Third Way bills itself as a centrist think tank that is not satisfied with just thinking; they take action that gets results.
Wednesday’s (Jan 27, 2016) Advanced Nuclear Summit and Showcase provided an excellent example of Third Way’s ability to seek common ground among people from both major political parties in the United States.
The event provided the opportunity for speakers from a variety of points around the middle of the political spectrum to share their thoughts about the importance of advanced nuclear technologies and their personal reasons for joining the growing chorus of supporters acknowledging the valuable nature of nuclear tools for addressing some of society’s most challenging problems.
Third Way produced a complete video archive of the event, but Atomic Insights recognizes that many people do not have the time or the patience to watch a 3:44:52 video. Those numbers are pretty intimidating. In the first three days after the original event, YouTube says the video has received 223 views, but that number doesn’t indicate how many complete viewings have occurred.
As part of our continuing service for readers, here are some clips featuring the event’s political participants.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK) began by noting how thinking and acting on energy issues gets her going in the morning. She is currently serving as the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee. She and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have spent a good portion of the past 18 months crafting an Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) the old fashioned way. They have encouraged input from a broad base, understanding the importance of assured supplies, robust infrastructure, regional interests and environmental impacts.
EPMA 2015 has been reported out of the Energy Committee with an 18-4 vote to elevate debate to the Senate floor. (10 Republicans and 8 Democrats on the committee voted to move the bill forward.) The bill that she described in her talk on Thursday was introduced as scheduled; it is in the amendment process now.
One of the more personal segments of her talk included mention of the value that nuclear energy could bring to remote communities in Alaska that currently depend on expensive distillate fuels delivered over long distances via transportation routes that are not available year round. She said that “nobody” thinks about Alaska as an opportunity for nuclear energy, but we know that is a bit of an exaggeration.
Small groups of people have been thinking about how to use nuclear energy’s incredible energy density in remote areas like Alaskan villages since the beginning of the Atomic Age. There have even been commercial efforts like Toshiba’s proposed 4-S system, but so far there has not been sufficient political support to create an enabling environment. Some of the provisions that Sen. Murkowski described as being included in EPMA 2015 may be exactly what turns visions into real projects.
In some ways, Sen. Murkowski’s talk was designed as a motivational pitch to encourage innovators and venture capitalists to keep pushing for the needed changes by showing them that people on Capitol Hill are paying attention. She praised the risk takers who have already committed $1.6 billion to innovative projects even though there is still a lot of work required to pave the path toward licensing and commercialization.
Carol Browner was the head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration. She used to be reflexively opposed to nuclear energy, but had an epiphany when she realized its value as a reliable power source that is virtually carbon-free. Though her focus is on maintaining the existing nuclear fleet, she is also supportive of advanced nuclear energy as a way to address some of the issues that have limited the growth of technologies developed in the 1960s.
Dan Reicher, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy during the Clinton Administration. Former head of Google’s renewable energy business. Currently chair of the board of American Council on Renewable Energy. He notes that wind and solar cannot provide needed power by themselves. He states that he supports all low carbon energy sources including wind, solar, efficiency, CCS, natural gas, but emphasizes the important role that nuclear plays in providing carbon free baseload power.
These are exciting times for people like me. I’ve been writing about the value of nuclear energy as a tool for addressing important challenges on the Internet since 1991, before there was a World Wide Web. It’s good to see that my efforts, and those of thousands of others, are starting to capture attention and gain a broader range of supporters.
PS: Very early this morning, I gained one more important reason to work hard to make the future better, cleaner and more prosperous.