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  1. it’s not surprising to see this happen, this administration is a real let down in some ways.The same thing is happening over at NASA with the plan to shut down the ISS. it seems the concept of public funding of leading edge technologies eludes them. Every thing needs to be privately funded.

    1. With an administration focused on near term cuts in order to support near term goals this is almost expected. A complete shame; where’s the vision?

      On the ISS:

      The ISS is already at the end of it’s operational lifetime; it was only designed to last 15 years. Even if it’s not purposely shut down by this admin in 2024, it WILL be shut down by 2028.

  2. ” it seems the concept of public funding of leading edge technologies eludes them. Every thing needs to be privately funded.”

    Would you consider many of today’s politicians to be long term visionaries? Seems like you never hear stuff like:

    “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth,”
    – John F. Kennedy –

    It doesn’t take a lot of vision to see that developing the next generation nuclear reactors will help men for generations to come.

    Private funding is done for profit. Public funding should be done for people. There are things that public funding can do that private funding cannot.

    1. Government’s record is better on infrastructure (interstate highway, Erie canal, Transcontinental railroad for example) than “cutting edge technology”. Remember, the airplane, electric light, transistor, liquid fueled rocket etc. were invented by private efforts and without government encouragement. Government’s technology successes were usually driven by military motives and very narrowly focused (fission bomb, computer to break codes or calculate artillery tables) and not intended for direct consumer use. Often, cost and long term operability was not a concern which made many technologies so developed poor candidates for commercialization.

      1. What your saying is largely true , but some things require large amounts R&D , time , management and capital . I would place new types of nuclear reactors and space stations in the first category you mentioned. Private corporations don’t usually invest in that type of project. The airplane , electric light and transistor were invented and developed by private efforts , the liquid fuel rocket was also , but the government was needed to build the Saturn V.

      2. It’s not just big stuff like nuclear power. See this link.


        shale gas
        cell phone technology
        hybrid corn
        human genome project

        I was surprised to see on page 10 of the document it describes Google as getting their start with help from Uncle Sam. Of course we’ve all heard about Al Gore and Darpanet which became today’s internet.

        Lots of medicines are developed by government research. They sure have helped Boeing develop good airplanes for the military and then use the tech for the rest of us.

        Too bad some of the guys in Congress these days have such a weak inclination towards science. If those rascals weren’t there, their replacements would possibly enhance funding for new reactors.

        Yeh – The promote the general welfare thing seems to get short shrift these days.

      3. The Apollo project is an example of what I was saying. It was designed for a very narrow objective where cost was not a concern. Even space advocates concede that it did not lead to an architecture for a sustainable long-term program. One of the key managers was relieved when the program ended because he feared another accident. Apollo was replaced by the space shuttle for cost reasons but is now considered a mistake.

        Spacex by contrast has developed a partly reusable launch vehicle. It has received government support by way of contracted launch services. It appears that the legal/regulatory hurdles for aerospace are more surmountable than for nuclear.

        While not ideal, current LWR technology is adequate. What good is new technology if there is a political bias against its deployment?

  3. Rod…I liked your post on Energy Collective. One point—My first name is Warren—not Peter. “Pete” is a nick name.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. FermiAged said – “While not ideal, current LWR technology is adequate. What good is new technology if there is a political bias against its deployment?”

    Sure it’s good, but so was the Model T. If, with a bit of money we can make something better, why not?

    I believe political bias can change. Attitudes have changed regarding smoking, for example.

    The world will move on. Why not in a positive direction that helps us all?

    1. The problem is not the technology, though it certainly can be improved. It is the legal and regulatory environment.

      If NuScale’s design is required to have hundreds of security guards, scores of operators and large evacuation zones, it’s dead on arrival.

      Smoking attitudes changed in large part because it was made more expensive. This also had the same effect on nuclear power.

  5. Not really topical for this article, but I never know where to share general interest type stuff…

    So a solicitor knocked on my door last night for some group that’s concerned about toxic waste pollution in Texas — especially after Harvey. I talked with her a bit. Mentioned that I used to live south of Houston not too far from the refineries. Agreed it was a concern, but that I would need to know more details about their approach, as, for example, it’s silly to push for the cleanup, as they’re doing in Florida, of a mildly radioactive area that’s below background levels, when there are other places the money could be better spent for more beneficial effects. Discussed a bit about prioritizing cleanups.

    Then when she was done with her spiel, I said, now I’m going to solicit you back. As a person interested in the environment, you’re probably concerned about CO2. Did you know that Germany emits 480 grams of CO2 per KWHr generated, while France only emits 60 grams per KWHr emitted. So why does everyone say we should imitate Germany instead of France?” And so on. At one point she asked what was different about France, and I got to drop the nuclear bomb. And pointed out that Chernobyl, which isn’t a good example for comparison anyway, killed about 50 people, according to the UN, not some nutty organization. Etc. Also pointed out that Austin gets 27% of it’s electricity from STNP and it’s our largest source of CO2 free energy.

    I spent about 3 times as long soliciting her for nuclear power as she did me for toxic waste. I think I ran on a little too long. I need to tune that. But there’s so many preemptive facts to supply to counter the packs of lies that are used to discredit nuclear.

    I think my new policy is that if someone knocks on my door, I will sell them a nuclear reactor.

    Jeff Walther

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