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Showing posts from August, 2008

Obama Finds a Place at the Table for Nuclear Power

"As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced."

We'll take it. Now, on to St. Paul.

Mile-High or Invesco? You choose.

Nuclear Energy to Power the Future

Shannon Love over at Chicago Boyz sums it up nicely on why nuclear energy will power the future:... We need to grow up and accept reality. We’ve exhausted the limits of chemical energy. Using biomass, solar and wind power represents a reversion to older and weaker sources of power. Instead, we need to follow the natural progression of technology and use nuclear energy. With our current and near-future technology, only nuclear power can give us the amount of energy we need, where and when we need it.

I think it important to emphasize that we would need to move to nuclear energy even if we had an infinite supply of fossil fuels and an infinite carbon dioxide sink. Fossil fuels just don’t have the energy density we will need moving into the future. We can no more power the 21st Century with fossil fuels than we could have powered the 20th Century using nothing but wood. Only nuclear power provides energy in sufficient density to power the future...Sounds like she's been reading The Bo…

"Energy Killers" Watch Out

Below are some provocative statements from Roy Innis' latest book Energy Keepers-Energy Killers: The New Civil Rights Battle. RedOrbit has the highlights:Roy Innis, chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, has come out swinging against "elitist" environmentalists, politicians, and the nonprofit foundations that fund them for promoting "energy racism" by cutting off access to fossil fuels in the US and pushing up energy prices. "They cause poor families to lose their homes. They make life tougher for families who've worked, struggled, and sacrificed to join the middle class. Then they throw out crumbs that make us beggars at the American banquet," Innis said in his book Energy Keepers-Energy Killers: The New Civil Rights Battle, published by Merril Press. "The fight over energy is the critical civil rights battle of our era," said Innis. "Simply put, energy transforms the civil rights enshrined in our Constitution into civil righ…

First U.S. Nuclear Components Facility to Be Built in Louisiana

The economic ripples of the nuclear renaissance become a bit more tidal today as Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal announced a joint venture between Westinghouse and the Shaw Group to build the first module fabrication and assembly facility in the U.S.focused on constructing components for new and modified nuclear reactors.Here's some more:In addition to constructing components for new and modified nuclear reactors, the new Lake Charles facility [Lake Charles is about 60 miles west of Baton Rouge] will have the capability to manufacture modules for chemical sites and petrochemical plants around the world. It will create at least 1,400 jobs in Lake Charles over the next five years at an average salary of $50,000 plus benefits.We suspect the part of the business devoted to chemical plant elements might decrease as nuclear plant mod building increases, but Shaw could add employees as necessary, too. And the real money quotes:According to an economic impact analysis performed by Louisia…

Australia's Big Coal Ad Against Nuclear Power

Rod Adams received this ad from a fellow blogger the other day and posted about it.It is a very straightforward effort by the coal industry to scare people about nuclear power - not really so much about the typical aspects of nuclear power that some try to use to instill fear, but the threat that nuclear power poses to coal mining jobs.

This kind of ad can only work in a place like Queensland that has a high concentration of miners, but it supports my theory that a lot of what you read about energy needs to be viewed in the context of knowing that it is the world's largest and often most lucrative business. Competition over market share is often the hidden motive behind the emotionally laden messages from all kinds of different people.Depleted Cranium picked up on Rod's post and shared these thoughts:The thing I especially like about this is that it singles out nuclear as a threat to coal. Wind? Solar? Oh those are no threat. Build as many wind turbines as you want. Build solar…

Where the Chips Fall

We sometimes say here that the viability of nuclear energy from a public opinion perspective is ever improving. The reason we say that is that we look at polls that tell us so. Now, NEI-sponsored polls, although they're as honestly conducted as can be - NEI really can't learn anything about its effectiveness by playing tricks - can still be viewed by some with a fishy eye. Any poll taken by an interested party on any subject can be seen as suspect - we've all seen polls that do not seem to correlate to any known reality. (Which doesn't mean we won't encourage you to take a look at NEI's public opinion efforts -er, click here, in other words.)But here are numbers from rather more disinterested parties that show the how our fellow citizens view the state of building new nuclear energy plants:53 percent said that we should build more nuclear power plants; 31 percent said we should not (NBC News/Wall Street Journal August 2008).

51 percent favored building more n…

How Does Food Irradiation Work?

Ever since the FDA approved the use of irradiation on leafy greens last week, I've been curious to find out how irradiation works as well as its drawbacks. Where does anyone start when they want to find basic information on any topic? Wikipedia, of course.Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation in order to destroy micro-organisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food.

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The genuine effect of processing food by ionizing radiation relates to damages to the DNA, the basic genetic information for life. Micro-organisms can no longer proliferate and continue their malignant or pathogen activities.

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By irradiating food, depending on the dose, some or all of the harmful bacteria and other pathogens present are killed. This prolongs the shelf-life of the food in cases where microbial spoilage is the limiting factor.

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Food irradiation using Cobalt-60 is the preferred method by most processors, because the deeper penetration enables…

Black Is the New Green

We don't read USA Today as much as we might - too colorful, ink doesn't adhere to our hands - but a story on coal and Peabody Energy was full of interesting content and can be found on the web here. This popped out at us:
"There's a perception out there that coal is dirty, and we have to change that," he [Chairman and CEO Gregory Boyce] adds, noting that coal plants already have cut emissions of some pollutants and boosted efficiency to slash CO2 discharges. "Black is the new green."
Now, we know what you're thinking, but read the whole article first, then think again and - er, share in comments, won't you?

Picture of Anthracite. Pretty, isn't it?

Some NEI Goodness for Your Reading Pleasure

We here at Nuclear Notes don't link a lot to the massive resources created by NEI because our purpose is to explore the world of nuclear energy (and other renewable energy sources) both within and without the purview of NEI central. And most of our visitors are, or should be, familiar with NEI and its work. However, that doesn't mean NEI isn't an extremely important advocate for the cause of nuclear energy or that we shouldn't let you in on some of its offerings.

First, we noticed that Market Watch has posted one of NEI's Fact Sheets. Here is how they describe it:

The Nuclear Energy Institute has developed a two-page fact sheet to assist reporters covering energy issues at the Democrat National Convention in Denver. It provides information explaining why commercial nuclear power is a vital part of the American energy portfolio needed to meet rapidly growing electricity demand in clean and reliable fashion. NEI is the nuclear energy …

Joe Biden on Nuclear Energy

The nice thing about Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden as his running mate is that the latter ran for president himself this cycle and thus piled up a stack of interviews in which he gave his views on - well, everything. If Obama had anything to worry about with Biden on nuclear energy, he may rest easy:What role do you see for nuclear power? I see a role for nuclear, but first you've got to deal with the security as well as the safety concerns. I'd be spending a whole hell of a lot of money trying to figure out how to reconfigure the spent fuel into reusable fuel. I would not invest in [growing our nuclear power capacity in its current form], but I would invest in sorting out the storage and waste problems. Sounds a lot like - Obama. On other issues, the Indian media seems pleased because Biden has been a major supporter of the agreement allowing nuclear technologies and materials to flow between India and the United States. This is mildly controversial because India ha…

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here

Sometimes, you just have to do for yourself, so if you want nuclear power, you build a reactor. The Wall Street Journal's Sam Schnecter reports on a group of science fiction fans and amateur scientists who are working on home-based fusion reactors:Getting into their elite "Neutron Club" requires building a tabletop reactor that successfully fuses hydrogen isotopes and glows like a miniature star. Only 42 have qualified; some have T-shirts that read "Fusion -- been there...done that."Like many such projects, it has its quixotic side, since fusion works well for, oh, the sun, but practical applications are harder to come by:But they won't be powering homes anytime soon - for now, fusors use far more energy than they produce. [Fusors are the tabletop reactors.]For now and likely, for the foreseeable future. But that's not the point. This is something that you do because it can be done, it fascinates you, and into the bargain, it acts as a highly specific …

Bees Descend Upon a Nuclear Plant in Britain

Here's something you don't ever read about:Nuclear sites are often havens for wildlife, but Britain's Sellafield proved too popular recently when a swarm of 40,000 bees descended on its Waste Encapsulation Plant. The main entrance near where the bees had gathered was immediately closed, and pest control specialists were summoned to neutralise the insect threat. However, the tiny creatures were saved from doom by the quick thinking of Tony Calvin, manufacturing manager at the neighbouring Magnox Encapsulation Plant. An amateur bee-keeper for ten years, Calvin raced home to fetch his specialised equipment before tempting the swarm to a new hive and moving them to a more becoming environment.

CBS: FDA OKs Radiation To Kill Germs In Leafy Greens

How cool is this?The government will allow food producers to start zapping fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce with just enough radiation to kill E. coli and other dangerous germs, a key safety move amid increasing outbreaks from raw produce.

Irradiated meat has been around for years, particularly ground beef that is a favorite hiding spot for E. coli. Spices also can be irradiated.

But there had long been concern that zapping leafy greens with X-rays or other means of radiation would leave them limp. Not so with today's modern techniques.

The Food and Drug Administration determined that irradiation indeed can kill food-poisoning germs and even lengthen the greens' shelf life without compromising the safety or nutrient value of raw spinach and lettuce. The new regulation goes into effect Friday. ...
Radiation saves lives. Maybe that should be our next motto.

Hat tip to Eric McErlain!

T. Boone Pickens and the Politics of Wind: What Texas Wants

Recommendation 1: Recognizing that the combination of incentives and competitive market forces in place in Texas resulted in more rapid investment in wind energy than in any other state, Texas should promote the competitive marketplace by neither increasing nor removing the mandates for renewable energy.That comes from 2008 Texas State Energy Plan (warning: big pdf). The report has 37 recommendations and seems to leave nothing out of its energy mix. Nuclear energy appears at number 4:Recommendation 4: To encourage the development of nuclear power in Texas, the [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] should expedite necessary water and wastewater permits associated with new nuclear power plants. While all design and site permits reside with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ensuring that these state permits do not delay development is critical.And there are entries for clean coal, carbon sequestration, solar, and others. (Hydro not so much, but it does earn a touching tribute fro…

Safe, Secure and Vital: Securing America’s Nuclear Power Plants

FOX News, on this evening’s Special Report with Brit Hume, is expected to examine the security of America’s commercial nuclear power plants. Marvin Fertel, NEI’s executive vice president and chief nuclear officer, is one of the experts on security who discussed security with FOX News correspondent Julie Banderas.

Security in our post 9-11 world is an issue that can be used to unnecessarily alarm citizens if the complete—and complex—picture is not assessed. Some critics of the nuclear industry contend that not enough has been done to enhance security as nuclear power plants. Some even claim that Khalid Sheik Muhammad said that nuclear plants were one of the possible targets on 9/11.
In reality, terrorists often mention nuclear plants, chemical facilities, agriculture and government buildings because it is their purpose to scare people. But terrorists usually will avoid a hard target like a nuclear plant.

However, 7 out of 10 people believe that U.S. nuclear power plants are saf…

Should Nuclear Plants be Owned by the State?

Jerome a Paris has publishedthe same postat several locations making a case that nuclear plants should be financed and owned by the government:As we see news of the possible (and increasingly likely) bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae by the US Treasury, I am reminded of something that I have been writing about nuclear energy, ie that it should be financed by the State, and I'd like to extend on why I think there are fascinating similarities between the two topics, however distinct they may seem.

My point about nuclear is that it is a capital intensive form of power generation, ie that the main component of the cost of the electricity produced is the long term amortisation (or financing) of the upfront investment. That means that the single most important driver of the cost of nuclear energy is the interest rate applied. In turn, that suggests that the easiest way to lower the cost of nuclear energy is to give it access to State funding, given how the State will always be the en…

The Favor Jane Fonda Did Nuclear Energy

About as counterintuitive as can be, William Tucker over at the New York Times' Freakonomics blog argues that The China Syndrome was a net positive for the nuclear industry.Why? Because the movie accurately portrayed what could go wrong in a plant of that time and TMI, happening less than two weeks after the release of the film into theaters, acted as a real-life correlative:At Three Mile Island things were much worse [than in the movie, where a stuck gauge causes all the problems]. Nothing on the control panel told the operators the level of cooling water in the reactor. Reading other gauges incorrectly, they mistakenly drained the core. The result was a partial meltdown.One does wonder if the operators needed the "missing" gauge if they'd read the gauges they did have correctly, but Tucker is essentially correct. You can read a detailed explanation of the Three Mile Island accident here and here. (NEI and NRC - Wikipedia is kind of barren on it.)After TMI, plants …

Nuclear Plant Workers Averaged the Lowest Radiation Dose Ever in a Year in 2007

From the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s compilation of 2007 nuclear power plant worker doses at U.S. reactors shows the average annual collective dose per plant is 97 person-rem, the lowest ever, and is two-thirds of the dose recorded 10 years ago. To determine a plant's collective dose, hundreds of workers’ individual doses are added up and the result is expressed in person-rem. The average American receives a dose of about 360 millirem every year from all radiation sources; the average nuclear plant worker in recent years received about an additional 160 millirem each year on the job. NRC regulations allow workers at nuclear power plants to safely receive a job-related dose of up to 5,000 millirem each year.Here is a chart of the data since 1973.

"This Nuclear Energy" - Welcome, Malaysia

We've welcomed a good number of countries to the nuclear family, enough by now to think we've filled in our entire stamp book (well, except for Vanuatu - they seem more like hydro people - nice stamps, though). Now, there's Malaysia, a country split between the mainland and an island it shares with Indonesia, with the South China Sea between the halves. Malaysia is multi-cultural (though mostly ethnically Malay, at about 60%) and multi-religious (although mostly Muslim, again at 60%, mostly the Malays). Unlike the Arab countries that have taken an interest in nuclear energy, Malaysia does not seem at all motivated by Iran's activities. Instead, worries about oil predominate."This nuclear energy is vital following the increase in the world fuel price and our limited oil reserve. Moreover, nuclear energy is cheap and clean," [Science, Technology and Innovation minister Maximus Ongkili said.]We can't decide which we like more: the idea of a Science, Technol…

Nuclear Power for Journalists with a Bias

The Society of Environmental Journalists (or SEJ) is an organization whose members "envision an informed society through excellence in environmental journalism."

In an era where the term "media bias" is thrown about as liberally as flour in an authentic Italian pizzeria, it is good to find that there exists an organization whose vision and mission is to help dispel this image. Part of that effort involves an annual conference, which this year is being held in Roanoke, Virginia, and according to their web site will have a session taking up the controversial issue of nuclear power.

This session, entitled "Nuclear Power - from Ore to Volts" is aimed at demystifying nuclear power for the journalist by looking at the “five stages in the life of nuclear power: mining, processing ore, enrichment of uranium to commercial or weapons grade, fuel fabrication, and utilization in a nuclear power plant.”

It sounds like a great idea, except when you look at the list of spe…

Pawlenty, Obama Surrogate Spar Over Energy

The Wheeler News Service, a Wisconsin-based wire service, reports on Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's appearance at U Dub in Madison on Monday,...Pawlenty makes the pitch for John McCain, whose focus on energy includes the nuclear option.

"It's going to take a federal government and a president that is open to it," Pawlenty said of the possibility of new nuclear plants being built in the U.S.

"The outcome of this election will determine that outcome. I believe that if Barack Obama gets elected, he will slam the door shut on these options."

But Obama spokesman Phil Walczak says Obama does not oppose nuclear power. Obama supports "safe, secure nuclear energy," says Walczak.

"He understands that any longterm energy policy for this country is going to have to include many components, including a nuclear one."

The Economist Hosts a Debate on the "Global Energy Crisis"

I don't know about calling it a crisis but over the next ten days, The Economist will be hosting a debate on whether "we can solve our energy problems with existing technologies today, without the need for breakthrough innovations.” Anyone can sign up and leave comments. Rod Adams and Charles Barton have already shared some of their thoughts.

The Plan for Nuclear Energy by the Senate's "Gang of Ten"

American Thinker lays out the Gang of Ten's initiatives for developing nuclear energy in the US:A new faction within the US Senate, the "Gang of 10", have put forward a set of energy policy proposals that they see as a compromise between the "soft energy path" types like Speaker Pelosi and the "hard energy" hawks like Newt Gingrich.

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First, they want to subsidize "workforce training." ... Secondly, they propose to encourage research and development of nuclear fuel recycling ... [And third,] the real red meat in the proposal is the tax change to the depreciation schedule for new nuclear power plants.Check it out.

T. Boone Pickens and the Politics of Wind

The reason to pay attention to T. Boone Pickens and his plan to replace natural gas with wind energy so as to divert the natural gas to automobiles is two-fold: he’s really rich and has the funds to build a constituency for his ideas; and he aims to cut through a perceived government blockage on energy policy by insisting on an approach – his own - that can be implemented now and has – he says - many positive qualities. He means to short-circuit the larger arguments around energy, cut through competing policy proposals, and get the American people behind a plan that is concrete and reasoned – and his. Put that way, Pickens might seem profoundly undemocratic, depending as he does on droit de seigneur to push to the head of the line while opposition crumbles due to the logic and fineness of his ideas. He still has to get people to buy in to his plan – without actually buying them off, which would be problematic - and government has to cede its role in policy formation to him. Many big …

"Wind Power Brings Prosperity, Anger"

Let me put up my usual disclaimer first: I am not against developing and installing wind power or any other renewable source of energy.

That said, I am passionately against claims by ardent antinuclear activists that wind, solar, and biofuels are the ultimate panaceas to our energy needs.

Each energy technology has its pros and cons but if we take a realistic look at our energy needs and if we evaluate different technologies with the same set of objective criteria we will find that we need them all. We need to thoughtfully deploy them in ways that optimize our use of natural resources, land and private and public investment while minimizing the impact to the environment and to the economy.

This article on CNN demonstrates that finding that optimization is not going to be easy. While some paint wind power as a benign power sources, there are people who abhor the impact it has had on their lives:

Yancey knows the towers are pumping clean electricity into the grid, knows they have been large…

Let the Sun Shine In

While we wouldn’t mind having a few fuel rods in the basement to fulfill all our electricity needs, the likelihood of that happening in the near term is, um, poor. However, solar panels are available now and unlike mini-windmills, which only show kids what the days of TV-aerial-choked rooftops looked like, panels can sit flat upon rooftops. Jimmy Carter famously installed panels in the White House (His successor, Ronald Reagan, took them out; who’s laughing now?), but they’re back. It’s like a comeback, only not a Norma Desmond-crazy kind of comeback.We bring this all up to point you to a site we’ve seen at a couple ofother sites – quite the cannibalizers, we – which allows you to locate your house or the house you’d like to own to see how plausible it is for you to fuel your big screen TV and Wii with solar panels. The site encourages you to sign up if you want it to save your work, but you can play around with it without giving any personal data. We tried several possibilities: Mor…

Is it Safe? More on Obama, McCain and Yucca Mountain

One of our astute readers noticed that the Obama ad we posted the other day unfairly dinged McCain for not supporting transport of used nuclear fuel through Arizona. Jon Ralston over the the Las Vegas Sun takes up the cudgel. Here’s a fuller context, quoted by Ralston:[Sam] Shad[, host of Nevada Newsmakers]: “Would you be comfortable with nuclear waste coming through Arizona on its way, you know going through Phoenix, on its way to Yucca Mountain?”McCain: “No, I would not. No, I would not. I think it can be made safe.”(We merged Ralston’s version a little to fully contextualize the quote.) The Obama ad doesn’t include that last line, and Ralston assumes McCain misheard the question as asking him whether he would object to fuel being transported through Arizona. Fair enough, though a little ambiguous – one could say the missing line indicates McCain is playing the same “safe” card as does Obama. And there’s more along those line. Ralston notes that McCain might be hedging a bit now th…

The Long Haul

In establishing a tripartite national government, the Founding Fathers bequeathed us a very inefficient form of government. Friction between the legislative, executive and judicial branches slows the pace at which major changes proceed through our highly viscous political system. Fundamental changes in national direction arise over decades, not days. Economic and business columnist Robert J. Samuelson discusses this in his August 13, 2008 column, "The Great Energy Confusion", in The Washington Post. Samuelson observes, for example, that: "...with a growing population and the existing stock of vehicles and buildings, even good policies and technological breakthroughs will only gradually shift our energy consumption. In the government's projection, renewable energy (wind, solar, some biomass) grows seven times faster than average energy use; still, it's only 7 percent of total consumption by 2030." He also notes that: "any serious effort to curb oil u…

5th Anniversary of the 2003 Northeast Blackout

Some reflections from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC):On August 14, 2003, the North American electric grid experienced the largest blackout in its history, leaving over 50 million people across Southeastern Canada and the Northeastern U.S. without power. On this, the event’s fifth anniversary, North American Electric Reliability Corporation President and CEO, Rick Sergel, highlights the progress that has been made and new challenges ahead for ensuring reliability:

“In the mid-afternoon of August 14, 2003, the electric system reached a breaking point: trees contacted four separate transmission lines in Ohio – quickly taking the lines out of service; automatic controls sensed the disturbance and unnecessarily took additional lines out of service; failed computer systems left operators with inaccurate system information for hours before being addressed; and grid monitoring tools were not able to assess conditions quickly enough for operators to react.

“With the s…

Do Wind Turbines Cause Adverse Health Effects?

This claim is a bit bogus in my opinion but Dr. Nina Pierpont in NY is set to publish a book next month that claims "living close to wind turbines ... can cause sleep disorders, difficulty with equilibrium, headaches, childhood "night terrors" and other health problems."

Since a doctor makes these claims I guess these health hazards must be real ... not necessarily. Needless to say, the nuclear industry dealswith this kind of stuffday in and day out. I wonder how the wind folks will react to these types of claims.

Wind advocates, welcome to a whole new game of PR!

Judd Gregg Calls for Expansion of Nuclear Power

In a meeting with editors from the Keene Sentinel, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg (R) had some interesting things to say about nuclear energy's future in the state and Senate.“If we move forward aggressively with the policy of producing more American energy and conserving more American energy, and show the world that we’re serious about the supply side, that will lead to further reduction in the price of oil,” Gregg said. “And that will take pressure off the economy, which is really reeling from the huge increase in energy costs.”

The energy policies of those in government are beginning to move in a similar direction despite partisan differences, he said.

“There’s always been consensus on conservation and renewables,” Gregg said. “Now we’re seeing some consensus develop around production.”

Along with gas, and oil from offshore drilling, Gregg said nuclear energy should have a role.

“We have not lost a single life to nuclear power in this country,” Gregg said. “We are running nuclear…

Tim Kaine Promotes Energy Plan

Addressing the Southern Governors' Association on Monday, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine called for southern states to develop a regional, comprehensive energy plan to address climate change. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch,"The issue of energy and how we will we provide power for homes, businesses, transportation has gone from a back-burner issue to a front-burner issue -- thank goodness," Kaine told a meeting of the Southern Governors' Association on the final day of its annual conference, held at The Greenbrier resort. "There is no doubt that the science shows that climate change is happening."

Kaine, the incoming chairman of the 16-state SGA, said regional consensus on a policy is necessary to wield more clout in Washington.

"We shouldn't be absent at the table as the federal framework is being hammered out.
With 26 of the nation's 65 nuclear power plant sites located in states with governors in the SGA, I think it's safe to say that nuclear…

Nuclear Cheese from Wisconsin

Well, cheese, yes, and delicious cheese at that, perhaps created with help from electricity generated by the Dominion-owned Kewaunee nuclear plant, but we mean the  endorsement of nuclear energy coming from Governor Jim Doyle and the cheesiness of the odd hedging Doyle engaged in to get to it.Doyle said Friday in a conference call organized by the Obama campaign that he agrees with Obama that nuclear power should be considered. Actively endorsing the consideration of nuclear power is a change for Doyle, who previously emphasized his position that the first new plant in the country won't be built in Wisconsin.Presumably, Doyle is leaving the door open to reverse his position if the political winds shift against it, but it seems a not very coherent stance. The first new plant will be built when a company gets NRC approval and breaks ground. That’s unlikely to be Wisconsin – none of the license applications pending or in progress are for a plant there - so Doyle’s statement makes no…

Obama on Yucca Mountain

We already knew from the Democratic debate in Nevada that Barack Obama had no use for Yucca Mountain, but despite this, and John McCain’s support of the brown mound, McCain and Obama are within a couple points of each other. Now, Obama is trying to close the deal, using Yucca Mountain as the wedge. Well, what can we say? We either leave use nuclear fuel scattered around the country – it’s mostly held at the individual plants – or we put it in a similarly remote locale that’s not in a battleground state. Yucca Mountain may well come to represent the dangers of any long-term project subject to the hot winds of political fortune – no matter the overall good it represents. Much the same argument could be made for humming windmill farms or solar panel arrays that mar the fine landscape of some state no matter how far away from people they are.But Obama’s position has been consistent – it’s certainly legitimate to show how it differs from McCain’s, and the ad is admittedly effective in havin…

Council on Foreign Relations Studies Nuclear Power Expansion

The nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations surveys the economic and political landscape of nuclear energy in an article, Challenges for Nuclear Power Expansion, written by Toni Johnson.
Even with these challenges, some still believe climate change policy will soon make nuclear power more competitive. James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, said in a 2007 CFR symposium that when the life cycle cost of nuclear is accounted for, nuclear power "is still the best way to produce electricity with zero greenhouse gases from the actual operation"—even compared with energy sources such as wind. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in May 2008 that a carbon price of between $20 and $45 per ton, which many projections say is feasible, would make nuclear competitive with coal.

But other experts point to a climate change policy model (PDF) that indicates at least 700 gigawatts in additional capacity would be needed for nuclear power to make any measureable additional contributi…