Imagine if Barack Obama had put $54 billion into loan guarantees for retrofitting the nation's 126 million homes into zero energy consumers, instead of dumping it into the nuclear industry?
With the 2010 budget now out, the gauntlet has been tossed, and Obama wasn't exaggerating when he promised us a nuclear future. His new budget aims to make energy nannies of us all.
Nannies? Yes, that's right. My objections to nuclear power plants are not the usual ones about the plants being unsafe, the huge amount of energy and resources required to build them, or even the problems of disposing of spent nuclear waste (although these issues are part of the bigger picture). For a highly detailed explanation on the dead end economics of nuclear plants, read this recent article.
My problem with nukes is that they're the ultimate welfare queens. A village can't build a nuclear plant, nor can a town, or even a small city. To create them, you need an army of specialists, federal regulators, engineers, and so forth. Then, when the plant is finally operational (a process which can take a decade), you need a military force to protect it, constant and regular maintenance, a public relations firm to ease the fears of nearby residents, and a level of high diligence that has to be maintained year after year, decade after decade, century after ... . You get the picture. The mere presence of nuclear power plants all but ensures the continued existence of a costly, top-down style of governance, where far away politicians make decisions about the lives of local communities they have never even visited.
Oh and incidentally, if the companies building these hypothetical nuclear plants should default on the giant loans given them by the government (they only have to put 1 percent down!), they are GUARANTEED an 80 percent refund of any money they lose.
Translation: Our tax dollars will bail them out.
This is a time of transition--for people of all political persuasions, but one thing they have in common is a belief that we need less government control of our lives on the federal level, and more community based, local control. In the minds of most people I talk to, small business is back. Localism is back. Sustainability is back. Green homes and energy conservation are back. The Union of Concerned Scientists, among others, has done the math
to show that renewable energy and conservation can accomplish the same goals as a financially devasting resurrection of the nuclear age.
Obama's plan seems to assume that none of us are willing or able to reduce our energy footprint. So he's giving us a quick fix. We're all being asked to adopt (and pay for) a federally dependent nuclear power plant for the rest of our lives. And the lives of our children, and their children.
Wind power, photovoltaics, hydroelectric and other forms of energy production don't need an army to guard them 24 hours a day to prevent deadly components from falling into the hands of bad people. Let's throw the gauntlet back on Obama's doorstep, and tell him he's out of touch, and out of line.--M. Power
Incidentally, if all this talk of a nuclear renaissance by the president who has proposed global nuclear disarmament sounds odd, here's yet another reality check: Funding for nuclear weapons is going up in the new budget.
If you're not convinced that nuclear power is a bad idea--economically, socially and environmentally, visit this site and find out why no nuclear plant has been built in the U.S. since 1979.
Five Reasons NOT to invest in Nuclear Technology