I share the writer's caution - my fear is that this is a legislative sleight-of-hand purely for political speechifying purposes. Remember how Congress made a big deal of voting to build a fence along the southern U.S. border to help crack down on illegal immigration? Looked great, didn't it? And boy, did some of them really speechify hard on the fact that they 'cracked down' on illegal immigration. Of course, they then somehow failed to allocate the funding to actually build that fence, accomplishing precisely nothing in reality. Could this be another one of those situations?
For the first time in 30 years, it looks as if the United States will see an increase in its nuclear power output:
The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.
As promised at the State of the Union, the president is pushing forward with his plan to increase nuclear power by ensuring that new reactors are built. These loan guarantees are necessary due to the staggering cost of building a new plant – for instance, the new reactors at the Vogtle plant in Georgia will cost around $8.8 billion to construct.
The construction of new nuclear power plants around the country should be a no-brainer: They produce a huge amount of cheap energy with little impact on the environment and stimulate the economy by creating hundreds of high-paying jobs per construction site. Georgia alone will see 3,500 construction jobs created by the time the reactors are finished in 2016 and 2017, as well as another 800 jobs to staff the plant full time once it's operational.
Of course, the question then turns to what to do with the waste, and the administration has been less good on that question: Instead of pushing for the Yucca Mountain waste depository site that has been in the works since 1987, the Obama administration filed a motion to halt Yucca's licensing process and announced the formation of a new commission to study alternate sites to hold nuclear waste in January.
Still, this is a big step forward for nuclear power, one that will hopefully kick-start America's ambitions regarding this clean, abundant source of energy.
Sure, Obama signed off on the construction of a couple of nuclear plants. Great! I'd love to see a bunch of these go up all over the country. But...is he going to use the Yucca Mountain maneuver as a way to counter this move, accomplishing precisely nothing in reality? Time will tell.
If this does go through, it would be the first instance of Democrats acting to increase domestic energy supply in decades, so I think skepticism is warranted. However, I sincerely hope this is the real deal, because adding new nuclear power capacity is absolutely the right thing to do for America; if it happens, I applaud Barack Obama for doing it.
There's my two cents.