Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wisconsin Clean Sweep

Scott Walker Awhile ago, we featured a race for the House in New York in which all three candidates offered support for nuclear energy. New York, meet Wisconsin:

It could be the most radical yet least discussed policy change coming for Wisconsin. Both candidates for governor  – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, a Republican – said in a recent survey they would support lifting the ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants in the state.

No offense to Milwaukee Magazine’s Matt Hrodey, but if that’s the most radical idea coming down Wisconsin’s pike, time to hit the off-ramp. We know Wisconsin isn’t that dull.

After all, as Hrodey himself points out, Wisconsin has plants – Kewaunee and Point Beach – and they chug along quite tidily:

Nuclear power generates about 20 percent of the state’s power, according to the Public Service Commission.

The article aims to produce some controversy, though, so there’s this:

Sharing similar concerns about atomic waste [as Greenpeace], State Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) pledged that he would introduce a bill when the state Legislature convenes in January to ban companies from transporting the waste on state waterways.

I wonder if that happens now. In any event, Rep. Richards will not have a governor who would sign it on that basis alone – frankly, I can see bills like this taking hold due to the sacrosanct nature of the waterways in many states – Lakes Michigan and Superior in Wisconsin, for starters.

For example, here’s Tom Barrett on his web site:

Tom is committed to working to protect our lakes and waterways. He was a forceful proponent of the Great Lakes Compact, and he has always opposed efforts to drill for oil and gas in the Great Lakes.

And here’s Scott Walker:

Two Great Lakes…over 15,000 inland lakes…thousands of acres of forests…the nation’s greatest river. These are a small but significant snapshot of Wisconsin’s fantastic natural resources where Wisconsin families camp, fish and hunt.

See? A lot of state pride is justifiably tied up in the lakes and the natural beauty of the state. Neither candidate says anything about nuclear energy (that I could find) on their sites, but that’s okay – it doesn’t seem to be a bone of contention between them.

The latest roundup of polls at Real Clear Politics shows Walker up by about nine points – it’s an unusual year, though, so we’ll see.

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I’m not absolutely sure how big a story this is:

Chris Huhne announced yesterday that plans for a tidal barrage green energy scheme were dead in the water - and the UK will get eight new nuclear power stations.

The Energy Secretary was blasted for failing to honor the Lib Dem manifesto vow to scrap nuclear in favor of green energy projects.

Huhne is himself a Liberal Democrat, the minority party of the governing coalition in Great Britain where the majority party is the Conservatives. Huhne decided to stand his ground quite forcefully:

Mr Huhne said: "I'm fed up with the stand-off between advocates of renewables and of nuclear, which means we have neither. We urgently need investment in new and diverse energy sources."

His decision is at odds with the Lib Dem manifesto, which "rejected" a new generation of nuclear plants as a "far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions than promoting energy conservation and renewable energy".

Huhne gets it about right: he may be in hot water with his party mates (I’m not sure why that tidal energy project went south – presumably, nothing to do with nuclear energy), but he has chosen to do something private industry supports. Austerity is key in Britain right now, so having private interests want to pursue nuclear energy fulfills public policy without the government having to splash out the money.

So, good – I’ll look more into this one – I’m curious about what else Britain wants to do in the energy realm - but this move doesn’t seem all that controversial.

No, Wisconsin politicians do not normally dress in leather jackets and tee shirts. In his role of County Executive a couple of years ago, Scott Walker showed up to unveil a statue of The Fonz, the character played by Henry Winkler on the Happy Days TV show. Happy Days was set in Milwaukee. Honestly, the gear works for Walker.

2 comments:

SteveK9 said...

Estimated cost of the Severn barrage --- ₤30B (those are pounds if not displayed correctly). They simply decided it would not be cost effective compared to other low-carbon technologies.

DocForesight said...

So if 2 NPPs supply 20% of Wisconsin's electricity then could it be said that 10 NPPs could supply 100% of it? If so, at 1 square mile per NPP that's only 10 square miles of land use for the entire state for power generation. Compare that to wind at what, 200+ square miles per GWe? So that would be approx 2,000 square miles -- when the wind blows.