Friday, April 29, 2011

Build From, Not Run From

Steve-Pearce-250 U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce says the U.S. nuclear energy industry doesn't have technological problems — it has "political problems."

The "United States developed the nuclear power field and then regulated it out of existence. We have built no new nuclear power plants in 30 years," Pearce said Wednesday, the first day of a two-day international nuclear energy conference in Hobbs.

The Republican New Mexico congressman said nuclear power is essential to the nation's energy future, and suggested that the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan brought on by a devastating earthquake was an incident to build from, not run from.

About right, though he really doesn’t like regulation. 

"We should be analyzing exactly what went on, instead of saying 'no' to all nuclear," Pearce told the gathering, which is considering how to make nuclear energy a viable and essential piece of the world's energy portfolio.

Saying no to nuclear energy squeezes a world hungry for electricity and energy security and squelches the attempt to reduce carbon emissions. “Build from, not run from” seems a pretty good motto.


Speaking of run from:

In India, the dilemma is this: it has 20 nuclear plants in operation, with an additional 23 on order. With the country desperately short of power, and requiring energy to grow, concerned citizens are asking if nuclear is still the answer for India.

I’m sure other concerned citizens are saying nuclear is the answer, but this is The Guardian, so we won’t hear much from them.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cautiously announced a "special safety review" of all plants. "Not enough," say about 50 eminent Indians, who at the end of March demanded a review of the country's entire nuclear power policy for "appropriateness, safety, costs, and public acceptance". The group also called for an "independent, transparent safety audit" of all nuclear facilities to be undertaken with the "involvement of civil society organizations and experts outside the department of atomic energy". Until then, they demanded a moratorium on all nuclear activity and a revocation of recent clearances.

I don’t think by moratorium they mean closing the 20 plants. In any event, Singh isn’t throwing in the towel despite that group of 50:

The Congress-led [meaning the Congress Party, roughly equivalent to the Democratic Party here] government said it planned to introduce legislation in the coming session of parliament that will create an independent and autonomous nuclear power regulator, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India, to oversee the expanding nuclear energy industry.

The decision comes as the administration of Manmohan Singh, prime minister, affirmed its determination to go ahead with plans for France’s Areva to build two 1,650MW European pressurized water reactors, for $9.6bn, on India’s west coast, in spite of fierce local resistance.

The Indian NRA is a good idea – anything that beefs up oversight, hopefully as reasonably free from government interference as from industry coziness.

“Fierce local resistance?” That needs attention paid to it, either to sell the safety of the plants and the economic benefits or to accept the range of complaints as at least arguable and propose a compromise. India needs the energy, but it also needs to remain responsive to its polity.

Rep. Steve Pearce. Always good for a politician to locate an American flag if he’s going to get his picture taken. Heck, not a bad idea all around.

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