State of the Union on Clean Energy Jobs – Top of List "That Means Building a New Generation of Safe, Clean Nuclear Power Plants in This Country"
During the State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, President Barack Obama stressed the importance of energy innovation investments in his discussion about leading an economic recovery through infrastructure construction. Here is what he said at the very top of his list:
“But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.”
So, in other words, Obama has finally almost caught up with where McCain was a year and a half ago. 😉
Please excuse me while I yawn.
Any word on when he’s going to put his money where his mouth is?
Brian – there is a significant difference. McCain was a Senator and a candidate from a party with a long history of supportive words for nuclear energy. President Obama is not a candidate; he is the admittedly embattled sitting president talking about ways to revive both the economy and his presidency. He is the leader of the party that avoided positive words about nuclear for at least 30 years from 1976 until 2006. Throughout that time they believed that the very mention of the technology’s potential for growth and development was offensive to their base of support. I am encouraged to see official recognition of the change in that situation.
What is this, the Special Olympics? I don’t care if Obama is “challenged” and is just now beginning to overcome his disabilities. I want to see some substance.
One quarter of his term is now over, and he has done jack squat for nuclear energy. On the contrary, I can make a pretty strong case that almost everything that his administration actually has done (which is not much) has been harmful to the possibility of seeing significant growth in nuclear power in the near future.
Frankly, I’m not encouraged. All I see is empty words and a serious lack of action.
Gotta agree with Bryan: most of the actual action out of the current administration has worked against nuclear power.
On the other hand, the previous administration was gushing in its rhetoric in favor of nuclear, but they did so while creating a favorable regulatory climate for fossil fuels and while refusing to do or say anything about GHG emissions. There are two ways to get new build going: raise the cost of baseload substitutes (gas and coal) or reduce the cost of nuclear. Neither side has shown any real interest in shifting the relative economics in favor of nuclear.
If the current Congress and administration impose stiffer regulations on the fossil side while making it harder to build nuclear plants, we wind up in the same place we were a few years ago: nuclear is still a little less attractive than gas CCGT plants for baseload demand. Shift party control in DC and we’ll get more favorable conditions for nuclear with even more favorable conditions for fossils – same end result for nuclear: utilities will build gas CCGT plus a few coal plants here and there.
Kejad – I am one of many people who is working to share information about nuclear energy in the hope that thinking people will recognize its value and its potential for answering many of the world’s most pressing problems. I have to celebrate indications that our uncoordinated but combined efforts are making a difference. If you knew just how carefully the words in a State of the Union address are vetted and prepared, you would understand the importance of a leader in the Democratic Party not only mentioning nuclear energy, but clearly stating that we need to build a new generation of clean, safe nuclear power plants. Of course we all know that the ones that we have already meet that standard – if they did not, there would be an enormous effort aimed at shutting them down.
However, for whatever reasons, there have not been any new plants started in the US in the past 30+ years, even though there have been 8 years of Reagan, 4 years of Bush I and 8 years of Bush II (that’s twenty years of supportive Administrations) during that period. My hope is that we continue to make progress. I am not sure if very many people have noticed, but Southern Company has two plants under construction right now, even though they have not yet poured their first safety related concrete. If I am not mistaken, the company recently asked permission to start pouring even though their COL is not yet approved. That seems like a pretty solid commitment to me.
One more thing in regards to the actual actions taken by the current administration. I happen to count the Yucca Mountain decision as a strong plus for nuclear technology, even though it upset a few companies that were salivating over the potential transportation and container contracts. Used nuclear fuel is a resource, not a waste product. However, I am not all that excited about a “blue ribbon” commission; that is rarely an effective evolution if you want action.
There is an urgent need for jobs; national security is imperiled by unfriendly sources of energy abroad, meaning that utilization of domestic energy must be maximized – with a preference – though not exclusively – for clean, safe, and reliable sources of energy; there is a goal to increase exports and decrease reliance on imports from potentially unfriendly and unreliable nations with interests counter to our own; we are mandated to vigorously proceed against AGW through means that encourage, rather than decrease, economic growth; aging infrastructure needs to be recapitalized and reinvested in; business must be encouraged, and lowering costs of power decreases costs of business – allowing more to be done with less – ultimately allowing more to be done with more; innovation must once again become the hallmark of American industry and commerce.
I would say that the correlation of forces and means now coming together is very favorable for nuclear power.
Ultimately, I have great hopes that this correlation will yield demonstrable results; hopefully, the President – and the far-flung members of his Administration (and, by the way, props to Sec. Chu, who has done an awesome job in terms of education) will now walk the talk, and deliver on the moral support he’s given to the members of his party – and the American people – that are on the side of science, innovation, industry, and technology – that is, the people of nuclear power – by building a new generation of power plants for today, and also encourage vigorous research and engineering efforts into the power plants, power modules, fuel cycles, facilities, and systems that return America to the leadership of the world in designing, engineering, building, and deploying the generation beyond the next generation of nuclear energy systems and facilities.
Dave – It is also encouraging to me that more and more Americans are getting interested in science and math again. Though it has been a very expensive lesson for all of us, it is kind of nice to have journalists who are forced to learn the difference between millions, billions and trillions and that zeros really do mean something.
The often repeated message of those concerned about climate change has been beneficial – “pay attention to the science”.
I was very happy to hear President Obama put nuclear at the top of the list too. If he could just get at least 2 new nuclear plant projects off the ground by the end of his term that will create at least 10,000 to 12,000 jobs.
There was no uncertainty about President Bush
Right now, on youtube, there is a series of questions about nuclear energy (both pro and con, and including quotes on technologies such as thorium), and they are taking votes on them as we speak.. Nuclear power as a whole is not fairing so well (in favor of such ‘technologies’ such as hemp.)
Anyways, I added a bunch of questions but am willing to retract if people are willing to substitute them for a more clearly worded question, and am hoping that people at least vote. I’m also hoping that this announcement can make it into the nuclear blogs and industry. You can go to http://www.youtube.com/user/citizentube?blend=1&ob=4&rclk=cti#p/c/EB843ABAF59735FD to do so..
Thanks for posting that link Ed. So far of the first 10 questions I’ve voted on only a couple were about nuclear. Most of them are very poorly worded questions.
What I did is go through all of the nuclear questions (search for nuclear) and if I liked the sentiment behind the question voted ‘yes’ (ignoring syntax). I don’t think there is any harm in having duplicates – but I WISH this would get much more publicity than it already has inside the nuclear community. The # of people voting is relatively small, which means that a focused industry response could have a great deal of impact on both what questions get to the powers that be, and ultimately in what gets selected.
BTW – I hasten to point out that ‘environmental’ groups are probably going to hit the site pretty hard (hopefully not, but I’m hoping against hope). I already saw one such post from ‘Earth First’.
Talk is cheap – from both sides of the aisle. If the CO2-AGW alarm is what it takes to re-ignite (I know uranium doesn’t burn in the traditional sense) the nuclear industry here in its birthplace, then I will cheerlead wherever I can. And support it financially, as I am able – particularly the small or medium-sized and modular technology.
This administration has continued to declare too many areas exempt from exploration of liquid fuels and mining. Usually this is done under the guise of “environmental concerns”. What other countries have as vigorous an oversight agency(ies) as we have here? The reality is that we need to open these areas, reduce the litigation and expand the use of the best energy source for each area of the economy. Jobs, manufacturing expertise and tax revenues will all increase as a result.
If Pres. Obama wants to leave a positive legacy on the environment, he will direct Sec. Chu to assemble the best, brightest, most capable people to outline a 1-2-5-10 year plan to bring current LWR and new GenIII+ or Gen IV reactors online.
Seconded on a 1-2-5-10 year plan. I think that the US might be up to delivering a few – even more than a few – new nuclear plants by the end of Obama’s second term, if the voters are so kind. As for fossil regulation, I can imagine that as he said, tough decisions will have to be made about opening up areas to new liquid fuels and exploration/production efforts. At least in the interim, national security would (obviously) be served by producing more fossil energy HERE in the US, provided reasonable environmental protection is achieved (which I’m sure it will be), rather than over “there”, whatever part of the Arabian peninsula – or the Venezuelan highland “there” represents. I can tell you this much – I would rather have the dollars that I spend on gasoline go to my fellow Americans – shareholders and employees of even such a firm as ExxonMobil – than some banana-republic despot or oil sheik. With that being said, I hold out hopes for technologies that generate fossil fuels on a more sustainable basis, such as coal to liquids, as a medium term solution, and as a long term solution, ultimately use some sort of thermally-catalyzed (or biological) process using nuclear process heat to generate a fully sustainable replacement for the liquids we use today.
As I thought, the environmental groups are focusing on one anti-nuclear question (that I know of):
If money is tight, why waste billions in nuclear and dirty coal when we should ramp up efficiency, wind and solar, which are economically sustainable and create clean and safe jobs for our generation?
so I encourage you all to login and either vote against it or to give the president arguments for a good rebuttal (at least on the nuclear side).
While I was frankly amazed when Pres Obama listed nuclear power at the top of his list of energy source, I still think that his administration has a long way to go to back those words up. For starters, how about a letter or even a personal visit by Sec. Chu to the Vermont Public Service Board about the (tempest in) a teapot of tritium. He could put on his professor’s hat and do a show-and-tell with a liter of tritium-laced water at the EPA limit and an averaged-sized banana.
hey rod, what are your thoughts on terrapower and their wave reactor design which uses nuclear waste of fuel? any technical comments or opinions? i may actually be in contact with them next month.
Jody – Thank you for the reminder. I keep meaning to do some posts on TerraPower. They have some fascinating technology, some amazing financial backers, and an impressive array of experienced nuclear engineers. What they call a “traveling wave” is the same thing I have tried to describe on numerous occasions as being like a well built fire where the kindling ignites the logs and the logs keep the fire burning for a very long time.
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