Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Republicans' new energy plan: "Drill, buddy, drill" and "Mo Nukes!"

Heard Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis this afternoon on Wyoming Public Radio. She was outlining the very keen and neat-o aspects of the Repubs' new energy plan. It advocates for 100 new nuclear plants in the U.S. But none, according to Rep. Lummis, will be built in Wyoming. According to Lummis, a member of the American Energy Solutions Group or AESG (no acronym there), Wyoming is too far from the major markets and nuclear power plants use too much water, water that WYO doesn't have.

I find that interesting. Wyoming is home to many coal-burning power plants. True, the plants are close to a supposedly inexhaustible supply of carbon-based energy. But almost all of the electricity generated by the plants is sent out of state to places as far away as California. And don't coal-burning plants need water? The Dave Johnston power plant (see photo below) that I pass every time I drive I-25 to Casper is situated right on the North Platte River. That can't be an accident due to the fact that there are thousands of acres of non-riverfront wide-open spaces that could have been the site for that plant. It's possible that construction of the plant in other locales would have threatened jackelope habitat. But I have my doubts.

And there's wind power. Wyoming has lots of wind. We're building wind farms like there's no tomorrow, and there may not be. Problem is, we can build wind generators until the cows come home, but we don't have the transmission lines to send that electricity to Phoenix and Houston. It seems that we're too far from major markets yet again. Wyoming likes it that way. We like being far away from major markets. Instead, we become an energy sacrifice zone for the rest of the country.

I obviously need to do more research. I'll get back to you.

But back to the Repubs' nation-saving energy plan. Rep. Lummis's office outlined some details today in a press release:

“It is clear that for the sake of our environment and our economic security, we need a better plan than the Democrats’ national energy tax,” Rep. Lummis said. “The American Energy Act offers more affordable energy, more jobs here at home, and a cleaner environment. The plan seeks to increase our energy supply by diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio, while the Democrat plan seeks to slow down demand through government control.

[I deleted a bunch of boring stuff from the middle of the release]

The bill seeks to license 100 new nuclear reactors over the next twenty years by streamlining a burdensome regulatory process and ensuring the recycling and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel. It will also increase domestic energy supplies by lifting restrictions on the Arctic Coastal Plain, the Outer Continental Shelf, and oil shale in the Mountain West. Revenues generated through domestic production will support innovation in renewable and alternative energy sources, like wind and solar technologies.

So that's the plan. "Drill, buddy, drill" and "Mo Nukes!" Drill in the Arctic Wildlife refuge and off the coast of California and Florida and Mississippi. Little does Ms. Lummis know -- huge oil derricks are the last things those rich Republican retirees in Santa Barbara and Panama City and Gulfport want to see from their beachside verandas. Good luck with that.


WyoCowgirl said...

In 2007 eight coal plants proposals were scrapped -- not by the government, but by the energy companies themselves.

Many, like TXU, were already looking at wind, solar, and other options in lieu of coal several years ago.

So even though Cynthia believes Old King Coal is her merry old soul in Washington, her dreams don't match corporate America.

Yet another example of coal smoke being blown from politicians who are out of touch with reality.

Ken said...

In 2007 a survey for RBC Capital Markets' annual Energy Conference showed that 83 percent of Americans would oppose the construction of nuclear power plants in or near their home town.

The last nuclear reactor built in the US was in 1977. Why? Because Americans still remember Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and several more recent reactor leaks in Japan.

Try as they might, Lumis and Barrasso will have a difficult time persuading the American people to take a risk on nuclear power when there are safer options available.

What we should look at is why Lumis and Barrasso have such an aversion to wind/solar energy? Could it be because wind and solar aren't a limited resource that the commodity markets can easily manipulate through supply and demand?

Follow the money, we'll find the source of the resistance to solar and wind.