Originally Posted by baby boo
Well I, personally, don't have any problem with higher fuel prices. And I have no objection to better fuel economy standards.
During the 1973 oil crises I'm sure that people were arguing, like you are now, that nuclear power is not the immediate solution to our problem. No it's not an immediate solution but if had been implemented at the time we would not be having this dicussion today. We're not going to achieve energy independence overnight and, until then, encouraging conservation, increased drilling, use of alternative sources etc. all have a role to play. As does planning for the future.
In principle there is nothing wrong with letting the arabs pump and sell us their oil. I have great faith in the capitalist system. I think that we should just allow oil to seek its own price level instead of trying to enforce price controls on the oil companies which invariably will result in shortages or gimmicks like releasing supplies from the strategic oil reserves (like Bush has been encouraged to do in some quarters) which is just a temporary solution (if you recall Clinton tried that last trick and it's effect on gasoline prices was both miniscule and transient).
The price of oil will settle at whatever the supply/demand curve dictates. As it rises it will automatically encourage people to conserve thus mitigating the price increase. As it's price falls it will encourage consumption thus limiting its downside price potential. It is also true as an economic principle that the known reserves of a given commodity (such as oil) is a function of the price. Higher prices encourage exploration and discovery of new sources.
So the issue for me is not energy independence for economic reasons. It is energy independence for political reasons so that our foreign policy is not held hostage to unstable arab (or venezuelan) regimes like Europe is currently experiencing now.
My objection to the rabid envirnomentalists is neither new nor politically motivated, your speculations notwithstanding. It is based upon my observation that these people have done harm to the U.S. both economically and politically. Strict polution standards make American business less competitve in the world wide marketplace.They have stood in the way of increased drilling in ANWAR and of the US. While we prohibit drilling off the southern tip of Florida e.g., the Cubans are known to be drillling just a few miles beyond our international borders there. It's just nuts they are exploting (and probably slant drilling) in an area that the environmentalist lobby refuse to allow the US to exploit. The influcence of rabid environmentalists extends well beyond petroleum production unfortunately. Their jihad against the use of DDT e.g., has been responsible for millions of deaths due to malaria in Africa as less effective insecticides are being used over the past several decades to combat the mosquito vector.
I agree with GS that the quoted post is one of your best. I believe you have painted the environmentalists with a little heavier coat of boogey man than they deserve, as some of us actually like breathing fresh air, drinking clean water and seeing an array of naturally occuring, living animals around our homes, not just wierd mutants. I attribute the existence of what few examples of these things there still are today to environmentalists, not capitalists.
I also believe we should have a national policy that drilling for oil on US territory is to be discouraged for whatever reasons you want to cite, while we still have access to oil the Arabs are pumping and selling on the open market. Long term, that will drive prices up and force conservation, while it also preserves our strategic and other reserves for times when dollars just don't do it for us anymore. Like the old saying went, sort of, "in times of no money, having oil is better than having money in times of no oil."
Our energy policy needs to be able to exploit all appropriate energy sources, where the concept of appropriate is critical to defining the sources of energy for different applications. No single future source will replace the universal source we now depend on, oil, gas and other hydrocarbons like coal, and the sooner we accept that and specialize energy sources for each distribution system and load, the better off we will be. This means windpower, hydrogen as a fuel, hydro electric, nuclear, solar, and whatever else there might be.
I have been in the nuclear industry for more than twenty years and am a very strong advocate, with the clear understanding that it can be hideously dangerous, and therefore the industry needs to be driven by those who oppose the use of this energy source to ensure the public safety. People making money cannot be trusted to use their best judgement when that means foregoing a quarterly profit target, and bonus, to maintain safety standards established by the industry. Humans have proven that is too much responsibility for them too many times. At some point you just have to accept human nature and deal with it in another, more effective way, when the consequences of a failure can be so devastating. Putting your head in the sand and crying about how being environmentally sound is making us less competitive is shallow and short sighted.
The role of nukes has to be debated and accepted, then engineered to ensure success. Admiral Rickover did a mighty job of bringing us the age of nuclear power and established a near spotless record for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. He did it by understanding the demon he brought to life and tirelessly confronting the demon at every opportunity for an appearance. He did not complain about environmentalists, he became one. He didn't bitch about NRC and other regulators, he was the NRC and drove development of all the nuclear plant safety standards through his reign. He wasn't perfect, but he accepted responsibility for what he created and then forced humans to make his creation successful. The demon never reared its full stature in any Navy Nuclear program. There are very basic lessons to be learned from that effort and model of standardization and continuous improvement for the commercial nuclear power industry, if it is ever revived in the USA.
I also take issue with the idea that nuclear power implemented whole hog in the 1970's could have precluded our present dependence on oil. First, without a viable solution for dealing with waste, making a few hundred more plants that generate waste that needs to be disposed of at an alarming rate (another basic design difference between commercial nukes and Navy nukes) we would likely be dealing with lost and "misplaced" waste, or worse, dirty bombs made with this stuff in this day and age. Check how much seriously contaminated waste is unaccounted for now, and figure that would be orders of magnitude more without the nuclear power opposition from the environmentalists and others. Next, without means to drive cars electrically, our actual thirst for oil would be more or less unaffected by nuclear power plants that make electricity distributed on the national grid. As someone noted earlier, most of that stuff today is made by burning coal and natural gas.
So, baby boo, while I disagree with some of the tone of your response, I thought your effort was genuine. Jim