Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nuke This, Buddy

We’ve all heard the standard Republican energy plan – nuclear power will set us free and manna will fall from the sky. For some reason there is this notion that if we just build a nuclear power plant on every block we will be free of foreign oil. The problem with that concept is that only 2% of our oil consumption goes to generating electric power, which is the function of a nuclear power plant. 70% of oil consumption goes to making our cars and trucks run. So unless we are going to convert our fleet of cars and trucks to all electric, nukes, or natural gas – the natural gas part as T. Boone Pickens proposes, more nuclear power will not do anything to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

So the latest twist is that now the EPA has set a million-year health standard for Yucca Mountain, our soon-to-be national nuclear waste dump. I got a real problem with this. There is no way to design something and say yep, this will last a thousand years, much less a million. Nuclear waste stays radioactive for tens of thousands of years. I got no problem with nuclear power if someone can demonstrate a real plan for dealing with the by-product. Something a little more believable than we’ll bury it in a mountain and cross our fingers and hope it works.

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