Monday, July 13, 2009

James Inhofe Squares the Warming Circle

james_inhofe Politico is running a package of energy related articles in their current print edition and also on its Web site. While the articles as a group are a bit lumpy – there are chats with Barbra Streisand and Carole King, two singers whose, um, records we respect – there are also a fair number of policymakers weighing in.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has a run at nuclear energy:

Listen carefully in Washington, and almost everyone agrees that nuclear energy must be a part of our future domestic energy mix, and for good reason: Nuclear energy is the world’s largest source of carbon-free energy, generating over 70 percent of our emission-free electricity here in the U.S.

Mmm, honey. More please:

Not only will nuclear energy give a boost to our economy, it will also produce new jobs. Mark Ayers, president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, has stated: “We will work closely with the nuclear energy industry to help pursue the adoption of a diverse American energy portfolio that places a high priority on the re-emergence of nuclear power.”

Jobs, good.

But, despite significant efforts on the part of NRC staff, this process hasn’t unfolded as smoothly as it could. In fact, there appear to be no actual dates when any of the new plant licenses will be issued. The commission must take responsibility for managing the licensing process and set detailed schedules, which are critical to ensuring that the process is safety-focused and efficient.

Regulatory reform, maybe more resources for the NRC, also good.

In fact, Inhofe lays out most of the arguments for a full revival of the nuclear industry that we might make. It almost gets into oversell territory – the suggestion that building a zillion new plants over 20 or 25 years will bring about an energy panacea. It’s not that Inhofe or Sen. Lamar Alexander really think nuclear is the only energy source worth considering, but that it needs the solid push represented by some of their recent statements.We admit we prefer Sen. John McCain’s all-of-the-above energy formulation, as it seems more reflective of the world as it is and could plausibly become. Regardless, Inhofe hits the bell soundly for nuclear energy.

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Now, one other point: Sen. Inhofe is likely the Senate’s most vociferous opponent of global warming research – or rather the conclusions thereof. One of the pages on his Web site is entitled: U.S. Senate Minority Report Update: “More Than 700 (Previously 650) International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims.”

Lines include:

The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

This new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP Ranking Member [that would be Sen. Inhofe] is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of scientific opposition challenging significant aspects of the claims of the UN IPCC and Al Gore.

Skeptical scientists are gaining recognition despite what many say is a bias against them in parts of the scientific community and are facing significant funding disadvantages.

You get the idea. We have no reason to doubt Sen. Inhofe’s sincerity in pursuing this line of inquiry nor can we dogmatically insist he is wrong. We can say warming skepticism currently seems a rearguard action. The importance of global warming as an issue for the public has fallen off in favor of economic worries, but for many it seems a settled, or settled enough, topic.

So the energy bill has pushed forward with global warming as a “settled enough topic,” and Inhofe has realistically put forward an idea that answers to industry, to a weak job market and to climate change skeptics and adherents. That may be squaring the circle a bit forcefully, but it does get the job done.

“Point of order!” Sen. James Inhofe.

11 comments:

Ioannes said...

We should use nuclear energy to replace fossil fuels because it isn't right to dump one's refuse into the atmosphere. However, Earth was warmer when the Vikings settled Greenland and Newfoundland a millennia ago, so global warming from CO2 emissions appears to be more hype than science. Global warming isn't the reason to use nuclear energy. Rather, the reasons include better safety, energy independence, virtually unlimited fuel supply (if one considers reprocessing or recycling, whichever term is appropriate). If all the chicken little stuff about CO2 emissions causing global warming is true, then why is NY State having one of its cooler summers this year, and why was Earth significantly warmer a millennia ago?

Anonymous said...

If all the chicken little stuff about CO2 emissions causing global warming is true, then why is NY State having one of its cooler summers this year, and why was Earth significantly warmer a millennia ago?

1) NY State is not the center of the universe,

and

2) 1009 AD is not the center of the universe

Marcel F. Williams said...

The ice caps are melting, global sea levels are rising, and there is now more C02 in the atmosphere than there has been on average during the last 2.1 million years.

This is actually, an unusually cool interglacial period in our geologic history. Normally, places like Florida are completely underwater after an ice age has ended. I guess the fossil fuel companies want help bring back its normal submergence and maybe more:-)

Joffan said...

No wonder the nuclear industry is in a mess, if their version of good judgement is hitching themselves to Inhofe's wagon, and respectfully parading his flaky arguments against climate change.

The irony is that Inhofe uses much the same playbook to attack climate change that the anti-nukes have used for years to attack nuclear power. It is the same mix of deceptive data selection, argument by isolated anecdote and vast armies of strawmen that have baffled the fact-oriented brains of nuclear power.

PS, guys: the Earth was not significantly warmer 1000 years (one millenium) ago. Try not to believe every half-baked fabrication you are told.

Brian Mays said...

Hmm ... it makes you wonder:

Which is better, someone who argues that there is no problem, but endorses a solution anyway, or someone who has gone to great effort to publicize the problem, but offers no realistic solutions?

Who is more likely to get results?

SteveK9 said...

Joffan said it all for me. It's disappointing that the strongest advocates for nuclear power are people like Inhofe.

Bryan Kelly said...

Politico should consider writing about this, too:

American Energy Act H.R. 2828 [111th]

From the June 11, 2009 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Edited for space:

"...The American Energy Act establishes a national goal of licensing 100 new nuclear reactors over the next 20 years. With 31 announced reactor applications already in the pipeline, this goal can be achieved -- and it will revitalize an entire manufacturing sector, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. The bill also streamlines a cumbersome regulatory process by offering a two-year, fast-track approval program for power-plant applications that employ safe reactor designs already approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission..."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124467604217304035.html

----------------
The simple "Contact Congress" page below enables readers to quickly find and open a window directly to their US Representative, and then cut and paste a simple letter of support.

Please visit and pass it on as you see appropriate.

American Energy Act - Contact Congress - Support Nuclear Energy

or, Twitter-sized:

http://tinyurl.com/ljesvp

David Walters said...

Here is the problem with the American Energy Act: it wants to drill in the National Arctic Preserve and modified to support gas and oil interests. This is deadly for any legislation.

Nuclear power needs to be addressed "as is". The Act's sections on nuclear ARE excellent. By why bring gas and oil into it? IF I were the Greenpeace mole at the Senator's office I'd be *smiling* at this, as I'm sure they are. A HUGE mistake.

Marcel F. Williams said...

Some Republicans just don't get it! In order to reduce and eventually eliminate greenhouse gas pollution, you have to utilize non-carbon dioxide polluting technologies. Its that simple if we want to avoid putting the coastlines of future generations underwater.

So yes on nuclear and yes on renewables but no on petroleum, coal, and natural gas.

Ruth Sponsler said...

Inhofe's support for nuclear energy has very little credibility with me because he is such a verbal "climate change skeptic."

Why doesn't he just come out full-on in favor of fossil fuels, and be done with it?

With friends like that, nuclear energy doesn't need enemies.

Joffan said...

Debunking of Inhofe's attack on anthropogenic climate change is available in the Center for Inquiry's recent report among many other places, and summarised in a trifold brochure (pdf). Among other things they observe that:

Based on publications in the refereed literature, only approximately 10% of the 687 individuals could be indentified definitively as climate scientists. Only approximately 15% could be identified as publishing in fields related to climate science. Examples include solar physicists studying solar irradiance variation.

...

One sometimes hears that only about one hundred “technocrats” are responsible for the conclusions of the IPCC-2007 Science Report. That statement is patently false. If one reads that report, the number is closer to 2,000 scientists who published on climate science in the refereed literature. Their work was summarized by approximately one hundred “technocrats,” with the approval of the relevant science study leaders. Thus, in comparing the IPCC-2007 Science Report and the Senate Minority Report, the proper comparison is between the approximately 137 scientists in the Senate Minority Report (i.e., 20% of 687, constituting individuals who might have published in the refereed literature on topics directly related to climate science) and the approximately 2,000 scientists in the IPCC-2007 Science Report.