Skip to main content

Build From, Not Run From

Steve-Pearce-250 U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce says the U.S. nuclear energy industry doesn't have technological problems — it has "political problems."

The "United States developed the nuclear power field and then regulated it out of existence. We have built no new nuclear power plants in 30 years," Pearce said Wednesday, the first day of a two-day international nuclear energy conference in Hobbs.

The Republican New Mexico congressman said nuclear power is essential to the nation's energy future, and suggested that the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan brought on by a devastating earthquake was an incident to build from, not run from.

About right, though he really doesn’t like regulation. 

"We should be analyzing exactly what went on, instead of saying 'no' to all nuclear," Pearce told the gathering, which is considering how to make nuclear energy a viable and essential piece of the world's energy portfolio.

Saying no to nuclear energy squeezes a world hungry for electricity and energy security and squelches the attempt to reduce carbon emissions. “Build from, not run from” seems a pretty good motto.

---

Speaking of run from:

In India, the dilemma is this: it has 20 nuclear plants in operation, with an additional 23 on order. With the country desperately short of power, and requiring energy to grow, concerned citizens are asking if nuclear is still the answer for India.

I’m sure other concerned citizens are saying nuclear is the answer, but this is The Guardian, so we won’t hear much from them.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cautiously announced a "special safety review" of all plants. "Not enough," say about 50 eminent Indians, who at the end of March demanded a review of the country's entire nuclear power policy for "appropriateness, safety, costs, and public acceptance". The group also called for an "independent, transparent safety audit" of all nuclear facilities to be undertaken with the "involvement of civil society organizations and experts outside the department of atomic energy". Until then, they demanded a moratorium on all nuclear activity and a revocation of recent clearances.

I don’t think by moratorium they mean closing the 20 plants. In any event, Singh isn’t throwing in the towel despite that group of 50:

The Congress-led [meaning the Congress Party, roughly equivalent to the Democratic Party here] government said it planned to introduce legislation in the coming session of parliament that will create an independent and autonomous nuclear power regulator, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India, to oversee the expanding nuclear energy industry.

The decision comes as the administration of Manmohan Singh, prime minister, affirmed its determination to go ahead with plans for France’s Areva to build two 1,650MW European pressurized water reactors, for $9.6bn, on India’s west coast, in spite of fierce local resistance.

The Indian NRA is a good idea – anything that beefs up oversight, hopefully as reasonably free from government interference as from industry coziness.

“Fierce local resistance?” That needs attention paid to it, either to sell the safety of the plants and the economic benefits or to accept the range of complaints as at least arguable and propose a compromise. India needs the energy, but it also needs to remain responsive to its polity.

Rep. Steve Pearce. Always good for a politician to locate an American flag if he’s going to get his picture taken. Heck, not a bad idea all around.

Comments

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…