Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rush to Nuclear

A year or so ago, I had a post about the need to expand basic research into nuclear energy. This is something that I have advocated for several decades.

Yesterday, I watched the CNN broadcast of a Congressional hearing trying to rush the approval of new nuclear plants. Ideas being thrown down on the table included limiting liablity of nuclear power plants, big tax incentives and grants. Many of the financial incentives had political time tables. For example you would get X break if your reactor was running before a specific date.

The hearing made me sick to the stomache.

Doesn't anyone else see how our political process is destroying fundamental scientific research?

Our political system all but guarantees the worst possible outcome.

We start in the 50s with big public works projects to put nuclear plants everywhere. We do this before we really know the technology. The result was a great deal of toxic nuclear waste, environmental destruction and unnecessary risk.

The politics of action/reaction turned the the US 100% against nuclear development and research. Waving their little Red Books, radical greens managed to drive the best minds from studying nuclear physics and we lose an opportunity to gradually improve the technology.

In 2006, a little tiny blip in fuel prices suddenly triggers insanity.

Politicians like Bush and Cheney understand the dynamics of nuclear research even less than they understand the dynamics of Iraqi politics. The primary reason I supported nuclear when it wasn't cool to support nuclear is because I knew with certainty that the first blip in fuel prices would lead to the insanity that we are seeing today.

Politically driven scientific research leads to the worst possible outcome. The Green movement had successfully sabotaged the development of nuclear energy. That means that we are a good decade behind where we should be in scientific research.

We cannot change that fact any more than we can change the fact that Bush invaded Iraq. There should be no politically set time tables for the research and development of the next generation of nuclear plants. While we need to find a way to shield nuclear development from nuisance lawsuits, limiting their liability is silly.

Above all, we have to find a way to break out of the politically motivated action/reaction approach to scientific research.

BTW, the world is currently in the same situation that we were in during the early 80s. Gas prices were high ... people began investing in conservation while companies invested in increased capacity. Energy prices dropped several years later.

Along the way, the little political things done by the drones in Congress only made the peaks and valleys more severe.

IMHO, the US is now behind on the nuclear development curb. We should increase research in this area, but are not ready toss up dozens of new plants.

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