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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Illinois Senate Votes to Lift Nuclear Moratorium

In a rare fit of rationality, the Illinois Senate has voted to rescind the 23-year-old moratorium on the development of nuclear power in this state. See title link.

One wonders what came over them. Maybe there's a new virus going around. If so, I hope it becomes a pandemic. But maybe they were just Scared Straight by the recession and the relentless upward creep of liquid fuel prices. Maybe it's realizing that Illinois, the crucible of civil nuclear power and once a manufacturing powerhouse, is quickly fading to second-tier status (or worse) economically as our manufacturing has moved away, first to southern states and then offshore.

And perhaps our pols are at last becoming Peak Oil-aware, and realize that natural gas will soon follow oil to peak production, then to inevitable decline and eventual depletion. At last Peak Oil is beginning to get media attention, and our leaders are beginning to recognize that the decline of fossil fuels is a much larger threat to our civilization than Global Weirding. This is not to trivialize the challenges presented by rapid climate change, but to say that the decline of concentrated energy is a much larger threat.

The Obama administration also seems to recognize the towering threat to our ability to support ourselves and provide the basic decencies with either fossil fuels or the "renewable", diffuse forms of energy such as wind and solar, and that reliance upon them will make us much poorer and that there's no way that we can run any fraction of our systems with them. Gradually, by increments, the administration seems to be moving away from its former commitment to wind and solar, possibly recognizing that there is no way that the incredibly concentrated energy available only from nuclear can ever be matched, either in cost or reliability, by the diffuse energy available to solar and wind farms.

Now we can hope for the regulatory reform necessary to permit the development and deployment of newer, cleaner, safer, and vastly cheaper nuclear technologies, such as the Molten Salt Reactor and Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor.

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