Via the Foreign Policy Passport blog, an update on the so-called "renaissance" in nuclear power usage in some European countries. Britain is scheduled to increase deployment of new power plants. But for all of the talk about nuclear power being a potential solution to the problems of a carbon-based economy, the same challenges associated with nuclear power 30 years ago are still with us today. Has an acceptable alternative to "burying nuclear waste where no one will ever find it" ever really emerged? What about the costs associated with the "new" security threats of the post-9/11 world?
Organized opposition to nuclear power isn't going away any time soon, but neither is the fascination with -- and reliance upon -- technological solutions to our energy problems. At the Republican debate last night in Boca Raton, Florida, Rudy Giuliani was asked why he was against a mandatory cap on greenhouse gases. His response?
The very best way to do it is to support the technologies that are alternatives that can save the environment, and to get us to the point where those technologies can actually take over.
We haven't -- we haven't licensed a nuclear power plant in 30 years. France is 80 percent nuclear; we're 20 percent nuclear, we're going down to 15 percent nuclear. We have to crack through there.
We need to expand the use of hybrid vehicles.
We need to expand the use of clean coal. Carbon sequestration is expensive, but it's a process that works.
Giuliani went on to cite other examples of technology-based solutions, of which nuclear was simply one of many. (As an aside, one wonders why the cost of carbon sequestration doesn't bother him but the cost of capping greenhouses does). John McCain, when asked a similar question, responded in favor of mandatory carbon caps, but also threw in nuclear power as a supplement ("We need to go back to nuclear power").
The Democrats, in their last debate, didn't discuss nuclear power. But during their Jan. 15 debate in Las Vegas, the inevitable Yucca Mountain question came up. While all three candidates had no problem with being "against" Yucca, John Edwards took the opportunity to riff on nuclear power more generally: