Skip to main content

Terry Branstad on Making Sense

Terry Branstad The Dallas News has up an editorial that favors continued development of nuclear energy:

Americans must learn from this tragedy in our own necessary pursuit of nuclear power as part of a broader plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Nearly all of the 104 reactors in this country are on coastlines and near earthquake faults, and, similar to Japan’s, they utilize backup electrical systems that rely on diesel generators and batteries. A confluence of several catastrophic events here could be just as calamitous as what is unfolding half a world away.

The support is always welcome, but the mainland of the United States is not vulnerable to tsunamis except in the Pacific Northwest and no nuclear plants are at the coast there. Earthquakes are a different matter, but plants are built to withstand more than the largest earthquakes ever recorded in their areas. See this FAQ from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Still, the editorial is more than judicious and worth a read.

---

The other day, we highlighted Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and his willingness to push forward with nuclear energy in the shadow of Japan. Now, meet Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad:

Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday it “makes sense” for state lawmakers to move ahead with legislation that would help address hurdles that might impede MidAmerican Energy’s exploratory effort aimed at building a nuclear-powered facility in Iowa.

And the reason?

Some critics have contended that the state should expand more aggressively into renewable energy production rather than pursuing an expansion into nuclear-generated power given the unfolding environmental crisis in Japan. Branstad agreed that Iowa already has been a leader in wind and renewable energy production, but he added “we really can’t do it all with renewable.”

“We can’t generate all of our power needs from wind energy, so we do need to look at the other sources and this seems to be something that is worth significantly studying,” Branstad said.

He’s right. Wind simply can’t do it all, though it’s certainly welcome in the mix. But nuclear energy can. A little more:

“We have a problem because of most of the power in Iowa is generated by coal and (federal Environmental Protection Agency) rules now are really very restrictive on coal-fired plants,” the governor said during an Iowa Public Radio interview. “So we’re either going to have to shut those plants down or do major expenses on retrofitting them or replace them with something that’s going to have the environmental problems that we have with coal.”

The arguments are as the arguments were. Nothing’s changed. And governors like Herbert and Branstad see that. I don’t really know whether taking these stands will cause trouble for them – I doubt it – but they are realistic policy decisions.

Gov. Terry Branstad.

Comments

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…