Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, in the weekly Republican radio address, admits to some French envy (clip below).
We don’t blame him. With 35 hour work weeks, good wine, topless beaches, there’s a lot to love about France. Alexander doesn’t mention those three, (though we assume they’re in the back of his mind somewhere) instead he focuses more on France’s nuclear power plants.
“Guess who has one of the lowest electric rates in Western Europe and the second lowest carbon emissions in the entire European Union? It’s France again and what’s more, they’re doing it with a technology we invented and have been reluctant to use: nuclear power,” says Alexander, who then goes on to call for 100 new nuclear power plants to be built in the next 20 years that will provide a clean burning source of energy for the U.S.
There are many problems with nuclear power that Alexander doesn’t address. There’s the lingering problem of what to do with nuclear waste. While Alexander says France recycles its uranium, it only recycles a small part of the waste, about 30% of its yearly waste.
Say the waste doesn’t bother you. Then what about the cost? To build new nuclear reactors in Tampa, the estimated cost is $7 billion per reactor. Time magazine reported that to build 45 new nuclear plants by 2030, the cost could run over a trillion dollars. The French nuclear program isn’t thriving economically, either. Areva, the profitable French nuclear giant, is spending more cash than it earns from operations. It faces a $4 billion budget gap.
So, before we run off to emulate the French, let’s open a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild (on your credit card, of course), take a few sips and think it through carefully.
Watch this at Boston.comPartial Transcript: Now the debate in congress is shifting to the size of your electric and gasoline bills and to climate change. So guess who has one of the lowest electric rates in Western Europe and the second lowest carbon emissions in the entire European Union. It’s France again and what’s more. They’re doing it with a technology we invented and have been reluctant to use nuclear power. 30 years ago the contrary French became reliant on nuclear power when others wouldn’t today. Nuclear plants provide 80% of their electricity. They even sell electricity to Germany. Whose politicians build Windmills and solar panels and promised not to build nuclear plants. Which was exactly the attitude in the United States between 1979. In 2008 when not one new nuclear plant was bill. Still nuclear which supplies just 20% of all US electricity. Provide 70% of our pollution free electricity. So you’d think that if Democrats want to talk about energy and climate change and clean air. They put American made nuclear power front — Instead. Their answer is billions in subsidies for renewable energy from the sun the wind and the year. Well we Republicans like renewable energy too we proposed a new Manhattan project like the one in World War II. To find ways to make solar power cost competitive. And to improve advanced biofuels. But today renewable electricity from the sun the wind in the earth provides only about one and a half per cent of America’s electricity. Double or triple it and we still don’t have very much. So there is potentially a dangerous energy gap between the renewable electricity we want. And the reliable electricity. We must — To close that gap Republicans say start with conservation and efficiency. We have so much electricity at night for example. We can electrify half our cars and trucks. Plug them in while we sleep without building one new power — On that. Republicans and Democrats agree. But when it comes to producing more energy we disagree. But Republicans say build 100 new nuclear power plants during the next 20 years Democrats say. No place to put the used nuclear fuel. We say recycle the fuel away France to — they say no we can’t. We say how about another Manhattan project remove carbon from coal plant emissions imaginary. They said. We say for a bridge to a clean energy future. Find a more natural gas and oil offshore. Farmers homeowners factories must have the natural gas. And more of the oil will still need should be hours. Instead of sending billions overseas. They can’t wait to put another ban on offshore drilling. We see incentives they say mandates. We say keep prices — Democrats say put a big new national sales tax. On electric bills and gasoline. We both want a clean energy future but here’s the real difference Republicans want to find more American energy and useless. Democrats want to use less. But they really don’t want to find much more they talk about president Kennedy sending a man to the moon. There energy proposals wouldn’t get America halfway to them. We Republicans didn’t like when Democrats passed a budget that gave the French bragging rights on deficits. So were not about to let the French also — do us on electric and gasoline bills clean air and climate change. We say find more American energy and use less. Energy that’s as clean as possible as reliable as possible. And that is low cost as possible. And one place to start is with a 100 more nuclear power plants.”
[Image: Flickr/Tony The Misfit]
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