Shoreham Chapter 8 – Revealing portrait of antinuclear tribe
Chapter 8 in the Shoreham documentary provides some revealing information about a small segment of the tribe of people who are aligned in opposition to the expanded use of nuclear energy. It should raise a series of questions in the minds of critical thinkers who strongly believe that nuclear energy is an amazing gift to humanity that must be developed with due haste in order to break our fossil fuel addiction. If this little coffee shop gathering to hear Harvey Wasserman speak is any indication of the kind of people who fight nuclear energy, why are they winning? Why have we allowed them to dictate our energy policy? Why haven’t we managed to overcome their opposition to design, license and build any new nuclear power plants in the past 35 years?
During this chapter, Ray, the filmmaker, asks Wasserman a revealing question. He does it in a non-confrontational way because he has a plan for a more in-depth interview after the talk and he did not want to spoil that opportunity. Sometimes journalists have to toss out softball questions if they want the opportunity for follow-up questions. However, viewers can learn something from the response if they listen carefully and watch the body language.
By the way, I happen to agree on one level with Wasserman’s response. An advanced degree and even a Nobel Prize in physics does not make anyone an expert in energy production systems. There are many areas of investigation in physics that have nothing to do with producing electricity by converting fission heat into motion using the principles of thermodynamics. However, a scientific Nobel Prize does provide evidence of a very significant professional accomplishment and respect from scientific peers. It indicates something about the person, his intelligence, his tenacity and his ability to achieve goals.
I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Steven Chu, even though he is still enamored with unreliable, uncontrollable energy production systems.
Aside: I have a different respect level for a different holder of an advanced degree in physics awarded for building computer models of the low energy behavior of mesons and baryons. He never bothered to pursue science after earning that degree; instead, he took his degree and used it to become a partisan politician. Instead of achieving greatness in research, he aligned himself with two scientifically illiterate elected representatives who both adhere to dangerous energy policy positions. He needs to be encouraged to leave his current appointed position before he does any more damage. End Aside.
Rod – While I too fully respect Dr. Chu’s scientific abilities and his skill at doing some neat science with lasers, I cannot help but notice that he is more of a politician than a scientist these days. In many ways, he is every bit a politician as the other person you mention.
Some of the political games being played these days require more than one player. For example, it requires one politician to pull a license application (“with prejudice,” I might add, so that the decision cannot be later reversed) and a second politician to refuse to review the license application in spite of being directed to do so by Congress.
On the public side, we see Dr. Chu talking about energy production, but if you look at what really occupies most of his time (and his agency’s budget) it’s maintaining the surety of our nuclear weapon stockpile. I personally think we should separate the NNSA from DOE so that we can have a cabinet level person focused solely on energy related issues.
On the public side, I hear Dr. Chu talking about painting roofs white and other silly, trivial stuff.
It’s clear that he is saying what is popular with the folks who have put him in his current office … just like any politician does.
If you read the Matt Wald article in the New York Times, you will discover that there was an energy bill that was passed by the Senate in 2007, which was written by Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from New Mexico, and which proposed changes to the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program.
Nowhere, however, does Wald say that the bill offers $50 billion in loan guarantees to the nuclear industry. All that the changes do is to accelerate the rate at which the Department of Energy is allowed to award loan guarantees that have already been approved.
If Harvey thinks that he went to D.C. to stop $50 billion in nuclear loan guarantees, then he is greatly mistaken.
The loan guarantees were already legislated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The only change proposed by the new bill was to eliminate the political bottleneck in approving these guarantees, because as the article puts it, “under current law, the government is only allowed to guarantee a volume of loans authorized each year by Congress. Last year, Congress limited the government to awarding just $4 billion in loan guarantees for clean energy projects during the 2007 fiscal year.”
The $50 billion figure shows up years later. There was an attempt by Senate Republicans to increase the loan guarantees already authorized in 2005 to roughly $50 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Next year, President Obama proposed increasing the loan guarantees to $54 billion in the FY 2011 budget that he submitted to Congress.
So we see that “no nukes” crowd are not very accurate in their recounting of events. (I’m sure nobody is surprised, given their record.) In Harvey’s case, I’m willing to chalk it up to all the years of smoking pot, but since “$50 billion” appears so often, this figure appears to have taken the role of a shibboleth that is used by the tribe to rally their opposition to nuclear power.
Driving thru Vermont this Labor day week end. A few things have changed alongside Interstate 91 since 1 year ago.
3 mountain tops have been shaved off and wind mills have made an appearance.
1 farm has installed approximately 40 solar panels.
Who’s taking the green out of Vermont ?
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