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  • McCain Advocates Nuclear Energy

    John McCain delivered his energy and climate speech this afternoon in Houston, and he rightly espoused policies to commence offshore drilling and significantly expand domestic nuclear capacity. As he stressed the difficulty of addressing climate change, he made a compelling case for building new commercial nuclear plants:

    In Europe and elsewhere, they have been expanding their use of nuclear energy. But we’ve waited so long that we’ve lost our domestic capability to even build these power plants. Nuclear power is among the surest ways to gain a clean, abundant, and stable energy supply, as other nations understand. One nation today has plans to build almost 50 new reactors by 2020. Another country plans to build 26 major nuclear stations. A third nation plans to build enough nuclear plants to meet one quarter of all the electricity needs of its people — a population of more than a billion people. Those three countries are China, Russia, and India. And if they have the vision to set and carry out great goals in energy policy, then why don’t we?”

    He also criticized Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for not supporting new nuclear plants. The numbers McCain spoke of certainly are not unrealistic for the United States, and there are a number of policy implementations that can move nuclear power in the right direction. Especially if constraining carbon is a policy objective, a broad nuclear expansion is critical to mitigate the economic effects of a cap-and-trade bill.

    As Heritage Research Fellow Jack Spencer illustrates, there are a number of free-market steps to take in order to create a sustained reemergence of nuclear energy. These steps will ensure that not just a handful of reactors are built in the next decade, but that nuclear power has an opportunity to succeed long-term.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to McCain Advocates Nuclear Energy

    1. Rod Adams says:

      Senator McCain should recall that there is at least one sector of the American nuclear industry that kept building and refining its designs. His former employer, the US Navy, has purchased at least one reactor every other year for the past 20 or so years.

      Commercial ships used to be a strength of the American economy, but we lost our relative advantage in shipbuilding. Perhaps we could combine our expertise in nuclear ship propulsion with the remaining capability that we have to restore our shipyards to world wide prominence.

      There would certainly be an investment required, but considering the fact that a large commercial vessel can burn between $500,000 and $1 million worth of oil every day at current prices, there is plenty of room for the possibility of major returns on that investment. (The fuel for a nuclear plant large enough to power that same ship would cost about $30,000 per day.)

      Then there is the emissions advantage to consider – a study release late last year computed that ships – which often burn high sulfur, residual oil – contribute to the early death from air pollution of 60,000 people every year.

    2. Alex, NH says:

      You are absolutely right about that. I am currently a member of the Navy's nuke propulsion program. The problem comes from the standards required for operators of a nuclear propulsion plant, and the pay we desire. Also, the 'break even' cost of using nuclear propulsion isn't necessarily justified until oil hits over 200 bucks a barrel (give it a couple of months).

      We also have to consider the fact that nuclear power is truly a double-edged sword. It really is clean and safe, as long as you have competent operators and 100 percent accountability over every aspect of plant management. The problem comes from the fact that there are idiots out there that want to hurt us, and want to disrupt industry and shipping. A reactor plant is extremely safe when taken care of, but can become a PR nightmare quickly if plant integrity is breached. This would lead to intense security requirements for commercial shipping vessels under nuclear power, potentially reducing the economic advantage that comes from a 30 year tank of gas. Naval vessels are fine under nuke power, since they are combatant ships (I don't see anyone messing with a carrier or a submarine anytime soon) armed to the teeth against security breaches. Many commercial vessels (if we're talking trans-oceanic shipping) just have a small security detachment, which might not hold up against some lunatic out to damage a reactor.

      Land based nuclear power is where it's at.

    3. Alex, NH says:

      Also, as heartwarming as this post is, let's also take into account that in this same speech, Senator McCain also kept on his cap-and-trade plan. This is our Republican nominee? Playing into 'Nobel Laureate' Al Gore's game? I'm scared.

    4. Pingback: Melting Moments | The Incomplete Gamer

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