Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Arizona's New Industry Opportunity

Former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman is now co-chair of the CASEnergy Coalition. She is a leading proponent for the case that it's time to shed ourselves of outdated attitudes about nuclear power that perpetuate our dependency on enironmentally less-friendly alternatives like oil and coal not to mention our dependency on many US-unfriendly nations. The idea that wood is bad, coal is bad, oil is bad, natural gas is bad, and nuclear power is bad leaves us with a return to the stone ages. At some point, we have to decide on the best energy options for current and future circumstances and act on them, and, currently, solar and wind power are not able to be harnessed and stored at the levels we need.

The primary issues? Practicality, pollution, cost, availability, and safety/security. And, Christine Todd Whitman advocates nuclear energy as today's anwer.

Here are some considerations cited by Whitman: Nuclear energy is a practical solution. It's clean. The cost of uranium accounts for 26% of production costs at nuclear plants whereas coal eats up 78% of total coal plant production costs making nuclear power very affordable. I would add that uranium is available domestically. U.S. engineers have been for years successfully designing and building (cost-effectively) nuclear power plants all over the world, and nuclear plants are considered our "best defended targets" in safety and security. Even the radiation threat often cited by detractors is seriously overstated. According to Whitman, "Even if you lived next door to a nuclear power plant, you would still be exposed to less radiation each year then you would receive in just one round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles." And nuclear energy is proven in Asia and Europe where France generates 76% of its electricity through nuclear power plants.

Now, for the opportunity. Consider this: California's policy of build-it-somewhere-else has already caused severe damage to the state making California dependent on everyone else for its power needs. Moratoriums on building power plants, bans on coal, wind and nuclear-generated electricity, and various other power-limiting legislation will continue to take its toll. In fact, it's questionable as to whether or not they will even be able to meet current needs with the latest restrictions on power imports. Of course, California's folly has been Arizona's gain as here in Southern Arizona the ant-like Springville Generating Station has been expanding and exporting electricity to our grasshopper neighbors reaping huge profits, at times. With the new law in California, they may have to turn their attention elsewhere, but, California will likely come back once electricity costs reach the levels of a few years ago and residents begin experiencing rolling blackouts once again.

While few states are as short-sided as California, many states still find themselves short on power, particularly in the summer months, and would prefer clean alternatives. Here's an opportunity you might have to see to believe, but at least you wouldn't have to smell it. Why not build nuclear power plants in remote areas of the state that would not only generate high paying jobs in many depressed areas, but would export something clean while pumping revenue back into the Arizona economy? Few power companies are interested in building large power plants due to financing issues, but the state could provide some leadership in this area to stimulate interest in making Arizona a clean power exporting state. Add to the nuclear power generation breakthroughs in solar and wind power, and you have a new state industry that's clean and lucrative.


x4mr said...


I concur entirely. Here is where I part from the obstinate greens who hear nuclear and foam at the mouth. They wail without doing the math. Had this country been smarter about this the last couple decades, we would be in a much stronger position today.

Like firearms and alcohol, nuclear energy is not for kids. Chernobyl shows that it has to be done right. As your post notes, it can be done right, and done right, it is a very attractive option.

We must continue to develop wind, water, and especially solar technology, but compared to nuclear these take time and pale in volume. A good nuclear plant, the modern kind they can build today, could practically power a state. The advances of the last two decades in both nuclear and computer technology support our ability to make safe environmentally sound power plants that operate with efficiency far beyond the dinosaur air scorching crap we have today.

Good luck, though.

In a world where I ran the planet, the hundred of billions in corporate oil profits would be taxed higher than tobacco, and if big oil bitches too loudly, I'd nationalize the whole industry, seize all assets, and use oil revenue to end the addiction.

Well, that was fun.

Framer said...


I certainly hope your viewpoints are in line with at least 51% of the voters in district 26.

I strongly suspect they are. :)

Anonymous said...

Where is the waste going to go? NO ONE WANTS IT.

Sirocco said...

I'm in the x4mr camp. On just about any other environment-related topic I side with the "green" folk, but on this one I break with them. Nuclear energy is, at this point, a proven technology with a fine safety record.

I liken it to passenger airline travel - when an accident _does_ occur, it's a large, horrible, newsworthy event. However, accidents occur extraordinarily rarely.

AZAce said...

Where to dispose of the waste? Ever been to the Bonneville Salt Flats?

One of my favorite profs of thirty years ago was a geology prof who was certainly an environmentalist, but also a pragmatist. He identified a large number of locations he personally explored for the federal government that would be suitable to accept the waste, and developed appropriate methods for burying it. He identified locations from coast to coast, but the west had most simply because of distance from populated areas and ground composition.

It doesn't seem to be an insurmountable problem particularly in comparison to other waste concerns.