Bridenstine Nomination to Run NASA Remains Blocked in Senate

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Bloomberg has an update on the impasse in the Senate over the Trump Administration’s nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become the next NASA administrator.

Bridenstine has been blocked by all 49 Senate Democrats. Florida’s Congressional delegation enjoys an outsized influence on NASA because of Cape Canaveral, and Senator Bill Nelson, who flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986, isn’t a Bridenstine fan. His colleague Marco Rubio, the junior senator for the Sunshine State and a Republican, doesn’t want Bridenstine, either. With fellow Republican John McCain of Arizona absent for cancer treatment, that leaves confirmation 50-49 against….

Beyond [Acting Administrator Robert] Lightfoot, the lack of movement on Capitol Hill effectively leaves NASA leadership to Scott Pace, executive director of the National Space Council, which [Donald] Trump revived last summer. The council has taken a direct role in overseeing NASA’s priorities, including the administration’s 2017 directive to return astronauts to the moon, but doesn’t have the same hands-on role an administrator would. Bridenstine has attended both National Space Council meetings, in October and last month, but only as an observer.

Rubio has argued that the NASA post shouldn’t be occupied by a politician, particularly one with stridently partisan positions. “It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics, and it’s at a critical juncture in its history,” he told Politico in September.

Bridenstine, a member of the highly conservative House Freedom Caucus, has drawn Democratic opposition for his views on gay marriage and abortion rights, as well as past statements dismissing climate change. And he may have rubbed Republican Rubio, and possibly McCain, the wrong way on account of his past support for their primary opponents.

In the 2016 presidential primaries, Bridenstine, a former Navy fighter pilot with an interest in space issues, produced several advertisements supporting Texas Senator Ted Cruz in his failed quest for the Republican nomination. Those ads criticized Rubio, also a candidate, for his position on immigration and attacks on Cruz. Rubio has reportedly denied a connection between Bridenstine’s past barbs and his opposition to the NASA nomination. Bridenstine also supported McCain’s Republican rival, Kelli Ward, in a fierce 2016 primary campaign that McCain eventually won.

Read the full story.

  • duheagle

    Keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better. November will be here soon enough.

  • duheagle

    What, exactly, would that “everything” be that Trump will be blamed for? Ceasing Obama’s endless assaults on the American economy? I suspect Mr. Trump will not mind, in the least, being “blamed” for that.

  • duheagle

    Ah, yes, “What’s ours is ours and what’s yours is negotiable.” I don’t think the 2018 elections are likely to be very favorable to that line.

  • duheagle

    Institutionally, the opponents of the Left have been the more inept. Since unionization of public employees was first enabled in the 60’s, the Left has turned most government agencies into Democratic Party auxiliaries. The Left has also captured essentially all of K-12 public education, nearly all of academe and nearly all of media. Charitable foundations, especially the really big ones, are also lopsidedly Leftist in their missions and grants. These are hardly matters subject to serious dispute.

    Those would be the Koch brothers by the way (the name is pronounced like that of the well-known brown fizzy beverage or the equally well-known Peruvian Marching Powder). Or at least the two who are libertarian, Charles and Dave. There are actually four Koch brothers, but the eldest, Fred, is a collector of manuscripts and a philanthropist who has never been high-profile political. Dave’s twin brother Bill is also largely a political non-player who is best known for sponsoring a number of America’s Cup yachts in the 90’s and for an occasionally disorderly personal life.

    There are plenty of scientists skeptical of AGW orthodoxy who have never taken any money from the Koch bothers or anyone else in furtherance of their views. Given that so-called “deniers” have now been all but run out of any academic positions in institutional Climate Science, skeptics of AGW with current academic appointments are chiefly located in departments that are, shall we say, Climate Science-adjacent, such as Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics.

    Still, I would be interested in any links you can provide anent the alleged Koch brothers initiative you describe. I will be doing some looking of my own as well.

  • duheagle

    I presume you refer to Earth? I don’t know whom you’re quoting there, but it isn’t me. Not that I disagree with the general sentiment, I’ve just never said that.

  • duheagle

    No, I’m not.

  • duheagle

    Perhaps not, but it sure seems to help.

  • duheagle

    Oh, please!

    Show me an EV that can be had for the price of a Hyundai Accent. Or even for twice the price.

    There are, as yet, no EV semis to do the alleged burying. Tesla’s has been delayed. When it arrives, it may eventually put Peterbilt, Kenworth, et. al. out of business, but it won’t be anytime soon. Technology will certainly change long-haul trucking hugely over the next quarter-century, but it will be driverless technology, not EV technology, that dominates the changes.

    There is no significant movement toward either self-contained or catenary electrification of railroading in the U.S. Natural gas I can believe, but even that is going to take awhile to displace any significant percentage of diesel prime movers.

  • Michael Halpern

    Not at all, renewable is mostly free energy, which can power huge factories, that make batteries to power evs to demand more energy which can come from renewables, industrial at its core, if anything protecting coal is anti industrial as industry requires evolution to function

  • duheagle

    You forgot Germany, Russia, Japan, Korea (both North and South) and Eastern Europe. I could go on. Coal is hugely important to electricity production many places in the world. Chile and Israel both use a lot of coal. So do other countries than Germany even in Western Europe.

    As previously noted by others, original production of lithium is often a nasty business. Given that recycling also tends to be a nasty business disproportionately taken on in 3rd-world countries and the poorer provinces of China, I see no reason to expect that lithium’s potential recycleability is going to make things much better over at least the next several decades.

    A sane person might go with ICE – at least outside the tonier districts of major cities – because the low end of the ICE vehicle market offers many bargains for the non-affluent that the EV market, thus far, does not. The Tesla Model 3 is not going to change that situation much until used Model 3’s start showing up in significant quantities. Get back to me when Tesla – or anybody else – starts making an EV car that’s price-competitive with a Hyundai Accent.

    Then there’s also the matter that the less affluent and rural areas of the U.S. – most of the country, in other words – has no significant recharging infrastructure as yet and won’t for a long time to come despite Elon’s best efforts. Gasoline is easy to come by even in poor ethnic ghetto neighborhoods. I know this because that’s where I buy mine. Recharging stations, not so much. Right now – and for quite some time to come – EV’s are an affectation of the well-to-do.

  • duheagle

    No, it’s not the only reason. But shame on me for not adding the essential marginality of EV’s in cold climates to my previous list – and me born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Gettin’ old.

  • Michael Halpern

    For me its the only reason. Weighed against better preformance, less maintenance, less operating costs, however it’s not a major reason

  • duheagle

    Natural gas is certainly displacing coal at a rapid clip, but coal still accounts for roughly 1/3 of U.S. electricity generation.

  • duheagle

    If it has kept you from indulging your tree-hugger-ish nature, it’s a major reason.

  • Michael Halpern

    Not really, as that may change by the time i need a new car

  • duheagle

    Renewables are anything but free. The infrastructure for both wind and solar energy is quite pricey, especially compared to fossil-fired baseload capacity given the sporadic nature of renewables and the low efficiency of their pricey infrastructure. Absent massive – and insanely expensive – storage infrastructure, renewables are completely unsuitable as a replacement for fossil-fired baseload capacity.

    Or for nuclear-driven baseload capacity for that matter – as the Green-addled Germans are now discovering to their considerable cost.

  • Michael Halpern

    30% and dropping

  • duheagle

    Your tree-hugger-ish nature or the difficulties attending EV ownership?

  • Michael Halpern

    Difficulties of an ev making sense for me may no longer exist when i need a new car

  • duheagle

    The most recent number I could find was for 2015 and it was 35%. Coal is going to be with us in a non-trivial way for some time yet.

  • Michael Halpern

    And not because i am a tree hugger, i just don’t like paying for gasoline.

  • duheagle

    Then I think you ought to figure on driving your existing ride for quite a bit longer.

  • Michael Halpern

    I do, but if an ev isnt my next car its definitely the one after, as an investment lower cost per mile makes it make a lot of sense

  • duheagle

    Neither do I. Mostly because I do it at the extortionate rates prevailing here in CA – including the recent bump in state taxes (last fill-up: $3.18/gal.). But, given what my electricity bill has been lately just for lighting, computing, laundry and cooking, adding personal automotive transport to the bill would sink me for sure.

  • duheagle

    The much-vaunted renewables have their environmental costs too. But those tend to be day-in, day-out background noise and not sudden headline-grabbers like an oil spill, tank car derailment or explosion on an off-shore oil rig.

  • duheagle

    Being highly skeptical of AGW orthodoxy is hardly the same as being “anti-science.”

  • Michael Halpern

    Actually it’s estimated in most of the country the cost of an ev is equivalent to .80 per gallon

  • Michael Halpern

    Most of environmental damage from renewables is in manufacturing and that just means manufacturing regs are needed.

  • duheagle

    Estimated by whom?

  • duheagle

    Living, as I do, in the Greater L.A. area, I might go for a nice used Tesla Model 3 a few years down the road myself. I still don’t expect any significant recharging infrastructure in my immediate vicinity by then, but there ought to be some in the much pricier beach cities a few miles to my west.

    Whatever befalls, I’ll be driving the current beater until it dies of anything that costs more to fix than it would set me back to replace. After that, it will be strictly a matter of economics. If the EV numbers don’t work, it’s Hyundai again.

    Should I be fortunate enough to be able to move to Texas in the interim, it’ll probably be Hyundai anyway. Both gasoline and electricity are significantly cheaper in TX than in CA. The disparity is only likely to worsen in future years. Wherever I am, my decisions will be based solely on minimizing overall outlay. I have no margin for tithes to Gaia.

  • duheagle

    The legions of birds who die of mid-air blunt force trauma while attempting to cross wind farms and the others who get flash-broiled over solar-thermal sites might disagree.

    It’s a good thing for your favored government regs that Pres. Trump’s tax and trade policies seem likely to keep more manaufacturing of all kinds in the U.S. instead of, in essence, subsidizing its exit to places like China – which is, of course, justly famous for the stringency of its environmental regs and the draconian zeal with which they are enforced.

  • Michael Halpern

    unfortunately thats second hand knowledge,

  • Michael Halpern

    Windmill designs and location, as for solar that only applies to some concentrated solar thermal

  • Michael Halpern

    As for trump, he disincentized domestic solar in effort to protect coal so he’s helping no one really

  • duheagle

    If that means he has taken steps to end federal subsidies, that’s a good thing. I’m tired of do-gooders trying to strong-arm the rest of us into doing economically injurious things through bribery. Rooftop solar needs net utility billing as a way to level the playing field, but it shouldn’t be getting subsidies.

    Ending federal solar subsidies hardly constitutes a way to “protect” coal in any case. It isn’t rooftop solar that’s eating coal’s lunch, it’s fracked natural gas. Those chips need to fall where they may.

  • duheagle

    There aren’t that many really good surface sites for wind farms and most of those are quite popular with local bird populations. Alternate siting is not a solution. It’s true there isn’t much solar thermal capacity out there at present. Bird deaths are one reason.

  • redneck

    Your last two sentences precisely sum up long term answers to energy, vehicle choice, imports, and myriad other economic questions that are twisted in political process. The consumer is smart and self interested. The demonstrators outside against Walmart have far less influence than the customers spending inside.

  • Michael Halpern

    Except he hasn’t, coal and oil still get a LOT more subsidy than renewables ever have received

  • Michael Halpern

    Birds get killed trying to fly through windows all the time, so long as it’s kept manageable, windmills i don’t think are a huge deal

  • Michael Halpern

    Renewables are speeding up coals end, add battery farms and consumer end storage be it ev or home/plant battery and you can build up a very resilient and cost effective grid with renewables and nat gas, counting biogas, sewage gas, landfill gas and industrial byproduct syngas as nat gas because of compatibility, eventually as the technology develops nat gas fuel cells using waste heat to power either a turbine, Stirling generator or centralized heating or some combination thereof
    Wind used in distributed power settings can often be less impactful to birds, i personally think that a mix between distributed power and centralized is the way to go, and renewables excel in distributed power, logistically centralized does have advantages but having significant distributed elements enables resilience and better settings for various renewable power sources, distributed storage also helps makes it easier to handle peak loads on transmission infrastructure

  • Mike

    Both parties push anti-science, on different subjects. You just have to prioritize which anti-science you think is worse.

  • Mike

    Lightfoot is currently openly pushing anti-scientific, anti-space-exploration ideology. NASA needs a new administrator ASAP.
    https://www.inquisitr.com/4804268/the-elon-musk-spacex-mars-mission-is-sexist-feminist-claims/

  • Michael Halpern

    Your link led me to a Musk slamming article, if he’s against SLS we need him,

  • windbourne

    I used to work with the intel world. That group is hard core Conservative.
    Believe me, when I say that the intel world not giving clearance to nearly all of Trump’s ppl, along with them flat out saying that he has been talking to Russia PRIOR to election, means that they are out and out telling you that he is a f***ing traitor.
    There is NOTHING fictional about it.

    As to the house and senate, I believe that those of us in the middle, who were faced with horrible choices before, are going to say no to Trump and his ppl. Simple as that. The far edges will vote their ppl in (dems/gop), but they are not the ones that actually decide. It is the middle that does.

  • windbourne

    https://www.google.com/search?q=kock+bros+funding+of+UC+berkley+scientists+on+AGW

    First off, living in Douglas County, Colorado, I know the Kock bros all too well. They funded a major effort to destroy public schools in our district, which lowered our home values before getting all of their bastards thrown out of here. However, the damage has been done and it will take decades to regain back decent teachers. Charles & Dave are NOT what I consider true Libertarians, but certainly fund the current GOP and created the nightmare that we have. While they did not fund Trump, they pushed him into the current tax re-write which is a total disaster. And Bill Koch lives here in Colorado and actually is the only sane one of the group. Disorderly? Nothing like those 2.

    Secondly, few of the ‘scientists’ that are ‘deniers’ are connected with weather or climate. Even Muller of the above study is NOT a weather/climatologist. BUT, he is one of the FEW that is respected. The others are mostly junk scientists who have absolutely no clue of what they are talking about.

    But, The kock bros funded Richard Muller who was at that time, the only real scientist that spoke about against AGW. However, when they got the data and looked over the code for about a year and ran the simulations, he flipped to the other side and now claims that AGW is not only real, but a real disaster in the making. All of which we can see with current storms.
    Of course, with the far right fighting against it, that was a huge hit, but I would actually blame the far left for their fighting nuke power, as well as allowing China to add 700 GW of new coal plants JUST TO CHINA. That does not include what they are adding to other nations.

  • windbourne

    Ok, first off, I never said that there was an EV comparable to each ICE model.
    In fact, I said that EVs are similar $ to comparable ICE vehicles. That means that you compare a Model 3 to a BMW 3 series, Audi A4/A5; Caddies, Lexus, etc.
    MS are compared to BMW 5/7 series/Audi A7/MB S series. etc.
    You do not compare either M3 or MS to a Hyundai Accent.
    Here is MS sales in America;
    https://electrek.co/2017/05/26/tesls-model-s-leading-us-large-luxury-segment/
    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/05/tesla-model-s-crushes-large-luxury-car-competition-h1-2017-us-sales/

    Back in 2014, it was beating all of them, but just barely. Now it outsells them COMBINED.

    Now, MS is outselling competitors in Europe:
    https://qz.com/1212279/teslas-model-s-outsold-germanys-flagship-sedans-in-europe/
    http://europe.autonews.com/article/20180220/ANE/180219831/tesla-model-s-outsells-german-luxury-flagships-in-europe

    BNG has been moving to LNG for sometime, and are supposed to have it done in the next couple of years.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=burlington+northern+railroad+move+to+LNG

    As to Tesla semis, they are not due until 2019. However, they are on the road right now, running between Nevada and CA. There are already over a 1000 pre-ordered and once they prove how they run, then I think it is fair to say that they will have many more.
    As to Peterbilt, Kenworth, etc, they are all throwing mega $ at doing Electric Semis as well.
    In fact, multiple EV semi truck are due out over the next 2 years.

  • windbourne

    Actually, I did not forget those nations.
    Germany, Japan, South Korea, and MOST of Eastern Europe run about 40% coal. Japan and Germany are growing a bit, but, most others are dropping. Yeah, Poland is running some 80%, but they are a SMALL nation. They MIGHT add several GW over the next 10 years. Maybe.
    Russia, and South Africa are BOTH heavy users of coal, but again, they are relatively small users of electricity. SA is adding more, but that is due to the push from China.
    Russia is not. In fact, they are adding more Nat gas, and atomic, and dropping their coal.

    The real issue is CHina and Australia. BOTH are heavy users of Coal, but Australia is cutting way back on it. In addition, unlike CHina, they have decent scrubbing that happens. China does not (hence why they are the most polluted nation on the planet).

    In the end you can continue to argue for ICE vehicles, but it will come down to economics. Tesla’s EVs are as cheap/cheaper than comparable ICE vehicles to buy. Then add in the fact that electricity is cheap in the west compared to fossil fuels. With our .08/kwh charge at nighttime, it is like paying .60-.90 / gal of gas. Maintenance is a fraction of what ICE vehicles costs. Probably the worst part of our MS, is the insurance. It was fine until a bit ago and the insurance companies DOUBLED their rates. So now, tesla is pushing their own insurance and it is forcing the insurance companies to drop theirs. The question is why did insurance companies raise their rates? Supposedly, it is to get paid before they are forced to drop it to the lowest rates. Apparently, the insurance companies fear what AP (and not just tesla, but all companies) is going to do to insurance for cars; make them obsolete and unneeded.

  • duheagle

    I woudn’t go so far as to say that Science has always had plenty of people who are corrupt and political, but it sure does these days.

  • duheagle

    The “space exploration = patriarchy” meme is world-class idiotic to be sure, but it’s only very tangentially anti-science. A more consequential example would be the sizable chunk of American Leftists who are anti-vaxers.

    Another would be the completely incoherent beliefs those on the left variously express about gender and sexual orientation. Gays and lesbians, for example, have long claimed – accurately – that their orientations are innate. Most bi-sexuals seem to agree. But much of the rest of the LGBTQ-wah-da-do-dah “community” is equally insistent that gender is fluid and can be volitionally changed like one’s socks – or fishnet thigh-highs as the case may be. And even believers in the innateness of their particular orientation are quite likely to also profess the orthodox left-feminist belief that gender roles are socially constructed.

    I’ve often maintained that one of the defining characteristics of any long-time leftist is the ability to withstand doses of cognitive dissonance that should be fatal to an African elephant, never mind a human being.

  • Michael Halpern

    GAO just came out with a report that says Obama era regulations actually made money and jobs compared to what they cost industry to implement.