Friday, November 16, 2007

Nuke and Nonpro Highlights from Last Night’s Dem Prez Debate

Feisty beginning aside, last night’s CNN-sponsored Democratic presidential debate at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas held little in the way of nuclear weapons and nonproliferation issues.

Nevertheless, provided below are John Edwards’s response to a question on Pakistan and Barack Obama and Bill Richardson’s response on what should be done with nuclear waste. Key points are bolded. The full transcript can be found here.

The first international issue of the night, Wolf Blitzer asked John Edwards to weigh in on the topic of Pakistan:

MR. EDWARDS: Well, I think first of all, we have some basic goals that we need to be focused on with respect to Pakistan. One is to make sure that the extremists in northwest Pakistan are under control. Second, that we provide support for the democratic reformers. Third is that -- Senator Biden just spoke about, to make sure these elections take place in January. And fourth, we need to make certain that the nuclear weapons are under control.

Now, this leads to a bigger question. I think Pakistan is the living, breathing example that America's ad hoc policy of dealing with the spread of nuclear weapons, while it's absolutely required in today's world given what's happening with Iran, given what we see today in Pakistan and the incredible fragility of the administration in Pakistan and the presence of extraordinary extremist elements within Pakistan, that this is the living, breathing example … of a policy that will not work over the long term. … What we have to do, what America needs to do and what I will do as president of the United States is to lead a long-term international effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

It is the only way we're going to keep the world secure and keep America secure.

Later, on the nuclear waste front…

MR. ROBERTS: Want to explore the energy issue for a moment here because it's been of particular importance to the state. Senator Obama, the price of oil is flirting with the $100-a-barrel mark right now, making all the more urgent the need for alternate fuel forces. You support nuclear energy as a part of the plan for the future, but there is an issue of what to do with the waste. You are opposed to the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository about 90 miles from here. Your state uses about -- gets about 48 percent of its power from nuclear compared to 20 percent for most other states.

Yet you are opposed to bringing nuclear waste from other states and keeping it in Illinois.

The question is, if not in your backyard, whose?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, as I've said, I don't think it's fair to send [nuclear waste] to Nevada, because we're producing it.

So what we have to do is, we've got to develop the storage capacity based on sound science. Now, laboratories like Argonne in my own home state are trying to develop ways to safely store nuclear waste without having to ship it across the country and put it in somebody else's backyard. But keep in mind that I don't think nuclear power is necessarily our best option. It has to be part of our energy mix.

We have a genuine crisis that has to be addressed and as president, I intend to address it, and here's what we have to do. We have to, first of all, cap greenhouse gases, because climate change is real. And it's going to impact Nevada and it's impacting the entire planet.

That means that we're going to have to tell polluters, we are going to charge you money when you send pollution into the air, that's creating climate change. That money we can then reinvest in solar, in wind, in biodiesel, in clean coal technology and in superior nuclear technology.

MR. BLITZER: All right. Senator, until there's some new technological breakthrough, as you would hope and all of us would hope, where do you send the waste?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, right now it is on site in many situations, and that is not the optimal situation, Wolf. But don't keep on assuming that we can't do something. I mean, this is about the third time where you said, "assuming we can't do it, what's our option?"

MR. BLITZER: Well, until we -- until we do it.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, but I'm running for president because I think we can do it.


MR. BLITZER: … Governor Richardson's a former Energy secretary. What do you do with the nuclear waste in the interim?

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, you mentioned all the labs, Argonne, Yucca Mountain. I was in charge of them. Here's what you do.

First, the future is renewable. It's not oil, it's not coal, it's not nuclear. What you do with the waste is you don't put it in Yucca Mountain. All my life -- as secretary of Energy, as a congressman -- I opposed the site for environmental reasons, water saturation.

I don't think the answer, also, is in regional sites.

There's a technological solution, a scientific solution. What I would do, I would turn Yucca Mountain into a national laboratory. We have the greatest brains, our national lab scientists. We need to find a way to safely dispose of nuclear waste. There is a technological solution.

But while we do that, we shouldn't be giving the nuclear power industry all of these advantages in the Senate bills that are coming forth, or subsidies. Oil, coal and nuclear are getting most of the subsidies.

1 comment:

Pluto Boy said...

Is Obama's mention of Argonne National Lab and their nuclear waste research a subtle endorsement of the research they are doing into reprocessing (plutonium removal from spent fuel)? This research is a cornerstone of Bush's mad Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which aims to proliferate plutonium (which can be used in weaponsn), exacerbate the nuclear waste problem (to extract plutonium the fuel is dissolved in acid, creating a stew of waste) and cost billions of dollars. Barack, say it ain't so!