Sunday, April 03, 2011

Editorial Round-Up

We've been on the hunt for editorials both negative and positive about nuclear energy to see if there are themes that can be identified. Many resolve that nuclear energy is the surest way to help the country reach emissions goals and see the event in Japan as a call to strengthen safety rules - both in this country and worldwide. But there are other approaches, too.
This op-ed from The New Straits Times (in Malaysia) is negative and very much wants Malaysia to go to solar energy. The problem is, nuclear energy is less expensive. Ah, but that won't always be the case - maybe - down the road a piece:

Hence, the pertinent question in this energy debate is: How would the projected costs of solar power and nuclear power compare in the near future, say, in 10 years time? (2021 is the proposed date for Malaysia's first nuclear power plant).
If indeed the cost of electricity generated by the new nuclear power plants is rising, the cost of solar-generated electricity is likely to be cheaper by then.
Well, hope springs eternal. The credit on this op-ed is charmingly direct:
Associate Professor Dr Lan Boon Leong is an anti-nuclear physicist at Sunway campus of Monash University. He hopes the Fukushima nuclear crisis will end soon and wishes the best for the people of Japan.
We all share his sentiment. I hope "anti-nuclear physicist" isn't part of his title at the university.
Bill Crawford, a columnist at the Meridian (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger is for an all-in energy portfolio:
Just approved [Mississippi] Senate Bill 2723 adds authority to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board to oversee carbon sequestration. This, plus our new lignite coal, biomass and solar energy plants, our Grand Gulf single-reactor expansion, and our untapped offshore fields, give Mississippi the chance to show the world how to produce...and, clean energy.
It'll be interesting to see how this goes. 
The Glens Fall (N.Y.) Post-Star casts a kind of pox on all political houses by running a chart with energy policy statements dating back to President Nixon that all sound - really - similar. It continues:
What the U.S. needs is a lot less hot air and a lot more action. If this country is truly serious about achieving energy independence, the president and Congress can't just keep rehashing the same old platitudes. How about requiring that all new cars get at least 75 miles per gallon? You know they can do it. We know hybrid car technology is possible. How about stating that the U.S. would no longer make cars that aren't hybrids, and then taxing the hell out of companies that make traditional cars? How about announcing that in 10 years, the U.S. will replace its old nuclear power plants with the most modern, safe technology possible? No shortcuts. No easily avoidable worst-case scenarios. The best.
No messing around with the editorial board in Glens Falls, that's for sure. If you turn it just a bit, it's a call for government intervention into the energy market (and car market, too) and a ramp-up in regulation. I'm not judging it, but I think it would sound less appealing to many inside and outside industry put that way.
Up in Oregon, the Register-Guard's Vip Short has been against nuclear energy for a pretty long time and has the record to show for it:

Here in Oregon, I was the first person arrested at our first and only live nuke plant, along with hundreds of others as time unfolded. Subsequent court hearings, even when they resulted in trespass convictions, were victorious in the sense that we were able to field numerous expert witnesses as part of our defense.
One thing I should note about Oregon is that the political needle in some communities can tip further left than is typically seen in the media. It's definitely seen here:
Society’s energy “needs” (“wants” being the more operative word) exist on one side of the scales, and society’s concern for preventing the fouling of the only nest we have is on the other. It is up to us, the people, to educate ourselves and ensure rational protections. If we leave it to the money people, the profiteers — well, we’ve seen what Wall Street’s greed can do to our economy. Short-sighted greed and arrogance will also wreck our living planet, if left to run free.
See? But despite the rhetoric - and leaving his dislike of nuclear energy to one side - Short isn't exactly wrong. I do think he lets an innate distrust of - well, institutions in general cloud his perspective. However, his sense that people ought to educate themselves on the issues and turn up at public and other meetings (or protests) and make themselves heard is exactly right. I can put up with the most intemperate rant if that's the core point. 

Kuala Lampur, Malaysia

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