Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Word On The Climate Change Bill

Despite the astroturf rallies and forged letters from the ACCCE, climate change legislation has taken a big jump forward. Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham are co-sponsoring a Senate bill, and even Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has signaled support, which frankly is a bit of a surprise.

It’s actually starting to look like climate change legislation might be an easier sell than the healthcare bill, thanks to a new bipartisan support for nuclear energy. I’m personally not a fan of nuclear energy because, among other things, we have yet to figure out what to do with the waste. At its essence, the climate change issue is a waste issue. There’s no changing the laws of physics and when it comes to producing power--excuse the pun--shit happens. You can spew stuff in the air or hold it in leaky detention ponds or try to store it underground in a salt mine but you will have to deal with it eventually. And the stuff left over from nuke plants is more dangerous than anything else.

Mostly I'm worried folks seem to think we can keep storing spent nuclear fuel for a few more decades until we figure out some magic bullet to deal with it. Doesn't that sound a lot like the pollution issue which has led to our whole climate change problem?

While I personally have my doubts about the practicality and affordability of nuclear energy, if we’re going to forge ahead into a new future of electric cars and smart grids and personal jet-packs, we’re going to need more power production. So before we hand a big bailout to the utilities in the interest of arresting climate change can we at least write something into the bill that addresses the waste issue? Because I really don’t want to be having this same discussion in 40 years about what to do with all of those leaky radioactive nuclear fuel rods.

Just a thought.