Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Zeal and the Zealots

While reading The Chicago Tribune's coverage of the super-important, fun-and-sun drenched Nuclear Energy Assembly, this paragraph stuck out:

Dave Kraft, director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service in Evanston, views this as further evidence that the free components of a summer weekend—sunshine and a cool breeze—will be better energy sources.

"Those are far superior choices and they can come online much faster than new nukes," Kraft said. "The nuclear industry is well overplaying their hand."

We've got nothing against our friends in the solar and wind business, but "far superior?" I guess the article - which is more a roundup of what prominent attendees are thinking about nuclear these days rather than direct coverage of the conference - demanded a he-said, she-said approach, but from our perspective, it felt like the writer, Joshua Boak, had dropped a spider on the valentine.

So what is the Nuclear Energy Information Service? Here's a bit from their latest action alert:

The nuclear industry has never met a law, regulation or agreement it was not willing to ignore or actively seek to overturn if the opportunity or need suited them. That is perhaps why NEIS has never been willing to "negotiate" with Exelon and its predecessors; negotiating anything with them is a lose-lose proposition. The only language they understand is to be defeated -- utterly, wholly and without compromise -- and in no uncertain terms.

Yikes! All that's missing is a denouncement of Exelon's employees as jack-booted thugs. If you want to see what else they're up to, you can watch their video:

In cooperation with CAN-TV, NEIS produced a 30-minute DVD and cable TV segment on GNEP entitled "GNEP:  Nuclear Wolf in Sheep's Clothing."  This program can be viewed on Google TV at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1498918502264826711

Actually GNEP (Global Nuclear Energy Partnership) is a nuclear wolf in wolf's clothing - it doesn't try to hide anything. It isn't even terribly wolfish.

NEIS seems more than a collection of anti-nuclear kooks but less than a crowd of folks engaging an issue. This is a pretty zealous bunch - nothing wrong with that, of course, except that zealots tend to have steel trap minds that have snapped shut. There's just nothing to be said to them that constitutes an argument.

I may have overlooked something on their exceptionally dense web site, but I didn't see any engagement at all with the nuclear energy industry - in fact, their action alert indicates Exelon is, at best, pushing down old ladies and kicking dogs. That's a real shame, though, because a distaste for nuclear energy - or anything - can be better honed if pitted against its opposite. And, of course, if it can survive the experience of being challenged.

I do sincerely hope that Dave Kraft pays a visit to NEA. He may find some of his attitudes confirmed, some shaken, some stirred.

4 comments:

Matthew66 said...

Not sure how useful wind and solar would be in Chicago in the winter. There's not that much sunshine, and the solar panels may well be covered by a foot of snow. Whilst Chicago is the Windy City, I suspect that a lot of the time it is too windy for the design parameters of wind turbines. There is also the siting issues for wind turbines.

Joffan said...

I'm not sure why you are providing space and coverage to this group, NEIS - as you say, they are dedicated anti-nuclear-power extremists. "No negotiation with..." - how would one normally complete the phrase? That, apparently, is how NEIS sees the nuclear power industry.

GNEP looks pretty much like mutton to me - that is, a dead sheep with no clothing.

Mark Flanagan said...

Joffan -

The idea here is not to focus on NEIS but to note that the Chicago Tribune is using NEIS as a source. Since the newspaper isn't telling you what they're all about, we will. And we're always on the lookout for an anti-nuke group that exchanges zealotry for an intellectually honest if not necessarily glowing view of nuclear power. (The Mother Jones article we noted a couple of weeks ago qualifies.) The credibility points alone would do such a group much good.

KenG said...

Clarification for Mathew:

Chicago is actually not so good for wind resources as far as power generation. The "Windy City" nickname reputedly stems from the politics, not the climate. No one has found a feasible way to harness that resource.