Monday, November 03, 2008

California Edges Toward Nuclear Power

arnold-schwarzenegger "Nuclear power is a dead-end in California, and we shouldn't be wasting resources on such an expensive and problematic energy option," said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. "We have far cleaner, cheaper and safer energy resources like solar, wind and geothermal, and we should be investing in those."

Well, that's not very positive, is it? After all, the Santa Anna wind doesn't blow all the time, and although they do have some very large deserts, they unfortunately lurk under moonlight half the time. But California, which gets about 15% of their electricity from nuclear energy - from two plants in the state plus another over in Arizona - is becoming uneasy about reaching their carbon emissions goal. Consequently, nuclear energy keeps entering the conversation.

This story from the Sacramento Bee rounds up the attitudes about nuclear energy in the state. Once you've got the Sierra Club out of the way, things start looking up.

"It drives me nuts when I go over to France and they get 80 percent of their power with no greenhouse gas emissions whatsoever from nuclear power. And they have been safe, they have been handling it the right way and they are building some more. So I think we should look at that again and revisit it."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger then removed thirteen bullets from his stomach and legs and stitched up the wounds with a rusty needle. He's right on the nose, though, about nuclear energy and it's only a shame he doesn't want to expend political capital on overturning the ban on new plants there.

You might call his recent statements trial balloons, though, especially in light of this:

A Field Poll released in July showed that 50 percent of voters support building new nuclear plants in California, compared to 41 percent who are opposed. In 1990, only 38 percent supported new plants.

So that might mean getting the ban overturned by referendum (which they love in California) or perhaps the legislature will just do it on their own account since they have some political cover.

One point not mentioned in the story: however tomorrow's Presidential race turns out, we owe it to John McCain for openly supporting nuclear power and being loud about it - loud enough, in fact, to make his listeners rethink opposition to it. We can't say that this had an effect on this poll or any other (nuclear has seen improvement in the polls for awhile), but we think it a cultural sign that supporting nuclear energy is not a campaign killer.

Okay, you know we wanted to get something from Conan or Predator for our picture, but we couldn't bring ourselves to do it. Besides, with what looks like an official portrait complete with politician pointing - they love to point, the politicians - Schwarzenegger may be considering a less strenuous role if he returns to acting - like, say, Merlin the Magician. (But does any actor-politician ever return to acting - hmm, Fred Thompson, maybe?)


Anonymous said...

Nobody should have to suffer through building a nuke plant in California.

Rancho Seco vet

Anonymous said...

Why not build it in Mexico, just south of the border?

And I mean exactly on the border. You could have one exit from the area into California, and the other into Tijuana.

With the kind of security you have at a nuke plant, the US Border Patrol will be happy not having to guard the (say) 2 km stretch closest to the sea themselves.

Alex Brown said...

I work in the nuclear industry and I can tell you I would NEVER want to work in California, I mean you can pretty much guarantee that the political climate in California will make it so damn impossible to get anything done that any nuclear plant that was built would be way over budget and way behind schedule and be very risky based on the political climate. I mean why would someone choose to work in a place where you are hated and your job is constantly in jeopardy from political pressure and you will likely never see you work come to fruition.

Quincy Sorensen said...

That's why we need to build LFTRs in shipyards and float them over to California. If they don't like them, we take them back.

Matthew66 said...

At some point, the federal government in Mexico or maybe the governments of Baja California or Sonora will follow the government of New Brunswick and build a power plant (or oil refinery) specifically to supply the energy market in California. They'll ignore any attempts to intervene in the licensing process and make money hand over fist. Good luck to them I say.

Anonymous said...

California's moratorium on new nuclear power construction will end if Yucca Mountain is given a construction license by the NRC, possibly in 3 or 4 years from now, after the NRC completes its independent scientific and technical review of the DOE's application.

You can tell what politicians really think about a scientific topic by whether they try to support or to stop scientific reviews. The fact that opponents of Yucca Mountain want to stop the NRC review says it all.

While it would be great to have NRC issue a construction license for Yucca Mountain, our policy for how to use Yucca Mountain is highly flawed. Hopefully Congress can come together and develop a bi-partisan solution that changes the way we would use Yucca Mountain.