With Obama pushing Nuclear power do you think some of the momentum will be taken from Biofuels?



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    I don’t think so. For one thing, many are not sure Obama really is “pushing” nuclear power. Although he recently announced an $8.3 billion loan to a power company to build a new nuclear reactor outside of Atlanta, which when it comes on line (at about the time Obama will be leaving office if he is elected to a second term) it will be the first new nuclear plant in the US in 30 years. But some are critical of the move, calling it more political than substantive, first because there is some evidence that the company, Southern Co., doesn’t really need the money (they had $18 billion in sales last year), and second because it is viewed as largely a policy nod to Obama’s critics, like his 2008 opponent John McCain, who have clamored for greater reliance on nuclear power. Obama’s move will do nothing to change the fact that, at least in the United States, nuclear power is not really workable, at least from an economic and regulatory standpoint–the reason there have been no new plants built in 30 years has a lot more to do with the huge front-end investment needed to build nuclear plants, and the very extensive regulatory delays in getting one permitted, which can take 10 years or even longer, than it does with any lack of political support from Washington. In the meantime, research on biofuels continues from private companies who all hope to be the first one to make an alternative source really economically viable, which means they’ll reap a huge profit from it. I don’t think that a temporary emphasis on one energy source will dampen interest or investment in others. Everyone knows that the person who comes up with a “magic bullet” to solve our reliance on fossil fuels, assuming there is one, will be richly rewarded, and economic incentive usually takes over when environmentally responsible sensibilities reach their limits.

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