Nukes in France
It’s a Wall Street Journal kind of week. On the front page of today’s edition is a story about nuclear energy in France. I’ve got no big take-home lesson from it, but some bits are interesting in their own right.
First, some incisive framing:
France’s experience spotlights a daunting aspect of today’s energy crunch: The world will have to face hard choices long before science comes up with definitive answers. There’s mounting evidence that global warming is happening and that finding big new pools of oil is getting harder. But it’s not yet clear how serious global warming will be or whether petroleum is running dry. If politicians and businesses act and these concerns prove overblown, they could waste vast sums of money. If they postpone action and the facts validate today’s concerns, the future choices could be a lot harder.
And here’s something I didn’t know. To kickstart its nuke industry in the ’70s …
… France signed long-term deals with other countries — those that didn’t have the political stomach to recycle nuclear waste in their own backyards. In effect, France defrayed the cost of its own nuclear program by contracting itself out as a global nuclear-waste processor.
Needless to say, that’s caused some domestic angst.
And finally, no story about energy would be complete without at least a reference to shady U.S. goings on:
[State-owned energy company] Areva is now hoping to take advantage of provisions in last year’s U.S. energy bill to win contracts to build a fleet of reactors in the U.S. Last month, after declaring in his January State of the Union address that the U.S. is “addicted to oil,” President Bush cited the success of France’s nuclear strategy. “The best way to meet our growing energy needs,” he said in a radio address, “is through advances in technology.”
Areva recently hired as chairman of its U.S. unit the Bush administration’s newly retired energy secretary, Spencer Abraham.
Let the insider dealing begin!