Secretary Chu on Nuclear Energy

By March 15, 2011Energy

Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified today at a hearing by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, a meeting called to examine DOE’s budget but which obviously turned to the Japanese earthquake and damage to the nuclear power plants. In his prepared statement, Secretary Chu outlined the Department’s support of personnel and materiel for the Japanese and then commented on safety issues:

The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the Administration is committed to learning from Japan’s experience as we work to continue to strengthen America’s nuclear industry.

Safety remains at the forefront of our effort to responsibly develop America’s energy resources, and we will continue to incorporate best practices and lessons learned into that process.

To meet our energy needs, the Administration believes we must rely on a diverse set of energy sources including renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power. We look forward to a continued dialogue with Congress on moving that agenda forward.

That’s a good statement given the current information available.

Hat tip to Iain Murray, who has been blogging on the accidents and explosions here, here and here. Iain recommends the Brave New Climate blog for continuing coverage. As we write, the lead blog post is from Ben Heard, director of the Adelaide-based advisory firm ThinkClimate Consulting. Heard comments:

In all cases, I find it most distasteful when individuals or groups push agendas in the face of unfolding tragedy. Let me say at the outset that this is not my intention.

Sadly, many people and groups don’t share this sentiment, including a great many who have wasted no time in making grave and unfounded pronouncements regarding the safety of nuclear power, and how this event should impact Australia’s decision making in energy. This has been aided no end by a media bloc that has reflected the general state of ignorance that exists regarding nuclear power, as well as a preference for headlines ahead of sound information at this critical time. The whole situation has been all too predictable, but still most disappointing. It has reinforced one of the great truisms in understanding how we humans deal with risk: We are outraged and hyper-fearful of that which we do not understand, rather than that which is likely to do us harm. Rarely if ever are they the same thing.

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