Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Apathy in Canada, Catering to Nuclear

Mount_Edith_Cavell,_Jasper_National_Park,_Alberta,_Canada Alberta doesn’t care about nuclear energy; it doesn’t care at all. But if someone has a plant they might like to put up…

"We're not in the debate on one side or the other that the nuclear energy industry needs to be supported or needs to face a moratorium," said Mel Knight, minister of energy. "We are not proponents of nuclear energy, we're not working with any company to build a nuclear energy (facility), what we are saying is 'we need power' and proponents who want to build in the system in Alberta are welcome to do so. What we're doing here is saying we don't choose fuel source."

This elaborate indifference is somewhat poll-driven:

The key findings of the report, said Knight, was that 45 per cent of those polled preferred that proposed nuclear developments be considered on a case-by-case basis. Nineteen per cent said the province should encourage nuclear proposals and about 27 per cent said the province should oppose nuclear proposals.

That’s not exactly even steven – we expect even those who want the province to encourage a nuclear plant would want it to review the proposal – which, of course, it will do anyway. Even the poll seems to emanate a sort of “Fine. Fine. Do what you want” attitude. We can’t complain, of course, but it’s surely the oddest stance we’ve seen to date.

Bruce Power would likely be the entity to build such a plant, but it’s also been swept up in the non-committal wave.

“It's encouraging to see the door remains open for us to demonstrate we can bring value to the province and help Alberta meet its future energy needs without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions,” [Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power's president and chief executive officer] added in a statement.

We’d consider following this story if we could just care about it a little more.


Here’s a headline from the New York Times:

Senate Climate Road Map Caters to Nuclear, Offshore Drilling Proponents

Feeling the love yet? Us, either. The story, about the Lieberman-Kerry-Graham framework we wrote about earlier, is judicious enough, but we feel an icy editorial finger at the small of our back.

Mount Edith Cavell in Alberta Canada. We doubt views like this inspire apathy.


DV8 2XL said...

Give them a break in Alberta, given the overwhelming influence of the fossil-fuel industry in that Provence, the fact that anyone is making even slightly positive remarks about nuclear energy is astounding. Everybody is going to be tiptoeing around so as not to wake up the dogs, it's an indication of fear, not apathy.

T-Squared said...

Don't worry Mark, we will get it built here in Alberta. In fact, we have to. While the average Canadian emits 20 tons of greenhouse gases, the average Albertan actually emits about 65 tons of greenhouse gases. Just to avoid carbon tariffs on our oil, we are going to have to bring down our carbon footprint fast and big.

I don't think it was just a coincidence that the announcement was made as Canada was being pounded at the Copenhagen Climate Conference for our heavy oil production. Even Canadians from other provinces are openly distancing themselves from Alberta and the large carbon footprint of the Alberta tar sands. Incidentally, the oil industry prefers the term oil sands, rather than tar sands.

I am even willing to place a wager that we will have a new build here in Alberta, before you see one in the US. The one Bruce Power plans on building in Peace River, Alberta will be for 4000 MW. Not bad, given the largest US nuclear reactor is the Palo Verde plant at 1320 MW.

Anonymous said...

From the New York Times article:

and unlimited loan guarantees or other subsidies for new nuclear plants, "at the expense of cleaner and cheaper renewable technologies," he said.

If there were such a thing, everyone would be supporting it instead of nuclear. But unfortunately we live in Realityland where renewables are neither cheaper, nor cleaner, nor ready for prime-time.

Phil said...


Good points. The Tar Sands are such an environmental catastrophe on so many levels that Alberta can be nothing but apathetic about energy production and pollution.