Energy Policy In The Republican Era

Today’s Wall Street Journal features an article about the McCain-Liebermann bill to offer reductions in carbon emissions in exchange for expansion of nuclear power plants.

James Riccio, an analyst for Greenpeace in Washington, says … Greenpeace is “not willing to leap from the global-warming frying pan into the nuclear fire.”

I’m not the energy policy expert on this blog, but I know enough to know that under the current regime, we are not going to get a Green energy policy. There is certainly a risk involved with nuclear power. We still haven’t worked out how to dispose of the waste. The name scares people (can we get a Frank Luntz memo to rename it ‘fission power’ or something?). But it certainly is not the threat to the entire globe that fossils fuels are.

Ideally, we would have a policy that focusses strongly on renewable, low-footprint energy sources. But anyone who thinks progress on that front will be made under the Bushies is out of their mind.

The Earth is changing at the hands of humanity. If we can buy a 100 years or so using nuclear power to go green, we should take it.

One thought on “Energy Policy In The Republican Era”

  1. The nuclear reaction that creates energy produces almost no emissions. The mining and processing of the uranium used in the nuclear reaction creates lots of emissions and is heavily dependent on oil. Throw in the radioactive waste created by both the milling and energy-producing processes and nuclear power is very polluting in terms of emissions and radioactive waste. Add the creation of more material that could be used for nuclear of “dirty” weapons, the possability of a terrorist strike creating a nuclear fall out, or the possability of a meltdown and nuclear power is more dangerous than other forms of energy production. Combine the fact that none of these problems – or decomissioning costs – are refelcted in the Kw/h price of nuclear power (the Price-Anderson act actually caps the liability costs of a nuclear melt down) and the fact that every last penny of the RD&D of nuclear power has been paid for by the American taxpayer and you have a completely subsidized, uncompetitive, uneconomical power source.Maybe a breeder reactor could create the fissile material without mining, but this has yet to be done despite the efforts of countries like France that depend heavily on nuclear energy and who have tried. Nuclear power is where it always has been: one more enormous infusion of public cash away from solving all of our problems.Nukes may be the best we could get from the Bush regime, but they will only be around for another three years and are uniquely bad on energy policy. Even other retrograde Republicans on other issues are likely to be more enlightened on energy if only because they listen to bottom-line cost/benefit logic. A left-right consensus is forming on global warming and energy issues in terms of jobs, national security and quality of life (Right-wing mayors in Louisiana not wanting their towns to be underwater). If environmentalists could get over their “save the whales” pathos and debate energy policy on these issues they could win.At best it might be worth trying out the pebble bed technology by replacing an old plant with a newer one thereby creating less radioactive waste and more power, but it would be a shame to contribute yet more time and money to nuclear power after having invested so much when other technologies have not been given any similar largess.

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