President Obama made a few policy suggestions in his state of the union address. The one that I thought stuck out the most was his call for new nuclear power plants.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Former contributer and current friend of the blog, Dr. Strangelove has posted about the advantages and improvements of modern nuclear power on this blog before. And if he's lurking out there, I'd love to read his thoughts on this subject again.
I've always preferred solar and wind power to nuclear. Not because I dislike nuclear power itself but because I think the political economy of power utility provision would be improved by a decentralized power grid and nuclear power is so expensive and complex that it requires a highly centralized grid. This would serve to continue the monopoly of the big power companies that have abused their position in the past (see for example the Enron-California blackout crisis). My ideal world would be one where every home and business has both a solar and a wind power generator on the roof combined with the ability to sell their excess back to the grid. The problem then would be one of efficient transmission and power storage.
But nuclear power combined with increasing reliance on hybrid and someday viable electric cars will do a lot to diminish our dependence on oil. That would be a very good thing. It would be an improvement and in the interest of "not making the perfect the enemy of the good" I'd support it.
Obama also called for investment in high speed rail. I'm ambivalent about that. On the one hand, I'm a fan of the environmental advantages that rail has over cars and airplanes. But the United States is a much bigger and sparsely populated place than Japan or Western Europe (the places where high speed rail thrives). There are regions where it would make a lot of sense: The Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington connection and maybe the San Francisco-Los Angeles-San Diego-Las Vegas connection. But does it really make sense to talk about high speed rail between Chicago and Minneapolis or Omaha? The distances might be right but are there enough people to use it? I'll admit to not knowing a lot about this so, as with the nuclear power issue, I'm curious about what other think here.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 5:49 AM