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March 31, 2008

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Without even addressing the issue of "yellow cake", I think that much of John's argument in favor of the Areva plant as a component of a strategic energy plan actually illustrates the drawbacks of an enhanced nuclear approach. For me, advocates of nuclear power production do not adequately address the drawbacks of waste, the energy actually required to manufacture and build nuclear facilities in the first place, the complete disregard for any serious attempt at conservation of existing resources, and the ever present coupling of the nuclear power industry to military weapons development.

Regardless of the state or disposition of the byproduct of enrichment, there is nonetheless, waste. If find it no less objectionable that a gaseous uranium compound will be trucked back and forth across the US that if solid waste were left in place.

The building and manufacturing of any new facility requires an input of energy and materials. As these resources become more and more limited, it does not make sense to apply these resources towards building the infrastructure for a system that creates too many problems with too few benefits. Members of communities and future generations may have a different perspective on social justice when they forced to deal with the issues of nuclear waste and an energy policy founded on unsustainable technologies.

The connection with Russia also demonstrates the tenuous nature of nuclear power production, and how materials and technology for power production bleed over into military and security applications. Is that not why we are supposedly so concerned with nuclear development in Iran? The difficulty of extracting peaceful from other uses of uranium enrichment are is too great to support the proliferation of this technology anywhere in the world.

As to replacing the 20% of electricity in five years, I don't see that as an unreachable goal. I'll bet at least that much is wasted through outdated equipment and practices. Show me a comprehensive and aggressive plan of cutting energy waste and demand before you insist on the necessity of new, nuclear production.

Nuclear power is a dead end in the long term. Our investment of time and money should be towards renewable and sustainable technologies, and nuclear is neither.

As for tax breaks, I'd say there should be a moratorium on new exemptions until the exemptions currently in place are evaluated and adjusted. Imagine the potential tax relief for homeowners if even a portion of the nearly $2 billion in lost revenue was collected and redirected.

If the SRA was looking for an emotional response, it looks like it worked with John.

I have yet to see a non-green house gas alternative for generating the electricty that this country will need in the near and longterm. Wind, solar and agressive conservation will get us partially there leaving natural gas and coal as the only other alternatives.

As for Areva the incentive passed by the legislature is available to any company willing to make a billion dollar investment in Idaho. Land one firm of this caliber and others are likely to follow. Companies like Areva bring high paying jobs to Idaho (something I thought progressives were in favor of) which actually generates general fund revenues that pay for things that progressives allegedly favor (education and welfare). Now if being a good progressive means becoming a CAVE (Citzen Against Virtually Everything) then I might need to rethink my politics.

P.S. - It really bothers me when so called progressive groups Hannitize the facts. It was bad enough that Bush lied about "yellow cake" to get us into the Vietraq war.

I have extensive coverage of the Areva issue on my blog IDAHO SAMIZDAT I disagree with the way you have characterized this issue.

http://djysrv.blogspot.com/2008/03/quest-is-still-in-west-for-arevas-new.html

Testing the comments ...

The tax "incentives" for Areva allows this company to opt out of taxes that existing companies already pay. If new companies aren't required to pay, will Micron and others not insist they deserve equal treatment? If Micron is exempted, in the name of "fairness", how is the loss of that revenue going to be made up? The fact that a company will bring people to your town means that more services will be used. What about the roads that are broken up by the construction traffic and equipment during the building process? What about the traffic generated by the business during the normal business operations?
The state and local goverment already has a problem with maintenance of infrastructure. Why open the door for other businesses to opt out of a tax?

First of all, at the $400 Million and above level, Areva (or any other investing company) will STILL be paying more in taxes than any other entity in the taxing district. This over time will be an advantage to other taxpayers in the area because the company's large tax bill subsidizes the services for others, and SOMETIMES reduces the tax levy rate for all.

As far as "services", in Areva's case they will have their own water/sewer system, dedicated power substation, their own security, and will maintain the roads on their own property. Presumably, all construction trucks and vehicles (owned by other companies/vendors) will be paying their own way on the infrastructure thru fuel taxes, registration fees, etc. - Areva would not be their ONLY customer. Therefore, the roads are not an issue either.

It is regrettable that large companies are villified instead of welcomed when they may introduce new capital into the local and state economy. Even Micron has changed the landscape of Boise, with a positive economic impact, new jobs, better paying jobs, spinoffs, etc. These tax paying for-profit companies are subsidizing the rest of us, and I'm all for it.

It's unfortunate that some of the vital issues like NIMBYs, infrastructure costs, taxes, and health issues are not addressed by any nuclear advocates. Or, if they're addressed at all, they do not base their claims on what has historically happened in many communities around the US or even the world for that matter. Finally, the dirty little secret is that there is nothing that can be done with the waste. Oh, yeah, DU can be used in weapons - is that really what we want for the future of our children? The German newspapers report that Iraq, for example, is a health and environmental wasteland because of all the DU used in BOTH Iraq wars. Of course, it's all sanitanized here, so much so that our war veterans don't even receive decent health services.

It's unfortunate that the SRA wrongly used the "yellowcake" reference. I have found some major mistakes on their site and in their arguments which is why I don't contribute money to them. Their intentions are good but their science is sometimes lacking. As for John, his intentions are sincere as a pro-nuclear guy, and he's smart as hell, but he's obviously blinded by his subjective attachment to the nuclear industry.

It's a problem with universities and grants, you won't get the money if you knock the industry that's paying for your research. Such a sorry state for the "pursuit of knowledge" as opposed to the pursuit of the buck....

As for me, I don't care how much money INL may be given to research what can be done with nuclear waste, but I don't want or need any nuclear plants, waste re-processing, etc. in this great and beautiful state of Idaho.

Alternatives exist. Doesn't anyone ever investigate how well zero-waste plans are doing all over the world? We are a garbage society par excellence. Our re-cycling is eons behind European cities and we just consume like crazy, buy merchandise that never lasts longer than the latest rave or fashion, and throw away piles of "garbage" instead of introducing any kind of sustainable concept into our ken. Isn't it about time that we began to change the way we conceptualize and treat waste?

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