1. I actually had a lengthy (private) conversation with Mr. Taylor following from your first post, where I got into several issues you raised, particularly some you’ve raised in prior posts (economic externalities of coal, etc.) I’ve found it to be a moot point to argue CO2 with an AGW skeptic, but there’s still the point to be raised about the other environmental hazards of coal, which I believe the analysis he cites to grossly underestimate.
    Among other things though, I pointed out the incorrectness of his “50% default rate” number for loan guarantees (which he never recanted), the difficulties of the licensing process (particularly as it pertains to the new breed of small reactors), and the blatant incorrectness of his assertion that “Wall Street isn’t putting up a dime for new reactors.” (A quick review of the COL application agenda at the NRC website dispels that myth.) I also brought up the issue of the Nth of a kind costs vs. the first-of-a-kind costs, which is what we’re seeing now with the first new reactor builds.
    To be frank, it was an exercise in frustration, in retrospect; I don’t really feel like any one of my points was ever heard, much less anything factually incorrect ever acknowledged (i.e., default rates, corporate financing, etc.). It certainly didn’t feel like a “dialog” – and this is coming from someone who in general has been overall sympathetic to the Cato Institute’s positions overall.
    I deeply suspect the larger issue here – and why Mr. Taylor seems to insist, above all else, that nuclear is doomed to failure in the marketplace, is because of its past, not its future. That is, because it has received subsidies in the past, it is impossible that it could ever succeed in the future. (We both know that’s flatly incorrect.)
    More to the point, though, I feel like Mr. Taylor sometimes comes across as having an axe to grind; it seems like many of us agree that we should have a -truly- free market in energy, but that includes substantial regulatory reforms that capture the costs of externalities as well as limit interference by such factors as an expensive and lengthy licensing review process. I feel like Mr. Taylor dismisses many of those concerns, as you point out, in saying, “But it’ll fail anyways.” Or, “NEI (the only reputable source of opinion on industry issues, apparently) says it’s okay.” How can you come to that conclusion that nuclear power can’t survive in the market if you are unwilling to even let it try?
    Like I said, it was a frustrating – and honestly, a bit demoralizing – experience.

    1. I can’t help but begin to think that Mr. Taylor might have a “broader agenda”; his libertarianism appears to be selective.

      1. Selective libertarianism when it comes to a free market. hmmm, doesn’t sound much like libertarianism at all really.
        I appreciate that a lot of us pro-nuke evangelists completely support a free market for nuclear and know full well that a truly flat playing field would only work to nuclear’s advantage. The key to this does not lie with the money (bankers and so on), it lies solely with the regulatory structure. How one reverses or eases the regulatory ratcheting; I believe the place to begin is with small modular reactor licensing. This is most likely to succeed and will pierce the NRC’s veil.

  2. “It’s such a pity when you think of Shippingport which was built for $70 million. Most reactors built in the 1970s were about $100 million dollars. So they’ve gone up by a factor of 35 times as soon as the NRC was started, and as soon as the government, started regulating all this stuff.”
    quote from Bonne Posma, Founder, Liquid Coal, Inc, from The Atomic Show podcast #096. Rod and Bonne had just agreed that a 35,000 – 45,000 barrel per day refinery would put out usable energy product roughly equivalent to a 1 GWe nuclear reactor, and that both would cost about the same, i.e. $3.5 – $4.5 billion (the show was done in 2008).
    I don’t understand enough about what the changes were that the NRC (and other?) regulators forced on reactor design and construction, but I do understand that there are reactors that were built very cheaply in the past that have received license extensions out to 60 years along with the reactors that were the most expensive.
    If I were debating a pro natural gas, supposedly market worshipping fanatic such as Taylor, I would point out, if I could, what I thought nuclear reactors could cost if a sane regulatory environment that was just as safe or safer than today’s was in place. The other example in support of this point I would make is to point to the experience of Duke, who were completing plants for 1/3 the cost of the average new reactor build in the US as late as 1985, and say this can’t be just Duke construction expertise – it must have been that Duke was better than anyone else fending off or limiting the effect of what they called the “instability of the licensing process” that finally drove them from the nuclear construction business along with everyone else in the US.
    From my perspective, the Cato Institute and Mr. Taylor are simply second rate propagandists uninterested in debate unless they see it serves their interests. Some may say it is pointless to debate CO2 with such a skeptic, I would say denier, but if you find that when you do your portion of the debate is censored it becomes clear what is going on.

  3. I thought Obama’s announced support for nuclear was like Nixon going to China. Are nukes going to dispute that Obama did this in large part because of Democratic Party concerns that nukes will be needed to combat climate change? So Taylor defines reasonable debate on nukes vrs natural gas as a debate that will exclude as idiocy the entire discipline of climate science, and everyone goes along. The debate with Taylor wouldn’t even be taking place if it were not for the warnings coming from not only climate scientists, but from the senior leadership of science itself worldwide. Its a bit astonishing to me, even though I have observed climate denial for more than twenty years.

  4. Part of what Taylor is doing is similar to Goebells conducting a supposedly civilized discussion of how Germany society could be more humane, right in front of Auschwitz.
    I hear there were railings in the toilet stalls so the German guards at the camps could steady themselves as they vomited.

    1. Bzzzt … you’re out … and Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies rears its ugly head.
      Please don’t cheapen the arguments against Taylor’s flawed thinking with cheap Nazi references. You’re inspiring some vomiting yourself with that kind of tripe.
      Thank you.

        1. From the link Brian Mays provided:
          Godwin’s Law itself can be abused, as a distraction, diversion or even censorship, that fallaciously miscasts an opponent’s argument as hyperbole, especially if the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate. A 2005 Reason magazine article[citation needed] argued that Godwin’s Law is often misused to ridicule even valid comparisons. Others argue that the law is entirely self-serving bludgeon and that those who invoke Godwin’s law would more plainly state their position as “The longer it takes for you to submit and conform to my line of reasoning, the more incessantly I will imply to the rest of the audience that your continued resistance is a crime against humanity that is worse than Hitler.”[7]

          1. Well, if you want to go on record defending the proposition that Taylor=Goebbels, then so be it.
            (By the way, David Lewis, it’s two b’s, one l. If you’re going to smear someone with Nazi analogies, then at least brush up on your history enough to know how to spell the names of the principal players!)
            Frankly, I fail to see how advocating that the government doesn’t spend money on something is equivalent to being a Nazi. After all, Nazi stands for “Nationalist Socialist,” and if there is one thing that Hitler did well, it was go get the German government to spend money on stuff.
            Please explain how this analogy is at all “appropriate.”
            Frankly, I find David’s analogy to be rather disgusting, and if I were a Jew, I would demand an apology.

            1. Please explain how this analogy is at all “appropriate.”
              Because it is an example of deceptive and manipulative propaganda.

              1. Now, Finrod, stop and take a deep breath. Now please count to ten, slowly.
                Don’t you think that references to Auschwitz is a little extreme?

                1. Not really. I believe David Lewis is emphasising the hypocracy involved, rather than the magnitude of the suffering inflicted. Not that the argument for ultimate suffering inflicted could not be made, of course, given the consequences of delaying the transition to nuclear power.

    2. Since I assume that we are talking about the “Big Lie” propaganda technique, bringing up Herr Goebbels is appropriate.
      With that being said, at least, to me, global warming is a technical problem to be solved and moved beyond. The evidence shows that nuclear power is one of the strongest means to use against AGW as well as the incredible destruction that is routinely done to our environment – our inalienable natural heritage.
      I would prefer to use nuclear power to make AGW obsolete and irrelevant rather than debating whether or not AGW is occurring ad infinium. We can have the debate while we build reactors to replace the boilers of old coal plants. If AGW is “the enemy”, does it matter whether AGW is defeated for “the right reasons”, or “the wrong reasons”? The answer is that AGW is the enemy – it only matters that the phenomenon is rendered incapable of causing further harm – the phenomenon is defeated – not what the reasons we have for defeating the phenomenon. (As Winston Churchill said when learning of Hitler’s invasion of Russia: “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least give the Devil a favorable mention in the House of Commons.”)
      It doesn’t matter whether nuclear power is used for “the right reasons” or the “wrong reasons”, it matters that it is used widely, and as the technology matures and develops, it makes fossil fuels obsolete, so that AGW is rendered irrelevant. The natural systems of the planet – provided that further carbon contributions are minimized – will take care of the carbon surplus. It would, of course, be prudent to develop some geoengineering measures that can be held ready in the event of a clathrate event to prevent unfortunate positive feedback prior to the battle being fully joined by nuclear power. Assuming that we move promptly, hopefully we will not have to take those measures.
      I am confident that the technology of nuclear power is capable of doing what we need it to do. So, then, let’s begin.

  5. The growth of support for nuclear power in recent years has the remarkable feature of cutting across traditional partisan lines. Part of what Taylor is doing is an attempt to fracture that concensus and subtly invite infighting among those who should be united.

  6. I posted this comment on The Master Resource yesterday, but it has been stuck in the moderation queue for a suspiciously long time so I would like to post it here instead:
    I do not have the reference on hand, but I believe the 2007 update to the MIT study estimated that the levelized cost of nuclear was similar to gas if nuclear did not have to pay a risk premium for financing costs.
    If true this would suggest that the

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