Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Message For Senator Alexander

Hey Lamar! Your call for 100 new nuclear power plants is stupid.

Says Lamar:
Why are we ignoring the cheap energy solution to global warming which is nuclear power?" Alexander asked a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), of which he is a member.

He said, "Over the next 20 years, if we really want to deal with global warming, we really only have one option and that is to double the number of nuclear power plants. There is no technological way to obtain a large amount of cheap, reliable, clean electricity other than nuclear power."

One keeps hearing how “cheap” nuclear energy is, which I find incredibly dishonest. If it were so cheap, there would be nuclear power plants all over the place. There are not. Lamar is doing some funny math.

There are a slew of government subsidies to the nuclear power industry, stuff that green energy producers (or any industry, for that matter) would give their eye-teeth to have. For example, we have the Price Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act , in which the government indemnifies the nuclear industry in the event of an accident. Boy, Big Pharma would kill for one of those. And we have the Dept. of Energy’s Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, in which the government pays for building and securing long term storage of nuclear waste. Man, the chemical industry is pea-green with envy over that one!

And by the way: what about all of that nuclear waste, Lamar? That stuff which is lethal for hundreds of years? That doesn’t sound so clean or cheap to me. Where are we going to put it all? At taxpayer expense, no less?

What about the pollution caused by uranium mines, Lamar? What, you never heard of the polluted well water in New Mexico and poisoned waters of Lake Ontario? Who pays for that?

What about the fact that so much nuclear fuel comes from Central Asia and Africa? So we’d be trading a Middle Eastern energy source for an African one? Trading being nice to Saudi Arabia to sucking up to Uzbekistan? Not sure that helps our energy security, buddy. They boil people alive there.

This is just so typical of our politicians today: spit out some bumper sticker nonsense they’ve dreamed up (“cheap, reliable, clean electricity!”) and don’t even bother to see if it’s true. Do you think uranium pellets grow on trees?


The Sierra Club’s Carl Pope has more about Lamar’s boneheaded idea:

It appears that what is envisaged is that the taxpayers actually pay for building these plants -- but not that the taxpayers would ever be repaid from the sales of electricity. No, the profits from this investment would flow to shareholders in big utility and nuclear companies. This is not even a bailout -- I guess you could call it a bail-forward. And it would be very expensive.

This is your typical wingnut welfare program. Get the government (that’s you and me, folks) to pay for the infrastructure, and make sure we keep on paying while wealthy investors reap the profits. While you’re at it, by all means make sure there are tax cuts for the wealthy to ensure that the true beneficiaries never repay the government (you and me) for our initial investment.

It’s a classic example of nationalize the costs, privatize the profits. Furthermore:

Even the Business Round Table, in its recent study calling for major policy initiatives in the climate arena, conceded that in the absence of much larger subsidies than are currently available to nuclear, the most we can realistically expect is to replace the existing fleet of nuclear power plants as they are retired -- nuclear simply is not going to be a bigger part of our energy future unless we just keep throwing more money at it.

So, even 100 new nuclear plants won't be enough to replace the dirty coal plants as Lamar envisions.

Don’t want.