… when in his State Of The Union message he said that
“to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.”
But did he mean it?
Nuclear power plants provide 70% of this nation’s non-carbon emitting (“clean”) sources of electrical generation capacity today, but only 20% of the overall total. While other nations have greatly expanded their nuclear generating capacity, liberating them from the political and market gyrations of being dependent on others for electrical generating fuels, the US has been dormant, and has not approved the construction of a new reactor for years. The French have invested heavily in nuclear plants starting in 1973 and the Arab oil embargo, and will soon have 56 reactors generating 76% of their total capacity. Why has the United States sat idly by, growing more and more dependent on foreign oil and coal to power fossil fuel facilities?
There was much fear of nuclear power in this country during the ‘70’s, fueled by fantasies such as The China Syndrome, and realities such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. But as was explained at The Hayride previously, these fears are unfounded.
Obama’s speech, at least the quoted section of it, has created a lot of excitement as people see him moving toward a more responsible form of governance by supporting this clean, practical means of generating electricity independent of foreign sources of fuel. But then his proposed budget came out, and it contains much less funding for nuclear reactor construction than was anticipated due to his remarks, and absolutely nothing for the continued development of our waste storage facility.
How can one support increased construction of nuclear generating facilities and simultaneously stop funding the multi-billion dollar investment in safe, permanent waste disposal facilities?
Easily. One can play politics. By allocating money in the budget for a growing nuclear power generation program, Obama has placated the groups who advocate the utilization of a clean, safe, technically achievable domestic source of energy. By ceasing to fund the waste disposal site, located at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, he has both given his healthcare buddy, the highly vulnerable Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the means to tell his constituents that his influence over the President has removed that nuclear “threat” from their back yard, and he has assured that he won’t have to actually spend the money. He can’t justify expanding the nuclear program with no means of disposing of the waste.
Meanwhile, he will appoint a “blue ribbon” panel to further study nuclear waste disposal, an academic approach from an academic president. Hopefully they will examine waste recycling, the means by which France is reducing its waste to minute quantities.
President Obama is seemingly insincere in his advocacy of expanded nuclear power, not only for the reasons already cited, but for reasons suggested in the conclusion of the paragraph from which the opening quote was taken,
“And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”
Obama is not sincere about expanding the use of nuclear energy, but rather is using it as a vehicle to continue to push technically unfeasible energy sources such as wind and solar, and to further push his economically destructive “cap and trade” carbon reduction initiatives.
President Obama was right to say that expanding our nuclear generating capacity is a necessary direction for this country to take, but as has often been shown to be the case, his actions speak louder than his words.