Wednesday, May 31, 2006

NEI Nuclear Performance Report (April 2006)

Here's a summary of U.S. nuclear plant performances last month:

For April 2006, NEI estimates the average net capacity factor reached 80.6%. This figure is 5.1 percentage points higher than the same one month period in 2005. NEI estimates monthly nuclear generation at 56.9 billion kilowatthours for April 2006 compared to 55.1 BkWh for the same one month period in 2005.

For 2006, NEI estimates year to date nuclear generation at 255.1 billion kilowatt-hours compared to 247.5 BkWh in 2005 (3.1 percent increase).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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NEI Energy Markets Report (May 22nd - 26th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices were decreasing in the West and mixed to decreasing throughout the rest of the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices at the Henry Hub fell $0.21 to $5.92/MMBtu (see page 4).

Uranium prices (from UxC and TradeTech) were unchanged at $43.00/lb U3O8 (see page 7).

Nuclear capacity availability was at 85 percent last week. Three units were in refueling outages, three units completed refueling outages last week and eight units were shutdown for maintenance (see pages 2 and 3).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Tom Faranda.

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Canada Needs More Nuclear Energy

Or so says Stephen Aplin of Ottawa. Stop by and see what he has to say.

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Nuclear Energy Debate at Daily Kos

News from Australia of a potential breakthrough in uranium enrichment, has set off an interesting discussion on the merits of nuclear energy over at the Daily Kos. Take a look when you get a chance, as nuclear energy gets more support than you might think.

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Gov. Engler on Nuclear Energy

Over in the Detroit News, John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, made a pitch for expanding the use of nuclear energy as a way to take some pressure off of America's manufacturing base:

Deep-water exploration for oil and natural gas, constructing new refineries, developing clean-coal technologies, conservation and biofuels are all key parts of the equation, but our country needs to pursue every viable option. In the long term, nuclear power -- efficient and safe -- holds promise as a major source of electricity.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act took valuable steps to encourage investments in nuclear power, but there is much more to be done. To maintain our global competitiveness and help create more American jobs, we must modernize the nuclear energy infrastructure. This will not only relieve the pressure on natural gas prices by freeing up supply, but will also provide the energy security that is essential for a robust economy.
Read the rest right now. And be sure to stop by NAM Blog.

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Greenpeace's Freudian Eco-Slip

From Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing.

"This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the "threat" posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all: "In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

Had Greenpeace been hacked by a nuke-loving Bush fan? Or was this proof of Greenpeace fear-mongering?

The aghast Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, said a colleague was making a joke by inserting the language in a draft that was then mistakenly released.

"Given the seriousness of the issue at hand, I don't even think it's funny," Smith said.

The final version did not mention Armageddon. It just warned of plane crashes and reactor meltdowns.
I'm sure you're all as shocked as I am. Or maybe not...

Thanks to Radley Balko for the pointer.

UPDATE: Looks like the word is getting out, as the Competitive Enterprise Institute blog, Open Market, has picked up on this news too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More blogs are picking this up, including Instapundit (that'll leave a mark). And here's a post from Texas Rainmaker noticed too. And here's another one.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And the hits keep coming! Click here, here, here, here and here. And don't miss takes from Coyote Blog, The Consumerist, As Far as I Have Gone and Nick Schweitzer.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

Alex Marion will fill the newly created role of executive director of nuclear operations and engineering at NEI, effective June 1. He currently serves as senior director of engineering and has been with the Institute since its formation in 1994.

David Frank has joined Entergy as its vice president for supply chain management and chief procurement officer. Most recently, Frank directed Exelon Corp.’s strategic supply chain management operations.

Donald Schneider has been named vice president of energy delivery for FirstEnergy Corp., effective June 1. He has been with the company since 1982, most recently as vice president of commodity operations. Ali Jamshidi, current vice president of the energy delivery group, will replace him in that role. He also joined the company in 1982.

Oren Benton, 72, died May 19 of colon cancer. He headed NUEXCO Trading Corp., which was the largest uranium trading operation in the world until its 1995 bankruptcy. Benton also was a former part-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team. He spent 20 years with the accounting firm Arthur Andersen before entering the uranium industry. Benton had served in the U.S. Army.

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Nuclear Energy Insight

The latest issue of Nuclear Energy Insight is now available online. In it, you'll find an article on a new Wall Street report that says more nuclear power plants may mean lower electricity prices. There also are reports on a new coalition building support for nuclear energy and continuing momentum toward building new reactors in the United States. Other articles detail the nuclear energy industry's high levels of safety and operating performance in 2005, new legislation that seeks to facilitate licensing and construction of the Yucca Mountain repository, and strong public support for nuclear energy.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

The NEI offices in Washington, D.C. are closed today in observance of today's Holiday. From everyone at NEI, we'd like to urge you all to take a moment to think about the men and women who have fallen in service to our nation, and the families they left behind.

For more thoughts on today's observance, please read this piece by Ben Stein (Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer).

Friday, May 26, 2006

Nuclear Energy Hearing Alert

Just off the wire from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee:

Media Advisory: Full Committee to Hold June 12 Hearing

Who: Full Committee

When: Monday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m.

Where: SD-366

Why: To receive testimony regarding the implementation of Sections 641 through 645 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Project within the Department of Energy.
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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Freedom for Fission.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

More on Russia and European Energy Security

In an interview with the International Policy Network, Andrei Illarionov, a former policy advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, says that Europe's very freedom is at stake if it continues on its current course in energy policy:

"It is no surprise that Europe is facing a cold, dark future deprived of energy. In recent years, many European leaders have been obsessed with energy rationing. They intentionally have demonised energy production and use. They have claimed that hydrocarbon energy is too cheap and demanded a carbon tax. They have adopted the Kyoto Protocol -- and cajoled Russia into joining,"” said Illarionov.

"“Now that the bear of state interventionism and central planning is out of its cave, the Russian authorities are effectively offering the energy rationing so desired by European leaders. They shouldn't be surprised: this '‘chilly war'’ is exactly what they have worked so hard to secure,"” he continued.

Illarionov suggests that the response, or absence of response, by Western leaders to actions by the Russian authorities --– including violation of individual rights, disregard for freedom of speech, and aggressive behaviour towards democratically-oriented former Soviet states such as the Ukraine, Georgia and Maldova --– has effectively led to a "“chilly war"” between Russia and the West.

"“What we see now is a great battle unfolding in front of our eyes, one with implications similar to those of the Cold War. It is a battle not predicated on military, political or economic power. It is about the fundamental institutions that define western civilization --– the market economy, liberal democracy, the rule of law -- and the moral standards and values underlying these institutions,"” said Illarionov.
And the weapon that's going to be wielded is Russian natural gas. We know Finland understands. We know Tony Blair understands. Does anybody else? Thanks to John Ray for the pointer.

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More Inconvenient Facts for Al Gore

Here's Gregg Easterbrook at Slate on some inconsistencies in Al Gore's new documentary, An Inconvenient Truth:

Broadly, An Inconvenient Truth denounces consumerism, yet asks of its audience no specific sacrifice. "What I look for is signs we are really changing our way of life, and I don't see it," Gore intones with his signature sigh. As he says this, we see him at an airport checking in to board a jet, where he whips out his laptop. If "really changing our way of life" is imperative, what's Gore doing getting on a jetliner? Jets number among the most resource-intensive objects in the world.

This raises the troubling fault of An Inconvenient Truth: its carelessness about moral argument. Gore says accumulation of greenhouse gases "is a moral issue, it is deeply unethical." Wouldn't deprivation also be unethical? Some fossil fuel use is maddening waste; most has raised living standards. The era of fossil energy must now give way to an era of clean energy. But the last century's headlong consumption of oil, coal, and gas has raised living standards throughout the world; driven malnourishment to an all-time low, according to the latest U.N. estimates; doubled global life expectancy; pushed most rates of disease into decline; and made possible Gore's airline seat and MacBook, which he doesn't seem to find unethical.
This is a point that seems to get lost in many arguments about energy consumption. We know for a fact that there is a direct correlation between energy consumption, GDP and life expectancy. But Gore and plenty of other environmentalists don't seem to want to come up with viable options to protect the environment while keeping electricity generation safe, affordable and widely available.

Thanks to Iain Murray for the pointers.

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For Our Readers in the U.K.

Take a look at Supporters of Nuclear Energy.

Also, over at Potential Energy, the debate over future nuclear build in the U.K. continues, with Gia Milinovich outlining the areas where she's going to be concentrating her efforts:

  • What Is This Radiation Stuff Anyway And Is It Really All Bad?
  • Safety- Zero Risk or Safe Enough?
  • Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Power- How Green Is Green?
  • Public Perception- Why Does Nuclear Get Such a Bad Rap/How on Earth Can Anyone Think Nuclear is a Good Idea?
  • Energy Conservation- An Absolute Necessity or Plain Stupidity?
As I'm sure you might suspect, I have answers of my own, but please stop by Potential Energy and share your own thoughts.

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More on John McCain and Nuclear Energy

Senator John McCain is attracting some positive attention from Bloggers courtesy of his speech earlier this week in New Hampshire. Here's Blue Crab Boulevard:

I'm not a fan of McCain, as anybody who's been reading here for any length of time knows. But the headline of this article is something I happen to believe in. We need more nuclear energy in this country.

I worked in that field for many years. I know how safe those plants are. I know that despite what the media and the activists tell you that Three Mile Island was not a disaster, but rather a testimony that reactors are incredibly safe with incredibly overbuilt safety systems.
Don Surber took note of the speech as well. Thanks to The Blogometer for the pointers.

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Thorium Energy Blog

Last year in a post about the uranium supply, my colleague Clifton Farrell briefly mentioned the possibility that thorium could be used to power reactors too. Lo and behold, there's a blog about it now. Be sure to stop by Energy from Thorium sometime soon.

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Senator Clinton on Energy Policy

Senator Hillary Clinton gave a speech on energy policy at the National Press Club earlier this week, and in stark comparison to President Bush's speech on energy policy at Limerick yesterday, had little to say about nuclear energy:

Nuclear is now very much in the news as a potential power source because of its lack of contribution to global warming. If you look at nuclear energy, which currently provides 20 percent of our energy with virtually no emission of greenhouse gases, we do have to take a serious look, but there remain very serious questions about nuclear power and our ability to manage it in a world with suicidal terrorists.

So I have real concerns, specifically about a plant in my state near where I live, Indian Point, which has had a number of problems, and more generally with the capacity and quality of the oversight provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

So we need to resolve problems with the NRC, as well as questions of cost, safety, proliferation and waste, before we go forward with nuclear power.
Needless to say, we believe the industry has answers to many of these questions already. A good place to start would be a speech our CEO Skip Bowman gave at MIT earlier this year that directly addressed questions on safety, cost and waste. As for the industry's relationship with the NRC, a speech Skip gave at the agency's RIC conference in 2005 is a good place to start, while the keynote he gave at NEA 2006 also addresses several regulatory issues relating to the agency's future workload.

For a look at the security issue, be sure to read the testimony NEI Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Marv Fertel submitted to the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations.

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Bush: Nuclear Energy Can Help in Fight Against GHG

President Bush made a strong pitch for an expansion of nuclear energy (registration required) in his speech yesterday at Limerick Generating Station. Click here for the transcript. Here's an excerpt:

People in our country are rightly concerned about greenhouse gases and the environment, and I can understand why -- I am, too. As a matter of fact, I try to tell people, let's quit the debate about whether greenhouse gases are caused by mankind or by natural causes; let's just focus on technologies that deal with the issue. Nuclear power will help us deal with the issue of greenhouse gases. Without nuclear energy, carbon dioxide emissions would have been 28 percent greater in the electricity industry in 2004. Without nuclear power, we would have had an additional 700 million tons a year of carbon dioxide, and that's nearly equal to the annual emissions from 136 million passenger cars. Nuclear power helps us protect the environment. (Applause.)
And as our friend Pat Cleary would note, it also provides the abundant, affordable and reliable electricity America needs to support a manufacturing base that is continually under fire.

For more on the President's Advanced Energy Initiative, click here. For the entire wavefront of coverage, click here for Google News. We'll have more later throughout the day, as reaction to the speech comes in from the Blogosphere.

UPDATE: More from Pat:
[Y]ou'll see from this chart that France gets almost 80% of its power from nuclear. Yet the last nuclear plant was ordered in the US in 1973. The enviros can't just keep saying no to everything. Time to unleash all fuel sources, including nuclear.
Pat also reminds us that there's another ANWR vote today. Norris McDonald also took note of yesterday's speech.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mr. Tooth Fairy Rides Again!

We're still waiting on a press report and a transcript from President Bush's speech on energy policy that he was scheduled to deliver today at Exelon's Limerick Generating Station, but that hasn't stopped our friends in the "no solutions" crowd from chiming in. And lo and behold, one of the regulars has decided to show his face:

“It is especially troubling that President Bush would select the Limerick plant to tout the safety of nuclear power,” said Joseph Mangano MPH MBA, National Coordinator of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group. “We found that the local rate of childhood cancer in the 1990s was 77% above the state and national rates, and we are concerned that toxic emissions from Limerick are causing local cancer rates to rise.”
We've been following Mr. Mangano's exploits since August 2005, and we're amazed anyone gives him the time of day. As NEI Health Physicist Ralph Anderson has said:
Mr. Mangano's allegations of health effects associated with emissions from nuclear power plants have been reviewed in detail and repeatedly discredited by at least 8 state and 2 county public health departments, as well as the USNRC, as follows:

USNRC; State of Connecticut; State of Florida; State of Illinois; State of New Jersey; State of New York; State of Pennsylvania; State of Minnesota; State of Michigan; Westchester County, NY and Suffolk County, NY.

In fact, we are not aware of any federal, state, or local government public health departments that have reviewed Mr. Mangano's allegations and found them to be credible.
But he keeps going, looking for more media markets to contaminate with his junk science, hoping reporters won't do a basic fact check on his claims. Guess we'll have to keep following him too. Click here for our complete Mangano dossier.

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Asking the Wrong Question on the Left Coast

In an interview with Steve Chu, director of Lawrence Berkeley Livermore Lab, Michael Kanellos of CNet makes a common mistake about projected new nuclear build:

Nuclear fission, or traditional nuclear energy, can't be an easy way out of burning fossil fuels either. To go all nuclear, the world would need enough nuclear plants to provide 3 terawatts of energy. "We'd have to build a gigawatt reactor every week for fifty years," he noted.
I love this line of thinking: Since we can't build enough nuclear power plants to supply all of the world's energy needs, we shouldn't build any at all.

Nobody in business or government is proposing supplying all of our future electricity needs with nuclear energy. All we are saying, and it looks like we're going to have to keep saying it, is that nuclear has to be on the table. And in fact, if we kept nuclear energy's share of American electricity generation at 20%, we could go a long way toward reducing carbon emissions, supporting energy price stability, and doing it all with a fuel source that comes from countries we can trust like Canada and Australia.

In a way, Kanellos is casting the issue in the same manner a lot of tech journalists wrote about broadband Internet access back in the 1990s. We saw millions of pixels wasted over questions about whether cable, DSL, fiber or satellite would dominate the marketplace, when in fact a combination of all of these had a role to play.

And that's the case with energy too. When it comes to electrical generation, we're going to need all the nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydropower and renewables we can get our hands on. The increase in electricity demand is simply going to be too high (projected by the DOE to increase 45% by 2030) for us to take any one option off the table.

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CECA: America Needs More Nuclear Energy

From UPI:

With projected energy costs expected to increase by 30 percent by 2025, a U.S. energy public interest group Wednesday recommended to state and federal lawmakers expanding energy resources to include clean coal and nuclear energy to meet the nation`s fossil fuel demands.

'Tackling our long-term energy needs require action now. Failure to take action will result in higher costs in the future, relocation of domestic industries abroad, loss of jobs, and rising energy prices which will impact consumers` lives,' said Ellen Berman, president of the Consumer Energy Council of America.

The report by CECA, called 'Fueling the Future: Better Ways to Use America`s Fuel Option' finds the only seemingly way out of U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to shortstop the energy shortfall is to diversify their energy needs through nuclear energy, clean coal and renewable energy resources.
For a copy of the report, click here.

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Blogger at NEA 2006

We've still got a boatload of material to talk about from last week's Nuclear Energy Assembly, but this morning I wanted to point to a post from Tom Benson from iNuclear. After working things out with our media people, NEI granted Tom a press pass to cover the meeting. Click here for his observations.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Putin on Nuclear Energy

Over at Intellibriefs, we found a transcript of Russian President Vladimir Putin's state of the nation address where he touched on the further development of the nation's nuclear energy sector:

We must also take steps to develop nuclear energy, a nuclear energy sector based on safe, new generation reactors. We need to consolidate Russia's position on the world markets for nuclear energy sector technology and equipment, and make full use here of our knowledge, experience, advanced technology, and of course, international cooperation. Restructuring in the nuclear energy industry itself also aims at enabling us to achieve these goals. We must, of course, also focus work on promising new directions in energy -- —hydrogen and thermonuclear energy.
I have to wonder: What does President Putin know about nuclear energy that so many detractors of the technology throughout Western Europe refuse to see? Do I have to remind everyone again what happened last Winter?

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Omitting Some Inconvenient Facts

New York Times columnist John Tierney just previewed former Vice President Al Gore's new documentary on global warming (free text here), An Inconvenient Truth, and writes that there were more than a few things missing:

Gore shows the obligatory pictures of windmills and other alternative sources of energy. But he ignores nuclear power plants, which don'’t spew carbon dioxide and currently produce far more electricity than all ecologically fashionable sources combined.

A few environmentalists, like Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, have recognized that their movement is making a mistake in continuing to demonize nuclear power. Balanced against the risks of global warming, nukes suddenly look good --— or at least deserve to be considered rationally. Gore had a rare chance to reshape the debate, because a documentary about global warming attracts just the sort of person who marches in anti-nuke demonstrations.

Gore could have dared, once he enticed the faithful into the theater, to challenge them with an inconvenient truth or two. But that would have been a different movie.
I was thinking the same thing last week as I read an interview Gore did with Grist where he dismissed nuclear energy out of hand.

Thanks to QandO Blog for the pointers. For more on Patrick Moore from our archives, click here.

UPDATE: Our friend Pat Cleary over at NAM Blog got an unexpected gift from Gore yesterday.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Commenting on Tierney's piece, Harvard Econ professor Greg Mankiw thinks it might be time for a carbon tax:
The two issues that Tierney raises--the carbon tax and nuclear energy--are closely related. One effect of a carbon tax is that it would automatically promote nuclear energy. Right now, production of electricity via nuclear power is not particularly cost-efficient compared to alternatives such as coal. But a carbon tax would make coal-produced electricity more expensive, encouraging utilities to take another look at nuclear power.
A little more than a year ago, Duke Power CEO Paul Anderson floated a similar idea.

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Nuclear Energy and Genetic Algorithms

From UPI:

Designing complex systems such as nuclear reactors for use in space is a complex task, but U.S. scientists have made it easier using genetic algorithms.

The researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy`s Oak Ridge (Tenn.)National Laboratory use the genetic algorithm optimization tool -- a method similar to the natural selection process.

Nuclear Systems Integration Specialist Louis Qualls and colleagues can quickly perform searches of huge numbers of potential solutions to an engineering problem and rapidly identify the best options.

He said it takes months or years to perform all of the necessary calculations for some projects using traditional methods.
Thanks to IlliGAL Blogging for the pointer.

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Senator McCain Renews Call for New Nuclear

Senator John McCain was in New Hampshire last night and repeated his call for the expanded use of nuclear energy:

The United States needs to overcome its fear of nuclear power and embrace the technology as a way to wean itself from fossil fuels, Sen. John McCain told an audience in Manchester yesterday.

Nuclear power "is safe. The technology is here," McCain said, speaking to a crowd of about 200 at a breakfast hosted by The New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women. "It's a NIMBY (not in my backyard) problem, and a waste-disposal problem. It is not a technological problem."

McCain pointed to France, which draws more than three-quarters of its power from nuclear plants, and Russia, which has plans to build 40 new plants, as examples. "We've got to get over it, get over Three Mile Island," he said, referring to the 1979 accident at a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant.
For a previous post on one of the Senator's earlier speeches, click here. Click here for more from NH Insider.

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The Cost of Nuclear Energy

The battle in the press over the future of nuclear energy in the U.K. continued today, with Robert Davies of AREVA taking to the pages of the Guardian on the issue of costs:

Building a nuclear power plant is not cheap. Decommissioning costs money. But this does not mean that nuclear power is more expensive than other generation technologies. When combined with the fact that it produces reliable, low-cost electricity without releasing carbon dioxide, it has a clear role in the UK's future generation mix. Let us be guided by today's knowledge rather than yesterday's dogmatism when we develop Britain's future energy portfolio.
And when you get a chance, stop by the discussion over the cost of nuclear energy at Potential Energy. And click here for a selection of letters from the Times.

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President Bush to Visit Limerick Nuclear Generating Station

He'll be at the plant tomorrow to give a speech on energy policy. Stop by here tomorrow for details.

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The American South and the Return of Nuclear Energy

In last week's edition of The American Enterprise, columnist William Tucker took a look at how the American South is taking the lead in examining the possibility of building new nuclear power plants and what it might mean for the future of the country:

Just as we have oil-exporting nations and oil-importing nations, so the country may be dividing into power-producing and power-consuming regions. New York City already buys much of its electricity from Canada and may end up importing from below the Mason-Dixon Line as well. All this may shift the country's industrial base.

"We know where there'’s cheap electricity, industry will follow," says Jim Kearse, of Barnwell County. "“We want growth in this area. We'’re building our industrial base."”

"The South shall rise again" -- —that'’s been the prophesy of the last two centuries. But who would have thought nuclear power would lead the way?
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Monday, May 22, 2006

Myths and Facts about Yucca Mountain Legislation

Expect to begin hearing a lot more about pending Yucca Mountain legislation in the coming weeks. Senate Bill 2589 has been introduced to help ensure that the radioactive byproduct wastes of nuclear energy generation and defense will be safely and securely disposed of in a timely manner. In doing so, it will play a substantial role in securing our nation'’s energy supply and environmental future.

Of course not everything you hear about this bill will be true. What follows is a list of some of the common myths we have been hearing about the bill and the true facts that counter them.

Myth: The proposed legislation would weaken standards for Yucca Mountain.

Fact: The proposed legislation offers solutions that would help the Department of Energy move the Yucca Mountain project forward. The bill does not weaken any public health, safety, scientific or technical standards applicable to the project. These solutions add structure to the Yucca Mountain licensing process so that government agencies and others can evaluate the repository against the stringent standards that will be applied to the project in a more straightforward manner.

Additionally, these solutions would clarify regulations that, if misapplied, could add unnecessary complexity and delay to the process with no benefit to public safety or environmental protection. Far from weakening standards, these improvements make the decision-making process based on these standards more effective and understandable to all stakeholders.

Myth: DOE's flawed science has cast doubt on validity of work at Yucca Mountain.

Fact: The federal government has spent more than 20 years and $8 billion to determine that Yucca Mountain is an appropriate site for the nation's repository. DOE'’s 2002 recommendation of the Yucca Mountain site was based on the results of the most extensive scientific and technical inquiry ever conducted by the U.S. government. An international peer review conducted jointly by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development'’s Nuclear Energy Agency found that the methodology DOE used was "“soundly based" and "“implemented in a competent manner."”

The scientific work supporting this evaluation has involved more than 2,500 scientists from every national laboratory and the world'’s leading universities working in an underground laboratory that includes seven miles of tunnels and more than 180 boreholes. In addition to the international peer review, this work also has been reviewed by the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other authorities. During these reviews, DOE answered several specific concerns. No reputable scientific or technical organization has ever characterized DOE'’s science -- —or any part of the science applied to Yucca Mountain -- as "flawed."”

Myth: New cases of fraud related to the Yucca Mountain project continue to surface.

Fact: No documented cases of fraud at Yucca Mountain exist. This myth has centered on the recent disclosure of e-mails, exchanged more than five years ago, alleging that a small group of U.S. Geological Survey employees working on the project did not follow quality assurance (QA) procedures. The issue now is undergoing a thorough investigation. DOE is examining millions of e-mails written over the history of the project. No organization of any type has ever subjected its electronic communications to this level of scrutiny.

And the Yucca Mountain project has withstood it successfully. Although embarrassing e-mails have been identified, none has cast substantive doubt on the scientific work. In fact, DOE recently released a report prepared by an independent team of scientists. It confirmed the data called into question by the original USGS e-mails is indeed correct. Nonetheless, to further verify the scientific work at Yucca Mountain, DOE has designated the Sandia National Laboratory and Oak Ridge Associated Universities to independently review the data.

Myth: DOE has admitted that geology is not a sufficient barrier to contain the waste.

Fact: DOE has never made such a statement. Opponents of the repository often incorrectly attribute DOE'’s inclusion of robust engineered barriers in the repository design, as evidence that the agency is compensating for inadequacies in the site'’s geology. The truth is that scientists and policymakers always have intended that the repository consist of a combination of natural and engineered barriers to provide the greatest possible protection. In fact, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 mandates that DOE'’s site recommendation include "preliminary engineering specifications." The act also requires an explanation of the relationship between "“packaging" and "“the geologic medium of the site."”

DOE's engineered barriers perform well at Yucca Mountain precisely because of their integration with a geology that is uniquely well-suited for the long-term isolation of radioactive materials. DOE'’s 2002 site recommendation, approved by President Bush and Congress, made this clear. A U.S. appellate court soundly rejected challenges by Yucca Mountain opponents, who based their case on this myth.

Myth: The NRC found that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory overestimated the ability of metals to contain waste.

Fact: This statement mischaracterizes what Livermore identified. The NRC actually found that the lab had used an uncalibrated piece of equipment in the collection of data in corrosion rate studies. While any data collected using this piece of equipment must be considered suspect, the NRC has drawn no specific conclusion regarding the data'’s accuracy. Even if the data is incorrect, one could not possibly draw such a far-reaching conclusion from the error. This piece of equipment is merely one of thousands of instruments used in hundreds of studies to evaluate the corrosion resistance of metals. DOE has established processes for evaluating any impact the uncalibrated equipment had on scientific results. It is premature to draw any conclusions until these processes have been completed and independently verified.

Myth: Bechtel-SAIC stopped work as a result of a whistleblower incident.

Fact: DOE actually stopped Bechtel SAIC work because a list of applicable requirements to that work had not been kept up-to-date. An employee unable to gain management attention -- —a whistleblower -- —did not identify this issue. Rather, DOE'’s own internal management identified it. In fact, the stop-work order itself is evidence that DOE'’s systems for identifying such issues worked properly. All nuclear projects have such systems, and managers must take decisive action. In this case, they did.

Myth: The U.S. Geological Survey "“altered and omitted" data.

Fact: No one has ever even alleged that the USGS altered and omitted data. Whether some USGS employees failed to follow quality assurance procedures in collecting data is under investigation. In the nuclear energy industry, failure to follow procedures is a significant offense. However, it is not the same as altering and omitting data. E-mails sent by these employees appear to reflect a disregard for procedure; however, they also display a high confidence in the integrity of their work and accuracy of the data.

Because of the seriousness of this matter, DOE launched an independent investigation of this work. This investigation recently resulted in a report, prepared by an independent team of scientists, which corroborated the data. In spite of the failure to follow procedure, the fundamental scientific understanding that resulted from this work has been confirmed.

Myth: DOE should not have unlimited access to the Nuclear Waste Fund.

Fact: The legislation does not propose giving DOE unlimited access to the Nuclear Waste Fund. Congress still must approve all appropriations for the Yucca Mountain program. The legislation provides that new fee-generated income into the fund will offset appropriations for budget scoring purposes. Although Congress maintains control of the fund, the legislation ensures that contributions to the fund will be used for their intended purpose of waste disposal.

Myth: Reclassifying the Nuclear Waste Fund is a budget gimmick that reduces spending and hides costs artificially.

Fact: Actually, the reclassification of the Nuclear Waste Fund proposed by this legislation would do just the opposite: It would restore the fund to the budget treatment established in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Congress previously has acted to address similar situations for other dedicated trust funds. This legislation seeks not to create a budget gimmick, but to remove one.

Watch this space for more Yucca Mountain news in the coming weeks and months.

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The Trojan Cooling Tower Implosion

One big piece of news over the weekend was the long-planned demolition of the cooling tower at Trojan Nuclear Power Plant in Oregon. Click here for video from the local NBC affiliate. I'm not exactly surprised at all the interest, as our own experience with online video here at NEI seems to suggest that folks like watching stuff explode -- or implode, in this case.

One of my colleagues, Trish Conrad, was on the scene to get some equal time in the media for the pro-nuclear message amidst a sea of anti-nuke hysteria. Here's a note she sent me last night:

I did taped interviews with the local NBC and CBS affiliates re: the Trojan cooling tower implosion shortly after an anti rally concluded in downtown Portland. I broke the ice by talking about being from here before we started rolling. Thought it might give me more credibility since I didn't know these people. Started off with the numbers about support nationally and by existing facilities. The reporter made a comment about it being a Republican issue, so I said nuclear power is not a Republican or Democrat issue, gave the Energy Policy Act bite about comprehensive legislation and bipartisan support, and segued into Stewart Brand and Patrick Moore. Did the usual stuff about why the resurgence in nuclear power. They asked about used fuel and Yucca Mountain and I told them we have stored it safely for years, progress is being made on Yucca Mountain and mentioned the legislation currently in Congress, but noted that we are looking to an integrated used fuel management system of which Yucca Mountain is only one component...

Talked about possible new plants here and shared information about the potential COL's on tap and that new plants could be online in 2014 or 2015. After taping, I gave them some background on what's happening abroad and explained the reprocessing issues to them, and noted that nuclear power in WA, CA and AZ takes pressure off sources upon which the NW relies...

My favorite part thing about the opponent's messages was their mixed nature - the cooling tower coming down is a victory, but we wanted to leave it up as a reminder of the failure of nuclear power. Typical.
Here's another in person account of the implosion. And finally, here's an account from the Washington Post.

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Just the Facts...

Here's a recent announcement over at Potential Energy that cheered me:

Hello everyone,

I'm responsible for moderating the comments that get posted here. Please note that from now on I will only approve comments that attribute the source of any figures quoted.

Samuel Rae

Outreach Officer, Institute of Physics
That's the general rule we follow here, and I'm glad to see Potential Energy doing the same. As always, be sure to stop by and contribute to their debate, and be sure to come with your reference materials.

UPDATE: Here's a post where we need some of our supporters to take a stand -- a discussion about decommissioning costs. Once again, we have a case where the clean-up costs from the U.K.'s nuclear weapons program is being lumped together with decommissioning costs for commercial nuclear reactors. Please stop by, and, as always, keep your contributions factual, and back up your conclusions with links to online sources.

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Moved by Patrick Moore

Here's another environmentally concious blogger, and a member of Greenpeace, who thinks it's time for more widespread adoption of nuclear energy.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Steve Schulin.

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News From NEA 2006

Some local reporters are taking advantage of the critical mass of nuclear energy professionals in San Francisco for NEA 2006 to put together some stories. Click here for a piece from the city's ABC affiliate, and here for a piece from the San Francisco Chronicle.

For President Bush's video address to NEA 2006, click here, or use the viewer below:

Back at the conference, NEI handed out some industry awards, with the top prize going to a team at Progress Energy. From the NEI press release:

Employees at Progress Energy's Brunswick nuclear power plant have been awarded the nuclear energy industry's B. Ralph Sylvia Best of the Best Award for an increase of record magnitude in the power station's generating capacity. The team won for making the energy facility in southeastern North Carolina one of only three U.S. nuclear power plants to achieve a 20 percent uprate in thermal power over the original operating license.

Accomplished in two phases approved by federal regulators dating back to 1996, the uprate increased the generating capacity of Brunswick's two reactors by a combined 244 megawatts-electric to 1,875 megawatts. The additional capacity is enough to serve the typical electricity needs of 200,000 households.

The Best of the Best Top Industry Practice (TIP) award was presented at the Nuclear Energy Institute's (NEI) annual conference here. The TIP awards recognize industry employees in 13 categories -- four vendor awards and nine process awards -- for innovation to improve safety, efficiency and nuclear plant performance. The Best of the Best Award honors the late B. Ralph Sylvia, an industry leader who was instrumental in starting the TIP awards in 1993.

Other companies with employees who received awards are: American Electric Power, Arizona Public Service Co., Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Exelon Nuclear, Florida Power & Light, PPL Susquehanna LLC, PSEG Nuclear LLC, Southern Nuclear Operating Co. and Tennessee Valley Authority.
More later.

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Vietnam Nuclear Update

Earler this week, we told you about Vietnam putting together a financing package to build that nation's first nuclear power plant. Now there's news that Japan is ready to help train plant personnel, and Russia wants to build the plant.

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GE Nuclear Breaks Ground on New Facility in Wilmington

From the AP:

GE Energy, which moved its nuclear business from California to Wilmington three years ago, has broken ground here on a plant here that will focus on developing a new line of nuclear reactors for the international market.

The high price of oil is one trigger behind the rush to tap the fast-growing market overseas, especially in China and India, GE officials said.

Nuclear energy has a real opportunity to help the "developing world get on with its business," David Calhoun, GE infrastructure president and CEO, said during Tuesday's groundbreaking.
Congrats to our friends at GE. Click here and here for more.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

President Bush Addresses NEA 2006

Click here for the video. Here's the transcript:

I am grateful to Tony Earley [chairman and CEO, DTE Energy and chairman of the board, Nuclear Energy Institute] and Admiral Skip Bowman [president and CEO] of the Nuclear Energy Institute for hosting this annual assembly. I appreciate the opportunity to address so many leaders in the field of nuclear energy.

We are entering a time of great promise. Our economy is creating new jobs. It is also creating new demands for energy. Our electricity demand is projected to increase nearly 50 percent over the next 25 years.

America needs domestic sources of clean, affordable electricity, and that is why I strongly support nuclear power.

America’s 103 nuclear power plants now account for about 20 percent of our nation’s electricity, more than any other source except for coal. And those plants generate safe, reliable power without producing any air pollution or greenhouse gases.

There is a growing consensus that nuclear power is a key part of a clean, secure energy future.

America has not ordered a nuclear power plant in decades. France by contrast has built 58 plants since the 1970s and now gets 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.

To maintain our economic leadership and strengthen our energy security, America must start building nuclear power plants.

My Administration has taken action to encourage greater use of nuclear energy:
• We launched the Nuclear Power 2010 initiative – a partnership between government and industry to facilitate new plant orders.
• I directed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to streamline licensing for new plant construction.
• I proposed legislation to move forward with licensing, construction and operation of a nuclear storage site at Yucca Mountain [Nevada].
• And I signed an energy bill that provides loan guarantees, production tax credits and federal risk insurance for the builders of new nuclear plants.

All of these steps are aimed at an important goal – America will start building nuclear power plants again by the end of this decade

In my State of the Union address this year, I laid out an Advanced Energy Initiative. It will expand the use of clean alternatives to fossil fuels, including nuclear power.

One of the most innovative parts of this initiative is the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. Through this partnership, America and other nations with civilian nuclear programs will help developing countries meet their energy needs with nuclear power.

We’ll collect spent nuclear fuel from these developing countries, which will greatly reduce the risk of proliferation. And we’ll create new methods to reprocess spent nuclear material into a fuel for advanced reactors here at home.

This will allow America and the world to produce more electricity from nuclear power, to rely less on fossil fuels and reduce the amount of nuclear waste that needs to be stored.

I’m optimistic about the future of nuclear energy. Your industry has come a long way in recent decades, and I’m confident that even greater progress lies ahead.

By expanding our use of nuclear power, we can make our energy supply more reliable, our environment cleaner and our nation more secure for future generations.

Thank you for the chance to speak to you today and enjoy the rest of your assembly. May God bless you all.
More later, including embedded video.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Ejecutive.

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From the Nuclear Archives...

...Comes a magazine advertisement for a Bendix research reactor. Thanks to Modern Mechanix for the pointer.

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The 2006 Nuclear Energy Assembly: Rowe and Earley Elected Chairman and Vice Chairman

Out in San Francisco, NEI is holding its annual meeting, the 2006 Nuclear Energy Assembly. Although the general session didn't get underway until this morning, our board had some business to attend to last night:

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has re-elected DTE Energy Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Anthony F. Earley Jr., as chairman of its board of directors.

John W. Rowe, chairman and chief executive officer of Exelon Corp., has been elected vice chairman of the NEI board of directors. Rowe succeeds Robert B. McGehee, chairman and chief executive officer of Progress Energy Inc.

NEI also elected four new members and re-elected six members to its board of directors. Three members were re-elected and one new member was elected to the board's Executive Committee.

The newly elected member of NEI's Executive Committee, which sets broad policy for the industry, is Thomas B. King, president and chief executive officer, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

Re-elected to the Executive Committee are:

Lewis Hay III, chairman, president and chief executive officer, FPL Group Inc.;

Robert B. McGehee, chairman and chief executive officer, Progress Energy Inc.; and

William J. Post, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

Newly elected to the NEI board of directors are:

Ronald E. Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO;

James J. Graham, president and chief executive officer, ConverDyn;

William P. Hite, general president of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada; and

John K. Welch, president and chief executive officer, USEC Inc.

The re-elected board members are:

Richard Graves, senior executive, power services, Fluor Enterprises;

Louis E. Pardi, president and chief executive officer of power, Washington Group International Inc.;

E. James Reinsch, president Bechtel Nuclear, Bechtel Power Corp.;

Dr. Kris P. Singh, president and chief executive officer, Holtec International;

Robert G. Van Adel, president and chief executive officer, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited; and

Andrew C. White, president and chief executive officer, GE Energy, Nuclear.
We will have more, including some speeches, later in the day.

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NEI Energy Markets Report (May 8th - 12th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity consumption is expected to increase only slightly in 2006 (0.1 percent) in response to weak heating-related demand this past January and the lower expected cooling-related demand this summer, compared to 2005.

Electric power sector consumption of coal is projected to be flat in 2006 and increase by 2.5 percent in 2007. Power sector demand for coal continues to increase in response to high natural gas and oil prices.

With weak electric heating load due to the warm January and much weaker expected cooling load this summer compared to 2005, the consumption of natural gas for generation of electricity is expected to fall by 2.8 percent in 2006, then increase by 2.3 percent in 2007 (see page 8).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage. Technorati tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nuclear Notes From Asia

Vietnam is ready to issue bonds to pay for the construction of that nation's first reactor... Indonesia continues to target 2015 for the start of operations of their first reactor... And China announced that their largest nuclear reactor has been successfully connected to their national power grid.

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Australia Nuclear Update

Aussie Prime Minister John Howard was in Washington this week to talk nuclear energy with top officials of the U.S. Government:

"It may be desirable that Australia in the future builds nuclear power plants," Mr Howard told reporters in Washington, after meetings with US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.

Mr Howard's enthusiasm for a possible nuclear future came after he told Mr Bodman that Australia wanted to be fully consulted over plans for the big six nuclear-power countries - the US, France, China, Britain, Russia and Japan - to forge a new informal trading bloc.

But Mr Howard poured cold water on suggestions Australia could become a waste dump for nuclear material from other countries, arguing that this was never contemplated.

"What I indicated to (Mr Bodman) is that we would want to be kept fully informed of how this proposal developed. At this stage, Australia is a willing seller of uranium subject to the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and our own separate safeguards," he said.

"We would continue to want to be in that position, but we would want to be kept informed of any progress towards formation of what could be regarded as a fuel reprocessing group."
Of course, Prime Minister Howard is referring to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, and it only makes sense that a nation that is the world's second leading supplier of uranium ought to be part of that conversation.

Meanwhile, back home, an official with WWF-Australia is challenging a recent report that claimed their top man was urging his WWF compatriots to change their minds about nuclear energy.

UPDATE: Australia's own, Tim Blair, is asking some questions too.

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Blair Rocks Britain With Pro-Nuclear Vow

As you might expect, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech last night backing new nuclear build in the U.K. is stoking conversation across the Atlantic. Here's Peter C. Glover:

Though nuclear power is not the whole answer, until a sensible alternative comes along - and 'renewables' are about as sensible an answer as lighting a match under water - then nuclear power will have to produce around 20% of our future needs, at least - and cut carbon emissions to almost nil.

The environmentalists would soon go quiet once the blackouts, failure of cold water, cold houses and aged deaths started to occur under their crackpot schemes.
Actually, that's pretty tough on renewables. Here at NEI, we believe new nuclear build will make the electric grid safe for intermittent power sources like renewables. Here's Tim Sewell:
Tony Blair has outraged elements of the green movement with his speech last night putting energy diversification back on the agenda "with a vengeance"’.

Why would this be? Because he sees a resurgence in nuclear generation capacity as a central plank of any such programme, which would also include a major push on energy efficiency and renewables. I can see his point.

As he said, we will soon move from being 80-90% self-sufficient in gas (which on present trends will become our main source of energy very soon, for electricity generation, at least) to being dependent by a similar proportion on imported supplies from those noted areas of incorruptible political stability, Russia, the Middle East and Asia. This can't be allowed to happen for two main reasons.
If you're a regular reader, you'll familiarair with the arguments that he makes. Check them out right now. As it turned out, just as Blair was giving his CBI speech, climate scientist James Lovelock was delivering his own in support of nuclear energy at the 2006 Brighton Festival. Click here for an account from Donald Clark.

As you might imagine, there's plenty of impassioned opposition. One good example comes from The Low Carbon Kid:
The Low Carbon Kid says: politics and nuclear power make an explosive combination. When they are in bed together you can be sure, as wrong decisions can be taken for the right reasons, it will end in tears.

So many have told you Mr Blair that nukes - for reasons of timing, security, the long view and expense - are that wrong decision.

Listen, for once.... or leave - and turn the light off as you go.
For more carping, visit Peter Black in Wales.

Our new friends at Potential Energy have started an open thread on the speech and are inviting comments. Be sure to stop by and add yours.

Other stories:

Blair says nuclear power back on the agenda (Reuters)

PM backs new wave of nuclear power stations (The Independent)

Blair puts nuclear power plants back on the agenda (The Irish Times)

Nuclear battle with Wales looms... (ic Wales)

Nuclear power won't need tax cash (The Scotsman)

Britain goes nuclear to beat energy crisis (The Times)

As always, keep up with the latest online conversation with Technorati.

UPDATE: More from Andrew Sullivan.

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New Podcast: The Atomic Show

We've already introduced you to John Wheeler, host of This Week in Nuclear. Now, take a listen to The Atomic Show.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blair: Nuclear Energy, "Back with a vengeance"

Some may say that U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is only counting the days before he leaves 10 Downing Street, but that's not the case when it comes to energy policy. From the BBC:

Prime Minister Tony Blair has given his strongest signal yet that he backs the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

The prime minister told the CBI annual dinner that the issue was "back on the agenda with a vengeance".

He said Britain faced the prospect of being largely reliant on foreign gas imports for its future energy needs.
Thanks to The Oil Drum: United Kingdom, for the pointer. And in their comments section comes an interesting expression of support:
I am 100% behind this. I only hope he can last long enough to pull it off.

I am no great fan of Blair, but at last, he is grasping the nettle. If he is looking for a legacy, then Nukes would be it, and help this country get past PO and mitigate GW. Without Nukes, the lights start to go out within 10 years. And that means no work, no means of electrified rail to work, no computers, no teleworking, people trapped in lifts, lights out in hospitals, schools and homes.
Glad to see somebody gets it.

UPDATE: More from Caspar Henderson at Potential Energy.

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