Carl Pope, one of the predictable opponents to any talk of using atomic fission at an antidote to oil, coal and gas addiction, has published a new propaganda piece rehashing many old and false arguments against nuclear power. You can find it on the Huffington Post under the title of About That Nuclear Revival….
Over many years, I have learned that the best cure for propaganda and misinformation is more factual information repeated as often as necessary to make it stick. As practitioners of advertising and public information have learned, repetition WORKS. That is perhaps one of the reasons that Pope and his friends keep repeating the mantra that the nuclear industry is too expensive, requires too many government subsidies, is vulnerable to terrorist attack, and cannot put aside enough money to pay for dismantling of the facilities.
Pope trots out the tired example of the cost overruns at the Olkiluoto First of a Kind (FOAK) plant in Finland, without bothering to note that the people most closely associated with that project – the Finns – are already planning at least one and perhaps more follow-on plants. (Ref: Finland Nuclear Power Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2015)
He points to the commentary of his friend, Amory Lovins, without mentioning the conflict of interest that the oracle from Snowmass has with regard to his long standing and continuing consulting relationship with oil and gas companies. He even points to the ever reliable anti-nuclear discourses published by Steven Thomas, a man who has been getting paid for many years by organizations like Earthlife Africa to write negatively about projects like the PBMR. (Note: on Atomic Show #138 I spoke with Jaco Kriek, the CEO of PBMR and asked him about Thomas. He told me flat out that Thomas had never visited any PBMR facilities and had never even contacted the company to obtain first hand information.)
Finally, he implies that Senator Lamar Alexander and his pro-nuclear Senate colleagues are proposing that the US government put up the money for new nuclear power plants. The reality is that those Senators are simply trying to figure out how to remove the purposefully erected barriers in the path of private enterprise to build and operate the plants. They recognize the value of the basic technology, know that we have built 100 plants in 20 years already, and want to determine what kinds of policies need to change to enable that to happen again.
If properly structured, there is NO reason for the US government to expend taxpayer funds to encourage the development of a large number of new nuclear plants. I have spoken to enough private investors in the past dozen years to know that there is a great deal of interest in funding new nuclear construction as long as there is not an infinite opportunity for government imposed delays that prevent revenue generation. Many investors have a strong memory of money losing projects like Shoreham and fuel recycling where billions of dollars worth of capital investment was made suddenly worthless because of political decisions by individuals.
We cannot have a situation where projects that have followed all of the rules are not allowed to operate through a stroke of a pen on an Executive Order or by local officials refusing to sign on the emergency response plan. This is one of the reasons that I favor loan guarantee programs – the existence of a co-signature by the government makes it very clear from the outset that government imposed delays will cost the government, not the project financiers.
Having the government put “skin” in the game alleviates many of the concerns expressed by investors about rule changes that devalue their long term investment. (Once again, I warn you – the anti-nuclear forces have political power due to their relationship with the pro-fossil fuel forces. Allowing the government the power to change the rules after the expenditure of a lot of capital puts too much power into the hands of commercial competitors to atomic fission.)
I encourage you to go over to About That Nuclear Revival… and add to the discussion about the value that atomic fission brings to a world with growing energy needs and air pollution challenges.
Update: Posted at 1042 on July 10, 2009. I just submitted the following comment on the Huffington Post site. I am not sure when/if it will show up, so I thought I would offer it here as food for thought.
Pope, Lovins and other professional anti-nuclear activists have been telling the world for more than 30 years that nuclear power plants are too expensive and have little positive impact. A few facts might be in order:
1. The average production cost for US nuclear power plants was $18.70 per megawatt hour in 2008. That compares to the average “cheap” coal plant production cost of $27.50 per megawatt hour. In both cases, the capital investments are largely paid off. The big difference is that ALL of the existing US nuclear plants meet every criteria for the Clean Air Act and also produce Zero CO2. http://tinyurl.com/m63zmq
2. Operating nuclear plants in the US produce 800 terrawatt-hours of electricity every year. In contrast, wind and solar power generators in the US produced a total of about 33 terrawatt-hours of electricity in 2007. http://tinyurl.com/kwmtkm (Latest data available from the Energy Information Agency.) Wind and solar would have to grow by a factor of 24 just to catch up to nuclear, but nuclear fission generation is not standing still. In the period since 1990, with the addition of just two reactors and the decommissioning of several others, the total nuclear generation has increased from 577 terrawatt-hours to 806 terrawatt hours.
3. Every operating nuclear plant removes a market for 4-5 million tons of coal per year.
Anti-nuclear equals pro-coal, gas and oil.
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Update: Posted at 1138 July 10, 2009.
Apparently I have done something to upset the forum monitors at Huffington Post. My comment has not been approved and the score card indicates that there are no comments pending approval. If anyone can suggest what there is in the above quote that would make it fodder for disapproval, please let me know.