Today Energy Secretary Steven Chu took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to sell his plans for more nuclear power:
America is on the cusp of reviving its nuclear power industry. Last month President Obama pledged more than $8 billion in conditional loan guarantees for what will be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to break ground in nearly three decades. And with the new authority granted by the president's 2011 budget request, the Department of Energy will be able to support between six and nine new reactors.
Hello? I like the idea of nuclear energy too, but if “America is on the cusp” of a revival, then taxpayers shouldn’t have to offer billions in guarantees! In a free country, when something is a good idea, it happens. Private capital makes it happen, without government force.
Why hasn’t it happened? I thought that nuclear power is a wonderful underutilized energy source, hampered only by idiots who believe the scaremongering pushed by the likes of Jane Fonda and The China Syndrome. After all, France gets 80% of its electricity from the atom, and they handle the nuclear waste without a problem.
But Cato Institute energy analyst Jerry Taylor set me straight. Yes, the waste is manageable, he says, but affordable nuclear power is a Republican energy myth: “Take a Republican speech on energy and cross out nuclear, replace with wind and solar…and you’ve got a Nancy Pelosi speech on energy. Exact same thing.”
Even if Greenpeace et al stopped their ignorant obstructionism, says Taylor, new nuclear plants are “ just too expensive. The lifetime cost of building and operating is about three times more than coal-fired.” The Government Accountability Office and the CBO both recognize this. They peg the chance of default on a nuclear investment at 50 percent. Likewise, investors recognize the risk. They refuse to invest in nuclear unless the government guarantees every penny of the loan.
Natural Gas is much more practical source of energy.
I’ll talk more with Taylor about nuclear and other energy myths on my FBN show next week.