As of late, mostly since the Democrats returned to power in Congress, there has been an increasing level of awareness and talk about climate change, global warming, foreign oil dependence, energy security, etc. Most of those categories arrive due to a single factor: oil. It has long been obvious that a nation relying on its majority of a resource to come from outside its borders is a sure sign of a loss of sovereignty. We are not a strong, independent state if what fuels our existence is not within our control. The producers of our crude could, at any time, arbitrarily raise the price per barrel and give our economy the equivalent of heartburn and remind us that our stability is at the whim of others.
This is one of the few things I agreed with President Bush on from his State of the Union. (Ha! You thought I’d never mention it again, but I did!) It was merely a part of a list when he was speaking of alternative methods of producing energy. But still, it was there. And here it is, the ability to reduce our dependence on foreign fuels, give our country a safe standard of electrical production, and even reduce our carbon emissions: nuclear energy.
The word nuclear has an unfortunate stigma attached to it. Yes, there are nuclear weapons, though only used twice, but there are other weapons, as I am sure you are all well aware, and all have been used to far greater extents. We, like the old nuclear powers of the world, are experts in not only making these terrible weapons, but experts in avoiding their use. And let’s face it, the only two remotely dangerous disasters with nuclear power facilities can’t possibly happen in modern plants. I won’t argue with Springfield’s nuclear power plant whose safety inspector is Homer Simpson, either, because damnit, it’s a funny scenario.
So why am I aiming for nuclear power to save the United States? Because, first of all, it works. It’s clean and safe. Don’t believe me? Just ask Japan and France. They have been at it for decades, due to their own homelands’ lack of resources. In fact, even the US does a fine job of using it, though we still are not as efficient with it as we could and should be. We only use nuclear power for about twenty percent of our electrical production. I still believe we could learn quite a bit from the French and the Japanese, simply because they have poured far more energy and resources into developing nuclear power efficiency and safety.
Now the political reasons for switching to using at the very least half nuclear electricity production? We are in the top ten of uranium mining countries in the world. That in itself lends to a great deal of economic security. We aren’t spending tons of money just moving the fuel from awfully unstable places in the world and leaving pipelines open for intrusion. It’s here; we have it. But what I think is even better is this: The number one producer of uranium in the world is… Canada! I love it. Canada is not Saudi Arabia, hell it is not even Russia. It is, by the greatest margins possible, the safest country in the world from which we can buy the remainder of the fuel we need. I think it is durned skippy to be investing even more money into our biggest trading partner, making them richer, and having them buy more stuff from us. I really do not know how to expand further on this idea; I think it stands well on its own.
Now, here’s my last trick to getting us weaned off foreign oil and standing on our own again: coal liquefication. Now, it is an old idea, turning hard coal into a liquid fuel, but it has been worked on for nearly a century, and with a few more pushes in the right direction (such as the price of crude exploding again), this could be an economical alternative, and again, produced in our own backyard. We are the second most productive miner of coal in the world (first is China, by a lot). So why not just make gasoline out of it, using our home-grown coal or nuclear energy, and take care of ourselves?
Now I just need a train system in the US that rivals the EU, and I’ll be a happy little pup~