Friday, November 20, 2009

Stories Like Inchworms

inchworm If you’ve been following the health care or climate change debates, you know that your local newspaper will run a story each day whether or not anything significant happened that day because of the intense interest in the subjects. Some stories can roll on for a good long time before anything resembling resolution occurs – instead, the stories inch along, one detail at a time.

For example:

We wrote about the lack of enthusiasm of the Scots government for putting up new nuclear units, as proposed by the United Kingdom’s energy plan. We can’t pretend to understand the relationship between Scotland and the central government – it seemed as though it could complain but not really stop the plan.

But it did leave an open question: what do Scots feel about nuclear energy? Answer: they’re okay with it.

A survey has revealed that more than half of Scots support the use of nuclear power stations to provide Scotland's energy.

The YouGov poll showed that 61 per cent of those surveyed here thought nuclear power should be part of the energy mix.

However:

A spokesman for finance secretary John Swinney said: "This government was elected on a policy of no new nuclear power stations, and Scotland's Parliament has since endorsed this position."

Hmmm! It’s certainly possible people elected the government for all kinds of reasons without nuclear being determinative in their votes. We doubt very many voted for or against nuclear in our last election. We suggest Mr. Swinney revisit his assumptions.

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We wrote about Alternate Energy Holdings a few weeks ago and wondered whether their efforts to build a plant in Idaho – or China – might ever come to fruition. Not sure about China, but:

The Payette County [Idaho] Planning and Zoning Commission on Nov. 19 took testimony from about 260 people on whether the county’s comprehensive plan should be changed to allow the rezone of about 5,100 acres for a proposed nuclear power plant.

This is for AEHI’s project. 260 sounds like a pretty good turnout (Payette County has about 20,000 people). So how did it go?

Testimony was “sharply divided” between those in favor of the project based on the potential for thousands of jobs and cheap energy, and those opposed on fears of radioactive waste disposal and disruption of the area’s rural character.

Well, the first worry isn’t really that worrisome, but we can’t argue with the second – any power plant has the capacity to disrupt natural beauty, though a well architected plant can mitigate some of the disruption. AEHI could probably win some converts with a few attractive prototype drawings.

The zoning commission hasn’t made a decision yet. That’ll be the next movement in this story.

For some more on this, including comments from Don Gillispie, CEO and chairman of AEHI, see here.

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We wrote about Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Tom Carper’s (D-Del.) efforts to write an amendment to the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill that would provide it with a strong nuclear title. Since then, this morphed into an alternative climate change bill that would gain more support among Republicans, spearheaded by Lieberman and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). John McCain (R-Ariz.) was on-board with these efforts at the start, But Politico now reports:

“Their start has been horrendous,” McCain said Thursday. “Obviously, they’re going nowhere.”

Win some, lose some?

The rest of the article reviews Sen. McCain’s sharp turn away from supporting any type of climate change bill, which had previously been a signature issue for him – he co-authored several pieces of such legislation throughout this decade.

An interesting piece, though as with a lot of Politico’s reporting, the article speculates about things it actually cannot know - unless, in this case, McCain fully explains his change of heart. And he hasn’t done that. So take it for what it is.

So these stories inch along. As always, Let’s see what happens next.

Although you have every reason to assume inchworms are, well, worms, they are in fact caterpillars. Eventually, they will become moths and, all things being equal, they will avoid yellow lights.

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