Monday, June 15, 2009

Meet the Governors: Dr. Chu Goes West

Butch_Otter Well, actually, he came from the west, so this isn’t a case of a Washington tenderfoot having to adapt to the rough-and-ready ways of our cowboy politicians out west – not that we don’t enjoy the cliche-laden image of it anyway.

In fact, Energy Secretary Steven Chu is visiting the Western Governors Association annual meeting in Park City Utah. It’s running from the 14th to the 16th, and you can watch various sessions via streaming video.

The Governors have ideas about nuclear energy, as expressed in their Resolution 09-1: Energy Policy, Renewable Energy and Transmission for the West :

Nuclear energy currently provides 20 percent of the nation’s electricity and 10 percent of the electricity within the WGA states. Nuclear energy is a baseload source of electricity and does not produce greenhouse gases, ozone, haze, or mercury. For new nuclear power facilities to be built, a range of issues associated with cost, safety, waste disposal, nonproliferation, and natural resource requirements must be taken into consideration and properly addressed.

And they’d really like those issues to find resolution, as indicated in this report:

Idaho Governor "Butch" Otter then asked Secretary Chu about the future of nuclear energy, another technology that some are looking to develop in Utah. Chu responded that nuclear energy has to be part of the nation's energy future, and said the administration wants to revive the industry, after it essentially came to a halt 30 years ago, when the Three Mile Island accident occurred.

"We're trying to help. We have some loan guarantee money that will help three, possibly four reactors get going. We need to get more than that going, for sure," said Chu. "We also want to do research in more advanced designs of reactors."

We’d only note that while building new plants came to a halt, the nuclear industry rolled right along.

Stay tuned. There may be more interesting tidbits coming from this conference.

Maybe the whole cowboy thing isn’t so far off. That’s Governor Otter on the right. Here’s the story: [In December 2007], Governor Butch Otter and more than 100 volunteers donned warm clothes, braved chilly temperatures, picked up hoops and headed into the sagebrush. The reason? To help the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) collect sagebrush seeds to restore sagebrush habitat in burned areas around southern Idaho. Good for the governor!

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