Yesterday, President Obama visited a technical training center in Lanham, MD to announce the Department of Energy’s decision to guarantee a loan of $8.3 Billion to Southern Company to build two new Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor power plants at its Vogtle site in Georgia. If one visited that site today, it would appear that the announcement of breaking ground on the first new nuclear plant in the US in more than 30 years is a bit late – the site preparation steps have been underway for months already.
That minor detail aside, the President’s speech describing the importance of the decision to build new nuclear plants in America was excellent. I was especially impressed by the way that he did not shy away from the controversial aspects of the decision, talking about how many people ASSUME that Environmentalists do not like nuclear energy. He also mentioned how many people on the political right expect that nuclear energy should be able to compete without any government assistance and without the imposition of costs for fossil fuel waste disposal services.
Please feel free to comment. It is my firm belief that this announcement will be recalled by future historians as being as important as the trip that Richard Nixon, a Republican who had decades worth of history as an anti-communist politician, made to China in 1972. Many people were surprised by that decision, but it made it a lot easier for businesses to consider the benefits of trading with the world’s most populous and industrious nations.
The decision by a conservative Republican president to engage with the country that was known as the time as “Communist China” and bring it into the community of nations has changed the path of the world economy and international relations. The decision by a liberal Democratic president to accept the reality that nuclear energy is a clean source of reliable energy where Americans can compete for international sales is a decision that will help us to remember how to build prosperity based on making things that can be sold to people in other countries rather than simply constructing homes, office buildings and strip malls, gambling with derivatives and accumulating an increasing level of debt.
For more coverage on the President’s speech, go to Dan Yurman’s post on Idaho Samizdat titled Obama announces nuclear loan guarantee for Southern. He has been updating it and posting additional links to a large number of mainstream media outlets covering the story.