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14 Comments

  1. While only peripheral to this topic it should be noted that nuclear energy in Canada is going to have a rough time for the next few years. The federal elections have returned a majority Conservative government which is in the pockets of Big Carbon, and an Opposition of rabidly antinuclear New Democrats. The Liberal party, once supporters of nuclear energy, have been reduced to a powerless rump in the House and may well not survive as a national party unless it can attract a dynamic leader to help rebuild it.

    1. Bad news for pro-nukes in Scotland too — Thursday’s elections to the devolved Scottish Parliament gave an overall majority to the anti-nuclear, pro-“renewables” Scottish National Party.

  2. The report is full of lies. It’s been analyzed here, here, and here, and here.

    Really, if you want to make a credible pro-nuke argument, pushing the claims of wildly inaccurate reports isn’t going to help.

    1. @PeakVT:

      If you read carefully, you will see that I did not express any opinions about the report itself. What I did was to agree that there is a substantial amount of cash available and to try to point out where some of that cash might be coming from.

      One of the purposes of Atomic Insights is to help people understand and analyze the statements that people make about nuclear energy. At least some of the people who oppose nuclear energy do it for very logical, numeric and selfish reasons. It competes directly against the fuel sources that pay their salaries or provide their dividends and capital gains.

      If you do not believe that nuclear competes against other energy sources and has the ability to affect the price at which they sell and the volumes that they sell, please explain the following headline from Reuters this morning:

      Canadian Natural Gas Falls as Nuclear Plant Starts Ease Demand

  3. DV82XL, the nuclear industry in Canada has been in a rough patch for two decades. The good news is that Ontario may actually build reactors, unless Harper fears any distraction at all from an oil-sands-supporting industrial focus for Ontario.

    Some pricing of carbon dioxide would remove part of this noxiousness, by de-emphasizing the political, and emphasizing the economics.

    1. I agree that things haven’t been rosy for the industry here in Canada for awhile, but this new political alignment could not be worse. Hopefully the new planned builds in Ontario will go ahead, but the fate of AECL has been sealed at this point, I would think.

    2. Maybe someone in the new government should remind them about the advantages of using CANDU reactors for SAGD extraction of oil from the Alberta tar sands. Perhaps that’ll prop up Canada’s nuclear industry, albeit for the expedient reason of keeping Big Carbon strong.

  4. This article reminds me of the famous quote in the movie All the Presidents Men: “Follow the money !”

    I guess there is a lot of dirt to uncover, which will lead to the fossil fuel industries. Too bad we don’t have journalists like Bernstein and Woodward anymore.

    1. I suppose we have to make do with curious and angry bloggers instead of curious and aggressive investigative journalists.

    2. That’s one of the downsides of the internet — it has reduced the price of information (by improving its copyability) to the point that some enterprises (such as long-form investigative journalism) were rendered economically non-viable.

  5. Rod – as always, thanks for the post. There’s history to back up and illuminate your thesis. Robert Bryce, in his book >Power hungry: the myths of “green” energy and the real fuels of the future, devotes chapter 22 to “A Very Short History of American Natural Gas and Regulatory Stupidity”.

    He details how the growth of natural gas threatened coal:

    By the late 1950s, gas looked ready to rob even greater market share away from coal. But just as that energy transition was beginning, natural gas became a favored target for federal regulators. And the hodgepodge of regulations that resulted would hamstring the U.S. gas industry for decades.

    He describes the effect of federal regulation of interstate natural gas sales – including natural gas shortages in 1973 and 1977. The 1977 shortages resulted in business closures, school closures, and layoffs. He continues:

    The mistaken belief that the United States was running short of natural gas was politically advantageous for the coal producers, who were eager to limit competition from the oil and gas business. And those coal producers had powerful friends in Congress, including, but not limited to, Senator Robert Byrd, the powerful Democrat from West Virginia.

    In 1978, Byrd and his allies convinced Congress to pass two bills that would haunt the gas industry for years: the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Act and the National Gas Policy Act. The most important provision of the Fuel Use Act was that it prohibited the use of gas for electricity generation.

    (emphasis added)

    That last statement is what really caught my eye. Coal threatened by gas, and legislating it out of competition. Fast forward to 2011; old opponents are now allies against the common threat of high-quality energy suppliers.

    Bryce’s book is interesting but he’s coming at it from a journalistic background and IMO he doesn’t do justice to nuclear energy. He does include comprehensive notes for each chapter citing his sources, which is good; the sources unfortunately don’t include much peer-reviewed primary science. It looks like many of them would connect to the science in their references.

    Keep slugging, Rod!

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