We get a lot of email with suggestions on what we might want to spotlight on the blog. A fair amount of it comes from think tanks, those bubbling cauldrons of policy wonks, who often go at issues with a partisan zeal that leaves us breathless. (Some think tanks are non-partisan, at least nominally, but it doesn’t take too long to sort out what’s what.)
So let’s put on our thinking caps and visit with the tankers.
First, here’s something utterly plausible from the Lexington Institute’s Rebecca Grant:
Yes, a politician running for office would be thrilled with the numbers routinely posted by Americans polled on whether they support nuclear power. Gallup pollsters started asking the question back in 1994. Since then, nuclear power never dipped below a 50% approval rating except for one slip to 46% in 2001. This year’s Gallup poll finds 59% of Americans favor use of nuclear power as a domestic energy source.
The numbers on nuclear power generation also show only 52% of Democrats in favor, vs. 71% of Republicans. Only 47% of women are in favor. Household income fractures the data even more, with high earners in favor and lower-wage earners opposed.
No wonder the politics are tough when key voting blocks hold different views. Meanwhile, Department of Energy forecasts are counting on a big increase in nuclear generating plants over the next decade. Increasing electricity usage and concerns about the climate impact of coal plants make nuclear power an important part of the equation.
That’s nearly the whole piece. We agree with just about all of it, though we’d probably note that the raw numbers are good enough to protect even the most Democratic members of Congress from a problematic primary. We tend to the argument that lingering Democratic issues with nuclear energy are historical rather than practical (considering how long some members have been around) and are dropping away with every passing month. But that’s the thing with think tanks: you get to think too!
Here’s a description of the Lexington Institute:
The Lexington Institute believes in limiting the role of the federal government to those functions explicitly stated or implicitly defined by the Constitution. The Institute therefore actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation, and strives to find nongovernmental, market-based solutions to public-policy challenges. We believe a dynamic private sector is the greatest engine for social progress and economic prosperity.
Sounds like our friends over at Heritage, perhaps a bit more amped. Makes us appreciate Dr. Grant’s non-partisan review of the facts all the more, an angle from which Heritage (which has some terrific researchers on-board) would benefit.
Since we make fun of Heritage, let’s be fair and point out a very interesting piece by Jack Spencer on Rep. Joe Pitts’ (R-Penn.) Streamline America's Future Energy Nuclear Act, which seems a pretty sensible approach to clearing away some bureaucratic roadblocks to speedily getting new nuclear energy projects going. We want to look at this bill a little more closely ourselves, but for right now, check out Spencer’s analysis of it and we’ll return to the subject later.
All right, what else? How about:
Instead of $1.5 trillion wasteful Obama spending, we need $1.5 trillion for 100 nuclear power plants of 2,500 MW name plate capacities to achieve long term energy and economic security. … But no country can today afford to destroy its economy by following idealistic and in some cases even undemocratic agendas.
This is Hans Linhardt over at the Gerson Lehrman Group. A bit intense, we’d say. We want to avoid destroying our economy by following, well, any course of action that would have that result. What does Lindhardt suggest?
- cancel the present pending Obama energy legislation
- concentrate all funds on Natural Gas and Nuclear Energy [Linhardt thinks too much money is being spent on renewables.]
- reinstate the Atomic Energy Commission
- reduce the bureaucracy at DOE and EPA
Well, anybody can say anything, of course, and this qualifies as anything. We just don’t know how Linhardt would go about any of this without considerable dictatorial powers.
Here’s how Gerson Lehrman describes itself:
Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) is the global marketplace for expertise. Since 1998, its technology-enabled platform for collaboration and consultation has helped the world’s leading institutions find, engage, and manage experts across a broad range of industries and disciplines.
Broad range seems right to us. Not strictly a think tank, but its experts discuss policy a fair amount.
Think tank. We imagine the term comes from the idea of a gas tank. Instead of powering cars, it powers ideas.