The positioning of nuclear energy as an "alternative energy" through lobbying, policy, and public opinion campaigns is something we can expect to hear more of, I'm sure. I'm sketchy on the actual science behind the claims of "safest, cleanest," but I am also weary of the quick embrace many in the GOP circles (exhibited most recently in Sutherland's "Earth" Week) seem to exhibit for nuclear energy when so many other options are left unexplored, and the channels through which similar efforts have progressed overseas cause me great concern.
Until I'm more confident on the issue (give me a week), I'm going to restrict my commentary to the above paragraph only. This, however, speaks more to our continued criticisms of the continued lobbyist grip on our elected officials, so it's worth passing on: Meet Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), and the opinion he has been paid handsomely to adopt.
Interviewed on Dennis Miller’s radio show today, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) discussed the House GOP “commonsense” attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) over skyrocketing gas prices. He then went off into the following non sequitur on nuclear power:
And frankly, whatever you want to say, you know, eighty percent of the French energy comes from nuclear power and it’s the cleanest, safest, most cost effective energy source known to man. And they have a very unique way of disposing of it. We should look at coal to liquification. We should be looking at all kinds of alternative sources and what is it that they have done? They refuse to allow us to even have votes on that.
[...] Dreier is mimicking talking points from the nuclear lobby. In a recent column in the Washington Times, Spencer Abraham of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition claimed nuclear power is the “most environmentally friendly source of all clean-air electricity options.” Dreier is spinning an utter fantasy:
– “…cleanest, safest, most cost effective energy source known to man…” Nuclear power requires dangerous mining, produces permanently deadly toxic waste, and may abet the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear power is only “cost effective” to the degree these costs are ignored.
– “…they have a very unique way of disposing of it…” The truth is that France, like the United States, still has no solution for safely managing nuclear waste. [Forbes, 3/22/06]
– “…We should look at coal to liquification…” Liquid coal is a climate killer. The energy required to convert coal to liquid fuel doubles the amount of carbon dioxide released compared to petroleum-based gasoline, producing a “ton of carbon dioxide for each barrel of liquid fuel.” [NRDC, 2/07]
–“…We should be looking at all kinds of alternative sources…” Energy sources that are cleaner and safer than nuclear power include: energy efficiency, co-generation, wind power, solar power (photovoltaic and thermal), geothermal power, and tidal power — to name a few.
–“…They refuse to allow us to even have votes on that.” Rep. Dreier has voted against the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, both of which would have taken tax subsidies away from oil companies to invest in renewable energy. He was one of only 31 people to fail to vote on the Advanced Fuels Infrastructure Research and Development Act.
The truth of the matter is that this Congress has raised fuel economy standards, increased investment in renewable energy, and repeatedly attempted to reduce subsidies for oil companies. And they’ve been opposed at every step of the way by Rep. Dreier.