July 9, 2009
Nuclear industry advocates are encouraged by what they are hearing in Senate Environment and Public Works committee hearings this week. A panel which included Obama Energy Secretary Dr. Chu was questioned by Senators in a hearing which shed light on the likely direction federal efforts at combating global warming will take if legislation is passed.
Opening statements from committee members bubbled with enthusiasm for the economic opportunities that await nuclear power.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.):
“Why are we ignoring the cheap energy solution [compared to renewables] to global warming, which is nuclear energy. If what we're really interested in is reducing carbon, which is the principle greenhouse gas, we could focus first on smokestacks and say let's start building a hundred nuclear power plants. … And then as we did that, we could begin to close dirty coal plants or … have clean coal plants or much cleaner existing plants.
“But,” Alexander continued, “for 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 we have. There is no other technological way that we to have to have a large amount of reliable, cheap electricity other than nuclear power. So if we're in the business of saying, Yes, we can, if the President would give the same kind of aggressive interest to building 100 new nuclear power plants that he does to building windmills, we could solve global warming in a generation.”
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho):
“As we look at the the renewable energy alternative that are discussed, I'm very concerned that one of the most obvious sources of solution is largely untreated in the legislation that we expect to see coming to us and that is nuclear energy. … We cannot ignore what is probably the biggest piece of the answer and that is nuclear power. … We don't seem to see the kind of provision in proposed legislation that will truly help us expedite and move forward on these very significant answers, like nuclear power.”
The Democrats seem to have been visited by the same lobbyists.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.):
“It's not cheap, it cost billions of dollars to build a new nuclear power plant, but they're pretty good in terms of how much carbon dioxide they put out or how much of any bad things they put out. ... It takes about 4,000 people to build a nuclear power plant and about 5-600 to run a nuclear power plant.”
Carper also stated that he was pleased by the number of new nuclear plant license applications that have been submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
And Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.):
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) also gave support for new nuclear power generation, though in passing.
You put a price on carbon, what you end up doing is sending a very strong signal in the marketplace that carbon dioxide emissions, that these kinds of emissions, are to be reduced in the future and that you move in the direction of technologies [in] which you do not create carbon dioxide – nuclear is one of those. So I hope that when we focus on the idea of having a cap-and-trade system, we focus on the idea that we are encouraging all [emphasis, Udall] sources – whether it is the renewables (wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal) or whether it’s nuclear power. But we have to be really clear, I think, that our objective here is to do it all, to increase all the sources that are not contributing [to C02 emissions] and I think that’s a very important point as part of all of this. And I hope those of you that are here today on this panel will cover that side of it.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was the only critic, asking about the (non-existent) plans for nuclear waste storage or disposal and pointing out that the nuclear projects will receive vital federal loan guarantees which will not be provided for renewable energy projects. Sanders however does support climate legislation which, oddly, he sees as an opportunity for the Vermont production of wood pellets which are presented as an "alternative energy". Forests to biomass is an advantaged new industry which will be exploiting public lands in many other regions in the name of "green energy". Public lands would also be made available to private interests for use in solar power installations. Creating new resource extraction ventures will enrich the well placed, while the resultant habitat loss goes unnoticed under the global warming rubric.
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson reminded the Senators of support for energy legislation from electric utilities.
Dr. Chu's statements were most revealing of the Obama regime's intentions:
An alternative way to frame the issue would be that the bi-partisan consensus for U.S. energy policy is to direct resources toward developing new nuclear technologies, exactly what the Obama State Department is threatening war against Iran to prevent it from having access to.
“Restarting the nuclear power industry is very important in our overall plan to reduce carbon emissions in this country. From me, you are not going to get any reluctance. As you may know, I think that nuclear power is going to be a very important factor to getting us to a low carbon future.”“The Department of Energy is doing with its tools everything it can to restart the American nuclear industry. With the loan guarantees, we are pushing as hard as we can on that. We are going to be investing in the future in bettering the technologies and quite frankly, we want to recapture the lead in industrial nuclear power. We've lost that lead as we've lost the lead in many areas of energy technology and we need to get it back.”
Video of full hearing