Skip to main content

The New York Times on the Candidates' Nuclear Views

nytimes_logo Here's the opening paragraph of Larry Rohter's story:

Contrary to what Democrats may think, there is more to John McCain’s energy program than “drill, baby, drill.” And contrary to what Mr. McCain has been saying on the campaign trail, where he proposes the construction of 45 nuclear plants by 2030, Barack Obama does not “oppose the use of nuclear power.”

This pretty well lines up with what we've said as this campaign rolls along (always pleasing), and the story gets Obama's campaign to open up a bit more on what seems to us tepid support:

Elgie Holstein, an adviser to Mr. Obama on energy issues, accused the McCain campaign of misrepresenting Mr. Obama’s position on nuclear power.

“Some specific proposals that Senator McCain has made are troubling,” Mr. Holstein said, because of the problems of storage and reprocessing, and the issue of non-proliferation of nuclear fuel.

Of course, Obama and Holstein could be more forthcoming on how they want to deal with what they call problems; we suspect they'll find them less problematic should they settle into the White House, but we've heard this from them enough to want them to move forward on some ideas.

Once you get past the take away on Obama, the article runs into real trouble dealing with McCain's positions. Partly, this is because the candidate doesn't want to talk to the New York Times or let his spokesmen do so either. That's short-sighted on McCain's part because it allows Rohter to proceed as he will.

For example:

In campaign speeches, Mr. McCain also estimates that his program to build nuclear reactors would “provide 700,000 jobs for American workers.”

Some nuclear power experts offer more modest figures, noting that much of the heavy foundry work and other tasks would have to be done overseas, at least in the initial phase.

True enough, but building and operating nuclear energy plants provides economic ripples throughout communities and creates a cascade of employment around a well-paid workforce. McCain's figure, given his plan, may actually be kind of modest.

But Mr. McCain has said he wants such work [the foundry work] to be done within the United States, even though he noted in July in Missouri that “our manufacturing base to even construct these plants is almost gone,” and added, “We will need to recover all the knowledge and skills that have been lost over three stagnant decades in a highly technical field.”

Well, true, but again, not the end of the story. Putting up so many plants creates an opportunity to revitalize the steel industry. Since it takes awhile to get a new plant license approved, there is time for investors to start looking seriously at, um, founding foundries (and for a President McCain to encourage it.)

You get the point. While the story does a shout-out to NEI, it doesn't quote anyone - NEI could have filled in this part of the story if McCain didn't want to; instead, Rohter depends on the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Resources Defense Council for quotes. As you'd expect, they send the story into a severe imbalance.

Well, read the rest on their site - but it's a completely unfair article for something purporting to give a fair reading to the candidates' positions.

Comments

Anonymous said…
CNBC will be airing “The Nuclear Option” Tuesday October 14th at 9p ET. Melissa Francis goes inside the nuclear energy debate with a provocative look at the facts and fears behind this controversial energy source. See why some are even arguing for a nuclear power plant in their own backyards.

Additional web extras can be found at http://www.cnbc.com/id/26868716?__source=vty|thenuclearoption|&par=vty .

Please let me know if you would like any additional information.

Thanks,
Kevin
201 735 4730
Jason Ribeiro said…
I found the article to be unfair to the concept of nuclear energy. For that matter, I've not heard either candidate bring forth some of the points which I think ought to come forward in the nuclear discussion.

Admittedly, this would be difficult to get into detail with the voters without their eyes glossing over. Maybe if a few careful words drops were put forth then the press could bring the details out in such an article. Words like "thorium power" and "modular small nuclear reactors" have not penetrated the national vocabulary yet.

Why isn't the spirit of innovation acceptable or invited when it comes to the nuclear conversation? When it comes to cars or solar energy for example, everyone is all ears to hear about a breakthrough.

Opponents of nuclear argue from a position that no innovation has happened or shouldn't be allowed to happen with nuclear. Example- nuclear plants are too big and expensive - point taken, so lets make them smaller and cheaper. They create waste and present safety issues - ok, let's design facilities to use, recycle the waste while being safer. And so on.

Many of these innovations have already occurred but the public is not getting the messages.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…