Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, May 23, 2008

Italy's New Nukes And Our "No Nukes!"

Italy began the process yesterday of raising its arm toward OPEC and giving them the celebrated Italian version of the finger.
ROME (NYT) — Italy announced Thursday that within five years it planned to resume building nuclear energy plants, two decades after a public referendum resoundingly banned nuclear power and deactivated all its reactors.

“By the end of this legislature, we will put down the foundation stone for the construction in our country of a group of new-generation nuclear plants,” said Claudio Scajola, minister of economic development. “An action plan to go back to nuclear power cannot be delayed anymore.”
Italy joins Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and others in reversing its long-held anti-nuclear position ... and results in the unpleasant reality that Europe actually is performing more intelligently than America. Do we all have to become liberals now?

Environmentalist opposition to nuclear power is thermo-hypocritical. They attack it because, although there's a fine place to stash spent rods under Yucca Mountain, there's no technology to convert the rods into a benign byproduct. Yet they want us to stop our reliance on oil and nukes in deference to a host of technologies that are technologically proven to be nowhere close to being able to fill the gap.

Do they want technological proof of solutions or not?

Three things stand in the way to greater US reliance on nukes: environmentalists, Harry Reid and production capacity.

We've covered the former, although the discussion is not complete without a reference to The China Syndrome, the post-Three Mile Island film starring Hanoi Jane as a crusading TV bubblehead. The film is as anti-capitalism as it is anti-nuke, and it turned a generation against nuclear power. The new generation hasn't seen this awful film, thank God, so maybe nukes can begin to move forward here ... unless Hollywood regurgitates it.

As for Harry Reid, he has his own hand gesture for nuclear power, standing defiant in his opposition to the nuclear waste repository under Yucca Mountain in one of the more bleak and desolate parts of his bleak and desolate state.

His opposition underscores the environmental and NIMBY battles that would be fought for years over the placement of a nuke anywhere in America. If we haven't built an oil refinery since the 1970s what makes anyone think we can actually get the national gumption to build a nuke in the spineless thou shalt not offend era in which we live today?

And finally, there's the market. Decades of doldrums in the nuclear industry has had its impact on reactor manufacturing capacity, and as the industry starts to wipe the sleep from its eyes, that capacity is maxed.

Given the environmentalists, NIMBYs and Reid, investing in nukes is a highly speculative proposition. So even if we played all our cards just right -- and we won't -- don't expect America to follow Italy any time soon ... especially without an honest and comprehensive energy policy.

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