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Showing posts from July, 2008

A Holisitic View

In the world of Washington politics, one man's incentive may be another man's subsidy or boondoggle. A Wednesday afternoon posting on the Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital blog reported the Senate's rejection of an attempt to extend tax credits given to renewable energy projects. The posting describes the on-again/off-again life of renewable energy tax credits and the punishing effect their uncertainty has had on investment in wind energy projects. Each time the production tax credit has lapsed, investment in wind energy has fallen off sharply, roiling the wind industry:
The U.S. has never had long-term clean-energy subsidies in place; usually they are renewed for a year or two at a time. Lots of people in the industry blame that unpredictability for the stop-and –start pattern the clean energy industry’s developed over the last two decades. New projects generally come to a standstill the year after tax credits expire. The American Wind Energy Association, a t…

The Republican Mistake

We don’t always find ourselves agreeing with Thomas Friedman at the NYT, but that’s the job of a columnist, isn’t it? – sometimes he’s on the ball, sometimes not; after all, we’re always on the ball, right?But we did agree with this:Anyone who looks at the growth of middle classes around the world and their rising demands for natural resources, plus the dangers of climate change driven by our addiction to fossil fuels, can see that clean renewable energy — wind, solar, nuclear and stuff we haven’t yet invented — is going to be the next great global industry. It has to be if we are going to grow in a stable way.His subject is the Republican Party’s use of offshore drilling as an answer to all energy woes. The reason the party does this is because it works in the polls, but it risks replacing a relatively important subject – how do we move our energy policy forward? – with a relatively petty one – how do we make voters think gas prices can be lowered?One thing we know, offshore drillin…

Russia's Nuclear Energy Investment

The English-language news site Russia Today is reporting that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will invest $40 billion (US) in the country's nuclear energy industry over the next seven years.
After that he [Putin] expects the industry will become self-financing.

...Prime minister Vladimir Putin says Russia's budget, boosted by high oil revenues, has enough cash to finance expansion of the country's nuclear power sector.

A terrific amount of money - more than 40 billion dollars - is to be allocated from the state budget for development of the nuclear energy sector and the nuclear industry by 2015. We’ll have to build 26 major generating units in Russia in the next 12 years - about as many as were built in the entire Soviet period.Some financial context:
At today's exchange rate, $40B (US) = 937 billion Rubles.
937B Rubles / 7 = 134B Rubles invested per year.

According to the IMF, Russia's GDP in 2007 was $1.3 trillion (US) or 30.2 trillion Rubles. Based on 2007 GDP numbers, …

Xcel Energy Plans for Monticello Expansion

Media's raison d'etre—especially television—is to document events; answering the whowhatwherewhywhen of something happening, somewhere. It's remarkable, then, to see press coverage of a nonevent. From the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune,As Xcel Energy makes plans to begin storing spent nuclear fuel in dry casks at its nuclear power plant in Monticello next month and pursues hopes of launching a $100 million expansion of the generating capacity at the 38-year-old facility next year, one element is missing:

Protests.

Xcel's plans have not triggered the superheated attacks from critics that usually accompany attempts to increase nuclear power production. There's been none of the outcry that occurred in the early 1990s, when the power company sought to increase radioactive waste storage at its Prairie Island nuclear facility.

One reason, some observers say, is that concerns about global warming, high energy prices and increasing demand for electricity are producing somethi…

And How Are Things in Lithuania?

Swimmingly, as it happens, since, like France, Lithuania gets almost three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear energy. Slovakia gets a little over half and Bulgaria between a third and a half. Add to these Hungary and the Czech Republic among those who fulfill more of their electricity needs via nuclear energy than does the United States. These tidbits, and more, can be found at Reuters Factbox about nuclear energy in central and southeastern Europe (meaning former Soviet satellites and Turkey.) While one may retain an image of the bad old days in those countries as gray industrial sumpholes, nuclear plants did not contribute to the smog of Budapest nor rip up pristine Baltic landscapes. Consequently, most of these countries are extending the life of their current plants and planning more. Neighbors that hadn’t any plants, like Albania, are now on board. Only the Czechs (with the Green Party as part of the governing coalition) are hesitating, but we’ll see what happens there aft…

T. Boone Pickens Energy Plan

The Washington Times editorial board weighs in on the Pickens Plan,At minimum, it is good to see an oil magnate thinking big thoughts about petroleum overdependency. All the real alternatives - nuclear, natural gas, wind and more - should be on the table. For that reason it is disappointing that Mr. Pickens is not beating the drum more loudly on nuclear energy. Mr. Pickens says he is for all the energy options. That is well and good. But why not expend a comparable effort to push this clean and efficient technology?
It's a Wash Times nuclear energy twofer today - syndicated columnist Jack Kelly also writes about the Pickens plan in "Right Idea, Wrong Fuel."Mr. Pickens has the right idea, but the wrong fuel. A tenfold increase in wind power would meet only about 7 percent of our electricity needs. But nuclear power could both supply rising demand for electricity, and substitute for natural gas in its production.
(h/t to Notes reader Mitch for passing along the Kelly link.)

Best Analogy for the Linear No-Threshold Theory

Many NEI NN readers here know that there are two competing theories on radiation: linear no-threshold (LNT) and hormesis. For those who don't, the LNT theory basically says that there is no safe dose of radiation whereas the hormesis theory says small doses of radiation are safe and that there is a threshold before radiation becomes harmful. Both are highly debatable but the latter makes a stronger case - at least in my opinion. (US nuclear plants, however, are regulated under the LNT theory.)

One of the best analogies that explains the LNT theory comes from a comment made by DV82XL over at Physical Insights:If the LNT were applied to falling as it is to radiation, we might note that 100 percent of those falling onto concrete from 100 feet are killed, but only 50 percent of those falling from 50 feet die. With these data we would linearly extrapolate to say that 10 percent falling from 10 feet and one percent of those falling from one foot would die. Armed with this “linear no-thre…

India Comes in from the Cold

India has been suffering as a nuclear rogue state over the last several years, as it has not signed the non-proliferation agreements and has in fact built nuclear weaponry – from their perspective, to ensure parity with neighbors Pakistan and especially China. India has a policy of never using nuclear weapons offensively but only if nuclear missiles are hurled its way – seems very cold war, doesn’t it? But the Bush administration has been looking for a way to fold India back into the international batter and has succeeded in pacting with the country to ensure that India primarily pursue civilian uses of nuclear energy and accept house calls from the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is an agreement that has been struck with other countries that aims to open trade routes in nuclear materials and technology. (Thorium, which India has in abundance, may well prove interesting going forward. Look here for some more information.) The vote on the treaty in the United State was fast a…

Patrick Moore Interviewed on CNN

In case you were watching The Wheel and missed it, Patrick Moore, co-Chair of the CASEnergy Coalition and co-founder of Greenpeace, appeared on CNN's Glenn Beck Program last night. The pull quote,Hopefully, by 10 years from now, the first new nuclear plants will be coming online and, hopefully, by then we will have built more wind power so that we can turn the gas off when the wind is blowing.

But wind can only provide a small percentage. Denmark gets 15 percent of its energy from wind, and the people there realize now that they went a little overboard on wind, because it stops for three or four days at a time. The sun doesn`t shine at night or when it`s cloudy. These technologies have no storage capacity to be able to tide it over, so you have to back it up with something.

We should be building the backups, in other words, the continuous reliable power sources, such as nuclear and hydroelectric and biomass and geothermal and plug-in cars. But it doesn`t make sense to charge a plug…

Indian Government Receives Vote of Confidence

Indian state television, Doordarshan, is now reporting that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government has received a vote of confidence by Parliament. The vote was close: 253 for, 232 against, with 2 abstentions. Had Singh's administration failed to receive the vote, early elections would have been called for this fall, likely scuttling the nuclear energy agreement made between the United States and India in March.

Nuclear Energy, Terrestrial Energy: WSJ

In the Op-Ed pages of The Wall Street Journaltoday, William Tucker provides as normalizing an explanation about nuclear energy production as I've seen in the general interest press.If we are now going to choose nuclear power as a way to resolve both our concerns about global warming and our looming energy shortfalls, we are first going to have to engage in a national debate about whether or not we accept the technology. To begin this discussion, I suggest redefining what we call nuclear power as "terrestrial energy."

Every fuel used in human history -- firewood, coal, oil, wind and water -- has been derived from the sun. But terrestrial energy is different.

Terrestrial energy is the heat at the earth's core that raises its temperature to 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the surface of the sun. Remarkably, this heat derives largely from a single source -- the radioactive breakdown of uranium and thorium. The energy released in the breakdown of these two elements is…

Friday Funny

From NY Newsday, a political cartoon by the Pulitzer Prize-winning, nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist Walt Handelsman.

Al Gore, the Vexatious One

At the risk of inflaming everyone who visits this blog, we have to say that Al Gore has proven to be an extraordinarily impressive political figure, genus ex-vice president, subgenus freelance public servant. Democrats seem to corner the market in high-profile freelancing – think Jimmy Carter, heck think Eleanor Roosevelt – so their priorities tend to get a boost when a directive issues forth from their perches. We see nothing wrong with this (aside from wanting analogous Republican figures, though Reps may bridle at the showboat aspects of it) – we always hope politicians have public service in mind when they stand for election and there’s no reason at all for them not to continue in service after their terms are over. We’re even fairly sanguine about those who represent a constituency without ever having been elected – think Jesse Jackson or even Elizabeth Edwards. If the downside is the potential of demagoguery at worst and mischief otherwise, the upside is that a Gore or Jackson …

Apollo, Manhattan Project A Marshall Plan for Energy

Working in the online space, rarely do I find myself printing up a document that can be read on the Web. (What is thing you call paper?) It happened this week, after seeing Richard Lester, a professor at MIT, deliver the keynote address at a National Governors Association conference in Philadelphia.

Lester likes nuclear ("Nuclear power is the only carbon-free energy source that is already contributing on a large scale and that is also expandable with few inherent limits."), but it was his coining of a new metaphor (new to me, anyway) to describe the global energy challenges that made me want a hard copy of his illuminating speech.
Some are calling for a crash program by the federal government - a Manhattan Project or an Apollo Project for energy innovation.

These calls helpfully communicate the urgency and the scale of the challenge. But in another sense they are a distraction because, if we take them literally, we will end up solving the wrong problem.

In both the Apollo and…

Waste Wanted

No, we're not talking about chambers of commerce pitching for the building of temporary storage facilities in their districts; we're talking about NASA...and a different kind of spent fuel. From the AP, via Slashdot:
Space program contractor Hamilton Sundstrand is seeking urine from workers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, as part of its work on the new Orion space capsule that eventually would take astronauts to the moon, according to an internal memo posted on the Web site Nasawatch.com.

The need is voluminous: 30 liters a day, which translates into nearly 8 gallons. Even on weekends.

Designers of the Orion, which will park unoccupied in space for up to six months while astronauts work on the moon, have to solve a pressing issue of getting rid of stored urine, said John Lewis, NASA's head of life support systems for Orion.

...NASA has a long-standing tradition of collecting samples from its workers to help design better space toilets because "you can't…

What Becomes a Morlock Most?

A fascinating article in the Guardian by sociology professor Ulrich Beck points up an interesting tidbit about the future risk of Yucca Mountain (or any used fuel repository) far into the future. That is, how do you do you tell people of the far future that there might be danger?The anthropologists recommended the symbol of the skull and crossbones. However, a historian reminded the commission that the skull and crossbones symbolised resurrection for the alchemists, and a psychologist conducted an experiment with three-year-olds: if the symbol was affixed to a bottle they anxiously shouted "poison!", but if it was placed on a wall they enthusiastically yelled "pirates!".The commission mentioned here was appointed by President Bush to explore this issue. The notion of pointing forward 10,000 years and assuming that Yucca Mountain’s purpose will not be well enough understood by people then is of course in the realm of science fiction. While it certainly could be tru…

The NRC Licensing Process

In case you missed it: NEI's Sr. Director of New Plant Deployment, Adrian Heymer, appeared this afternoon on CNBC's Street Signs to discuss the licensing process with Michael Johnson, the NRC's Director of New Reactors. The entire segment can be seen here.

Heymer is optimistic that the application process can be significantly shortened:
Once the first applications have gone in and they've gone through the process and we've incorporated lessons learned and the industry sticks to standardization - a cookie cutter approach - we believe that the licensing process can be done in 'round about 27 months.

Californians Becoming More Favorable to Nuclear Energy

That's according to the San Francisco Chronicle:In a sign that record-high gas prices are changing the way Californians think and live, a new poll shows that state residents are losing their long-held hostility to nuclear power and may even reconsider their opposition to oil drilling off their scenic coast.

For the first time since the 1970s, half of Californians support building more nuclear plants in the state, according to the latest Field Poll, to be released today...Excellent! The article is generating a lot of positive comments too.

Great Discussion about Nuclear Energy Over at NewTalk

What's NewTalk? Well, according to their About page:NewTalk presents focused discussions by experts on the most important domestic topics shaping American society today. We bring together experts in theory, policy and practice—from academics and lawmakers to admired practitioners—to share their diverse perspectives on pressing domestic issues.Two days ago they asked the question: Is Nuclear Power Essential to Addressing Climate Change and Energy Independence? Eleven experts from both sides (pro and con) have so far chimed in with their thoughts. Some of the experts include Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy; Doug Chapin, MPR Associates, Inc.; and Chris Crane, VP at Exelon Corp.

The discussion is only set to last until 5 PM today so get your comments in if you have any to make.

Hat tip to Eric McErlain for the link to the discussion.

Nuclear Power On the Hill, Day 2

On Tuesday it was the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources holding a nuclear energy-related hearing, yesterday the Committee on Environment and Public Works served as Senate host.

The webcast of the hearing, “Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Licensing and Relicensing Processes for Nuclear Plants,” can be seen here.

Appearing before the committee:Dr. Dale Klein - Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory CommissionDr. Gregory B. Jaczko - Commissioner, Nuclear Regulatory CommissionDr. Peter B. Lyons - Commissioner, Nuclear Regulatory CommissionMs. Kristine L. Svinicki - Commissioner, Nuclear Regulatory CommissionMr. Hubert T. Bell - Inspector General, Nuclear Regulatory CommissionMr. David A. Christian - President and Chief Nuclear Officer, DominionMr. Anthony R. Pietrangelo- Vice President for Regulatory Affairs, Nuclear Energy InstituteMr. Richard Webster - Legal Director, Eastern Environmental Law CenterDr. Joseph Romm - Senior Fellow, Center for American ProgressMr. H. John Gilbertson J…

A Little Lesson in Public Relations

Now, many nuclear power plants sit off in the middle of nowhere-in-particular creating those little jolts of electric goodness in relative private, but some roost much closer to population centers. They are seen by people driving by on the highway or zipping by in boats or, in general, going about their business. And one of the more disquieting aspects of the plants are their cooling towers, because the image of cooling towers was so prevalent in the Three Mile Island days and became the dominant image used henceforth in raising fears of nuclear energy. We can guarantee that any filmmaker can make an audience tingle by showing cooling towers in the distance with steam coming out of them (darkened, of course, to make it satanic) and violin driven chords thrumming under the image. Time has done a lot of the job of softening the image of the towers and will continue to do so, but oh, so much more could be done.For example:We’re not sure we love the neon blue ring at top, but otherwise, i…

Tell It on the Mountain

Yucca Mountain, that is, which has been getting something of a rough treatment lately. Fears about storing tons of used nuclear fuel there have been unfounded, and though the Department of Energy has submitted a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency for the big brown mound, political support for it has drained away a bit. The end of the tale is not yet written, of course, and what wanes can also wax. So it is heartening to see some editorials emerging that explicitly supports Yucca Mountain. This one comes from the Daily News, “serving the lower Columbia,” meaning Washington state:Senate leaders, in particular, have shown a determination to block the construction of a national repository for nuclear waste near Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. Last week, a Senate panel cut the administration’s fiscal 2009 budget request for the project from $494.7 million to $386.5 million. If the lower figure holds, it will mark the second straight year that Congress has sliced more than $100 …

New Nuclear Plants Okayed in Florida

A Florida regulatory agency, the Public Service Commission, has unanimously endorsed Progress Energy's proposal to build two new nuclear reactors on a site in Levy County. If approved by state and federal regulators, the two reactors could begin operations by 2016-2017.

Earlier this year, the Public Service Commission expressed unanimous consent on Florida Power & Light's request to build two new reactor units at its Turkey Point plant in Miami-Dade County.

Simple By Comparison

As the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and others have documented, solving the energy-environment challenge today requires contributions from every sector and pursuit of all options. For a perspective on one of those options, carbon capture and storage (CCS), read the piece by Jeff Goodell in the Yale Environment 360 blog. Goodell summarizes a few of the challenges in moving CCS from concept to commercial scale operation. On the size of sequestration facilities needed, Goodell says:Right now, there are three major carbon capture and storage projects in operation in the world (at one of the projects in Saskatchewan, Canada, the CO2 is used to enhance oil and gas recovery; storing the CO2 is secondary). The most significant is the Sleipner Platform in Norway, where StatoilHydro, a big Norwegian oil and gas company, has been pumping nearly one million tons of CO2 into a reservoir beneath the North Sea each year since 1996. It is an enormous engineering project, deploying one of …

Nuclear Power On the Hill

Who says DC is sleepy in the summertime? With two nuclear energy-related hearings scheduled for 10:00 am, the Hill is a busy place this morning. Click on the links below to view webcasts of the testimony.

Financing for Clean Energy Technology
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Witness List:John Denniston - Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersJeffrey Eckel - President & CEO, Hannon ArmstrongJeanine Hull - Counsel, Dykema Gossett PLLCAlexander Karsner - Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy Dan Reicher - Director, Climate Change & Energy Initiatives, Google.OrgNext Steps toward Permanent Nuclear Waste Disposal
House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
Witness List: Shelley Berkley - U.S. Representative, Nevada, 1st DistrictMarvin Fertel - Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer, Nuclear Energy Institute B. John Garrick - Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review BoardAnne George - Commissione…

Great Britain Okays Nuclear Energy

Once, it was dead.A White Paper on energy, released in 2003, described nuclear power as an "unattractive option" and included no plans to replace existing reactors when they closed. Although it left a tiny door ajar open to more nuclear plants, Friends of the Earth said the policy sounded "the death knell" for nuclear power in Britain.One thing you learn in life is not to declare something dead unless there’s no evidence of breath on the mirror.The Prime Minister [Gordon Brown] will set "no upper limit" on the number of nuclear plants that will be built by private companies. That would mean nuclear, which provides about 20 per cent of Britain's electricity, could meet a bigger share after the new generation of nuclear stations come on stream over the next 15 years. This comes via the Independent’s Andrew Grice. While Brown says the sky’s the limit, the number being contemplated currently is eight. Why is this happening now? Well, Tony Blair, the previ…

Nuclear Makes A Worldwide Comeback: Der Spiegel

[Intentional?] Typo aside, a great package on nuclear energy, The Atomic Age Enters a New Dawn, has just gone online over at Der Spiegel.

Other pieces include:The US Goes Nucular: Prefab Reactors and Longer Life-SpansAtomic Turkey: Nuclear Power in the Earthquake ZoneSwitzerland: Putting Nuclear to the VoteUnited Kingdom: The British Atomic 'Green Revolution'Russia Eyes the Atom: The Monologue of Nuclear PowerJapan Unshaken: An Archipelago of Staunch Nuclear SupportersChina's Race for Nuclear: An Energetic NewcomerGermany: The Inexorable Comeback of Nuclear EnergyAn interview with NRG CEO David Crane(Hat tip to Notes reader Joe on the heads-up.)

Shaw Group Announces Record Q3 Earnings

Shaw Group shares popped nearly 10% yesterday after the company announced record third quarter earnings - $53.9 million for the quarter ending in May. Shaw also set quarterly records for revenue ($1.8 billion) and project backlog ($16.4 billion). According to an AP report, Wall Street analysts are bullish,In a note to investors, Citi Investment Research analyst Brian Chin was upbeat on Shaw's results, particularly its nuclear power segment, which he said should see new awards in the next 12 months.

He also said the company should witness "interesting activity" in its nuclear segment from international customers, particularly after a recent agreement allowing sales of civilian nuclear power technology from the U.S. to India.

"Shaw's real opportunity is in South Africa, the (United Kingdom), India and China," Chin wrote. "All four regions could award potential contracts in the next 12 months."

RNC TV Ad on Energy Gets Factchecked

On Monday I posted on the RNC's first TV ad to be released during this presidential campaign. Today, Factcheck.org, the nonpartisan group funded by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, takes a look. An excerpt from their article, "A False Accusation About Energy"
No to "Nuclear"?

We’ve been through this. Obama has not said a flat-out "no" to nuclear, as the ad claims. Instead he has said he is in favor of nuclear energy if it is clean and safe, saying in his energy plan that "it is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table." But it’s true McCain is more aggressive in his support of nuclear power, giving it a prominent place in his energy plan, with the goal of creating 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030 and as many as 100 total. Obama’s energy plan contains no such initiative.

Amory Lovins and His Nuclear Illusion - Final Thoughts

This is my final post (and the longest) in the series that discredits Amory Lovins’ and the Rocky Mountain Institute’s “Nuclear Illusion” paper (pdf). Hopefully this series has opened many eyes to the flaws and inconsistencies of RMI’s claims. Let me briefly summarize the previous posts.

Part One found that “micropower” is primarily made up of decentralized coal and gas plants, the generation from “non-biomass decentralized co-generation plants” (RMI’s main plants for “micropower”) was grossly exaggerated, and the “stunning performance” of nuclear’s “true competitors” was not backed up by RMI’s own sources.

Part Two showed that RMI’s “micropower” data don’t fit their own definition of “micropower”. Not only that, small plants aren’t the only way to go especially since bigger power plants in general yield greater efficiencies and economies of scale.

Part Three explained that energy efficiency and “negawatts” will not necessarily reduce demand and in fact strong evidence suggests it will m…

Blog Traffic

A big thank you to NEI Notes readers for making June a record setting month for traffic. Compared to May, Unique Visitors were up 42% and Page Views rose 27%.

The fact that such a spike occurred during a month where Internet usage sees a seasonal decline is all the more remarkable.

June's Top 10 most-read posts:1. Obama's Energy Address in Las Vegas
2. Amory Lovins and His Nuclear Illusion – Part One (The Art of Deception)
3. The Wall Street Journal Energy Report
4. The Sunshine Patriot
5. John McCain’s Energy Speech
6. Lieberman-Warner: "Leave No Fuel Behind"
7. Barbara Boxer Embraces Nuclear Power
8. The Truth About Government Subsidies for Energy Sources
9. How many nuclear plants does it take to meet the world's energy needs?
10. Germany, Merkel Rethinking Nuclear Power

Obama Surrogates on Nuclear Power

Obama surrogates Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) discussed the RNC's "Balance" ad with reporters in a just-completed conference call. Below is a transcription of the final question asked during the Q&A.Hi, it's Susan Demas, again, from MIRS newsletter. The ad says that Senator Obama is against nuclear power and I was wondering what his position is on nuclear and I was also wondering if an increase in nuclear power could help your states with providing jobs.

This is Josh Earnest with the [Obama] campaign. I can take the first part of that. As you point out, that is a very misleading attack against Senator Obama's proposals. What he has said is that he wants to work to find a safe way to store the waste that is generated by nuclear energy production. And once we can do that, he would be supportive of considering expanding nuclear options to increase our energy capacity in this country.

I'll leave it …

Obama, McCain on Nuclear Energy: The TV Ads

As an admitted media-obsessed political junkie, I enjoy watching any political ad; if there were campaign ads out there by candidates running for dog catcher, I'd probably watch 'em. With advertising budgets a bit bigger and the stakes a whole lot larger, the presidential campaign ads are, for me, must-see viewing.

The first RNC TV spot to be released, "Balance," has really caught my eye. Perhaps it was just pure nostalgia - that 1970's Social Studies class filmstrip aesthetic really took me back. (Here's a helpful Wiki link to "Filmstrip" for those under the age of 30.) More likely it was the ad's claim that Obama has said "No to Nuclear Power." The creators cite a Newton, Iowa Town Hall event from Dec. 31, 2007 as the source for quotation.

A couple of quibbles: the event happened on Dec. 30th, not the 31st. More significantly, the full transcript shows Obama supporting nuclear energy at the end of his response to the questioner.I have …

The Pushmi-Pullyu of Nuclear Politics

Not here, where roses bloom and politics is the sport of gentlemen </snark>, but Germany. We noted the other day (scroll down – lots of good reading) that Germany was experiencing some buyers’ remorse over its decision to pull the plug on nuclear energy and that the prime minister, Angela Merkel, was beginning to signal a turnabout in policy.But politics is politics. Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats, are roughly comparable to America’s Republicans – that is, conservative leaning - and the Social Democrats to Democrats – liberal leaning, perhaps a bit more toward classical socialism than the Dems. Smaller, single-issue, regional and fringy parties usually form coalitions with the more like-minded of the big two. So, the Greens, the enviro-(friendly/extreme – your choice) party, usually works with the Social Democrats. However, the governing coalition now consists of both big parties, rather like the Dems and Reps hanging out together.  The result would please Dr. Dolittle…