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  • Don't Buy Politico's False Choice on Nuclear Power

    callaway-nuclear2

    One of the repeating story lines the lamestream media is looking to advance for the 112th Congress is the fictional contradiction between Tea Party small government convictions and the necessity of big government intervention to cause economic growth. Today’s contribution comes from Politico’s Darius Dixon who asks, “Can the tea party go nuclear?

    The premise of the piece is that conservative plans to jump start nuclear power plant construction conflict with Tea Party plans to shrink the size and role of the federal government since today’s nuclear power industry is dependent on federal loan guarantees. This is two thirds right. Yes, the Tea Party does want to “to cut spending and pull back the hand of government.” Yes, the nuclear power industry “depends on subsidies, loan guarantees and other federal funds.” But that doesn’t mean that more federal loan guarantees and subsidies are the only way to revive our domestic nuclear power industry. In fact, expanding the existing loan guarantee program would simply remove incentives to decrease costs, stifle innovation, suppress private-sector financing solutions.

    The best policy for reviving our nuclear power industry is completely consistent with a Tea Party vision of governing. Specifically, the federal government should: limit the loan subsidies of Energy Policy Act of 2005 to existing law; avoid creating a government-dependent nuclear industry; remain committed to scientific conclusion on Yucca Mountain; introduce market principles into nuclear waste management reform; and focus the government on key responsibilities like establishing predictable and effective regulation that will ensure safety and security.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Don't Buy Politico's False Choice on Nuclear Power

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Conn Carroll:

      You hit the nail smack dab on the center of the head!

      I cannot speak for the entire Tea Party. What my understanding is of getting government under control you summed it up very nicely with the following quote. Though it applies to the nuclear industry, the same sentiments can be applied everywhere else.

      “The best policy for reviving our nuclear power industry is completely consistent with a Tea Party vision of governing. Specifically, the federal government should: limit the loan subsidies of Energy Policy Act of 2005 to existing law; AVOID CREATING A GOVERNMENT-DEPENDENT nuclear industry; remain committed to scientific conclusion on Yucca Mountain; INTRODUCE MARKET PRINCIPLES INTO nuclear WASTE MANAGEMENT REFORM; and FOCUS THE GOVERNMENT ON KEY RESPONSIBILITIES like establishing predictable and effective regulation that will ensure safety and security.”

      Thanks!

    2. Jeff says:

      Issue permits … then watch …

    3. Walter Brown, Americ says:

      The cost of Nuclear Power plant construction exploded as layer after layer of unnecessary regulations were heaped on. The government has no legal authority to regulate civilian application of Nuclear Power. The criteria for evaluating the constitutionality of Federal Government Activities is whether any particular activity is proper (legal) and necessary (indispensable) for carrying out an enumerated power. Outside of the National Defense interest, the federal government's interest in nuclear power fails under both considerations.

      The correct position is for state government to establish liability minimums and demand nuclear operators maintain adequate insurance coverage. The insurers and owners then bear the risk and cost for operating a nuclear reactor. The government is the cause of the problem, and except for removing them from the equation they are very unlikely to be the solution.

    4. JimHopf says:

      Either the Heritage Foundation is naiive or they're actually firmly in cahoots with the fossil fuel industry and their real agenda is to stifle nuclear power (probably fossil fuels' only real competitor). If the govt. adopted every single one of the author's suggestions, the US nuclear power industry would… go absolutely nowhere.

      Waste management and disposal are a negligible fraction of nuclear power's overall cost (~0.1 cents/kW-hr), so no policies on that front will not have any significant impact. Costs are dominated by high plant capital costs, which are the result of all the components and massive structures required to reduce the chances of any releases to negligible levels. Add to that the riduculous quality assurance requirements and all the associated paper work that greatly increases construction costs.

      All of this is because, for nuclear, even a small chance of releasing pollution is deemed unacceptable, whereas fossil plants get to routinely emit massive amounts of pollution, under normal operation. Why would anyone think that any energy source, or technology, could ever compete under such an unlevel playing field (i.e., under such a complete double standard)? Everyone (including Heritage) knows that fundamental reductions in nuclear safety standards, that would put it remotely on a par with what fossil fuels get away with, would be politically impossible.

      The only thing giving nuclear any hope were movements to *start* holding fossil fuels to standards remotely like those nuclear is held to (i.e., no longer allowing them to just dump massive quantities of pollution directly into the environment, for free). That is, global warming legislation. In lieu of any policies that would reflect fossil fuels' massive environmental costs, some minor help like loan guarantees is the very least the govt. can do to give nuclear a chance. Note that nuclear projects even have to pay a large, upfront cash fee to compensate the govt. for the risk it is supposedly taking. This is simply not a subsidy; people have made darn sure of that. (Also note that, predictably, renewables do not have to pay any such fees for their loan guarantees.)

      Barring reigning in fossil fuels, here is what would actually help nuclear significantly. Require NRC to review license applications for additional copies of already-licensed plant designs in one year or less. Have the govt., as opposed to industry, pay for the NRC (i.e., all reviews and oversight costs), the same way fossil plants don't have to pay for the EPA. Allow nuclear plants to be built to the same construction standards as other large construction projects, such as roads, bridges, buildings and other types of power plant. As noted above, all of this is politically impossible.

    5. skinny dog says:

      Politics and Politico aside, the economic solution to nuclear power is the mass production of thorium power plants, otherwise known as liquid fluoride thorium reactors, or LFTRs.

      They are very safe, very small, air-cooled, extremely cheap to fuel, clean, green, and renewable, and their waste is miniscule compared to typical nuclear plants.

      They are an American invention, but they were shelved during the Cold War because although they're great for producing energy, they're virtually useless for producing nuclear weapons. We need to bring them back, and become energy independent.

      They can even consume existing nuclear waste for fuel. Because of that, and because their own waste is harmless in 300 years, they will render Yucca Mountain obsolete. And it's virtually impossible to make a weapon with a thorium power plant.

      America has enough thorium already mined to power the entire country for 400 years. And when we get back to mining our own Rare Earth Elements we'll have even more – thorium ore is the "waste" from REE mining. So it's a win-win situation.

      The problem with nuclear power is the current generation of power plants. Thorium power plants are a brand new ball game.

      Don't take my word for it. Google "LFTR" and "thorium energy", get informed, and spread the word. Or start with this excellent article:

      http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/ff_new_nuke

    6. Robert Orr Jr, Frank says:

      Everything Skinny Dog says is absolutely true.

      LFTR was proven safe, clean, and cheap at Oak Ridge half a century ago when a prototype ran five years without a hitch, two of those years at full power.

      The advantages and benefits of the technology could, if our nation had even two drops of political will, shut down every coal fired power plant in America in ten years or less. In terms of safety, the new issue of Time reports that about 1700 coal miners have been killed in China this year alone. There has never been a serious accident on any of the ships in our nuclear navy in six decades of operation. And certainly never a death.

      Then there is the air pollution which is part and parcel of fossil fuel electricity generation. I think I read somewhere that something like 40% of all air pollution comes from coal fired power plants. Employ LFTR technology and the arguments over cap and trade become virtually moot.

      There is a future for wind and solar but, to be brutally honest about it, a wind mill will never power an open hearth furnace in a steel mill. A single LFTR, or several, the size of two tractor trailer trucks, built in modular form on an assembly line at about $200 million each, could do that job before breakfast. That's how compact they are because they operate at atmospheric pressure, without water, so there is nothing to flash to steam, causing an explosion.Hence there is no need for the hugely expensive concrete containment building needed by ordinary light water reactors.

      The waste created by LFTR is measured in pounds, not tons, and decays to harmless in several hundred years rather than several hundred thousand years.

      The advantages of LFTR technology go on and on. I refer your readers to two excellent websites. They are ThoriumEnergyAlliance.com and EnergyFromThorium.com. Both are non-profit and are operated by people like me, ordinary citizens who happened upon Thorium, did a little research online or otherwise, and have taken it upon themselves, largely at their own expense, to spread the word.about this marvelous technology that could greatly improve the lives, literally, of everybody on earth.

      Robert Orr Jr

      Franklin TN

      ThoriumSilverBullet@gmail.com

    7. Robert Hargraves, Ha says:

      We need to think longer term about the potential for advanced nuclear power, and thorium energy cheaper than from coal

      Energy cheaper than from coal will end fossil fuel CO2 emissions through the economic self interest of all countries. Affordable electric power is key to achieving prosperity in developing nations – prosperity that leads to sustainable birthrates and lessened global competition for food, energy, and natural resources.

      The liquid fluoride thorium reactor holds this promise, along with inexhaustible thorium energy and environmental safety. Learn more about

      Social benefits and technology: http://rethinkingnuclearpower.googlepages.com/aim
      Science: American Scientist, Jul/Aug 2010, Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, http://www.energyfromthorium.com/forum/download/f
      Engineering: http://energyfromthorium.com

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