Monday, August 24, 2009

The Greenest and the Blackest

polluted-beijing-voted-chinas-most-beautiful-city_9 Monday morning, Let’s see which stories will help us digest our breakfast better and which will make us do a coffee spit take.

Two Liberal climate hardliners have strongly opposed putting up amendments to the Government's emissions trading scheme, as internal Opposition battlelines sharpen following the Nationals' intransigence.

Backbenchers Dennis Jensen and Cory Bernardi also backed Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce's argument that the Opposition should push the issue of nuclear energy.

Those are Austalians talking. Liberals are the conservatives while Laborites are the liberals. A third party, The Nationals, are also conservative (more rural-based than the Liberals) and usually add to coalitions with the Liberals. Got it? Us either. In any event, Labor has the governing majority, so this is a intra-oppo-coalition squabble that will lead up to the next election.

Australians politicians talking about nuclear energy? The world has gone upside down under.

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Indeed, China may soon be simultaneously the greenest and the blackest place on earth. The country is poised to be at once the world's leader in alternative energy — and its leading emitter of C02.

Oh, we imagine having the largest population has something to do with a the extremely broad energy portfolio that goes with it.

These two targets represent some of the most ambitious green goals in the world, and are expected to make China — in just over a decade — the world's largest producer and consumer of alternative energy.

In case anyone wants to use China as a worst case scenario going into Copenhagen.

These come from a long article in The Guardian that’s well worth a read. Oh, and the nuclear takeaway:

Of course, there are some important caveats. In China, "alternative energy" includes both hydro and nuclear power, which are often not classified as such elsewhere. "Please remember, there are negative environmental consequences for dams and nuclear," says Hu Kanping, editor of the Beijing-based Environmental Protection Journal. "I do not think those are really 'clean' energy sources."

Wouldn’t you know that The Guardian could dig up a Chinese environmentalist to say the usual things? It’s like night following day.

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“Virginia has the most nuclear capacity of any state in the U.S.,” [Bob] McDonnell told the lunch crowd, naming Areva, Northrup Grumman, the U.S. Navy, Dominion Power, and Babcock & Wilcox as the state’s nuclear assets.

“We are going to be in the forefront of the energy picture for a long time to come,” McDonnell said, adding that coal and natural gas also are Virginia resources.

And more:

“I’m a strong supporter of drilling offshore in Virginia,” he said to diners’ applause.

“Virginia is going to be the first state to drill offshore in 2011. It’s already set.

So Bob McDonnell, running for governor in Virginia, has lifted some useful pages from John McCain playbook – and likely to his benefit, since this was a popular, if not quite winning, refrain last year. Nothing’s really changed – except for the price of gas and oil - so this aspect of McDonnell’s campaign should play pretty well.

McDonnell is the Republican; Creigh Deeds is the Democrat. Here’s what he said in his energy plan (smallish pdf) about nuclear:

  • Creigh joins President Obama in believing we should consider nuclear power as part of a broader, comprehensive plan to reduce carbon emissions and reduce our dependency on foreign energy sources.
  • Countries with a higher percentage of nuclear power find lower energy costs and lower carbon emissions.
  • But, we must first address all issues critical to safety, including national security, disposal, and the safe operation of any plant.

Well, good, sort of. That last bullet point basically provides an excuse not to support nuclear energy while officially doing so. But he is officially supportive. If we were single issue voters (and in Virginia) we’d likely give McDonnell the nod, gritting our teeth over off shore drilling, but it’s always good to see a Dem issue unambiguous support – it’s like another domino falling over.

Welcome to Beijing. Hope you survive the experience.

2 comments:

Brian Mays said...

Heh ... someone should ask Mr. Deeds whether he thinks that Virginia's two nuclear plants are safe and whether there are any "issues critical to safety" that need to be addressed before they can produce another kilowatt of power. These plants currently generate about 35% of the electricity generated in Virginia, just a few points below coal, which comes in less than 40%. They also generate almost all of the zero-carbon/zero-particulate electricity in the state.

More telling of Deeds's take on energy is that nowhere does nuclear appear in his plan for a "Virginia Energy Triangle" (although interestingly, coal does). Unlike McDonnell, Deeds won't even acknowledge that Virginia already has an "energy triangle" that is developing the next generation of energy technology today, and this triangle is focused on nuclear technology. Instead, Deeds is cynically playing to both the granola-crunchy, innumerate component of the Democratic base, who get off on pictures of solar panels and wind turbines, and the wealthy fossil-fuel interests (both coal and natural gas) that are based in southwest Virginia.

So, Mark, what was that about Creigh Deeds taking a lead from President Obama? You don't say ...

Finrod said...

Senator Joyce is pushing the isea of a national referendum on nuclear power. I couldn't imagine a worse political tactic at the moment. We need some decent public education on the issue first. If a referendum were to be held now (an unlikely development in any case), nuclear power would almost certainly lose. There is strong support for nuclear power here in some quarters, but I wouldn't think it would be a comfortable enough majority to hols a referendum on the issue. And if a referendum were held and nuclear power rejected, that would wipe it off the political map for at least ten years, in spite of anyone's best efforts to the contrary.

We need time for grassroots support to grow. I'm doing what I can, but it will still take time.