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The Third Presidential Debate

lincoln douglas debate Or was it the 564th? Well, it was the last one anyway. Here are the nuclear quotes and we should note, this is three-for-three in which there were nuclear shout outs. Granted, all eyes are on the economy and associated pocket book issues, so we expected much less about energy policy this time out.

First, McCain:

Energy -- well, first -- second of all, energy independence. We have to have nuclear power. We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. It's wind, tide, solar, natural gas, nuclear, off-shore drilling, which Senator Obama has opposed.

We've heard this one before, although it oddly came after the candidates were asked what programs they'd cut. McCain had several suggestions: he really doesn't like ethanol:

I oppose subsidies for ethanol because I thought it distorted the market and created inflation; Senator Obama supported those subsidies.

Answering how to eliminate dependence on foreign oil:

We can eliminate our dependence on foreign oil by building 45 new nuclear plants, power plants, right away. We can store and we can reprocess.

Senator Obama will tell you, in the -- as the extreme environmentalists do, it has to be safe.

Look, we've sailed Navy ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them. We can store and reprocess spent nuclear fuel, Senator Obama, no problem.

So the point is with nuclear power, with wind, tide, solar, natural gas, with development of flex fuel, hybrid, clean coal technology, clean coal technology is key in the heartland of America that's hurting rather badly.

So the point is with nuclear power, with wind, tide, solar, natural gas, with development of flex fuel, hybrid, clean coal technology, clean coal technology is key in the heartland of America that's hurting rather badly.

"Extreme environmentalists?" Do they use organic bungee cords or something? You can also see that McCain's points are much the same as he has made before, with one notable exception. In the last paragraph above, he puts nuclear energy among its coevals instead of making it stand alone in the cold, cold wind. Rhetorically, that's important, as it makes nuclear energy a peer of its non-emitting cousins instead of something "other." A little thing, but important.

And Obama? Well, nothing, so we guess this wasn't a complete sweep of the debates - he did make some terse statements in the first two matches. Here's a bit where nuclear might have slid in:

That's why I've focused on putting resources into solar, wind, biodiesel, geothermal. These have been priorities of mine since I got to the Senate, and it is absolutely critical that we develop a high fuel efficient car that's built not in Japan and not in South Korea, but built here in the United States of America.

And that's almost a stretch. We're not sure how nervous Obama makes us - check back after we have our blood pressure measured - since he does recognize a place for nuclear energy. But it is not high among his priorities. We'll just have to see.

Did you know the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates all had one subject? - the expansion of slavery into new territories of the United States. The debate format was: the first speaker spoke an hour in the affirmative, the second speaker an hour and a half in opposition, then the first speaker concluded with a half-hour rebuttal. The two alternated going first, with Sen. Stephen Douglas kicking things off.

The result? Both won - Douglas retained his seat and Lincoln rode the popularity of the debates into a collected book edition (for which he oversaw the publication) and the Presidency.


Jason Ribeiro said…
In the second debate Obama defended himself against the accusation that he was not for nuclear energy. I think Obama and his strategists didn't want to get dragged into that again so as not to fuel McCain's ammo or get into a detailed debate about nuclear technology.

This is politics of course and requires a certain psychology. In this case, they seem to know the formula to push McCain's emotional buttons. Obama stays calm, maybe too calm for some but McCain's tense stifled anger always seems to get the better of him. This is an unattractive quality in many people, particularly in one who wants to be president.

I wouldn't be too worried about whether Obama talked up or down nuclear at this point as I would be the idea of getting the positive word out about nuclear. Nuclear has quite a hill to climb for wider acceptance. Nuclear can be closer to fail proof if it consistently shows acceptance in polls like it did a few weeks ago.
Anonymous said…
Extreme environmentalist is the new term for anti-nuclear. It implies that normal environmentalists now embrace nuclear as reliable, cheap, non-carbon emitting energy. Extreme environmentalists do not like nuclear just because of the radiation and proliferation risks involved. They think that the risks far outweigh the non-carbon environmental benefit. They think that we can go carbon-free via wind, solar, conservation, etc. and not suffer these other risks. They are completely naive and part of the no solutions platform. Gore, Hillary, and Reid fall squarely in the extreme environmentalist category (aka, anti-nuclear).
Anonymous said…
I continue to remind you folks that to elect Obama is to effectively put an anti-nuke in office. Regardless of what Obama says with his mouth, he will appoint anti-nukes to the NRC and he will appoint an anti-nuke as DOE secretary. Regardless of your dislike for McCain and the Republicans and the current president Bush (whom I love even if you do NOT), if you want new nukes you have to vote for McCain. Now of course we're not single issue voters, and that's why I will vote AGAINST Obama - because this isn't the issue that tips the plate for me. Yet if you're one of those people for whom nuke power does tip the plate, then you have to vote AGAINST Obama. Sure, most people think it's popular to hate Bush and vote against McCain. But I don't give a darn about such a fleeting thing as popularity and all the disinformation that comes from the overwhelmingly liberal news media. I wish Bush could run AGAIN. Sadly, I shall have to accept McCain. And I don't care if the rest of you are in love with Obama. He's the WRONG man for the job. WRONG - COMPLETELY WRONG.
Anonymous said…
I shouldn't have to point out how ludicrous it is to claim that requiring nuclear power to be 'safe' makes one an 'environmental extremist.' But that's McCain's definition.

And posters on this board should know far better than the general public that a President McCain couldn't "build 45 nuclear power plants." That's not what the government does. Easy to say, hard to do. But that's what you do in a campaign...say stuff.
Jason Ribeiro said…
In regards to the last anon poster, I think that its a good point to say the government does not build nuclear power plants. It does however lay the ground rules and regulations. If the next president can apply a straight carbon tax for carbon emitting during electricity plant production, then that would be an incentive not to build more coal and instead build more nuclear. There has to be a carrot and stick methods to encourage change for free enterprise.
Arvid said…
Anon and Jason Ribeiro,

Who is to say it not the job of the government to take a large interest - and equity - in energy?

Can you spell F - R - A - N - C - E, or E-d-F?

Anon at 11:25,

Obama is not anti-nuclear. He's from Illinois! He's gotren more money from the Industry than McCain has.

And during the eight Bush years, ZERO new reactors were built.

Total FAIL.
Jason Ribeiro said…
I don't think anyone has said it's not the job of gov't to take a large interest or equity in energy. In some countries like France, it exists more than it does here, but we also have many municipally owned power facilities, regulators, laws etc. Certainly in America we are going to have a mix of govt. and private industry but to what degree is the question.
Actually it's not true that zero reactors were built if you count the ones on naval ships. More importantly, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 helped pave the way for new reactors. Obama voted for it, McCain did not. I call that a big stride, not a fail at all. Renewed interest in nuclear is at all all time high and that's even more of a boost.
Anonymous said…
To Arvid, didn't TVA finally finish a nuke plant with Bush in office? Didn't Bush start GNEP? Aren't AP1000 and ESBWR being financed with DOE money because of Bush? I really hate this continuing campaign of disinformation against Bush.
Rod Adams said…
@anonymous (7:18) - now there is an interesting statement - you give the supposed free enterprise, tax cutting Bush credit for DOE funding of ESBWR and AP1000. In other words, if true, the administration that has increased my future tax burden rather substantially through ever increasing deficits is giving some of that money to two very large companies to make it easier for them to eventually compete against me.

That's great.

Of course, it is not really true that the Bush Administration is responsible for funding the AP1000 and the ESBWR.

The AP1000 actually started receiving DOE funds during the 1990s. Westinghouse first submitted the AP1000 for NRC review in August of 2000.

ESBWR is part of a continuing effort by GE to keep their reactor designers busy, even when they are not actually building new reactors in the US. I am pretty sure you can find a rather steady stream of DOE funding for GE dating back into the late 1990s.
t7 said…
anonymous - "..and Reid fall squarely in the extreme environmentalist category (aka, anti-nuclear)."

This is BS. Sen Reid (and Sen Hatch) introduced "Thorium Energy Independence and Security Act of 2008". Google it out.

McCain's 3 pages long plan to miraculously build 45 new plans is a scam from the "gas tax holiday" bag. He did not present any serious nuclear proposal at all, just BSing. Nuclear regulation, funding, R&D, etc. under McCain will be akin to everything under McCain - 4 more years of Bush's policies. I agree that policies under Bush were better than under Clinton, but that is only because Clinton was so bad. Underfunded programs with few scientists in several national labs is better than no scientists at all... Where was push for advanced nuclear technologies, where is breeder program, high temperature program, thorium program, etc. According to the press releases, GA should have been already starting up one GT-MHR unit, instead it makes UAVs for battlefields. Thank you very much.

To assert that Obama is antinuclear is akin to other smears - he stated publicly that he supports nuclear energy, he is perhaps the most pro-nuclear democrat. He is from *Illinois*, after all.

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