Skip to main content

Nuclear Plants and Red Lights

redlightHere’s the headline in the Sioux City (IA) Journal. I’m not sure what it means, though it seems to mean something.

Nuclear power, red-light camera bills could be on Iowa legislative agenda

I mean that nuclear power is given parity with the camera bill. Here’s what that’s about:

A bill likely to come before the House Transportation Committee Feb. 2 could be a financial risk to lead-footed drivers. That's HF 2048 sponsored by Rep. Walt Rogers, R-Cedar Falls, to ban red-light and speed cameras in Iowa. It calls for all existing cameras to be removed by July 1.

So far the debate has pitted law enforcement and city officials against personal liberty interests.

"How much of a police state do we want to have?" Rogers asked at a hearing where his bill won subcommittee backing.

What pops into my head is: how many traffic lights are there in Iowa?

But really, we came for the lights and stayed for the energy:

Example One [of controversial legislation – banning traffic light cameras is the other] is a bill that would pave the way for MidAmerican Energy to pursue approval to develop a small-scale nuclear reactor with ratepayers picking up the cost. House File 561, which was approved 58-39 in the House last year, is scheduled for action in the Senate Commerce Committee Jan. 31.

While Chairman Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, spoke glowingly of the bill and MidAmerica's plan, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, called nuclear energy environmentally risky and said the bill places an "enormous financial risk on customers."

Iowa derives 72 percent of its electricity from coal (almost 8 percent from nuclear). If Rep. McCoy wants to get together at an Iowa City chop house, we can have a friendly chat about what’s environmentally risky.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, acknowledged there is "some support" in the Senate for the bill as well as concerns with protecting utility customers.

However, doing nothing has its risks, too, he said. "Every option will result in some increase."

Of risk, I think.

The story doesn’t tell us what Gov. Terry Branstad is thinking, but this one does:

Gov. Terry Branstad says he's open to legislation allowing MidAmerican Energy to bill customers for the cost of a proposed nuclear power plant before construction is complete.

Speaking Monday at his weekly news conference, Branstad maintained Iowa should consider all kinds of energy sources, including nuclear power.

So far, so good. Different state initiatives have been gaining some traction over the last few years. The Iowa one has just come out of committee, so who knows its chances, but it looks to be in pretty good shape.

The iconic traffic light from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990-1991). It’s a symbol, but of what, we may never know. In any event, if there’s a camera on it, some Iowans want to know about it.

Comments

Joffan said…
The traffic light made me go looking - ain't Google marvellous? - for an image that popped into my head about how anti-nuclear groups think the NRC ought to work...
gmax137 said…
"What pops into my head is: how many traffic lights are there in Iowa?"

Can you do any better than this cliched stereotype from inside the Beltway? Have you ever *been* to Iowa?
Mark Flanagan said…
To gmax137: Well, as a rural boy myself, I'm okay having fun at the expense of a largely rural state, but if it helps, I'm with the legislature: kill the red light cameras. Police work is only easy in a police state.
gmax137 said…
"Police work is only easy in a police state."

I like that one Mark!

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…