Wednesday, March 29, 2006

NAM: Time for America to Emulate French Nuclear Program

In the wake of yesterday's front page story in the Wall Street Journal on the French commercial nuclear energy program, Pat Cleary over at the NAM Blog had this to say:

Here in the US, it's a different story. We remain hamstrung by some pretty lousy policy choices we've made on energy. The enviros have all but achieved a moratorium on nuclear plants here. They don't want us to drill for oil, or for natural gas, or to mine -- or burn -- coal either, by the way. And so we sit and watch our energy prices soar while our competitors can only look at us and scratch their heads. We are the only country that restricts access to its own natural resources. Who else among our competitors would be dumb enough to do that?
Not China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan, that's for sure.

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8 comments:

David Bradish said...

That is so true, and it's projected to get worse with natural gas.

Right now the U.S. imports about 15% of its gas consumption. 85% is from Canada. Our source is stable and we don't feel the gas markets from around the world.

That's projected to change over the next 25 years. Canada gas supply will slow down quite a bit and our LNG imports are expected to rocket. Because of the LNG imports, the U.S. will be subject to much more of the world gas market and have to compete with Japan, China and India. It will be a disadvantage for the U.S. because we'll have to pay much more transportation costs.

Check out EIA's AEO 2006 Figure 74 chart (pdf):

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/
aeo/pdf/trend_4.pdf

Natural gas could become the next oil for the U.S.

Robert Schwartz said...

The story was interesting, but it was written in the standard MSM template for nuclear energy stories: 1) always interview somebody from greenpeace, 2) report minor technical glitches as if they prove something, 3) always mention Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, if only to dismiss them -- you must keep the memory alive, 4) always discuss solar and wind as if they were viable alternatives, and 5) always throw some allegations about childhood leukemia in to the story.

I am sure there are a few more items that I missed, but they are never left out. Is there a reason why the MSM is dying on the vine, is it radiation damage, or is it that the factual content of what they report is always overwhelmed by the pre-digested prejudice and the simple minded fill in the mad-libs stories.

Starvid, Sweden said...

They should also write about the French TGV programme.

Profitable government financed and owned trains that swosh past in 320 km/h.

Byebye long range car and air voyages, bye bye oil consumption.

Another thing for the US to emulate.

Paul Primavera said...

Starvid,

That's quite interesting:

le Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV)
http://www.o-keating.com/hsr/tgv.htm

We could and should use nuclear power to generate electricity to power a high speed rail system to reduce dependency on the automobile.

I imagine that without nuclear power and TGV, France would likely have collapsed long ago under the onerous burden of its socialist economic programs. These indeed are two of its success stories, presently marred by the Moslem riots of last year:

2005 civil unrest in France
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Paris_suburb_riots

and the current youth riots of today:

Paris braced for more riots over employment protests
http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article354059.ece

Starvid, Sweden said...

Centralization and strict technocratic government control does work well in certain situations when massive ultra-capital-intensive investments have to be made, for example in transportation and power generation. But it either requires a strong executive power or political consensus, things that are quite lacking in the US. The federalism of the US vs. the centralism of France makes it even harder to make such things work.

Does anyone believe the US net of superhighways would ever have been built without massive government support?
Hardly.

If I were president (and had congress on a tight leash etc etc all damn checks and balances) I would create a government owned power company (let's call it American Energy) and order a batch of 50 new nuclear reactors.

Then I'd sell those reactors to private power companies (expensively) and use the profits to give the US a useful centrally managed continental power grid. One that does not break down spectacularily all the time like the current which is in deep disrepair.

If I haven't yet been burned at the stake by the prophets of neoliberalism I'd spend a few hundred billion dollars to build TGV across the whole US and connect all major cities (hey, it's just the cost for a few months in Iraq anyways).

Then I'd order 200 more reactors.

Taxes are too low in the US anyways. ;)

Paul Primavera said...

Starvid,

You said, "If I haven't yet been burned at the stake by the prophets of neoliberalism..."

Sadly, either that or crucifixion is what happens to people who make too much sense (being forced to drink hemlock, too, but that just means that you are in august company).

I disagree with socialist policies, but you have made a valid and cogent argument for government involvement in major infrastructure development (e.g., new nuclear power plants, massive railroad transportation system).

I am reminded of what my favorite author once wrote:

"Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure 'good' government; it simply insures that it will work. But such governments are rare--most people want to run things but want no part of the blame: This used to be called the 'backseat-driver syndrome.'

I fear that politicians in both France and the US "want no part of the blame", especially when they ARE to blame.

gunter said...

The "onerous burden of its socialist economic programs," indeed, is most graphically detailed by Frances nuclear power program.

Brian Mays said...

Yes, I see your point. France would be much better off if it was even more dependent on natural gas from Russia or if it imported electricity from across its boarders. It's a socialist economic disaster of the highest order that the French people have been robbed of these things. It is no wonder that they protest all of the time.

The Italians would be better off too, since they would not have to suffer the humiliation of buying so much of their electricity from France.