
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), spoke on the phone with Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist bloc, on Tuesday, discussing the latest developments in Iraq, with both emphasising coordination between political entities, according to a statement from Barzani’s office.
Barzani and Sadr “discussed the political situation and the latest developments” as well as “emphasising the need for coordination and approaching of entities in order to serve the interests of Iraq,” read the statement without providing more information.
Iraq held snap parliamentary elections on October 10. Sadr is the main winner of the vote after his bloc gained 73, and the KDP won 31 seats, becoming the largest Kurdish bloc in Baghdad.
The new members of the parliament were sworn in and they elected a new leadership for the legislature on January 9 but the Federal Court suspended the work of both deputy speakers and the speaker following a lawsuit against the election process.
However, the court decided on Tuesday that the election process was lawful and rejected the lawsuit.
Sadr, Barzani and Mohammed al-Halbousi – former and current speaker of the parliament – have formed an alliance for the formation of a new government.
The country has to elect a new president by February 8. The position has been held by Kurds for nearly two decades. The KDP and its rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have fielded different candidates for the position, harming their relations.
The new president will task a candidate from the largest alliance to form a new cabinet.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
The president’s fear of blowback has him slow-walking the Iran deal—while Tehran is getting closer to building a bomb.
Late last year, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal “one of the dumbest, most poorly thought out and counterproductive U.S. national security decisions of the post-Cold War era.”
It’s not often that I find myself in violent agreement with Friedman, but when you’re right, you’re right. Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (or JCPOA, in the argot) was a disastrous move that has put Iran within disturbingly close range of becoming a nuclear power.
With nuclear talks between the United States and Iran currently at what Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls a “decisive moment,” there is still hope for an agreement between the two sides. But we are fast approaching a point of no return that risks sparking heightened tensions and a new round of conflict in the Middle East.
On the campaign trial in 2020, Biden left little doubt as to his intentions on the JCPOA. “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal,” he wrote in an op-ed for CNN, “the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.
Many Iran analysts expected Biden to reenter the agreement soon after taking office. But in confirmation hearings last January, Blinken and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines threw cold water on the potential for immediate U.S. reentry.
The root of the problem is the diplomatic version of “after you; no, after you; no, after you.”
American officials demanded that Iran account for and roll back the advances it had made in its nuclear program before the United States agreed to remove punishing sanctions reimposed by President Trump after he pulled out of the deal in
Iranian officials demanded that the U.S. make the first move—and lift sanctions as well as unfreeze Iran’s financial assets.
The Iranians had the better side of the argument. After all, the U.S. had unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA, while the other nations that were party to the deal (the P5+1: basically, major European powers plus Russia and China) stayed with it.
Since most of the sanctions on Iran are based on executive action, there was nothing stopping Biden from going back into the deal offering the caveat that if there was no progress on Iran coming back into compliance, he’d simply reimpose them.
When I asked Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nonproliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, why the U.S. didn’t adopt this strategy, he offered me a simple, though pungent answer: “Biden is a wimp.”
He continued: “He would have taken a political hit for taking a chance on the Iranians that might or might not have worked out, but it would have put the ball in Iran’s court” and strengthened the hand of those in Tehran who wanted a deal. In Lewis’s view, Biden was afraid of the backlash, early in his administration, from appearing to make concessions to Tehran.
Multiple sources I spoke to chalk up the president’s reticence to an unwillingness to upset Iran hawks on Capitol Hill and, in particular, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez has long been an opponent of the Iran deal, and there was fear within the Biden team that if the U.S. reentered the agreement without first wringing concessions out of Iran, Menendez would block or slow-roll the administration’s foreign policy nominees.
According to Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, trying to pacify opponents of the deal was a fool’s errand. “They don’t hate the deal because it’s a bad deal,” said Duss. “They hate the deal because it’s a deal with Iran. Full stop. On the JCPOA, there is no consensus to be built with anti-Iran
Others I spoke to argue that part of the problem is one of personnel. Before the rest of Biden’s Iran team had been confirmed by the Senate, those on the National Security Council (who did not need confirmation) who were focused on Middle East policy—like former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Brett McGurk—were not as supportive of the nuclear agreement.
Whatever Biden’s rationale, his strategy has not worked. Negotiations have dragged on for a year now and are quickly reaching a point of no return. Meanwhile, Iran has pushed ahead in developing its nuclear capabilities. According to a November report by nuclear experts assessing the latest data from International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has produced enough enriched uranium that it could produce weapon-grade uranium “in as little as three weeks.”
Much of this was predictable. Last spring, analysts I spoke to warned that unless the U.S. and Iran reached an agreement soon, Iran’s presidential election in June would strengthen the hand of hawkish Iranians who have long opposed the nuclear deal. The election was won by hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi, and that’s precisely what has happened.
Talks were put on hold for months after the election, and when both sides returned to the negotiating table, much of the time was spent relitigating issues that the two sides had agreed upon in talks the previous spring.
One of the key Iranian demands has been a commitment from the U.S. that it won’t repeat what Trump did in 2018 when he pulled out of the deal. “They once violated the nuclear deal at no cost by exiting it,” the nation’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said last summer. “Now they explicitly say that they cannot give guarantees that it would not happen again.”
Since the Biden administration has no control over a future presidential administration, it can not offer guarantees.
According to Duss, if you look at things from the Iranians’ position, you might conclude that “we’ve been messed with by the Americans over the past several years. Now we have a new president. Can we trust him? Does he have control of his own politics?”
The answer appears to be no. And even if sanctions are lifted now, says Duss, “Will businesses really come back to Iran? Will banks give loans?” With the threat of a Republican president reimposing sanctions, as soon as possibly 2025, it’s hard to see why Iran would want to take that leap of faith.
But according to Lewis, the problem for American credibility runs even deeper. “Don’t blame Iran for making the decision that they want a bomb,” he told me. “After all, what arguments are left for making a deal with the Americans? The U.S. never follows through on their word” when it comes to nuclear agreements.
It’s an underappreciated point. In 1994, the U.S. signed the Framework Agreement with North Korea to end its nuclear program. But the U.S. never lived up to its obligations under the deal, which included the construction of a light-water nuclear reactor and normalizing diplomatic relations, and Pyongyang walked away.
In Iraq, we now know that Saddam Hussein did not restart his weapons of mass destruction program after the Gulf War, and in 2002 he allowed U.N. inspectors back into the country. Yet months later, the U.S. still invaded and ousted Saddam’s regime.
In Libya, Muammar Qaddafi voluntarily gave up his nuclear program, but that didn’t stop the U.S. from actively supporting rebels who toppled his regime and savagely killed him.
Considering that history—not to mention the fraught 40-year relationship between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran—it put a burden on Biden to act proactively, rather than demand even more concessions from Tehran. By choosing not to, Biden has further undermined the JCPOA and helped ensure that Iran is that much closer to a bomb. Even worse, he’s allowing his administration potentially to get further dragged into the region’s viper’s-nest politics.
One discernible feature of Biden’s foreign policy to date is a desire to wash America’s hands of the Middle East. He defiantly pulled U.S. troops out of Afghanistan last summer, is largely ignoring the Arab-Israeli conflict, and is sending clear signals that U.S. foreign policy priorities lie elsewhere.https://3cdc94105a368a8b165b595406fb1f37.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
But the failure to reconstitute the Iran deal risks undermining that effort. The closer Iran gets to a bomb, the more the risks of war in the region will rise—and mainly via a potential preemptive attack by Israel.
For Iran, the risks are even greater. International sanctions continue to strangle its economy, and, paradoxically, the closer it gets to producing a bomb, the harder it will be ever to see those sanctions removed. At some point, the U.S. may conclude that further talks aren’t worth much if Iran is basically a turnkey nuclear power.
Both sides need a deal, and there remains guarded optimism that an agreement can finally be reached in the current round of talks. As one close follower of the negotiations said to me, “What’s the alternative?” But the U.S. and Iran should never have reached this point. That they did represents one of Joe Biden’s biggest foreign policy mistakes to date.Michael A. Cohen @speechboy71
January 25, 2022 at 11:19 am | Published in: Iraq, Middle East, NewsIraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr holds a press conference in Najaf, Iraq on November 18, 2021. [Karar Essa – Anadolu Agency]January 25, 2022 at 11:19 am
The eponymous leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, has rejected a mediation offer by the Commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Esmail Qaani, and Mohammad Hussein Kawtharani, the representative of Hezbollah in Baghdad, in the efforts to form a consensus government.
“Kawtharani has left Najaf without meeting Al-Sadr,” said an official in the Sadrist movement who asked not to be named. “However, there were meetings with representatives of the movement.”
Efforts made by some “friends” to bring views closer are commendable, the official added. “They should not be at the expense of the national project, though, which is a national majority government.”
The official said that it is “unreasonable to repeat the same mistake for the fifth time in a row,” a reference to Al-Sadr’s refusal to form a consensus government that brings together all the winning political groups in parliament.
Qaani’s mediation “did not solve the most prominent knot in the dispute, which is the Sadrist movement’s right to form the government in the way it sees, as the first winner in the election and the holder of the largest number of seats among the Shia political forces.”
Muqtada Al-Sadr insists on forming a national majority government. He has stressed that pressure will not deter him from this.