Bad news for opponents of new American nuclear power plants

If you’re worried about the direction of energy policy under a President Barack Obama, as I am, you will not be comforted by the news I just learned from Bleeding Heartland user Renewable Rich. MidAmerican Energy, which is part of Warren Buffett’s empire, is buying Constellation Energy, which among other things operates nuclear power plants. One of the articles Renewable Rich linked to notes:

This deal also brings nuclear energy to Berkshire’s utility empire for the first time, an area where Buffett has professed great interest. Constellation operates a highly efficient fleet of plants and has plans to build several more. The merger effectively allies Berkshire with French nuclear giant Electricite de France-which owns 10 percent of Constellation-and its nuclear construction partner, French government-backed Areva. The pair has plans to build four advanced reactors in the US, and joining their interests to Buffett’s deep pockets could accelerate their development.

Obama has already said he is open to expanding nuclear power in the U.S., and I’m sure Warren Buffett will have his ear.

This is not good news for those of us who share the position of the Union of Concerned Scientists regarding nuclear power.

Before people start posting angry comments, let me assure you that I understand Obama’s energy policy as a whole would be much better than McCain’s. I still worry about Obama’s support for nuclear power and so-called “clean coal.” Those stands were the main reason that Friends of the Earth Action endorsed John Edwards last fall and not Obama.

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  • If we are serious

    about steep greenhouse gas reductions, say 80% by 2050 as IPCC recommends, it is very hard to say flat out no to both nuclear and coal with carbon capture.  There is a good chance both of those technologies will crumble as real options because of their cost.  If that is the case, we need some serious innovations to get us our baseload generation from non-GHG emitting sources.  But at this point of time completely ruling out both nuclear and coal with carbon capture leads to the valid question, if not those technologies, then what?  Efficiency and current renewables will take us pretty far, but not even close to 80% by 2050.

    • I disagree

      To say we need new coal or new nuclear is a false choice.

      I’m with Al Gore on this.

      Also, I worry about the proliferation risks as well as what to do with nuclear waste.

      • Give me numbers

        I’m not excited about trusting the coal industry to save the world either, but I don’t understand why we would prematurely rule out carbon sequestration technology that does have real potential. Saying its backed by corporate interest isn’t enough for me. If you want to convince people that America can supply adequate energy at reasonable consumption rates, while completely ditching our most abundant and cheepest source of energy, I’d like to see some numbers. I’m not arguing with you yet, I just would like to now how it could happen.