Oldspeak:“I don’t believe that making US energy policy based on something happening in another country is how we should make policy. I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy.” -Republican Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell. “Obviously, all energy sources have their downside. I mean, we saw that with the Gulf spill last summer.” -President Barack Obama. There are 25 aging, leaking, ticking time bomb nuclear plants in this country EXACTLY like the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. In the face of the obvious(immediately launch and fund a Manhattan Project-style effort to produce real, clean, renewable energy for the coming centuries.) The Obama Administration and other elected officials refuse to recognize that nuclear power is the most deadly and destructive energy source on the planet and needs to be completely done away with. These refusals will come back to haunt the U.S. sooner or later.”
By Stephen Pizzo @ Truthout:
Liar, liar. Nuclear Pants on Fire.
If Sunday morning you heard a loud “clunk,” it was just the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.
After watching a couple of hours of coverage of Japanese nuclear meltdowns, I hit the remote to change channels. There was Republican Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell and from his mouth came the following words:
“I don’t believe that making US energy policy based on something happening in another country is how we should make policy.”
Then he went on to add,
“(And) I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy.”
If there were ever a moment in recent history in which the utter bankruptcy of ideas, lack of morals, courage, backbone, intelligence or even the most modest serving of commonsense was on full display, I can’t think of that moment.
For those politicians (in both parties) who now pimp for those behind America’s disastrous energy policies, resulting environmental disasters need to be spun, not heeded. Absolutely NOT heeded.
That was true when the BP spill off Louisiana fouled the Gulf. Even though that disaster was domestic, and therefore did not fit McConnell’s dismissive model for the Japanese nuclear disaster, Congress did nothing, learned nothing, cared nothing about preventing another such spill and, in fact, groused something awful when Obama put even a temporary hold on deep-water drilling.
Now the same members of congress are rallying around their friends in the nuclear industry. After a 25-year rough patch caused by earlier nuclear accidents, the nuclear power industry was poised for a renaissance. Before last week’s disaster in Japan, plans were well in progress for at least a dozen new US plants and dozens more overseas. Hundreds of millions of dollars — more than a tad of which ended up in political coffers – had been “invested” in getting the nuclear power industry back in the money.
Then Japan happened. Then people started paying attention to nuclear power again — and not in a good way. That’s when the Mitch McConnells hit the airwaves. With so little time to work up a swallowable piece of spin, McConnell was forced to go with what little he had – that the nuclear meltdowns in Japan wereJapanese meltdowns… and therefore have nothing to teach us about the safety of American nuclear power plants. (I mean, what can Americans learn from a country where the people can’t even pronounce their “R’s?”) Or something like that, I guess.
Of course, by now I shouldn’t be surprised by such inane, utterly vacant, shamelessly corrupt comments out of our boys and girls in DC. After all, these are the same geniuses who decided a couple of decades ago that the solution to imported oil was to turn food into gasoline… corn-based ethanol. Never mind that it takes more than a the energy in a gallon of gasoline to produce a gallon of ethanol – Monsanto and John Deere, and the Farm Bureau saw corn-based ethanol as way to turn Iowa into Saudi Arabia. The money flowed to DC and, while we now import more oil from the Middle East than ever before, we also have ethanol plants all over the Midwest, about half of which are now closed because…well it was a dumb ass idea. that’s why.
Food to fuel, at a time when climate change is causing starvation to spike around the world, was not only not a reasonable solution to our appetite for carbon-based fuels, but was immoral… immoral on the scale of the Holocaust. Nothing less. And the mounting body count will stand through history as proof of our culture’s shame. (See: The Great Food Crisis of 2011)
So, what would have been, and more to the point, what IS the smart energy policy? Simple as it is obvious: immediately launch and fund a Manhattan Project-style effort to produce real, clean, renewable energy for the coming centuries.
It will be expensive. So stop wasting time and money on stuff that has no future – oil, coal, nuclear, ethanol.
And stop wasting money that, under the guise of spreading democracy in the Middle East, is really being spent simply to protect our continued access to oil supplies there.
Bring the troops home – now. Whatever happens in those countries after we leave, as bad as it might be for a while, will be nothing compared to the shit that will hit the fan unless we end our dependence on oil for that region, and everywhere else, for that matter.
Just look at what happened in Chernobyl. Entire cities, hundreds of square miles, uninhabitable for centuries to come. And, should things get worse in Japan, a country not much larger than the entire area ruined by Chernobyl, just imagine… just imagine if that should happen at the San Onofre plant smack dab between LA and San Diego.
When a source of energy can produce that kind of death, destruction and societal dysfunction, should it fail, the price, at any price, is too high. It’s a price higher than $6 gallon gasoline – or $10 a gallon – or $100 a gallon.
Nevertheless, money leads policy. Money creates policies — usually in secret. And, when the shit hits the fan, money protects policies, even the worst policies. And money is on the move. McConnell was not alone on the networks Sunday. He was joined by spokespersons for the nuclear industry, who boasted of their safety record in the US. One spoke glowingly of “safety redundancies,” that, he claimed, will one after another kick in to prevent disasters in the wake of natural disasters.
Like McConnell though, he didn’t seem to see the slightest connection between what we do here and what they do in Japan. Yet the plant in Japan was built and designed by General Electric, which has also designed and built dozens of nuclear plants here too, all of which have the same “redundant” features.
Well, in Japan the first safety net was the electrical grid. When that went down after the quake, the second safety function was a bank of diesel generators. Fifteen minutes after the quake the generators were swamped by the tsunami. That just left the last line of defense, batteries. Eight hours later the batteries were dead too and the cores went into meltdown mode.
I guess you could buy the McConnell’s laissez faire attitude towards all this if you believe that while “shit happens” all the time in life, it never happens to nuclear power plants.
Yet shit sure as hell happened in Japan this year and at Chernobyl in 1986 and at Three Mile Island in 1979.That comes to (nuclear) shit happening an average of once every 10.6 years. Once each decade... and that’s just with the current crop of nuclear plants. Shorten that period by half if they get build all the nuclear plants now on the drawing boards.
If the past is prologue then I suspect big energy spinners will once again be able to muddle the waters enough to enable them to “stay the course.” But be clear what they mean when they use the term “clean, safe, reliable energy.” They mean not being forced to make any hard choices, like investing in new sustainable and safe energy products. Instead they mean creating a political environment in which they will be allowed to squeeze decades more returns out of their current, old, dirty, inefficient, climate changing, earth-killing, people-killing production infrastructure and products.
In order to accomplish that goal Big Energy has torn pages straight from Big Tobacco’s old playbook –putting politicians and scientists on their payrolls to assure you everything is just fine, nothing to see here, move along, move along.
And those who say otherwise are liars or disaffected employees or have a “political agenda.”
Those who persist in their resistance will be branded as downright un-American threats to our national security.
Rep. Peter King will hold hearings.