Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama Deserves an F on Energy Policy

The Obama administration is off to a truly disastrous start on its energy policy. It has accepted the delusion notion that supporting nuclear energy is somehow anti-progressive while giving preference to so called renewable energy sources is good policy.

Here are Obama's energy delusions. Mr. Obama appears to believe that the problems of conventional nuclear power are crippling compared to renewables. That is not the case. In facts renewables are crippled by their intermittency, while nuclear power is reliable.

The Obama administration is concerned about the problem of nuclear waste management. But under the current system nuclear waste is stored safely, and poses far less of a danger to human health and safety and to the environment than waste from coal fired steam plants.

The Obama administration is overly concerned by nuclear safety, but by any objective standard America's 104 power reactors have proven to be extremely safe.

The Obama administration is concerned about nuclear costs, but the cost of making renewables reliable enough to assure America 24 hour a day power will make renewables more expensive than conventional nuclear power.

The Obama administration believes itself to be well informed about energy issues. In fact it is basing policy on half-baked energy approaches. The flaws in the renewable approaches now in favor should be clear to anyone who begins by asking obvious questions like where is the power going to come from when the wind does not blow, or when the sun goes down at night. And of course the Obama staff has not yet asked how much this is going to cost.

Barack Obama was elected to put an end to the non-deliberative policy approach of the Bush administration. So far, however, the Obama administration's attitude toward energy has been anything but fact based. Let us recall Ron Suskind's account of the Bush staffer:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
The Obama administration has not yet engaged in a judicious determination of the facts about energy. Confident in their own power and in their ability to set policy on whim, they have decided to follow what will surely be a disastrous policy if followed long term. We can only hope that during the next few years, as America's war to assure itself an energy future becomes obviously more difficult, and Mr. Obama's ability to see his own mistakes, admit them and correct them will come and prevent a disaster. If not we are headed out into the wilderness without food or water. Leading people toward disaster surely is not progressive.


donb said...

It looks like the Obama adminstration has decided to shut down the Yucca Mountain site for long-term storage of slightly used nuclear fuel.

From one perspective, I can understand it -- throwing away slighly used nuclear fuel never made sense to me. However, it seems that the proposal is to ignore the problem in the hopes that it will go away by itself (this must be the part where they create their own reality). At a minimum, the fuel should be recycled to recover the usable portions (initial charge for LFTR start-up!) and greatly reduce the volume down to the true waste - the fission products. Or perhaps the money that presently funds the development of Yucca Mountain could be used to develop advanced reactors to use the other 95% of the energy still left in the fuel.

Unfortunately, it looks like nothing is going to get done, though the $0.001 per kWHr fee that is paid specifically for nuclear waste disposal is still being collected (and spent somewhere else, and IOUs issued).

Warren Heath said...

I can't believe the Obama administration is that stupid - or Stephen Chu.

Stephen Chu is indebted to British Petroleum with their $500 million grant for his Biofuel research.

There's still about $200 trillion worth of Coal, $200 trillion worth of NG and $200 trillion worth of Oil in the ground. Obama, like the McCain gang, have happily accepted payolla from the cash rich fossil fuel gang.

Nuclear, once it is properly developed, will be the doom of fossil fuel - there is no other option. Don't anybody be so naive to believe that $600 trillion isn't going to buy every manner of skullduggery up to and including Wars & Political Assassinations.

Charles Barton said...

Everyone makes mistakes. However, if you are president your mistakes may have more serious consequences.

Ijon Tichy said...

Speaking of mistakes, Charles, I am volunteering to correct your spelling mistakes. I have the time and inclination to go through your posts and fix the errors. We can do this two ways: 1) You give me your blogger username/password, and I'll edit the articles myself (advantage: no work for you, less work for me; disadvantage: trust is required) 2) I send you a list of spelling errors for each article I look at (advantage: no need to trust me; disadvantage: more work for you and me).

I am doing this because I am pro-nuclear and a member of the reality-based community, and I think your readers "disirve" error-free posts.

Charles Barton said...

Ijon Tichy I can set you up to join my team. That will allow you to edit to you heart's content, You can post too it you want too.

Ijon Tichy said...

Charles, I've sent you an email (your yahoo account) with the subject header "spelling".

Anonymous said...

Chu is strictly in the renewables camp. Why? He recognizes that renewables have deep and abiding flaws and he has faith that science can solve these problems given enough time, mental horsepower, and money. But he does not hold the same faith in science for nuclear power. He considers nuclear power a necessary evil until renewables, power storage, and the smart grid come up to speed. Clearly, his friends, political sponsors, past background and experiences all have contributed to his distorted and politically convenient world view. Only massive, intractable and profound failure of the renewable paradigm will change this politically inspired way of thinking.

PS. I have no problems with the spelling in your posts. But I am the world’s worst proof reader; I read only what I want to see.


Charles Barton said...

Axil, when Chu was nominated, I had my suspicions, which I voiced at the time. No one seemed to be listening. Neither the Chinese nor the Indians are going to be so foolish, and the future will undoubtedly belong to them if there is not a radical rethinking.


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