The Department of Energy (DOE) has a new generation of leadership; “larger than life” John Kotek is promoting nuclear energy via selling a “durable solution” to the problem of deadly radioactive waste that is the direct result of generating electric power from the heat of fission. Without a perceived solution to handling this existential problem, promotion of more nuclear energy usually falls on deaf ears. After all, wastes that will be a hazard to all life on Earth over the next million years, even when contained, do pose a threat. And the DOE’s track record on radioactive waste, exemplified by the failed Yucca Mountain project, hardly inspires confidence. Continue reading
The trick, I guess, if you’re in the conventional wisdom trade, is to find some tiny little nuance to that wisdom that is ever so slightly different than everyone else’s tiny little nuance, support that little spin with a clever anecdote or quote, and watch it become the new improved conventional wisdom. New and improved in the limited sense of conventional wisdom, which is to say it isn’t really so different from what everyone else has been saying all along. Continue reading
It’s a no-win issue for most members: no one, including no one in their own districts, wants nuclear waste around. So their usual bet is to try to gang up on some other state (like, say, Nevada) and write laws to try to shove the waste off on it. Except when that doesn’t work (like, say, in Nevada) that can come back to haunt them, since next time their state may be the one ganged up on. Continue reading
Back in 2008, when presidential candidate John McCain was calling for construction of 45 new reactors in the U.S. (and presidential candidate Barack Obama was calling for “safe” nuclear power), Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander outdid his colleague: he issued a call for construction of 100 new nuclear reactors.
In 2008, the nuclear “renaissance” was in full swing. McCain’s call didn’t seem–at least to nuclear backers–far-fetched in the least. After all, the NRC at the time already had some 30 applications for licenses for new reactors. Continue reading
President Obama’s FY 2016 budget proposal released this week isn’t going to be adopted as is, that’s pretty obvious considering he’s facing a Congress that, if he suggested repealing Obamacare, probably would vote against it just because it was his proposal.
But that’s on the big stuff–taxes, infrastructure, health care. When it comes down to the small stuff, like energy, Obama’s proposals often do get changed, but the changes usually are one of emphasis rather than approach. Continue reading
Yucca Mountain backers may have been a little, shall we say premature, in their glee two months ago when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), under court order, released Volume 3 of the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for the project.
That section of the SER concluded that the Department of Energy’s design for the Yucca Mountain project indicates “compliance with the performance objectives and requirements that apply after the repository is permanently closed.” Continue reading
The big nuclear news in the omnibus federal budget bill currently before Congress is that the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project receives no new funding for 2015–much to the chagrin of some in the nuclear industry and its Washington backers.
Small victories do matter, and that is indeed a victory. Although given the makeup of the incoming Congress, the next budget could well include a ton of taxpayer dollars directed once again at that failed endeavor. Congress has never been too concerned with the concept of “good money after bad.” Continue reading