Thursday, March 16, 2006

Renewable Nukes?

The first time, I thought it was a misstatement, but there he went again at a staged meeting with seniors in Silver Springs, MD: Talking about nuclear power as if it's the new wind power.

Q: I'm one of the scientists who believes that — and many of us do — the greenhouse gases have been caused by us, and that it's about time that the United States took serious actions on the prevention of further greenhouse gases.

THE PRESIDENT: I exactly agree with you, sir, and that's exactly what we're doing. (Applause.) I think you're right. I thought the prescription to the Kyoto plan was the wrong way to go. On the other hand, I do know we can use technologies to achieve exactly that objective.

For example, second-generation nuclear power. It's a renewable resource. It doesn't emit, as you know, greenhouse gases. It's one of the reasons why I work with India and trying to help China, as well, to be able to develop a civilian nuclear power industry without — with guarantees against proliferation, in order to protect the environment.

A bit tangled, but unmistakable. Nuclear power is a renewable resource.

I thought I'd better see what others were saying. Near the top of the google pile was this at something called 21st Century Science:

The spent fuel produced by a single 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant over its 40-year lifetime, is equal to the energy in 130 million barrels of oil, or 37 million tons of coal, plus strategic metals and other valuable isotopes that could be retrieved from the high-level waste.
Technologically speaking, we can safely store nuclear waste in a repository like that of Yucca Mountain. But why should we spend billions of dollars to bury what is actually billions of dollars’ worth of nuclear fuel, which could be supplying electricity in the years to come?

The publication was very skimpy on sponsor information, but I noticed Lyndon Larouche's name in a number of places. Mother Jones gives a rundown on the roots of Laroucheian connections to pseudoenvironmentalism.

So is the president on a quiet kick to start reprocessing nuclear fuels? Yep. It turns out his budget proposal has funding to restart research stopped back in the Carter days. How respectable is the science and who's behind this?

I don't automatically reject the notion of nuclear energy, or of reprocessing "spent" fuel as a partial solution to future energy shortages. But given all that's going on with nukes for obtaining electrical and global power these days, the national discussion should be a lot more coherent and in the open than it's been so far.


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