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As Said by Boxer to Alexander

To give a sense of the impact of Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.)insistence on nuclear energy, as noted below, consider the response of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in our Twitter feed to your right. Here’s the whole quote – it ran longer than 140 characters:

You are suggesting a command and control: We order you to build 100 nuclear power plants. $700 billion cost to the ratepayers. No tax credits for them whatsoever. And you come up with other ideas, some of which I support, but costly to taxpayers. All I’m saying is, it is our belief that, if we do this right, we’re going to have those plants built – more plants than you want – and believe me, I’m not the biggest fan of nuclear energy. I believe it has to be part of the solution.

Boxer offers enough pushback to establish bona fides, but she yields to reality in the end.

Boxer also seems to have picked up on Sen. Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) comment last week:

You put a price on carbon, what you end up doing is sending a very strong signal in the marketplace that carbon dioxide emissions, that these kinds of emissions, are to be reduced in the future and that you move in the direction of technologies [in] which you do not create carbon dioxide – nuclear is one of those.

So if it seems that some Democrats are backing into nuclear energy, it still gets them to the same place that Alexander came to frontally.

We’ll take it.

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We would not have caught this without Twitter, incidentally, because it happened at an Agriculture-related hearing, which we don’t follow (not much nuclear there), and it’s not the kind of thing that would turn up in a news story – we snagged the whole quote from the webcast. Granted, it’s a stray comment and we miss a lot of those each day, but it’s a good one. We’ll take our tools as they come.

Comments

Anonymous said…
It’s interesting how Boxer complains about “command and control” with respect to a 100 nuclear plant goal, but then insists on a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that requires a large fraction of renewables, regardless of cost or practicality. Personally, I don’t agree with such production requirement/goal policies in either case. We should just limit CO2 and let the market decide how to respond.

Also, I wonder where she’s getting the assertion that Waxman Markey will result in more than 100 nukes. Is she using the EPA (or CBO?) report which predicted that ~150 new plants by 2030 would result if we just required CO2 reductions and didn’t do anything to intervene in the non-emitting energy market?

The real point is that the entire promise of Waxman-Markey putting a price on carbon and establishing a clean energy market (where nuclear can objectively compete with other means of emissions reduction) is a lie. The RPS requires 15% renewables by 2020, which almost equals the required emissions reduction (17%). Thus, the bill hands almost the entire emissions reduction market to renewables, by govt. fiat. The reduction market is somewhat larger than that, due to generation growth that would occur under business as usual. However, what little required reductions remain after complying with the RPS will be met by invoking the (questionable) carbon offsets that are allowed by the bill.

Thus, there will be no real emissions reduction market. I doubt the price of a carbon credit will ever reach a meaningful level. This is what’s happening in Europe right now. Just like in Europe, the powerful coal and renewables industries got their way, with massive gifts, market fixes, and loopholes. Just like always, nuclear got the shaft.

Jim Hopf

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