Skip to main content

The State of the Union Address

laika2 Did President Barack Obama mention nuclear energy during last night's State of the Union Address? Why yes, yes he did.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology - an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

Here’s the first mention of nuclear energy.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all - and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

And a little more.

At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

Not bad. You might be disappointed that there was not a paragraph devoted to nuclear energy, but that's okay. Nuclear energy is right where it should be - among its cousins in the energy sphere.

We’ve got the energy portion of the speech up on our YouTube channel here.

Laika, the first living creature sent into space. Unfortunately, the Soviets made the mistake of personalizing Laika for the purpose of raising interest in Sputnik, but never intended to bring her back, setting off considerable consternation. As seems all too typical of those days, the Soviets were not truthful about how long Laika lived and she probably died about seven hours into the flight. The lesson was learned, though, and the Soviets never sent another dog up without plans to bring it back to Earth. You can read more here.

Comments

The goal should actually be a-- Federal mandate-- that by 2020 50% of all electricity produced by a utility in the US should be produced from carbon-neutral resources or technology (nuclear, renewable, etc.) with the penalty of a heavy carbon tax if a utility fails to meet that criteria. By 2030, the mandate should be 90%.

Federal and State governments need to stop dreaming and start mandating our gradual transition from a fossil fuel economy to a carbon neutral economy.
Rick Maltese said…
Steven Chu followed up the next day by saying that the techniques we're looking at on the short term could be 2% more energy from the same amount of fuel. How about 2000% more? Well that's what some LFTR fans believe is reachable by 2020. You know that expression one hand doesn't know what the other is doing? Why can't Chu be more directly involved in the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Nuclear Energy and the Subcommittee on reprocessing?
DocForesight said…
@Marcel - Perhaps we need to separate electricity generation from transportation fuels so we can focus on what is realistic.

And with the UN IPCC falling apart on AGW, is a "carbon neutral economy" really a worthwhile goal? And at what cost?
Steve said…
It's not so much that Chu can't be involved with the Blue Ribbon Commission. I honestly think he doesn't want to be involved! Until Reid and Obama got their hands on him, Chu was all in favor of Yucca Mountain. Now that the hornet's nest has been stirred up, he appears to be more than comfortable to continue to kick the nuclear waste storage decision down the road -- especially since he hasn't been able to provide any scientific evidence as to why he suddenly changed horses in midstream.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…