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Obama irresponsible on nuclear power

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama promised to build “a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants” in America. He quickly backed that up: In his proposed budget, out this week, he asks Congress to triple the amount of money in an Energy Department loan guarantee program for new power stations. “We are working hard to restart the American nuclear power industry,” Energy Secretary Stephen Chu exclaimed Tuesday.

Sounds nice. Nuclear power is proven and pretty clean relative to, say, coal. But it still produces waste, and the administration’s plan for that is… to close the nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nev.

That idea, also in Obama’s budget, acknowledges political reality. Nevada’s NIMBY’s have a lock on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Yet it’s bad policy -- nuclear waste currently sits in surface-level storage units strewn across the country. And it’s more than a little jarring, not to mention irresponsible, for the president to push a large expansion of nuclear energy while eliminating the best way to clean up dangerous byproducts and not providing an alternative.

By Stephen Stromberg  | February 3, 2010; 1:05 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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This sounds like a legitimate job for NASA. Take that waste and lift it into a decaying solar orbit so that it falls into the Sun, and does no harm here on Terra.

Posted by: mike92 | February 3, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Cute pic, Stromberg. I think your grandma would love this head shot.

Posted by: sizzurp | February 3, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Disingenuous to say the least.

Closing Yucca Mountain was Harry's idea to appease the environmentalist . His reasoning, I want to keep my seat in the senate.

Shucks its only BILLIONS spent just to throw it away. Typical government.

Posted by: frankn1 | February 3, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I voted for Obama, but was very dismayed when one of the first things he did was suck up to Harry Reid and close down the Yucca Mtn option. Does anyone really believe that letting nuke waste sit in 150 different sites with 150 different corporations "guarding" them (some with financial problems)is a good idea? That's 150 terrrorist targets and 150 natural disasters waiting to become catastrophic natural disasters. Now The Prez will appoint a commision to take two more years to study the issue. Yucca was studied to death. Harry Reid did what any self serving polician would do _ NOT IN MY BACKYARD! RE-Elect me! (and my son)!
Shame on you President Obama for caving so easily!

Posted by: humbleandfree | February 3, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Actually, storing the waste is the worst possible idea. We should be focusing intently on reprocessing the waste to make more fuel. It galls me to say we have to learn from the French, but they are absolutely doing this the right way. The technology to recycle nuclear waste has been around for decades. Hmm, recycling. Would an environmentalist care to chime in?

Posted by: polijunkie100 | February 3, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Actually we can do that better than the French. I'm not really sure why we haven't been. For all the talk of running out of fossil fuels, if we ramp up Nuclear powe 25% and don't reprocess, the world's uranium reserves will be used up in about 100 years. Reprocessing brings that to around 2000 years. We had been reprocessing in the early years, but stopped because the multi-step process created very pure plutonium along the way, which could be hijacked by somebody with ill intent. That's the same process used in France. Since then a better process has come along which doesn't produce any such dangerous stuff along the way that could be used as a weapon (and it's cheaper). So the only legitimate roadblock to reprocessing no longer stands, but we seem to have just ignored it. Seems to me largely because people are just terrified of things with "nuclear" in the name, so we turn a blind eye and hope it goes away.

Posted by: MGibbons1 | February 3, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I like the decision to look for ways to re-use so-called waste nuclear fuel. What I think is wasteful is that it would take two years. If they put LFTR on the fast track a prototype could feasibly be ready in a few years but at this rate it could take at least eight years if Obama manages to stay in power that long.

Posted by: rickmaltese | February 4, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Nuclear power, I believe is the best, safest, most reliable, current technology to provide energy. The plants operating now are safe and the new designs are even safer.
Building 100's of new nuclear power plants would improve the economy, reduce or eliminate dependence on foreign oil, create jobs, reduce pollution, and provide for future technological advancement.
I have been working with nuclear power for about 30 years, I would be glad to have a Nuclear power plant or high level waste disposal facility in my backyard. My family and I live in a home within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant. (where I work) I have a great understanding of the risks involved and I am completely comfortable with a plant "in my backyard". I have confidence that my grandchildren’s grandchildren will be smart enough to treat the nuclear "waste" as a valuable resource or at least smart enough to handle it safely . If the cavemen thought their children would be too stupid to use fire safely, where would we be now?
Using Chernobyl as a reason not to build is like saying because of the Hindenburg I will never fly in a commercial airliner.
Nuclear power has the smallest environmental impact of any current energy production method per unit of energy produced. One fuel pellet about the size of a pencil eraser produces the same energy as about 1 ton of coal, and if reprocessed 2/3 of what’s left can be reclaimed. Nuclear power is our best option for reliable, environmentally friendly base-load electrical power.

Posted by: Nukemann1 | February 4, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"If they put LFTR on the fast track"

India is looking into thorium.

Posted by: SoldiersDad | February 10, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

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