Good Idea or Bad Idea?
by James Glaser
March 16, 2011
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There were two people on NPR yesterday talking about nuclear power plants. On one side they were saying the nuclear power plant problems in Japan after their earthquake had no bearing on future nuclear plants being built here in America.

On the other side of the issue, the person speaking was saying that nobody can control natural catastrophes. Yes, there are areas less prone to earthquakes, but there are hurricanes and tornadoes to think about.

I was kind of amazed that neither side talked about the storage issue for spent nuclear fuel rods, and how their half life is 10,000 years, and that we need to safely store them for something like 40,000 years

The last nuclear power plant to come on line in the United States was built in Tennessee in 1996. President Obama has based his "fix" for our long term energy needs on nuclear power, and a little thing like fuel rod meltdowns in Japan are not about to change that.

Like everything else in America, nuclear power is all about politics, and it has been said that the nuclear power industry owns Barack Obama. Here is how The Wayne Madsen Reports explains it:

GE and its nuclear arm, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, are not Obama's only friends and donors in the nuclear power industry. Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, which operates nuclear power plants in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, was the fourth-largest donor to Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. Thanks to its $269,000 in campaign cash, Obama has responded favorably to the needs of Exelon. Exelon was created in 2000 with the merger of Commonwealth Edison's parent corporation, Unicom of Chicago, and PECO Energy of Philadelphia. Representing Unicom in the merger was Rahm Emanuel, later Obama's White House chief of staff and newly-elected mayor of Chicago. Unicom was also advised by Goldman Sachs, the firm that has supplied many of the Obama administration's top officials. Former White House political adviser David Axelrod also acted as a consultant for Exelon.

Of course big political money brings big returns. Here is how Milfuegos reports it:

And in a major tip of the hat to the nuclear industry, Obama asked for $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the United States. In his 2012 budget, Obama has asked for $36 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, and he has the support of the Republicans in Congress even though there are opponents and skeptic in his own Democratic Party.

So, we have the start of a debate going on. On one side is the Nuclear Power Industry, and their new spokesman, Barack Obama. On the other side are the people who have fought for, and so far have won a stoppage to building new nuclear plants in the United States.

The talk yesterday on NPR was just a first round, but I think it is going to get nasty. The nuclear industry has never owned a President like they own Barack Obama, and the expert people on the other side are getting old or maybe have died.

So, the question is: Do we build new nuclear power plants, and trust that the industry can build them stronger than Mother Nature, or do we play it safe, and look for some other non-polluting way to produce electric power? Never mind thinking about spent fuel rod storage. Nobody can prove we will ever have a safe facility for that. Remember, it's a 10,000 year half-life on those rods.

Maybe a better question would be, can money buy the President and Congress, too? I think we know the answer to that. Even a bad idea can be made to look like a good idea—if you put enough money behind it.

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