January 16, 2007


Bush May Get Democrats' Help to Meet Energy-Independence Goal (Brendan Murray and Tina Seeley, 1/16/07, Bloomberg)

Administration officials say Bush's seventh annual address to Congress on Jan. 23 will reiterate his vow to cut Middle Eastern oil imports by 75 percent by 2025 and curb what he describes as a national ``addiction'' to fossil fuels. Democrats and the White House are likely to agree to boost support for biofuels, increase federal funding for electric-powered vehicles and sweeten incentives for the use of solar and wind power, lobbyists and industry experts say.

``We're prepared to do more, so I hope we will be working in partnership with Congress on what makes sense,'' Rob Portman, Bush's budget director, said in an interview.

``There's a lot of common ground'' on alternative energy, says Senator Jeff Bingaman, 63, a New Mexico Democrat who heads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Democrats can only help the President pass agenda items that have been bottled up, not do anything they want but he doesn't.


A Nuclear Power Renaissance
: With concerns about global warming and energy security on the rise, countries the world over are taking a new look at nuclear energy. Some are building new reactors as fast as they can. (RĂ¼diger Falksohn, 1/17/07, Der Spiegel)

The explanation for the government's enthusiasm for nuclear power can be found in a report by nuclear physicist and former IT manger Ziggy Switkowski. As if on cue, he enthuses about the need for more nuclear power plants: Australia must start building reactors so that the first one can be completed in 2020. If a concerted effort is made, another 25 could be online by mid-century. On the one hand, this would help the country improve its poor record of carbon dioxide emissions. On the other, it would allow Australia to tap an almost inexhaustible source of energy; the country possesses more than 38 percent of the world's accessible uranium reserves.

The international atomic energy lobby loves such talk. Almost 21 years after the Chernobyl disaster, and just a couple months after the most recent breakdown at Sweden's Forsmark reactor last July, the risks associated with nuclear power are largely fading into the background. So too are questions about the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and atomic weapons. The industry, in short, is preparing for a new boom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 16, 2007 12:14 AM
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