Thursday, August 28, 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.

14 comments:

Bill said...

Unlike Al Gore:

"... We already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis—everything, ..."

He just couldn't bring himself to say the N-word, could he?

Jason said...

It's frustrating that Obama only throws a small bone to nuclear energy and openly opposes Yucca Mt. I liked his speech and like him as well.

However, Obama did vote for the energy policy act of 2005 and McCain did not. http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00213

I'm not sure if McCain did this as an "anti-pork barrel" political move but there was a lot of good things in there for nuclear and other industries of course. At over 500 pages of legalese, it's a chore to comb over. McCain's no vote makes his pro nuclear stance now seem a little disingenuous from that view.

Obama's statement of:
"nuclear energy, [...] if we could figure out a way to provide a cost-efficient, safe way to produce nuclear energy, and we knew how to store it effectively, then we should pursue it"

...doesn't compute with reality. My message to Barack: Problems solved already, by the way, it's already being pursued.

Yucca Mt. seems to be a wedge issue for nuclear but I question whether it is even necessary aside from the legal requirements it was designed to fulfill. Shouldn't reprossesing the by-product be the priority instead?

This source give a nice breakdown between the two candidates on nuclear issues: http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/policy/nonproliferation/articles/mccain_obama_arms_control/

Obama has a delicate political line to balance with nuclear power in his base though. Contrary to popular belief maybe, a lot of Democrats are pro nuclear, yet the most uninformed about nuclear tend to be the most vocal. That would include many member of the House as well.

It's too bad that the general population has been so misinformed about nuclear energy. This is perpetuated by a media base that is equally uneducated on the topic and anti-nuke groups that profit from selling misinformation.

It's hard to find any good press stories about nuclear. The if-it-bleeds-it-leads rule dominates the reputation of nuclear.

Aside from a few TV spots years ago, I've not seen much effort from the nuclear industry to promote itself and educate the public. Is this a funding issue? This is a great blog but most who should be reading it aren't.

That said, I'd really like to see the nuclear industry get a (better) nationwide PR campaign going. It's not enough for those who are intellectually curious to find the truth online. There's nothing wrong with marketing, especially when you have a great product.

D. Kosloff said...

Senator Obama said that he is going to "find ways to safely harness nuclear power." Somebody on his staff should inform him that what he is going to look for has already been found.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what Obama thinks. I'm actually surprised is is able to do that feat. But don't worry, John McCain and Sarah Palin will win. The liberals will be defeated again.

Anonymous said...

I will also add that I LOVE our next Vice President, Sarah Palin. She showed us how to handle corruption in Alaska, and she won't let big oil run away with itself. Wonder if she supports that small reactor at Galena? You liberals better tremble now! ;-) Sarah isn't any Hillary Clinton or Geraldine Ferraro. She got real morals.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Obama's left himself a big out with the "...if the waste problem can be solved..." bit. The problem he has is that the "no solutions" crowd (NRDC, Sierra Club, Greenpeace) are implacable foes of nuclear power, and yet are a powerful and vocal core constituency of the party. This language lets people who know nuclear power needs to be part of the solution think that Mr. Obama's on board, yet it's code for continued obstruction of the technology as fumbling politicians and crusading lawyers keep finding reasons to consider any solution "not good enough". Look no further than California, where the language is actually written into law and acts as a de-facto ban of nuclear power.

Wind, solar, and conservation efforts certainly need to be part of the solution. But absent a way to store electric power for later use and a means of transmitting it across the continent, we're going to need some hard-path energy sources. If Mr. Obama is our next president, I forsee a future increasingly powered by natural gas - that is, until it, too, begins to run short. The same "no solutions" folks also oppose LNG imports, pipelines to bring down gas from Alaska.

Mr. Obama has also spoken out several times in favor of "clean coal". I'm skeptical that we'll ever implement sequestration on a large scale. I'm also concerned that, even with sequestration, we're making a bad call in using coal to produce electricity, when we can produce electricity from many other sources. As the last and most abundant fossil fuel, coal is the most likely replacement for oil as a feedstock to many industrial chemical processes. That's in addition to current uses such as the manufacture of steel. Our descendants are going to wish we'd been more careful with our coal supply.

Joffan said...

On the interpretation of politicians:

Is Obama trying to indicate his support for nuclear with the "safety" line as a holding action against the anti-nukes; or is he indicating his opposition to further nuclear power development with the "support" line as a feel-good for us nuclear proponents?

Only time will tell, I guess. It's probably the best line he could take, for a man trying to maximize his vote across such a wide constituency. If people like him on other issues, they'll assume that the nuclear opinion is in roughly line with theirs, so it won't be a deal-breaker. If people don't like him on other stuff, they'll probably assume he's disagreeing with them on this, too - but they're not voting for him anyway!

I like him. I hope he gets elected. I also hope he's a nuclear power supporter, and that's how I hear his words. But at least I know I'm biased. ;-)

D. Kosloff said...

Senator Obama doesn't know enough about nuclear power to be an opponent or a supporter; and he has no need to know. All he needs to know is what words to say to get votes. In the case of nuclear power he has used words that will allow him to do whatever is politically expedient upon election.

Steven Farkas said...

One Democrat presidential candidate even claimed to be a nuclear engineer, but brought us the reprocessing ban and the evacuation around TMI. What do you think a Democrat president who isn't a nuclear engineer would do to the industry? Who is on the bench Senator Obama would pick from, Markey? Folks in the nuclear industry should be four-square behind McCain/Palin.

Anonymous said...

"We'll take it....."

I won't. Minor lip service (kind words) won't cut it. The industry needs to stand up and demand nothing less than a level playing field.

My understanding is that the Lieberman/Warner cap-and-trade bill now plans to use the (huge) funds from CO2 permit auctions to give hundreds of billions in subsidies to renewables and carbon sequestration over the next few decades, but give virtually nothing to nuclear. Instead of a free market competition to see who can deliver CO2 reductions most effectively and economically, we'll have massive market intervention, specifically designed to prevent nuclear from winning.

I'm then told that, to satistfy nuclear supporters, they're throwing in some language that is supportive of nuclear, along with some minor help on workforce issues. This is supposed to be a substitute for hundreds of billions in subsidies, given only to competing technologies?

With all due respect, the industry and its political lobby (e.g., NEI), need to do a hell of a lot better job of standing up for the industry than that. How could anyone accept such a "deal"? Is this how weak we are, politically?

And now we have this, coming from Obama. He makes vague, qualitative statements about work he'll due on nuclear (and gas and coal) but gives no specifics or dollar amounts. Then he gives a specific pledge to provide a massive subsidy of $15 billion per year to renewables over the next decade (more than 10 times what nuclear gets, in terms of both R&D and subsidies).

My only hope is that Congress, where nuclear enjoys strong, bi-partisan support, will insist on some significant nuclear support to go along with all the renewables largesse. I do believe this much. If congress does add nuclear support, I don't think Obama will actively fight it, or veto an energy package over it. I'm far more nervous about the loan guarantees though.

Jim Hopf

djysrv said...

My feeling is the Obama's convention speech last week really did move him beyond the usual qualifiers that have dogged his campaign. In part it is because McCain's visit to Fermi II in Michigan earlier this month really put the pressure on the Democrats to stop waffling on nuclear energy in response to the threat of global warming. The other influence is that we are now in the general election and the Democrats no longer need to appeal exclusively, as these did in the primaries, to the greenest wing of their party for votes and campaign contributions. There are no more choices left for green groups that support the Democrats except to support Obama.

http://djysrv.blogspot.com/2008/08/new-fermi-reactor-is-focus-for-energy.html

http://djysrv.blogspot.com/2008/08/barak-ombama-nuclear-energy-policy.html

Joffan said...

Steven: since Ford started the reprocessing ban, and TMI only happened once, your argument is not compelling. Also Carter is most definitely not alone, or indeed pre-eminent, in showing poor judgement for emergency response.

While there is undoubtedly a strong anti-nuclear contingent among Democrats, there are nuclear supporters there too. In order for nuclear power to succeed, support must be bipartisan, and I think it is rapidly moving that way.

Anonymous said...

I guess I was under the impression that nuclear power doesn't really need any "subsidies" to be competitive. Wind and solar are too expensive without them. At most, we need funding for advanced concepts that will allow us to harness energy from the abundant supplies of U238 and Thorium, as well as advanced reprocessing technology to reduce the amount of fuel waste.

What nuclear needs is to stop being the Rodney Dangerfield of energy sources. Reforms to the permitting and that eliminate the uncertainties created by our legal system and the existence of well-funded green lobbist/lawyers.

I'd bet that if a Democratic congress sent him a bill opening up more nuclear, Obama'd sign it. The real battle is to get enough Democrats to see through the "no solutions" position of the more extreme environmental interest groups and instead look to the interests of the majority.

Anonymous said...

You people are whistling past the graveyard. Obama is just giving nuclear lip service. If elected, he'll bury nuclear deeper than Clinton and Carter did. You have to understand how beholden and captive the Democrat Party is to the environmentalist extremist special interests. Obama isn't going to cross them when it comes to really doing anything about reviving the nuclear option. He'll let it die, and when the energy shortages come because the windies and solies couldn't carry the load, he'll blame it on Bush and the Republicans.