Read this Washington Post story on Bush’s program to re-start efforts to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

Bush is requesting $250 million this year to kick off research on a new method of reprocessing nuclear waste, one that would allegedly reduce the total amount of waste and make it difficult for terrorists to extract weapons-grade plutonium from it.

At best, under the administration’s highly optimistic scenario, the technology could be ready to go by 2025. But scientific and industry experts doubt it:

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Steven Kraft, senior director of used fuel management for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry policy group, voiced doubts: "This is a matter of developing future technologies, and those technologies are 50 to 60 years away."

When even industry shills won’t endorse your projections, well …

And if it does take that long?

Meanwhile, the government will be spending billions of dollars developing a fuel that probably will be too expensive to buy in the foreseeable future, except with a government subsidy.

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Experts also doubt that the product will be resistant to proliferation:

Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, an energy think tank, said: "You can get a one-kiloton explosion with impure plutonium, and if you’re a terrorist the most important thing is to have the capability. Such a blast would be the equivalent of 1,000 tons of dynamite. "You don’t care whether you destroy the tip of Manhattan or the whole island," he said.

Awesome. A 20 year — or maybe 50 year — research program to produce energy too expensive to buy, but ever-so-slightly less attractive to terrorists.

It absolutely baffles me why alleged conservatives continue to throw their weight behind nukes. Aren’t they the ones who believe in the power of markets? Who don’t believe in "picking winners"? The entire history of the nuclear industry has been one of government support. Bush is quite overtly picking nuclear as a winner, despite its inability to survive without heavy government subsidy, its proliferation risks, and it’s extremely long lag time.

Other energy sources are far more promising. They just don’t have as much political clout.

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