We could save the planet the nice way, by way of conservation and non-deadly renewables. Or we could just go on rampaging as we always have.
David Crane of NRG Energy (San Antonio utility’s partner in two proposed nukes plants in Matagorda County) wants to let the rampage continue, and says nuclear is just the enabling tool we need.
Here he is talking to Germany’s Spiegel, where the country is phasing out all nuclear, yesterday:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Couldn’t one achieve just as much by conserving energy and improving the efficiency of conventional power plants as well as by improving the efficiency of automobiles and buildings? There seems to be quite a bit of potential for that kind of thing in the US.
Crane: That’s what I call the “Gore Approach.” It’s based on self-denial: Let’s all go back to living without air conditioning and to drying our clothes on the clothes line. There’s another option, though: the “Schwarzenegger Approach.” It’s the American Dream, but it’s the carbon-free American Dream.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you mean by that?
Crane: He’s like, I want to drive my Hummer and fly my Gulfstream 4, I just don’t want them to produce any greenhouse gas. That’s a Republican philosophy of a technology-driven approach. I think it’s very difficult to get the American people to engage in self-denial. It’s just not the American way. The American way is based on consumption. You don’t want to change the American way of life, you just want to show them a better way to get there, and nuclear power is a key part of that.
You know, there just may be some aspects of that eternally gobbling economics that Americans want to change. I mean, that’s the reason we established a national parks system in the first place: unlimited growth was eliminating the country’s wild places and Republican Teddy Roosevelt had the foresight to see that, creating some of the nation’s first national parks.
Another Republican happened to be around when unregulated industry was ruining our air and water and ushered in the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. (Okay, Nixon had to be over-rode on a bit of that.)
The point is that unfettered growth and the elimination of all policies that require any degree of “self denial” have not always been key Republican values — just try to set up a chrome-plating shop in the Grand Canyon.
If you are following this nuke stuff, I suggest you read the full interview. He makes a lot of hay out of transportation woes and the need to switch to electric cars. Of course, I still steer toward the solar-topped parking garages and box stores. A lot simpler than a $9 billion nuke plant.
Interviewer Frank Hornig challenges Crane on waste, but misses the Big Point about nuclear being exhibited in Iran today, which is simply that nuclear power is fast becoming an excuse for weapons proliferation.
From a Washington Post report a few months ago:
But for some Middle Eastern states with ready access to huge stocks of oil or natural gas, such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the investment in nuclear power appears to be linked partly to concerns about a future regional arms race stoked in part by Iran’s alleged interest in such an arsenal, the officials said.
“We are concerned that some countries are moving down the nuclear [weapons] path in reaction to the Iranians,” a senior U.S. government official who tracks the spread of nuclear technology said in an interview. He declined to speak on the record because of diplomatic sensitivities. “The big question is: At what point do you reach the nuclear tipping point, when enough countries go nuclear that others decide they must do so, too?”
Although the United Arab Emirates has a proven oil reserve of 100 billion barrels, the world’s sixth-largest, in January it signed a deal with a French company to build two nuclear reactors. Wealthy neighbors Kuwait and Bahrain are also planning nuclear plants, as are Libya, Algeria and Morocco in North Africa and the kingdom of Jordan.
Even Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, last year announced plans to purchase a nuclear reactor, which it says is needed to produce electricity; it is one of 11 Middle Eastern states now engaged in starting or expanding nuclear power programs.
An International Security Advisory Board taskforce (chaired by your pal Wolfowitz) reported to the U.S. State Department on Tuesday that proliferation risks will only increase — and (get this) for that reason the U.S. should invest more in nuclear power in order to police the world’s enriched uranium market. You know, policing the Middle East’s oil fields has been such a great plan.
Here’s the opener on that UPI story:
A report from a State Department advisory panel says a coming large expansion in global nuclear power generation poses proliferation risks, but the United States must embrace it to ensure that nuclear supplier nations build safeguards into the growing market.
The report highlights division among experts about the future of civil nuclear power across the globe, the risks it poses, and the degree to which U.S. policy should support its spread. Some critics of the report say the expansion of nuclear power is not inevitable and should be resisted.
A task force of the International Security Advisory Board — chaired by former Pentagon and World Bank official Paul Wolfowitz — produced the report, titled “Proliferation Implications of the Global Expansion of Civil Nuclear Power,” in response to a request from Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph.
In case you were planning a fishing-and-eating trip down Galveston way, here’s a little item from the Health Department.
Seems after a two-year study folks fishing Galveston Bay are being told to limit how much catfish and speckled sea trout they eat due to elevated PCB’s and dioxins in the fish.
Here’s the release:
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has issued an advisory warning people to limit their consumption of spotted seatrout and catfish from Galveston Bay. The advisory, which includes Chocolate Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Trinity Bay and contiguous waters, was issued after a two-year study showed elevated levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the two fish.
Other fish species such as red drum, black drum and flounder were sampled and are safe to eat.
Adults are advised to limit consumption of the two fish to no more than one 8-ounce meal a month. Women who are nursing, pregnant or who may become pregnant and children should not eat any catfish or spotted seatrout from these waters.
PCBs are industrial chemicals once used as coolants and lubricants in electrical transformers and capacitors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned PCBs in 1979, but items containing PCBs did not have to be replaced. PCBs degrade slowly in the environment.
Dioxins are formed as unintentional by-products of many industrial and chemical production processes and incomplete combustion.
Long-term consumption of PCBs may cause cancer and reproductive, immune system, developmental and liver problems. Dioxins can cause skin rashes, liver damage, weight loss, reproductive damage and may increase the risk of cancer.
Spotted seatrout, also knows as speckled trout, is a favorite among recreational anglers in coastal waters. The DSHS advisory does not prohibit catching or possessing either fish species. The contaminants do not pose a threat to other recreational uses of the bay such as swimming or other contact recreational activities.
Fish consumption advisories have been in effect for the Houston Ship Channel and upper portion of Galveston Bay since 1990.
(Crane pic courtesy of Forbes. Passion flower is from yours truly.)