Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

07/29/2009 (2:09 pm)

Committed to Energy Independence?

centrifugeThe Obama administration added to the suspicion that it may intentionally be crippling the US economy by denying a critical loan guarantee to a major nuclear energy project, reports KnoxNews.com.

Campaign rhetoric for decades from both sides of the aisle has touted the importance of energy independence for American economic security. Recent moves by the Obama administration to suppress development of coal and natural gas resources, and moves by the Congress to suppress domestic offshore oil development, have been rationalized as necessary for the environmental health of the planet, despite their requiring the nation to rely more heavily on foreign imports of energy products.

However, concern for the planet can hardly explain this move: the Department of Energy has denied a loan guarantee to USEC, Inc., which has been developing new refinement technology for nuclear fuel at Oak Ridge, TN. USEC, the only American nuclear enrichment company, was set to construct an enrichment plant after 6 years of testing and development to verify the feasibility of new, more efficient enrichment technology. The project depended on a number of factors, including confirmation of the technological advances, which promise to refine uranium in a manner that reduces the electricity usage of the process by 95%. It’s folding now, not because the technology does not work, but because the Department of Energy, after 7 years supporting the project, simply refuses to endorse it.

According to Knoxnews.com:

The Department of Energy has denied USEC Inc.’s application for a $2 billion loan guarantee, and the company has started “demobilizing” the American Centrifuge Project, which currently employs about 450 at its Oak Ridge manufacturing site…

USEC Chief Executive Officer John K.Welch, after learning that DOE would not grant the loan guarantee, made this statement today:

“We are shocked and disappointed by DOE’s decision. The American Centrifuge met the original intent of the loan guarantee program in that it would have used an innovative, but proven, technology, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and created thousands of immediate jobs across the United States.

“Our application has been pending for a year, and we have addressed any concerns the department raised. Technically, we operated the American Centrifuge technology in a lead cascade for approximately 235,000 machine hours. Financially, we have invested $1.5 billion dollars in the project and offered $1 billion of additional corporate support. It is unclear how DOE expects to find innovative technologies that assume zero risk, but the American Centrifuge clearly meets the energy security and climate change goals of the Obama administration.”

Individual projects may fail for all sorts of reasons; there can be unexpected budget overruns, manufacturing delays, unexpected market collapses, political stalling, even personal disputes that get in the way. However, at a time when energy needs are a central focus, when the government is deliberately spending hundreds of billions of dollars to stimulate the creation of jobs, and when the country is deliberately crippling its ability to produce fossil fuels, for the DOE to simply and quietly shut down a key component of a viable nuclear energy strategy without an explanation is… unfathomable.

Might the Obama administration genuinely intend to cripple the US economically? They at least had a plausible rebuttal to that claim when shutting down fossil fuel development — not that the rebuttal makes scientific sense, but it was at least plausible. But this? I cannot explain it other than to say, they genuinely do not want the US to produce its own energy. Why not?

I’m not a fan of energy independence, as a strategy. The US does not need to be completely independent of the rest of the world for energy any more than it needs to be independent for steel, bauxite, shirts, computers, or any other single product; the economy is global. However, the US economy is suffering from a $700 billion balance-of-payments deficit (we import that much more than we export), and every bit of energy we produce internally reduces that and creates American jobs. Furthermore, the US stands to suffer serious spot shortages of electricity as fossil fuels lose market share (thanks to economically destructive carbon rationing and senseless Congressional limits on development) until alternative sources of electricity are ready to make up the attendant shortfall in the nation’s power needs — which will be decades from now. Developing nuclear power is a key to surviving that transition period. Shutting down this project makes no sense.

The 450 jobs that will vanish as the American Centrifuge Project closes up shop is just the tip of the iceberg. How, precisely, does the DOE propose that the US obtain the necessary refined uranium for new nuclear power plants? And how does the Obama administration explain shutting down this project in the light of their commitment to energy independence?

We are so screwed…

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6 Comments »

July 29, 2009 @ 5:04 pm #

Phil,
I cannot say I like Pres. Obama’s policies anymore than you. I wholeheartedly disagree with his, and his administration’s, stance on this issue (I personally believe we should be building nuclear plants everywhere in the US, even in my own back yard.)
However, I think you are ascribing to malice that which can be better explained as incompetence, melded to a specific world view. I think the President’s world view is very specific in that he has an idea of what American greatness should be (I tend to think that he truly does not believe that America has ever been exceptional or laudatory in any way, other than electing him.) Nuclear Power, because of the Left’s historical disdain of anything nuclear, does not fit this world view. He does not want it to be part of HIS America, that he is busy creating.
That Nuclear power is a very “green” tech when judged by the criteria of the Global Warming Hysterics has nothing to do with anything. I think they have no idea of how the world works. To many modern liberals, food will always be there. Electricity will always be there. Cell phones will always be there. They have no idea that nothing they see around them is permanent. They have no historical context to realize that the slope of progress does not always point upwards. I am sure if you asked Romans living in the Eternal city about 405 AD if people just 500 years later would look at their work and think they were created by gods or giants, they would not believe it.

People are stupid.

July 29, 2009 @ 7:35 pm #

Horatius,

The problem is that malice has been proved, so we can’t discount it. I agree with just about everything you said, but I have to add that above all that, what they desire is control. They’re much more focused on control than on solving any particular problem. I don’t doubt that eventually, they do plan for us all to be enjoying our cozy, ungreedy, sustainably-sized, eco-niche-friendly ranch houses powered silently by smoothly-running solar plants that smile as they convey sunshine directly to our wall outlets by way of super-conductive spiderwebs woven for us explicitly by friendly spiders, who provide their work with gratitude because thanks to the Progressives, we’ve stopped chasing them from our homes and are living in harmony with nature. Yes, they do plan that. But first, they have to acquire all power.

I don’t think they’re above quietly cutting the hawser and letting the boat go adrift in order to facilitate greater control. And this looks like that to me. Call me an insane conspiracy theorist.

July 29, 2009 @ 10:25 pm #

I think malice is exactly the correct description for this action. This was a project well on its way to success, a step forward. It had to be stopped now, before it was too late. Otherwise, there was always the chance that it might work out, and that things might not become as bad as they want them to be for America. People who have things, resources, energy, are not nearly so docile and easily led as those who are demoralized and starving. The Obots had to act now, quickly, before anyone might prevent them from scuttling this project that we have sunk so much money and time into.

Yes, malice is exactly the right word for it.

July 30, 2009 @ 5:58 am #

Phil, you’re an insane conspiracy theorist… just save me a spot when they send you to re-education camp. I prefer to sleep on the bottom bunk, thank you.

My conclusion the Obama acts with malice aforethought is not derived from one single incident, one single slip of the tongue (although the Joe the Plumber line comes awfully close) but rather from the ceaseless drip of evidence that, given the myriad choices available to him on any particular topic, Obama choses the one that is antithetical to the nation’s best interests and true to its founding documents.

I do believe that many of the ’52′ are starting to awaken from their stupor.

July 30, 2009 @ 1:43 pm #

I’m sure Iran will be interested in this new technology, if the US isn’t.

August 3, 2009 @ 7:39 am #

The thing is we have to be careful in our thinking and try to actually understand how and why the guy gets to where he gets to. We have to be careful in falling into the whole “Politics=Holy war” thinking the left has been indulging. It is a sloppy way of thinking to fall into. For one thing, when you ascribe your political enemies difference in policies to malice, you stop analyzing their motives (because you think you already know.) Now, if you are right in understanding their motives, then you can predict what they are going to do, and then try to counter.

What I am trying to say it that malice is a mistaken understanding of what their motives are. They really do believe that what they are doing will help the country out. You are proceeding from the logical supposition that if you remove fossil fuels as well as Nukes from the electricity table, that does not leave you with anything. You are then making the supposition to motive saying that because they are trying to take both off the table with nothing to replace them, they must want us to have no new energy.

I submit that they simply are not thinking this way. They believe by taking nukes off the table (because of the left’s disdain for Nuclear power) and by their taxing the crap out of fossil fuels and lowering the supply of it, they will drive up it’s cost and therefore making renewable sources more viable. Therefore, in their own minds, they believe there will be no interruption of service. Hence, their motives are not malicious, merely naive.

I think this is a vitally important thing we in the Conservative-Traditionalist-Libertarian side of things have to remember- logic and clear thinking our our strengths, not just our passion. We have to remember that for the most part, our political adversaries are just that, our adversaries, not our enemies.

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