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March 05, 2008

Time for nuclear power

We are well overdue for building the next generation of nuclear plants, having squandered decades burning polluting coal, oil and natural gas (2/28, A-1, “Nuclear power regains its luster”). And now the anti-nuclear lobbyists are trying to tell us that conservation and alternatives can meet all our desires, and that we have no need for nuclear.

Certainly conservation — when it leads to efficiency and not sitting in the cold and dark — is worthwhile, and we have made great strides in efficiency. Homes are better insulated, and cars like the Prius get excellent gas mileage. The alternatives are another matter. Most are uneconomical without massive subsidies. And although we will need every possible energy resource to take us into the future, we have spent billions of dollars on developing alternatives over the last 30 years with almost nothing to show for it. Yes, we do need new nuclear units now.

William H. Miller
Professor, Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute
University of Missouri Research Reactor Center
University of Missouri-Columbia

Comments

Engineer

jack
Once again, what subsidies? The only cash subsidy with which I am familiar is the 50 cent or so per gallon payment to ethanol producers. On domestic oil production there are some tax credits but in my experience they were never all that large. And you have always agreed that in the end it's the consumer who pays the taxes. So if oil companies get tax breaks for production, doesn't the consumer benefit?

jack

According to NMMNG, anyone who questions any monetary policy of the right is just wanting to punish him while giving his ex-wife money. This constant referencing is called a "call back".

Comedians and other monologists are taught to do it no more than twice per show/lecture. The reason for this is that constant repetition of the same "call back" leads first to the audience trying to ignore it and eventually to the audience resenting it.

Either way, the constant references to the same thing, like any other one trick pony, leads to the audience turning it's back on the presenter.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

Or we could use Pelosi's model of borrowing money from our great grandkids for an increased foodstamp production. Surely this will create jobs and sustain us in the future.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

devin the costs of energy associated with the use of fossil fuels is fairly complexed. There are many areas that incur costs on this industry:
Safety
EPA and other regulatories
Maintenance
Labor

Subsidies should be under tight oversight, they are necessary iin many scenarios but they do get abused. After all welfare is welfare, only difference with business subsidies is that they tend to create jobs versus social subsidies which creates more laziness and dependency.
We have tremendous efforts in wind and solar power going on as we speak but it takes a significantly higher number of these mediums to produce the same level of output and meet demands. Certain groups and politicians somehow believe there is some magic wand you can waive and all of a sudden everything transfer to renewable energy just like that. I am out there everyday right in the heart of the energy sector and see for myself the amount of renewables going up along witt bio-deisel, ethanol, hydro electric, natural gas and steam turbine, but coal is still needed. We have an abndance of coal. Nuke is clean but has some risk, as does any form of energy. Solar and wind are not 100% "green" either, although Al Gore could probably convince the sheep it is.

jack

Haven't you followed what has been written here? Subsidies/tax breaks to the major oil companies don't count. Borrowing money from our great grandkids to help out the oil companies is the way to build a positive future.

Three Mile Island proved something that those on the far left don't want to look at. System failure followed by multiple human errors did not cause a melt down. The system worked.

Chernobyl was a design that has never been used in the U.S. because it is inherently dangerous. (Duh!)

The waste problem is a serious, big deal that needs solved. The rest of the arguements against nuclear power (IMO) are fear and BS.

devin

Professor Miller also mentions "alternatives" being uneconomical without massive subsidies. Does anybody know of reasonably unbiased studies into the true cost of fossil fuels if we take away their massive subsidies?

devin

I suppose one option that would make nuclear very cost-effective would be refine the uranium waste product until it's weapons-grade and sell it on the open market. Eliminate the waste and make a buck in the process...sounds like a good deal.
[tongue firmly in cheek]

Stifled Freedom

I am in favor of nuclear power, but Professor Miller needs to address the heart of the problem. And that is what to do with the waste fuel. I believe there is a technical solution, but there is not political solution. That is where leadership comes and we are sorely lacking in that.

Rogue

1. Three Mile Island
2. Chernobyl
3. The Hanoi Jane movie, "The China Syndrome"

Marctnts

I've never understood why nuclear energy hasn't got a fair shake in the US. Relatively cheap, sustainable, safe (look at the record), it seems like the way to go for so many reasons.

I agree that the waste issue needs to be considered, but with so many positives and the current "taboo" of CO2, why isn't this seriously considered the best answer available at the moment?

devin

I'm trying to keep an open mind about nuclear--heck, the french seem to love it--but we don't seem to know what to do with the waste now. What would we do if production ramped up dramatically? So far disposal efforts keep getting hampered by locals who don't want it in (or near) their backyards. Maybe we can do something about that on this board...any volunteers here want to take on some nuclear waste in their back yard. It's for the good of the nation.

 
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