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The Nuclear Imperative in Taiwan, Tennessee, and Nevada

washington_postAt the Washington Post, editorial board writer Stephen Stromberg surveys the energy scene in Taiwan:

Taiwan imports about 98 percent of its energy supplies, mostly the fossil fuels that keep its fluorescent streetscapes flashing and its many factories humming.

The Taiwanese are against virtually every form of carbon dioxide-free energy for various reasons. A fourth reactor on the islands faced such massive protest it has never been turned on. But Stromberg is having none of it, coming to the point of his piece:

Because climate change is a global problem, the choices of Germany and Japan — both of which have shut down perfectly serviceable reactors in recent years — and Taiwan as well affect the rest of us. Their greenhouse-gas emissions mix into the atmosphere just like everyone else’s. And the big danger is that these nations will encourage the international stigmatization against nuclear power, when tough-mindedness, not self-indulgence, is necessary. The global norm should be to expect governments to regulate nuclear facilities carefully and appropriately, not to shun them.

Would that it were so easy. It’s hard to think of a representative government that doesn’t relent to the popular view, however misguided or short sighted. But Stromberg makes an interesting point: to what extent does the rest of the world have a say in decisions that involve them, in this case existentially, but happen within other borders? Maybe a case for the United Nations?

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If I tell you the next op-ed comes from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, could you guess what it’s about?

If Nevada becomes a willing partner with the federal government to host a permanent repository, the state would benefit from the return of thousands of high-paying jobs and infrastructure projects necessary to move the shipments of spent fuel and defense materials to the mountain without intersecting population centers. Some financial benefits and the opportunity to negotiate benefit agreements are already law. Nevada would also benefit from other advantages associated with host communities, such as increased local and state tax revenue and an emphasis on high-quality educational programs.

This is Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who led a Congressional delegation out to Yucca Mountain for a tour last week. As Shimkus is is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce environment and economy subcommittee, he has some pull in this area.

Probably his most important point:

As the debate moves forward, it’s clear that science can no longer be used to justify opposition to the project.

His op-ed is well worth a read.

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And finally, former EPS Administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman visited Watts Bar in Tennessee.

"To think what we are putting into the atmosphere and the way we are changing the land isn't having an impact and exacerbating the natural trend toward global warming to a point where nature can't absorb it, I think, is naive," Whitman said. "You have 97 percent of scientists saying that the climate is changing and better than 50 percent of the American people saying they also believe the climate is changing based upon what they see around them with the floods, droughts and storms. I think they would like to see some action."

Hmm. Any ideas on what that action might be?

Despite the $4.2 billion pricetag to complete Watts Bar Unit 2 over the past eight years, the reactor  "is a good investment and I hope we will see more of these type plants to at least keep nuclear power at its current share (about 19 percent of electricity generation) for the future," Whitman said.

"It's a huge and vital part of our clean energy future."

Watts Bar 2 is likely to be the first new nuclear reactor to go online in the U.S. since, well, Watts Bar 1 back in 1996.

Comments

jimwg said…
Guts n' Kudos. Stephen Stromberg needs his own nuclear blog.

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