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05/08/2005

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bill

Only a few days ago, there was a couple of scientific papers that said we have cleared the air so much with cleaner technologies that more sunlight was now hitting the ground. SO we are going to fry regradless what we do.

on a serious note, what are the commensurate problems with waste and storage when the newer meltdown proof PBMR reactors are put in service? It appears that China is going ahead with deployment of these type reactors. One wonders why we don't emabark on a program to replace our older reactors with these PBMR and at the same time do what the Chinese are doing, make all new electical plants the newer meltdown proof nuclear models.

Ryan Kasprzak

1. Lack of a link between nuclear power and oil prices:

Supporting Professor Posners point, International Energy Agency data for 2002 indicates that oil accounts for only about 2% of US electricity production. Thus, we should assume that as the use of nuclear power for electricity production increases the decline in demand for oil will be minimal; the more likely impact would be a decline in the price of coal and a decline in coal-related greenhouse gas emissions. This would be true unless electricity prices (relative to oil prices) fall enough that people begin substituting electricity for fossil fuels in other applications, such as transportation. The most efficient way to do this might be to tax oil modestly and use the proceeds to subsidize electricity production.
Unless we shift the US transportation infrastructure away from oil and toward another energy source, the issue of foreign oil dependence cannot be addressed; simply taxing oil may be too regressive of a tax given that automobiles are much more of a necessity in the United States than in other developed countries. To look at the problem more precisely, my laymans understanding of energy might suggest that storage issues prevent electricity (difficult to store) from replacing oil (easy to store) in many applications. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil might best be accomplished by subsidizing research into battery technologies.

2. Nuclear power cannot be adapted to a distributed generation regime:

One additional thought on nuclear power; nuclear power is the only type of transformation of raw material to energy that is inherently and unambiguously centralized. Oil, coal, natural gas, solar, and wind, all afford the opportunity to pursue centralized or distributed power generation, whereas nuclear energy does not. It would be interesting to consider what implications this has for the long run prospects of nuclear versus other sources of energy.

ds

uhhh, electric cars, trains and busses, wouldn't that reduce oil consumption and lower pressure on oil and gas supplies? Seems to me like it would. Taking coal fired plants out of electricity production would reduce greenhouse gasses as well.

For that matter, nuclear energy could be used to run various conversion plants that produce oil products. Hydrogen conversion is another very useful endeavor that nuclear plants are well suited for. IMHO, hydrogen is likely to be the fuel of choice for vehicles in the not too distant future.

The new PBMR are designed to be built close to points of consuption, not like the old nuclear behemoths of the 70s. Their smaller size and enhanced saftey makes this feasible.
Nuclear is all good, little bad when you look at it objectively.

Robert J. Walker

I keep wondering whether the debates over Social Security and what to do about our growing oil dependence will soon merge. Raising energy taxes and using the proceeds to reduce payroll taxes could create a triple dividend: less dependence on foreign oil, reduced pollution (including greenhouse gas emissions) and, just as importantly, more jobs. In the past few years, European nations have made movement in this direction, with more than a dozen countries lowering their payroll tax rates and some of them, like Germany, using higher energy taxes as a means of facilitating lower payroll tax rates. Tax shifts of this nature use price or market-based mechanisms to make businesses less energy intensive and more labor intensive (i.e. higher more workers. Given our current circumstances, what's wrong with that?

Bob Walker

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