McCain Wants 45 New Nuclear Reactors and Clean Coal

For a lot of years, I’ve respected and admired Arizona Senator John McCain, and even though he is a Republican, he seemed to be more moderate than his right-wing compatriots.

That changed today when I read that he has proposed construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.  Adding insult to injury, he told a Missouri State University audience that he’d pledge $2 billion a year in federal funds to make clean coal a reality.  All in the name of reducing dependence on foreign oil and fostering a cleaner environment.

Here we go again with the nuclear crap

He tells the worn out tale of reactors being clean and non-polluting.

Interestingly, and certainly not surprisingly, he didn’t mention anything about cleaning up the messes left by earlier uranium mining.  Nor did he propose on how to get rid of, store, neutralize or make safe, the huge stockpile of nuclear waste piling up every day.  And let’s not forget the environmental damage to be done by mining more uranium to feed those reactors.  He gave that subject the same brush-off every nuclear energy proponent does, with the statement that more needs to be done to safely transport and store spent materials.

Don’t let anyone try to tell you the in-situ leaching process is environmentally clean.  Being an underground process, it has, under certain conditions, the ability to contaminate ground water.

45 more reactors and “clean coal”, what a wonderful promise for our future.



12 thoughts on “McCain Wants 45 New Nuclear Reactors and Clean Coal”

  1. Greasemonkey, you should find better sources of information. Political groups with an anti-nuclear bent won’t tell you the truth.

    1) The subject of subsidies is sorely abused. Things that aren’t subsidies at all are attributed to nuclear. In fact, all energy sources get subsidies, even coal. For more on this topic, please see this.

    2) No one is going to argue against conservation. Still, after we’ve conserved as much as we’re going to we still have to generate electricity. Furthermore, one of the most effective things we can do to reduce CO2 emissions is to convert fossil-fuel applications to electricity (battery-powered cars, for example).

    3) Uranium mining requires petrofuel the same as almost everything else that moves. As we move to alternative fuels uranium mining will make the same transition. Meanwhile the supply of uranium and thorium will last thousands of years and advanced-fuel cycles multiply the supply to many thousands of years.

    4) People have been tinkering with concentrated solar for decades and it still isn’t practical. Moreover, it requires clear skies to operate at all. Even in the Southwest US you can go days at a time without clear skies. We can’t run an economy on an energy source that’s only occasionally available.

    5) In the long term, at which point analysts predict the population will top out at 9+ billion, the only option that makes sense is the widest range of choices possible. In the very long term, that range ought to include fusion and synthetic motor fuels.

  2. In another group I belong to we are having a similar discussion. One of the participants posted the following:

    “”Since my firm is active in this space, I will through my opinion in, which will surely upset some of you and generate some hate mail. Solar and wind are only financially viable and environmentally sound when they are home based, i.e. solar panels on your roof, windmill in your backyard (not kidding). In fact, that by far is the best solution to limiting the fossil fuel situation in regards to electricity production. However, government and the utilities are scared to death we will all put solar panels on our roof. Why you ask, good question. These systems have you putting energy into the grid when it is sunny and/or windy and only drawing out when it is not. In sunny and or windy areas, you could end up knocking 50% to 90% of your bill off. What that means is that the utility companies would not be charging you for that power and the government would not be taxing you for that power. If instead, they mandate 20% renewable energy with a set implementation deadline like in CA, the price of the energy becomes irrelevant and your energy costs will skyrocket, with energy producers, utilities, and the government laughing all the way to the bank. Every study I have seen says that electricity prices will go up 20% to 40% in the next couple years for this reason in CA. That does not even factor in all the infrastructure damage to the environment including transmission lines across national forests, etc. that would need to be built for solar farms, wind farms, etc. The technology of the home based applications is advancing, free from government interference, very rapidly. This will be financially viable for most people if the government does not block it. Please note this is just a thumbnail of the situation and I don’t have time to get into a lengthy give and take on this, but trust me gas prices is just the first wave of our self induced energy shock that we will have to endure. However, as Americans, we always have and always will overcome the incompetence of our government in may areas. We will survive, and some of us prosper.

    Pasadena & Phoenix””

    Now, please don’t post your “hate mail” to him here, as he likely will not see it, and I do agree with what he is saying 100%, so you may want to post it here after all, just direct it to me…

  3. Israel is going to get about 250 Megawatts from 1000 acres of desert.

    250 Megawatts will power 162,000 US homes.

    So the 100 acre answer is about 16,200 homes.

    That’s the problem with solar as it exists today.

    In 2000 there were 116,000,000 housing units, so it would take 72,000
    acres just to provide electricity for the homes that existed 8 years ago.

    That’s not to crap all over solar, but as far as green technology goes
    the US needs an Apollo like focus on improving green technology and
    getting us off fossil fuels, including coal.

  4. A few facts about Nuclear energy that the nuclear wingnuts won’t tell you:

    1)It is not economically efficient. You wont find a nuclear reactor that isn’t funded by government subsidies in some way. If it were profitable more companies would do it on their own dime. And this is all without calculating in the cost of dismantling the nuclear reactor at the end of it’s life.

    2)Its a myth that nuclear energy reduces global warming gases. I’ve read many sources that say if the money spent on nuclear energy was spent on conservation measures instead (CFL bulbs, energy saving appliances, etc) that even more Co2 would be prevented from going into the atmosphere, even if all that power still came from dirty coal. We are simply not using our power very efficiently.

    3)Uranium mining still requires the use of fossil fuels. Both oil and uranium are a limited resource which is not sustainable in the long term.

    4)We just happen to have a wireless connection to one nuclear reactor: it’s called the sun! That’s the nuclear energy we should be exploring. It doesn’t take expensive silicon to get energy from the sun, parabolic mirrors can heat up pipes filled with water to power a steam engine.

    I believe that solar energy would be economically feasible if more money were put into it instead of the current scheme of spending taxpayer dollars on wars for oil. It would be cool if nobody had to die for our energy consumption habits. When you think about the long term and all the future generations that will live on the Earth, solar energy and conservation are the only options that make sense.

  5. Max said on April 20th, 2008 at 5:10 pm


    Thanks for the great comment! For the record, I agree that a nuclear power station is the ultimate in clean power generation. It’s the before and after that I care about.

    I hope the Navajos will set a precedent for other tribes whose lands have been exploited and spoiled.

  6. Gosh, this reminds me of a Doonesbury cartoon from the 80s…

    “Flip, I say! Flip!”

    “Flop! I have always said Flop!”

    Gee, Max, you need to get your own thoughts in order. Just two months ago you wrote, in response to a comment of mine on your article re: the Navajo…

    Max said on April 20th, 2008 at 5:10 pm


    Thanks for the great comment! For the record, I agree that a nuclear power station is the ultimate in clean power generation. It’s the before and after that I care about.”

    OK, so maybe you’re just worried about the residue from 45 new nuclear stations. I can understand your trepidation, but you don’t really separate the production of power from the collection and disposal of the material used to generate that power; you just lump it all together, and call McCain’s comments a “worn-out tale”. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

    What do you propose? Give us a real alternative, Max. So far, you haven’t; not once in any of your articles. Where are we going to get all the electricity for the next generation of electric vehicles? We are expecting another one billion people on this planet by the end of this century; where are they going to get electricity? More hydro-dams? Huge solar collectors in the desert? Hey, I live near the Mojave; best tread lightly on that one. California rejected a proposal to ship compressed natural gas from Australia, which would have been used to generate electricity. I supported the idea, although BHP Billiton’s specific concept had some major holes in it. But at least it was a solid idea. Give us one of those, Max. Good luck! You’re going to need it.

    The fact is that nuclear energy is still the cleanest means we have of *large-scale* energy generation. Yes, the clean-up is difficult, but the means is already there; it just takes letting the engineers do their job to get it done. And maybe it’s time to resurrect the search for fusion power generation. We can thank the Republicans for killing that, but maybe McCain will be willing to give it a serious look. Someone has to.

  7. Another thing….

    economically feasible?

    Is it economically feasible to burn out all the of the natural resources that we have, and destroy the overall environment, just so that we can keep living the materialistic lives full of useless junk?

    To bankrupt the future lives of all beings that we share this earth with?

    What is money compared to life?

  8. First of all, we need to cut the amount of energy which we use. So much is spent on useless functions which have no benefit to society. The machines that we use are extremely inefficient, gas powered engines being maybe 5% – 15% efficient, most of the power created is lost. The overall system we live in is not well designed; quite contrary, it has been slapped together as we have been advancing with new forms of technology, and much of it is outmoded. The way our buildings are designed loses large amounts of energy in the heating and cooling process. Much of what we buy is pure crap, destined for the landfill, and think of all the energy used to create, package, and ship all of that.

    What we need is changing the way we live. Re use, re use, re use. Buy locally made products. Eat local. Keep your consumption low. Live somewhere that you don’t need to use a car. SLOW DOWN! We’re burning up all of the earth’s resources at an astronomical rate, and using atomic energy will burn it out even worse.

    Do you know how much energy the sun emits? Every day? Every second? To the entire solar system? Heck, how about just to this speck of wet dirt we live on? Such a large amount that it could feed our energy needs for eons. Isn’t everything that exists on this planet fueled by it? Isn’t oil just stored solar energy? Let’s cut out the middle men and go straight to the source! Solar energy, wind power. Make every abode be equipped to function on its own.

    Streamline! Do more with less! The technology and the know-how exists!

    I recommend reading anything by Buckminster Fuller, if you aren’t already familiar. “Operation Manual of Spaceship Earth.” “The Critical Path” “Utopia or Oblivion”

    Coal is not the answer. Nuclear is not the answer. Efficiency, my friends!

  9. Smokey the Bear

    More facts.

    Uranium is found in roll-type deposits, which when mined have a considerably smaller local environmental impact than other types of strip mining.

    The reactions needed to produce energy are non-polluting, and if you take the time to crunch the numbers, the volume of waste produced for a power plant in its apx. 40 year lifetime is smaller than an olympic size swimming pool – including the water needed to store the waste. Further in roads in enrichment and using the currently non-fissible portions of uranium will reduce the net amount of waste.

    Furthermore, many of the American powerplants were built with a 50 year lifespan, since assumptions were made about the role nuclear power would play when first built. This makes these new reactors even more pressing, as we start to reach the twilight of many of the current reactors powering our country.

    Nearly 20% of this country’s energy is provided by nuclear power plants, all of which are very safe. US power plants use water as a moderator during reactions, while the Chernobyl power plant used graphite as a moderator — which clearly failed and is why that material is no longer used.

    Hopefully some of these comments enlighten people to the value and safety on nuclear power, but I’m concerned they will be falling on deaf ears. With the cost that fossil fuels have on both global atmospheric levels of carbon as well literal cost to the economy, alternative long term options that can be invested in immediately are vital.

  10. Bearer of Truth

    McCain is correct. Nuclear energy is the way to go. The only problem with the way Americans want to handle it is to bury the stuff in a mountain in Nevada, when there are other, cleaner, ways to take care of it.

    Face the fact. there is no 100% energy efficient possibility that is economically feasible.

  11. Max–it’s always easy to point out the negative. What do you suggest we do? Solar is not economically viable with today’s technology. Electric cars–come on, where do you get the electricity? And mining/smelting for the batteries–that is pretty darned polluting itself. Hydrogen cells–nope, takes more energy to split oxygen and hydrogen than burning hydrogen produces. Ethanol? It has its own environmental and social impacts, and, at least for corn, is energy negative.

    Face the reality–either we (and the rest of the world)burn fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, or we crawl back into caves.

  12. I hate McCain but he is right on this one. The only way to be energy independent is to have nuclear energy.

    Of course I wouldn’t expect anything less than an envirowacko website like “PlanetSave”

    Go do some research on uranium waste and realize that its been more than 20 years since the russian incident and we have better technology to dispose of the waste.

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