Pelosi Warms to the Idea of Nuclear Power

By February 9, 2007Energy, Global Warming

Yesterday’s hearing at the House Science and Technology Committee on climate change and emissions caps covered well-trod territory, but a piece of interesting news appears to have slipped out. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, is willing to consider nuclear energy as a source of more power generation.

Part of the response to climate change could be increased use of nuclear power, Pelosi said in response to a question from Representative W. Todd Aiken, a Missouri Republican.

The House speaker said she now has “a more open mind” about increasing nuclear power as part of a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to compare it to the alternatives … I think it has to be on the table,” Pelosi said, adding that waste disposal “is the big challenge.”

We haven’t found a transcript of the exchange — beware the ambiguity of ellipses! — but from this and other reports, the Speaker’s comments are promising, a tacit recognition that nuclear power must play a role in America’s diversified energy future.

In 2005, Rep. Pelosi voted against the Energy Policy Act, which has since sparked a nuclear renaissance, blasting the measure with populist zeal: “Billions of dollars are going to the oil, gas, and nuclear industries and nothing is going to consumers paying more at the pump.” With the responsibility of power, perhaps populism is giving way to practicality. If so, great. We look forward to bipartisan cooperation in Congress to address America’s energy needs.

P.S. The Environmental News Service story linked above is quite good. It includes laudable comments from one committee member who recognizes the realities of a global economy:

“I’m skeptical that mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases is the best solution to the problem of climate change,” said Representative Ralph Hall, a Texas Republican and ranking member of the committee. “We can’t figure out how to write a cap and trade bill that doesn’t result in an immediate spike in natural gas.”

Increased energy costs will drive businesses and jobs overseas, Hall said, where there “are no pollution controls, inevitably worsening global emissions.”

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Lewis Patrie says:

    Nuclear power is only possible through the massive subsidies of our tax dollars, is very time consuming to accomplish compared with conservation, requires great amounts of resources & energy tyo getr started, provides tyerrorists with poorly protected targets for their nafarious plans, which could make Chernobyl look small by comp[arison & leaves future generatins with horrendous quantities of deadly radioactive waste, despite what the nuclear power interests are proclaiming.

  • Gerry Wolff says:

    Regarding “Pelosi Warms to the Idea of Nuclear Power” (2007-02-09), there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in the US because there is a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

    I refer to ‘concentrating solar power’ (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this source. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.

    CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, these are not always nearby! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient ‘HVDC’ transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may be transmitted to anywhere in the US and Canada too. A recent report from the American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the south western states of the US “could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or ***about seven times the current total US electric capacity***” (emphasis added).

    In the ‘TRANS-CSP’ report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the Middle East, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.

    Further information about CSP may be found at and . Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from . In case anyone is thinking nuclear power might be a solution, the many problems associated with that technology are summarised at .