Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bob Bennett and The 100 Nuclear Plants

1277260Bob_Bennett_official_photo_240 A couple of weeks ago, we noted that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had called for building 100 new nuclear plants. What Alexander created is, shall we say, a meme, one that is catching on in Republican energy circles. Here for example is Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah):

"It's been my experience and my position...that one of the driving forces behind America's economic growth has been our access to cheap energy," Bennett said at a Republican-only hearing on energy development he organized. "If we're going to survive in the kind of economy we want, we need to have access to cheap energy."

We’re not sure we’d stress the “cheap” part of “cheap energy” – in a way, all energy has been cheap and we’re fairly sure that even the most draconian energy bill might make energy less cheap but far from ruinously expensive - but we take his point, especially since nuclear energy portends no particular need for foreign entanglement. It answers to concerns of energy security quite tidily.

Bennett serves on the energy and natural resources committee and is ranking member on the energy subcommittee of the appropriations committee. He has a significant voice in these issues. So his proscription matters:

That means, Bennett says, reviving the idea of building new nuclear reactors, a move the United States hasn't made since 1977. He wasn't alone in that thought.

He sure wasn’t.

"The president has said Iran can produce electricity through nuclear power, so why in the world should we not in the United States begin to pick up the technology that we invented," Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said.

"The future of energy is clean energy," said Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, including, "building at least 100 new nuclear power plans in the next 20 to 25 years."

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said he was stumped why anyone would oppose such a construction blitz.

"You'd think that all Americans can come together on a plan like that," Wicker said.

You’d think. We cannot find ourselves disagreeing with any of this, although we think Bennett’s Republican’s-only get-together would have benefited from some bipartisan effort. Excluding Democrats is what Republicans don’t like when it happens to them and a limited group with no real disagreement can lead to an airy dismissal of problems.

But if Bennett can broaden out his coalition some more – and we think he could – he can turn an interesting assemblage into one that might have an impact on policy. We hope he does that.

Himself. Sen. Bennett is in his third term as junior Senator and is next up for election next year. You can get a sense of his outlook on energy here.


Charles Barton said...

Nuclear Green is devoted to cheep nuclear energy. In route to that goal I propose numerous tricks:
factory manufacture
Recycling coal fired power plants for reactor sites
clustering modular reactors
Automatic reactor operation with no onsite staff
Underground location
And of Course, a fluid salt core
Based on old ORNL estimates LFTRs in the United States need not be greatly more expensive of Indian PHWR.

Pete said...

What leads you to believe the Democrats were "excluded"?

Marcel F. Williams said...

Republicans are a minority party. So they need to reach out to pro-nuclear Democrats if they seriously want to expand nuclear power production in this country.

But if the Republicans simply want to play politics with this issue, then there will be no significant expansion of nuclear energy in America because the extreme left in the Democratic Party is strongly against any nuclear expansion.

Clean energy is more than just a political issue. The fate of the American economy and the world's environment is at stake.

Joel Upchurch said...

I don't having some pro-nuke Democrats is going to help much when the leadership won't let Pro-nuke bills out of committee for a floor vote.

It looks like the Waxman-Markey bill, which is going to the floor this week, has a anti-nuke gotcha on page 245. It requires nuclear power plants built under the Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program pay "prevailing wages" for the plant construction. This will increase the cost and negate the savings of the loan Guarantee.


Anonymous said...

It requires nuclear power plants built under the Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program pay "prevailing wages" for the plant construction. This will increase the cost and negate the savings of the loan Guarantee.

But doesn't NEI say in all the economic analyses of existing and new plants that it releases that nuclear power jobs already and will pay HIGHER than average wages for the regions in which they're located?

If that's true, why would a requirement to pay prevailing wages even affect nuclear projects, let alone increase their costs?