Idaho Nukes For California Consumers?

When smooth nuke power promoter  Don Gillespie hit the airwaves and pages of the local media with  plans for an electricity generating nuclear plant near Bruneau along the Snake River, he didn’t spark much opposition—especially since Jeremy Maxand rolled out of the Snake River Alliance office for greener pastures.
With potential cooling towers on the horizon west of Boise near Payette, the nuclear battle is about to generate steam—especially since opponents are claiming citizens will pay for costly insurance and give investors a financial pass in the event of a Three Mile Island or China Syndrome event.  AND the prime benefactor will be those pesky Californians who gobble up kilowatts made in Idaho…a new twist on “Buy Idaho?”


By Jo Kirkpatrick, PhD
Anthropologist and Researcher

 A proposed nuclear power plant  being studied, northwest of Boise in Payette by Pacificorp would be upwind of Boise. Its radioactive emissions would travel directly toward the city.

If built, it could be Idaho’s third nuke plant, after the Bruneau proposal and a commercial nuclear power plant already scheduled for the Idaho National Lab. Currently there are no commercial nuclear generating facilities in the state, despite a bunch of reactors at the 800 square mile National Lab near Arco.

 These private merchant plants sell to the highest bidders, so unless Idaho out-pays California (not likely), all this power can be sold out of state while our citizens pay the price of living near the plants. Nuclear power, contrary to Gillespie’s line, is the most expensive form of energy generation, with taxpayers paying the price of magnanimous subsidies, backed by the DOE and paid for by fat-wallet energy lobbies in Congress.

 Here are some facts:

–Nuclear power, contrary to Gillespie’s line, is THE most expensive form of energy generation. Because of the Price Anderson Act, severe accidents are insured by the US government, by us, the taxpayers. The industry does not have to buy big accident insurance. This is a gigantic subsidy. Remember Three Mile Island?  Here are the facts about the Price Anderson Act:

–Limited Liability: The Price-Anderson Act, enacted in 1957 as a temporary, 10-year measure to support the fledgling nuclear industry, limits the amount of primary insurance that nuclear operators must carry to $300 million and caps the total liability of nuclear operators in the event of a serious accident or attack to $10.5 billion.  A serious nuclear accident, either caused by plant defects, or by a terrorist attack, could cost more than $600 billion in 2004 dollars, (much more today). Boise and all neighboring areas banned from habitation could not be replaced, nor the cancers caused by such an event, cured.

–That Act was renewed through 2025. Today, the nuclear industry claims new designs are “inherently safe.” Inherently safe, then, should mean inherently insurable; therefore, nuclear operators should be required to privately insure them.

–Another grand subsidy not found for any other type of energy generation to date except nuclear is the 2005 Energy Bill. It awarded taxpayer backing up to 80% of nuclear plant development with loan guarantees as well. See, for ex., this website page, “H.R.6, The Energy Policy Act of 2005”, for nuclear TAXPAYER GIVEAWAYS   .  The list on this page of subsidies is very long and the money is huge. The current energy bill is retaining these subsidies and adds more.

–Two other basic arguments against dotting the landscape with nukes: First, these plants are not “green” nor are they “clean” because they cannot be protected against aerial terrorist attacks—they are sitting ducks. A serious terrorist attack would spread radioactivity all over the state of Idaho and into all neighboring states. Second, the nuclear industry has not solved the problem of how to store or dispose of ionizing radioactive waste. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has seen to it that the Yucca Mountain Site, designated to store spent fuel rods’ ionizing rad-waste, doesn’t open because the citizens of Nevada don’t want this perilous repository in their midst.  We should not be producing any more deadly radioactive waste for which there are no safe disposal solutions. Our citizens deserve truly green and clean energy development that is safe: wind, geothermal, and solar. The resources for developing these in Idaho are plentiful and a lot cheaper, and safer, than operating a nuclear power plant.

Idaho needs to learn more about the real costs and dangers of nuke power in Idaho. I recommend this recent book: Brice Smith. Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change. (Paper) RDR Books, 2006.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Grumpy ole guy
    Dec 6, 2007, 6:58 pm

    One need not be “newly green” or well informed about the “fiscal implications” of nuclear power generation to know that the largest drawback to it is that there is NO way to safely, permanently dispose of its waste by-product. As Dr. Suess might say: No to nuclear power generation, here, there, anywhere.

  2. Dr. Kirkpatrick makes some sound points but she seems to have left out a few things.
    I believe Three Mile Island happened almost 30 years ago, but the good doctor’s position is that there has been no safety advancement in the nuclear generation field for all those nearly 30 years. Let’s assume, for the sake of discussion that’s indeed the case.

    If we have to get rid of all the dams so that fish can “co-mingle” in a natural state, and coal-fired is out of the question because it “makes doo-doo air”, and given the current technology with regard to solar and wind generation is capable of supplying approxomately 6-7% of our power requirements, maybe the good dr. would like to expain her alternative.

    I remember a bumper sticker on an old dirty Mustang going out Fairview during the last great fuel crisis.There was a spot on the bumper that had been wiped clean to make room for the sticker that said,” Go Ahead and let the Poor Dumb Bastards Freeze to Death in the Dark”.

    So let’s completely disregard that nuclear power is a substantial supplier of Europe’s power needs, without an accident in decades. And let’s crank up those candles (nope, too much black smoke) the kerosene lamps, (never mind-first reason)Those cozy campfires, (nope- burns too much wood and it smokes too). Gee, maybe we are destined to be real cold and not be able to negotiate after dark.

  3. Dr Peter Rickards DPM
    Dec 6, 2007, 7:16 pm

    Wake up Idaho! “This ain’t no disco! This ain’t no foolin’ around…” as the song goes.
    This is a serious invasion of power companies, with both nuclear and coal plants planning to sell out-of-state. Magic Valley had to fight off California’s Sempra merchant coal plant last year, but the permit and water rights are for sale, and 3 other coal plant plans are proposed. This is the third merchant nuclear power plan. Idaho will do the dirty work, and your legislators invited these merchant plants, to sell out of state!
    This is the 2005 Bush/Cheney/Otter/Republican Energy bill coming to fruition. We could adopt the laws of Oregon and California, that keep these disasterous power plants from building in their state. So why doesn’t Idaho protect itself? Why is Butch smiling? Please give Butch and your state reps a call, and ask they stop this invasion.
    Two small clarifications though. I’ll miss Jeremy Maxand, but he and I both sounded the alarm when Gillespie’s Bruneau nuke power plans were revealed. The Guardian intro alluded that his absense was the reason for little opposition. To me, it is more because half the Idaho media is asleep at the wheel, and the other half is hoping to land a job as a spokesman for boys like Butch, so they only write polite articles,and only ask questions like “What would you like to do for Idaho?” , instead of any real investigative reporting.
    And to be clear, the nuclear utilities collectively pay for Price-Anderson, to fill in the difference up to $10 Billion. So, even though that won’t cover the cost of a nuclear disaster, and it eventually gets shifted to consumers, taxpayers don’t officially pay for Price-Anderson.
    But bottom line is that Dr Kirkpatrick is correct, and the true cost of nuclear power makes it a dead end road.
    Since nuclear power simply uses steam to turn turbines, that generate electricity then, just like geothermal, to paraphrase Einstein -“Nuclear power is the most dangerous way to boil water.”

  4. Jo Kirkpatrick
    Dec 6, 2007, 8:27 pm

    Hi Cyclops,
    Your depressive take overlooks the fact that Idaho has ample resources in wind, geothermal and solar energy that could be aggressively developed if the heavy money were into those energy sources instead of nuclear.
    Nuclear also doesn’t figure substantially all over Europe. France is its main promoter, and now they are trying to sell it to downtrodden areas in Africa and other undeveloped countries.
    Sweden shut down their nukes for many of the reasons already stated here, and Germany is rapidly heading in the same direction while the government subsidizes solar power as a prevailing energy source for homes and offices.
    Denmark is rapidly moving on wind energy generation.
    Do some google searches and learn more about renewable energy, that doesn’t pollute the earth and cause cancer, especially where they walk off and leave the uranium tailings.

  5. Brianthedog
    Dec 6, 2007, 8:45 pm

    Living down wind of a Nuke plant is the least of our worries. At the rate the kids are shoveling crap into their guts the radiation might do us a favor. Just think about it, when I dip my Hershey kisses into the chocolate fondue fountain, I won’t even have to plug it in. Yes, this is sarcasm folks. Let the hate mail flow!!!

  6. Dr Peter Rickards DPM
    Dec 6, 2007, 9:17 pm

    Hi Cyclops,
    RE: What is the alternative? & “Go Ahead and let the Poor Dumb Bastards Freeze to Death in the Dark”.
    You frame the discussion like Karl Rove. But please let me share part of my technical comments submitted for the recent EIS on the plan to do all the deadly reprocessing of the world’s spent nuclear fuel, right here in Idaho. That plan is called GNEP, or the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. This reprocessing will emit more plutonium to our air, and bury more plutonium waste over our water supply in this flood zone. Lavatory Larry Craig , umm, stands firmly behind this plan, as does the rest of our delegation. They have volunteered Idaho for more front line nuclear duty, while taking huge donations and gifts from nuclear lobbyists. They all want to retire to the really big money, as a member of ex Senator McClure’s pro-nuke lobby group, the Gallatin Group. Good ol’ Democrat, ex Governor Cecil Andrus, is also a paid pro-nuclear lobbyist now too! Cecil joined in 1996, when he was paid $92,500 for endorsing the notorious Lockheed team called “Get The Waste Out.” Yah, that is the ongoing court case over the Clinton-esque definition of the word “all!” Yes, the final plan recently stated the preferred alternative leaves most the plutonium dumped where it is. Real trust worthy folks, these pro-nuclear politician are…Peter
    In 1991, the DOE calculated the 12 windiest states could provide triple the 1990 US electric consumption. Idaho could double it’s present electric consumption with viable wind power, according to IDWR engineer Gerald Fleischmann, but we weren’t included in that previous calculation for the US, because we are only the 13th windiest state. A 2005 study from Stanford that assessed the world’s wind potential stated,”The study also estimated the amount of global wind power that could be harvested at locations with suitably strong winds. The authors found that the locations with sustainable Class 3 winds could produce approximately 72 terawatts and that capturing even a fraction of that energy could provide the 1.6-1.8 terawatts that made up the world’s electricity usage in the year 2000. A terawatt is 1 trillion watts, a quantity of energy that would otherwise require more than 500 nuclear reactors or thousands of coal-burning plants.” Found at
    “The Energy and Geosciences Institute of the University of Utah estimates just the thermal aquifers contain 55 x 1018 Joules of energy, which would be roughly equivalent to the energy needed to provide 15.3 Billion kilowatt hours of electric power, or five times the total US electrical production in 1990”
    Found at

    We need to build the new transmission grid through the officially mapped geothermal and high wind areas identified in the western states. This is not on the agenda of the Idaho Energy Plan, and nor is unleashing wind and geothermal power, but they should be.

    White House seeks to cut geothermal research funds – Found at

    By Bernie Woodall
    Tuesday, March 13, 2007; 1:23 PM

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Bush administration wants to eliminate federal support for geothermal power just as many U.S. states are looking to cut greenhouse gas emissions and raise renewable power output.

    The move has angered scientists who say there is enough hot water underground to meet all U.S. electricity needs without greenhouse gas emissions.

    “In spite of its enormous potential, the geothermal option for the United States has been largely ignored,” a recent study led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said.

    Last year, the DOE requested no funding for geothermal for the 2007 fiscal year, after funding averaged about $26 million over the previous six years, but Congress restored $5 million. This year, the DOE’s $24.3 billion budget request includes a 38 percent federal spending increase for nuclear power, but nothing for geothermal.

  7. Rod in SE Boise
    Dec 6, 2007, 10:48 pm

    Here’s the truth and the bottom line. There is no shortage of electricity. There is a large surplus of people wanting to use more of it. That should be enough to convince you all to just say no nuclear or coal-fired electric plants, without having to consider the rather technical and complicated arguments about the safety of and pollution by those facilities, or the permanent storage of their waste.

  8. The immediate question is: Where would the water come from for either or both of the proposed plants? Nuclear Power is very water hungry, as well as being inefficient and producing dangerous waste.

  9. Dr., you continue to make sensible points about this issue. The problem arises when you make comments like “lavatory Larry” and infer that Cecil Andrus is bought and paid for. That’s the point when your arguements go up in that nasty smoke we all don’t like at all.
    I am no Larry Craig fan, but the comment about Andrus seriously damages your “bona fides”
    I am certainly not a proponent of nuclear power, but I think to dismiss it, out of hand, based on your arguement is silly.
    I don’t doubt for a second that the technology is there to “develop” wind and solar generation capabilities. The question is why hasn’t it been done? For the answer I beleive you just have to look over the top of the hill to our neighbors in Ellensburg Washington. There is a “blossom” of the “mega-blade” generators on the skyline in the Kittitas valley. And the people there are bitching like hell that they are “ugly, and ruin the view of our sacred Cascade mountains”
    I see no reason why the same thing wouldn’t happen when we line the skyline of the foothills across our state with wind generators. After all, one of the biggest proponents of wind generation is the good senator from “back east”, right up until they were proposed where he “sails” and then he tossed them under the bus in a New York micro second.
    What about the arguement that geothermal generation will further effect the water table in Southern Idaho and therefore, not a long term viable solution to our needs.
    Personally, I completely support Rod’s point. Leave the dams alone, continue to develop hydro as our source of generation needs, and guess what? We don’t need to worry about nuclear power and all of it’s problems. Oh, and the last time I looked,that water powered turbine doesn’t generate any of that “yukky” stuff we are trying to get rid of.
    I guess the bottom line is if Cecil says “it’s OK and good for the state”, then I will climb on board. Because I firmly believe he has the best interests of Idaho at heart. I ain’t so sure about your interests Dr.

  10. Boise Banker
    Dec 7, 2007, 8:34 am

    I like the geothermal plan. There is a company that will be starting up a geothermal power plant around the Mountain Home area. This is clean technology for electricity production. There are newer technologies being used in Europe that allow more geothermal energy to be used on larger scale operations.

    To my knowledge the only drawback is that if all of our power was obtained by geothermal plants, the Earth’s core would cool more quickly and it could cause global warming to increase more quickly because we are introducing a new heat source to Earth’s surface.

    That being said I have no idea what percentages/timelines the articles were quoting for all of these negatives to happen. Maybe the DOE and NASA should reopen the feasibility study of space based microwave/solar power.

    Maybe we can all stand in 50,000 people groups around the world and spray some Aqua Net hairspray so the CFC’s will thin out our greenhouse blanket. Doubt anyone would go for that.

  11. Looking back in history.

    Living in Washington, we elected Dixy Lee Ray as governor. Dixy’s background was on the energy commission.

    There was a program called whoops. Bonds were produced for each nuclear site. The folks in the first one, received their dividends back and the other 5 lost there savings and the plants were moth balled.

    I would think that Washington being very close to Idaho , could of produced all needs of the Northwest and all needs of california.

    Larry Craig just rewrote the energy bill leaving possiblity for nuclear in the wording.

    If any readers remember Hanford Washington, they just had a leak yesterday.

    I grew up in Spokane Washington in the 50’s and I suffer from a thyroid problem today from the winds of Hanford.

    It amazes me, we are talking nuclear in 2007.

  12. While working on a master’s degree in business, I had the opportunity to work with various engineers and business professionals who had ownership in a wind farm venture in Idaho. That farm is now non-operational and the owners have told me it was too expensive to maintain the large wind turbines.

    I am eager and willing to use alternative energy but I am suspicious it is not as practical as the anti-coal/nuclear/hydro crowd propose. Those who promote alternative energy sources would make us believe there are no problems with these technologies and it bypasses all logic that we have not embraced these perfect and clean solutions.

    I see many windmills in Idaho not turning, and while solar panels may have improved, the battery systems that store solar energy are behind the curve.

    As a previous owner of a high-maintenance electric vehicle that did not live up to my expectations, I can not afford to be another early adopter.

    For now I will let others argue the issue, and I will stick with the most proven solution to date, reducing consumption of energy, regarless of the source.

    EDITOR NOTE–One problem we keep seeing is utilities like Idaho Power have to provide enough generating capacity to cover peak demand, despite other providers willing to sell wind generated electricity when the wind blows. Idaho is unique because MOST of the electricity is generated by hydro.

  13. Obviously the power generated by nukes is for export purposes only. Out of state electricity consumers will legally pirate our water in the form of nuclear energy.
    Folks, there is enough electrical energy, we have to learn how to stop wasting so much. Building nukes to solve the energy crisis is like giving Detroit a mandate to build more cars and trucks with monster V8 engines because we need more power.
    Beware of people like Cyclops, comparing what they do in Europe as a solution. Cyclops and his type want us to be like France. In France everything is subsidized by the government. If you support a socialistic economy you should support nuclear power. If you think agriculture subsidies are communistic you’re going to love nuclear power.

    I believe Germany has banned all new nuke plants as a solution to future power needs. Are they considered Europeans?

  14. AEHI is still a penny stock outfit with unconfimed information about its investors.

  15. Nuke Supporter
    Dec 7, 2007, 12:51 pm

    Dog, you’ve set up an impossible situation: If it’s a “merchant” (free-market) plant it’s bad and if it’s a government owned/subsidized plant, it’s also bad. I guess merchant wind, solar and geothermal plants are OK though.

    Aside from the two proposed nuke plants (which may be a decade away) we have a few windmills and a low-temperature geothermal plant in the works. California companies, meanwhile, are adding thousands of megawatts, mainly natural gas. My point: unless we get on the ball and develop some power plants, the reality is that California merchant plants will be selling US power. We already import half our power from out-of-state anyway. Given this trend, the possibility of Idaho selling power to California is just a persecution fantasy.

    Also, I see Idaho merchant farmers using our water to grow crops for California, dealing with the waste in Idaho. There’s also a merchant computer chip maker that generates waste in Idaho, as well as a merchant international construction firm and a merchant supermarket chain and a merchant office supply company and a merchant agribusiness company, and tens of thousands of smaller merchants. Rickards slings around term “merchant” like some sort of insult. Is he not a merchant physician?

    By the way, I don’t think any of these “merchant” companies like Micron could possibly supply their energy needs with solar or wind. Both sources spend most of their time waiting for the wind to blow or the sun to shine – only a miniority of time are they actually generating electricity.

    Nuclear “waste” is really spent fuel that can be processed into more fuel and the “waste” eliminated. As for security, the Idaho plants would be a few miles from a major Air Force installation. Seems secure enough to me!

  16. Dog’s got it right. The power is for export.

    Most of the people in Idaho get their power from Idaho Power. If Idaho Power needed power generated by the Payette, or Owyhee nukes, for peaking, base load, or whatever reason, they would be listed in their Integrated Resource Plan. I suggest page 5 of the document that can be found at:

    The first time nuclear shows up in Idaho Power’s plans is in 2023, from a plant located at the Idaho National Laboratory near Arco.

    The irony is that, by bringing more people to the state thus increasing electricity demand, and by using water that would otherwise contribute to power generated at Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon complex, the Owyhee and Payette nukes will likely result in higher cost, less reliable electricity than would be the case if they are not built.

  17. Dr Peter Rickards DPM
    Dec 7, 2007, 4:16 pm

    Hi Cyclops,
    Sorry I offended you with my bluntness…
    I did not dismiss nuclear “out of hand” Cyclops. I have been working on these issues for 19 years now, and have an open challenge to debate DOE scientists, anytime and anywhere. I am quoting their documents correctly, and the DOE has even backed out of conservative radio shows, when they found out I would be present to correct their claims.

    So let’s talk terrorism! Terrorists have been caught with maps of nuclear power plants. While American nuclear plants are “safer” than Chernobyl, a terrorist strike would create the same huge type of disaster in Idaho, and beyond. That is the bottom line dead end road of nuclear power. The gamble is too large. Even from a National Security perspective, you don’t want to cluster your energy supply, as a target for your enemy.

    EDITOR NOTE–Rickards quoted a Washington Post story in March 2005 which cited a classified report by nuclear experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences. The report challenged the decision by federal regulators to allow commercial nuclear facilities to store large quantities of radioactive spent fuel in pools of water.

    The report concluded the government does not fully understand the risks that a terrorist attack could pose to the pools and ought to expedite the removal of the fuel to dry storage casks that are more resilient to attack. The Bush administration has long defended the safety of the pools, and the nuclear industry has warned that moving large amounts of fuel to dry storage would be unnecessary and very expensive.

  18. Dog, you must have missed something in the translation. There is no way that I want to do ANYTHING just because Europe is doing it! We have been screwing things up for 200 years compared to their 1200 years!

    My only point about nuclear in Europe is that they seem to have solved the “safety” side of the equation. There is, most definitely, the inherent problems that center around subsidies, operating costs and spent fuel disposal. I think it goes without question that we should all fight to keep from being the “start” of someone else’s power grid.

    I still stand behind the position that we simply can’t have it ALL!

    Hydro generation still seems to be the cheapest, cleanest and most efficient way to generate power. If that means we have to wave goodbye to some salmon, so be it.

    And PLEASE don’t ever associate me with any level of socialism! You would be far more accurate to refer to me as an anarchist!

    Just what do ya’ll think would happen when those “sneaky terrosist types” blow up the Lower Granite Dam??

  19. As usual, nary a word about conservation. The argument always seems to be reduced to either:

    1) we embrace nuclear power, or
    2) we live in a cave and dig in the dirt with a stick.

    It’s tedious.

    There are a gazillion simple modifications to our behaviors that can be made that will save energy (electricity and combustible fuels) not to mention small changes in “consumer products” and packaging (think of how much plastic and cardboard is used to encase a $.99 comb, how much more fuel it requires to transport the freakin’ packaging that goes into the garbage!) The first step should be to reduce demand, not simply continue to feed the beast. I don’t see why being sensible and frugal should be seen as an assault on our “quality of life”. We can’t build our way out of inefficiency.

    I will never even consider the possibility of accepting nuclear power generation without a serious discussion of conservation and efficiency FIRST.

    And as for measuring the security of any facility by its proximity to a military base, thats’ a good one. How far is NYC or the Pentagon from a military installation? Or what about that other little incident, what was that….. oh yeah, Pearl Harbor. Seems like there were a few military bases in the area, did that guaranty safety?

    Nukes? Nukes? We don’t need no stinkin’ nukes.

    Thanks for the post, Jo.

    And yes, Guardian, Jeremy moved on, but “rolled”? Groan.

    EDITOR NOTE–Jeremy would not be offended. Only with great admiration did the inside joke creep in.

  20. The Economist
    Dec 8, 2007, 4:55 pm

    The Keystone Center just completed “Nuclear Power Joint Fact Finding” in June of 2007. This report was funded by the nuclear power industry. On page 30, it states the cost of new nuclear power is 8-11 cent per kwh not including transmission and distribution costs. Who here wants to pay a whole lot more for electricity?

  21. Dr Peter Rickards DPM
    Dec 8, 2007, 5:14 pm

    Hi Nuke Supporter,
    RE: “Rickards slings around term “merchant” like some sort of insult. Is he not a merchant physician?”
    Indeed,I usually support free enterprise, but I am issuing a warning to my neighbors about this merchant invasion, not an “insult” toward free enterprise.
    You weren’t born after the deregulation ripoffs and brownouts, were you? Idaho is one of the few states wise enough to keep regulation of electricity. If we allow power plants to pollute our state, why should we have to outbid richer states, that won’t allow these polluters?
    I take the same approach on wind power. If we let them on our landscape, why not insist we get a fixed low rate, and first dibs?
    Is it not obvious that it would be ignorant to allow Sempra coal plants, and Warren Buffet nuke plants, to cluster in Idaho, and sell all their power to heat Hollywood hot tubs?
    I talked with a rancher, and his Enexco contact last year. This international wind power company studied his land for 4 years. His wind was Class 4, and peaked in the high use winter months. His wind also peaked in the summer high use, from noon to 5 PM. They offered Idaho Power a fixed 20 year rate of 3.5 cents per kilowatt. After a few years of watching Id Power drag it’s feet through court, disobeying the law requiring they buy wind, the company walked away in frustration. We could have slapped Idaho Power straight, but we don’t see that kind of leadership, from our politicians, that openly take donations from coal and nuclear businessmen.
    We still have a chance to stop this merchant power invasion. Please call your politicians people. They are supposed to work for you, not Warren Buffet…Peter

  22. Dr. Kirkpatrick, thank you for the well-informed presentation. If one looks at the propaganda of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s lobby group, you will find they refer to nuclear energy as “clean-air energy.” The industry avoids serious discussion of the entire life-cycle of nuclear energy production and its immense negative impact on the environment, human health and safety. When one examines the mining and milling of uranium, the enrichment of uranium, the construction of power plants, their operation, the long-term disposal of high-level radioactive waste (for which no facility actually exists), to the final decommissioning of a plant, the pernicious nature of this process becomes very evident. Why do they avoid all but one sliver of the entire process? Of course, this is a rhetorical question. The total cost, both environmentally and financially, are clearly astronomical. Much of the extraordinary costs associated with nuclear energy are do to the instability of Uranium-235 and many of its fission products. This instability gives rise to nuclear decay and makes nuclear fission possible. This nuclear instability allows for the possibility of nuclear fission and the release of tremendous amounts of energy, which makes the power source attractive to many; ironically, the same nuclear fission and biologically harmful effects of nuclear decay are what makes it a power source the wise will reject. Unfortunately, there are many who are intellectually and/or morally dishonest, and allow themselves to be seduced by the former, while ignoring the latter — a Faustian bargain with enormous negative consequences.

  23. One fact that the Big Power industry does not want to tell you is that energy conservation will put power on the grid faster and cheaper than any type of power generator ever invented. Idaho power is investing in conservation now by making grant money available to new industrial construction and some retrofits for lighting equipment. Through capital investment in buildings built by the private sector they are essentially building power plants that they will not have to maintain. Idaho Power is no goody two shoes company. They aim to please their investors. Freeing up cheaper industrial rate power gives them more available juice to hang meters on houses at the highest retail rate.
    They give lip service to home energy conservation to make us feel good. They would rather sell us as much as we want to burn at the highest rate.

  24. Rod in SE Boise
    Dec 10, 2007, 7:44 pm

    It matters little who operates nuclear power plants: merchants (where did that term come from, the 1800’s?) or government. I don’t trust either to run them with adequate safety, health, or waste disposal provisions.

    Three Mile Island and Chernobyl come readily to mind. Wasn’t one operated by free enterprise and one by a government?

  25. The original article is a bunch of nonsense. As a Californian, I’d welcome the building of additional nuclear plants here, so the power wouldn’t have to be shipped 500-1000 miles, with the associated line losses.

    To even mention “The China Syndrome” seriously in a discussion of nuclear power reveals the writer’s ignorance on the subject. Even in a worst-case scenario like Chernobyl, this fictitious phenomenon never happened, yet it has been used for nearly three decades to block the construction of new plants in the U.S.

    The Chernobyl meltdown need never have happened, either, if operators had followed established safety rules. Under the direction of a rogue manager, they overrode safety limits to cause the disaster. Fortunately, nuclear plants designed and built in the last 20 years, or so, have most manual control taken away from the operators, preventing such events from ever happening again.

    In view of the current hysteria about carbon dioxide, it makes sense to build more nuclear generating capacity. Uranium is ubiquitous in the Earth’s crust. Some estimates put our extraction of uranium to-date at less than 2% of what may be easily available through surface mining. Much of the so-called “spent fuel” can be reprocessed and concentrated, since only 5% of the energy in the rods has been used. It’s tantamount to a crime to warehouse these fuel rods in water pools around the country, since they continue to decay without producing a single kilowatt-hour of energy.

    Finally, the idiotic policies of the Federal government since Clinton/Gore and the government of California regarding nuclear power need to be reversed. The French are the beneficiaries of U.S. nuclear research and power plant development. It’s about time we enjoyed some of those benefits, too. Furthermore, there is the promise of advanced reactor technologies that would consume 100% of the radioactive material in the fuel, leaving inert residue, but we can’t get there as long as the greenies are actively suppressing research and development.

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