We made a decision some time ago, not long after we launched TheEnergyCollective.com, to focus on energy policy and fuel choices without any biases other than our belief that everyone on this planet needs to address issues of energy policy and fuel choice because it was getting to be, as my teenagers say about studying for their exams, “crunch time.”
For that reason we decided that anything that was based in science and could work, and anyone who approached these issues rationally, could play in our community. We welcome and continue to encourage some of the nuclear power industry’s smartest thinkers, including Dan Yurman who is a TEC Board Blogger, William Tucker, much of whose work appears exclusively here, and Rod Adams who is a committed environmentalist, sound thinker and does a sharp podcast.
We also feel, like another TEC Board member, Marc Gunther, that we can’t ignore anything that powers 20% of our existing electric grid and that maybe, for any number of good reasons, we need to take a second and a third look at nuclear power. There are some very compelling points that have been made here and elsewhere: that fewer people have died because of Chernobyl than have died from the lung diseases and mining disasters associated with coal, that small-scale nuclear offers tremendous promise for a less expensive and time-consuming implementation than “big nuclear,” and always, there’s France, or put another way, that grown-up countries can create a fairly abundant and clean, and certainly reliable source of energy which uses conventional distribution.
Plus, we suspect that there is a younger generation — unlike yours truly who marched on Washington right after Three Mile Island and took Ralph Nader’s advice to burn candles once we knew “the truth about nuclear power” — who can look at the costs and benefits of nuclear power without prejudice and without the kind of blindness that inspires much of the renewable crowd.
But why can’t we all get along on this?
I know first-hand why many on the renewable side of the fence bridle at the very thought of what they consider a “glow-in-the-dark” solution. But many in the nuclear crowd are just as bad, if not worse. Here’s some advice, fellas: you’ve got a great case to make but you are looking for love in all the wrong places. I know that the Heritage Foundation likes to have you over because you drive hippies insane, but let’s face it, those guys are “so over.” Ditto on getting those articles into The American Spectator. Don’t align with the losers, who lost not because they had a science-based approach to solving climate change but because they denied that it even existed. I know that the new Chairman of FERC, Jon Wellinghoff, was recently quoted as saying that we had no need to build a new coal and nuclear plant, but I suspect that wiser heads above him are already back-pedaling that statement. So cool it on that one as well.
You’ve got the utilities on your side and until we get broadband into every home in this country and teach people how to use twitter, there is only so much distributed energy we are going to be able to produce and efficiency we can achieve. Like it or not, consolidated power is going to be around for a while and consolidated power is you. “Clean coal” or carbon capture is going to be even more expensive and take even longer to put in place than windmills — and natural gas and hydro are geographically limited. Get over your righteous indignation and start cultivating — as they used to call them on Madison Avenue — the “convertibles.” Throw out a manly olive branch or two. Because the climate clock is ticking, there is no perfect or fast power alternative, and as the Stones would say, “time is on your side.”
My advice? For the sake of all us, start acting like a winner.