(CV #43, June 2009)
. Below is an expanded and referenced version, prepared last October, of the presentation at the Detroit Workers' Voice Discussion Group meeting of Sept. 21, 2008. It was given under the title of "McCain and Oabama vs. the environment". Since then Obama has been elected president. But the presentation still reflects the basic stand of the Democrats and Republicans with respect to global warming. It concludes that "Obama is somewhat more serious about the environment than McCain and Bush, but the methods he proposes are pretty much the same, and they are going to lead to disaster. This is because they are neo-liberal measures, that seek to avoid regulation and to work through market incentives and subsidies."
--McCain's program of "no oil well left undrilled, no fossil fuel left unburnt"--
--The "clean coal" fraud--
--Escalating the use of nuclear power--
--Corn ethanol --
--Cap and trade--
--The Obama alternative, not so different--
-- Obama and "clean coal"--
--Obama and nuclear power--
--Obama and ethanol--
--Cap and trade--
--For a real fight against global warming--
. In this election year, there has been some campaigning about the environment and the danger of global warming. And now, with hurricanes Ike and Gustav hitting Louisiana and Texas, and with Ike, Gustav, Hanna and Fay devastating Caribbean areas like Cuba, there has been some illustration of the dangers facing us. Currently the ongoing financial hurricane has pushed the environmental issue into the background, as the collapse of major financial firms gives rise to fears of another 1929-style crash, and the Bush administration, with the aid of the Democrats, pushes a huge bailout for Wall Street, but sooner or later the environmental issue will be back.
. If you examine their official programs, both McCain and Obama have trumpeted environmental plans. They have promised a multitude of measures to deal with global warming and high energy prices. They claim their programs will lead by 2050 to a reduction in carbon emissions of 60% (McCain) or 80% (Obama) from 1990 levels. (Of course, 2050 is safely well beyond their terms, even if they are elected twice to the presidency. ) They assure one and all that they will make the US a world leader in environmentalism.
. They promise the sun and the moon. Or so it seems so long as one doesn't look too closely at
their programs. But it turns out that they are both pledged to much of the basic program of Mr. "I
don't give a damn" Bush on the environment: "clean coal", corn ethanol, and nuclear power.
--McCain's program of "no oil well left undrilled,
no fossil fuel left unburnt"--
, McCain's real contempt toward the environment is revealed in his fervent campaign to expand off-shore oil drilling into every environmentally-sensitive area. He is concerned for the profits of big oil, and so what if the coasts are spoiled and the planet burns? He blames the rapid increases in oil prices on environmental protection, and, prattling the most absurd things like a fool, pretends that mere talk about drilling a few off-shore oil wells could bring oil prices down.
. But at the same time, following Bush's example, McCain has learned to hide his real views
behind a purely verbal recognition of the problem of global warming. Indeed, he has tried to
out-Bush Bush on this, and for a time he was thumping his chest about global warming in speech
after speech. He has put forward a series of numerical goals for carbon emission reductions, and
boasts that this means his policy is"Built On Scientifically-Sound, Mandatory Emission
Reduction Targets And Timetables". (1) So what if the measures he advocates will no more
achieve these timetables than his advocacy of off-shore drilling has changed gasoline prices? All
McCain wants is the image of environmental concern, not the reality.
--The "clean coal" fraud--
. The Bush administration has championed the "Clean Coal Power Initiative", thus diverting money and effort from real work to deal with global warming into promoting entrenched capitalist interests in the coal industry. And McCain will continue this fraud. His energy program calls for investing billions of dollars in "clean coal", and he looks forward to American industry making money selling these plants "to countries like China that are committed to using their coal", thus reinforcing their use of coal.
. But coal plants are among the worst producers of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The fight against global warming requires replacing coal as a source of energy. As for "clean coal", the same coal-burning industry that for years stubbornly resisted regulations to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions (one of the main sources of acid rain) now claims that they are zealously developing "clean coal" plants that won't emit carbon dioxide or other pollutants. The carbon dioxide from burning coal will supposedly be captured and stored safely and permanently underground (this is called carbon "capture and sequestration"). Various other pollutants will be cleaned from the smoke, but thrown out into landfills or other places where they will leak back into the environment.
. But while they trumpet the supposed virtues of "clean coal", the fact is that no such plants exist
today. Not even an experimental prototype. It may be 10 or 20 years until one can examine one in
operation, and see if it really works. (2) So in practice the term "clean coal" is also used to refer
to plants which simply emit somewhat less pollutants than the older ones. Meanwhile, coal plants
-- even the envisioned "clean" ones -- are major users of water, and so unsuitable for a situation
of a warming planet facing water shortages. I'll discuss the water situation more with respect to
nuclear power, but it applies to coal as well.
--Escalating the use of nuclear power--
. Aside from coal and oil, McCain's real zeal on the energy front is for nuclear power. Why, he wants 45 new nuclear plants by 2030, on to the way to his goal of 100 new plants.
. Yet he has no solutions to the problems of the disposal of nuclear waste, of decommissioning of
nuclear plants reaching their end-life, and of improving their overall maintenance and security.
Ironically, here in Michigan he trumpeted his support for nuclear power at an appearance at the
Fermi II nuclear reactor, which is the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1966 of the previous
reactor at this site, the Fermi I plant. Naturally McCain doesn't talk about the various mishaps
that continually occur at nuclear plants, or how he would avoid them. The fact is, that while
nuclear power may perhaps be improved in the future, it is, for the time being, a dangerous
source of power. And there aren't even prototype reactors that avert the dangers of today.
. Aside from its dangers, there is another reason why nuclear power isn't suitable for a time of global warming. That's because we face a perspective of hotter summers, droughts, and water shortages. And it turns out that nuclear power plants require a lot of water for cooling when they operate; they are among the thirstiest of the present-day large-scale power plants. As a result, they have been known to shut down during hot summers--due to either lack of sufficient water in nearby rivers or lakes, or to the water being too hot. For example France, which produces most of its electricity through nuclear power, had the nasty surprise of having to temporarily shut down a number of its plants during the heat wave of summer 2003. Again in 2006 a number of European nuclear plants, in France, Spain and Germany, had to be shut down. And in 2007, for the same reason, the Tennessee Valley Authority had to shut down one of its reactors at Browns Ferry. Meanwhile, there is growing pressure from the nuclear industry to relax environmental rules governing how much reactors are allowed to heat nearby bodies of water, as otherwise there will be more reactor shutdowns. (3)
. Why do nuclear plants use water? It's because they are in essence giant steam engines, or, to be more precise, steam turbines. They use nuclear power to provide the heat to generate steam. But all steam turbines require, not just a source of heat, but condensers to help cool the steam back into water. This is true of all steam turbine plants, whether nuclear or fossil-fueled. For technical reasons, nuclear plants require the most water. Coal is the next worst, and it doesn't just require water for cooling purposes, but also it ends up with a lot of dirty slurries and other uses of water. Natural gas plants use less water than nuclear or coal, but still use a lot.
. So why does McCain promote nuclear power as the supposed super-clean fuel suitable for the
future? It's because an expansion of nuclear power would give decades of major profits to
construction companies and engineering contractors. It would also help sanitize the US
government's military nuclear program. And it is also notable that the US and other nuclear
powers have plans to control the supply of fuel to the nuclear plants of other countries. This is
one of the missions of international nuclear inspection. But this gives the countries controlling
the nuclear fuel a stranglehold on the energy supplies of countries that depend on them. It is for
these reasons, not the environment, that the Bush-McCain program puts such stress on nuclear
-- Corn ethanol --
. Corn ethanol has become something of a disaster, with even Time magazine and other establishment sources recognizing some of its problems, such as helping to raise world fuel prices. So where did this catastrophe come from? Does it show that environmentalism is just a scam?
. But the production of American corn ethanol dramatically zoomed, reaching crisis levels, under Bush, who doesn't give a damn about the environment. The Bush administration pushes domestic corn ethanol in order to promote American agribusiness, give subsidies to corporate interests, and so forth, while hypocritically presenting corn ethanol as an alternative fuel supposedly being developed for high-minded environmental purposes. But in fact American corn ethanol isn't much better, and may well be worse, than plain old oil. So much oil is used up in growing corn, both as fuel for farm machines and in the production of fertilizer, and in converting corn to ethanol, that it may not save any greenhouse gas emissions at all.
. So the ethanol disaster is the product mainly of capitalists and politicians who don't care about
the environment. It doesn't discredit environmentalism in general, but only corporate and
establishment environmentalism, which use "green" words to cover up the ravaging of the globe
by the free market.
. Now, Mr. "Maverick" McCain used to denounce corn ethanol, saying that "thanks to agricultural subsidies and ethanol producer subsidies, it is now a very big business -- tens of billions of dollars that have enriched a handful of corporate interests -- primarily one big corporation, ADM. Ethanol does nothing to reduce fuel consumption, nothing to increase our energy independence, nothing to improve air quality. "(4)
. So here was one point on which McCain opposed the Bush program. But oops, as McCain became more serious about seeking the presidency, he turned around and endorsed ethanol. By 2006 he was saying "I support ethanol and I think it is a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects". (5) And since then he has been waffling back and forth, backing ethanol but criticizing subsidies for it. Thus his election platform on energy states that "John McCain Believes Alcohol-Based Fuels Hold Great Promise As Both An Alternative To Gasoline And As A Means of Expanding Consumers' Choices. Some choices such as ethanol are on the market right now. "(6)
. McCain also looks to developing the "second generation" of ethanols (cellulosic ethanol), as
well as to foreign ethanol. But overall foreign biofuel, while not requiring the huge energy inputs
of American corn ethanol for its production, is also giving rise to major problems: for example,
the rapid expansion of Asian palm oil biofuel and Brazilian sugar ethanol is helping to destroy
the world's remaining rain forests. Meanwhile cellulosic ethanol, whose wonders are endorsed by
McCain, is an unproven technology which may have major effects on soil fertility if it isn't
employed carefully. Although a limited use of ethanol might play a positive if minor role in the
environmental crisis, the vast expansion of ethanol taking place presently, whose continuation is
called for in McCain's program, is an on-going catastrophe.
. McCain makes a big deal of opposing subsidies for corn ethanol, which he regards as a violation of the free-market principles he holds sacred, but his energy program provides its own subsidies to business, such as "A Permanent Tax Credit Equal To 10 Percent Of Wages Spent On R&D". So it turns out that he simply disagrees with some other politicians over which capitalists should get subsidies.
. In fact, the free-market is not going to reduce and eliminate fossil fuel usage, and there has to be overall planning. This means that the government has to act. It needs to enforce environmental regulations, to directly develop various promising energy sources, to reconstruct the energy grid, transportation network, and other infrastructure, and to develop programs to protect the livelihood of people during these major changes. This also requires a change in the way the government itself works. But McCain doesn't want the government to do these things, but instead to give subsidies to corporations, whom he imagines will do everything themselves.
. McCain promises that the subsidies will include the promotion of wind and solar power. But
that's just window-dressing. He would direct the bulk of government expenditures on the
environment to things such as "clean" coal, which he pledges to devote $2 billion a year to, and
nuclear power, and he is prudently silent on the vast sums that would be required to accomplish
his nuclear dreams.
--Cap and trade--
. And what guarantee is there that these programs would result in cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions? McCain doesn't believe in government regulation of the environment and prefers to leave everything to the free-market. So the only overall regulation of greenhouse emissions that he accepts is carbon trading, which is also known as "cap and trade". This is the system used under the Kyoto Protocol, under which the Europeans and Japan have failed to meet their greenhouse targets. John McCain's version of "cap and trade" is even worse: it has so many exceptions and loopholes that it will be even more leaky than the Kyoto system.
. I will wait to describe what "cap and trade" is until talking about Obama's proposals, because Obama also advocates "cap and trade" and, moreover, is probably more serious about it than McCain. For now, it suffices to say that it is a plan which aims to avoid the need for governmental regulations by utilizing self-regulation by corporations.
. It should be mentioned that there is some doubt as to whether McCain really cares about cap
and trade. Some people around his campaign are starting rumors that he has changed his mind
about cap and trade. He seems to want it both ways: if you support "cap and trade", vote for him
as he is for it, but if you don't, vote for him, because, wink, wink, he really is against it.
--The Obama alternative, not so different--
. Obama has the support of many establishment environmentalists, who take him to have a forward-looking stand on global warming and environmental issues. Yet if one looks closely at his program, it centers on most of the same things as McCain's does. It not only is a program of market-based measures, like McCain's, but includes the same environmental frauds, such as "clean coal". Like McCain, Obama promises to meet all sorts of goals, but the program he advocates won't get us there.
. Consider "Barack Obama's plan to make America a global energy leader". It looks forward to putting funds into "key technological development" especially on three fronts: biofuels, clean coal, and nuclear power. (7)
. That's pretty much the same as McCain and Bush.
-Obama and "clean coal"--
. Obama's program recognizes the major use of coal in the US and around the world. He would continue this use, both in the US and abroad, on the pretext of having "clean coal". This program is just as much a fraud when Obama puts it forward as when McCain or Bush does. It is just as much unproven and presently non-existent technology when Obama trumpets it, as when McCain and Bush do. It has the same problems with the countryside being devastated, and hills and streams bulldozed away, as they are with modern American mining techniques; with pollutants of various sorts; with the use of huge amounts of water; and with the doubtful idea that carbon dioxide can be stored underground forever.
. Yet Obama pledges to "significantly increase the resources devoted to the commercialization and deployment of low carbon coal technologies."(8)
. There is not a hint that these technologies are still on the drawing board at best -- Obama wants to start their commercialization immediately. Note that the term "low carbon coal" is a politician's euphemism, since coal is carbon: it is essentially carbon with some impurities, ranging from being 46% to 98% pure carbon depending on the quality of the coal. When you burn coal, you are burning carbon. This produces carbon dioxide in proportion to the amount of energy released. "Low carbon coal" refers to a promise that sometime in the future coal plants will be able to capture and store this carbon dioxide, but they will produce it just as much as any other coal plant.
. The promise of "low carbon coal" in the future is used to keep pouring funds into the coal
mining and coal utilities. It means diverting funds from serious environmentalism and channeling
them back into the hands of the worst polluters. And when Obama promises to promote "clean
coal" abroad, this makes it worse.
--Obama and nuclear power--
. Obama repeatedly lectures on the supposed need for nuclear power. He says things like "Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our non-carbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table." This shows his skepticism about a massive increase in real alternative energy, as well as his support for building more nuclear power plants.
. He differs from McCain in saying that nuclear energy has problems that must be dealt with. He says that "there is no future for expanded nuclear without first addressing four key issues: public right-to-know, security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation." If Obama were serious about just these four problems (there are even more problems with present-day nuclear energy), it would stop the present nuclear program in its tracks. It would be "off the table". Instead it seems that Obama simply wants a few cosmetic fixes to the nuclear program.
. Indeed, it doesn't seem like the nuclear industry is too worried about Obama insisting on solving
these problems. The Los Angeles Times reports that "in an about-face, companies that have a
stake in the nuclear energy industry are giving large sums to Democrats running for president,
after having showered their money on Republicans in past campaigns . . . Obama is the largest
beneficiary from companies that have a stake in nuclear energy's future. . . . The donations come
as the industry reasserts itself. Several companies have filed or are considering filing applications
to build plants after a generation-long moratorium." Indeed, the largest operator of commercial
nuclear power plants, Exelon Corp., "has donated $275,000 to Obama over his career."(9)
--Obama and ethanol--
. Obama has been a zealous backer of American corn ethanol. His platform states that "Corn ethanol is the most successful alternative fuel commercially available in the U.S. today, and we should fight the efforts of big oil and big agri-business to undermine this emerging industry." And he proposes new subsidies, tax credits, and loan guarantees for it. It is typical of Obama's rhetoric that he presents corn ethanol as a blow against big agri-business, although the giant multinational conglomerate ADM is deeply involved in it, and has made billions each year from government ethanol subsidies.
. Obama also backs the prospect of second generation of biofuels (such as cellulosic), and he
thinks that they will overcome the problems of corn ethanol. There is not a hint that such biofuels
are still unproven, nor that they would have to be carefully evaluated for their effect on
agriculture and developed only in accord with an overall plan. Instead Obama's idea is that the
vast expansion of corn ethanol without an overall plan would have been all right if there simply
had been a better biofuel.
. Obama likes to present himself as an opponent of the oil companies and the ravages of
unfeeling firms. But in fact, Obama seeks to work through subsidies and incentives to, and
partnerships, with capitalist industry. He clothes some of these subsidies and incentives as
environmental measures, as when he offers $4 billion in guaranteed loans and tax credits to bail
out the auto capitalists. He would have us believe that this isn't a giveaway to the auto
companies, oh no, but a way to have them build energy-efficient cars. Similarly, he presents huge
subsidies to the agricultural giant ADM as a fight against big agri-business.
. Of course he says he is going to help the people too. Why, he talks of providing millions of jobs
of green jobs, jobs that will help protect the environment.
. But it's a fraud. He promises to set aside $15 billion a year for it, which is inflated to $150
billion by giving a figure for 10 years. This won't provide for billions of jobs, even if every penny
were spent only on wages. What the program really means is that this money will be given as
seed money and subsidies to corporations, who will supposedly be encouraged to provide these
millions of jobs. It is a trickle-down jobs program, so to speak, Reaganomics in green terms.
--Cap and trade--
. Obama's program for carbon emissions thus hinges on market measures and corporate subsidies. He doesn't like direct environmental regulation and instead wants to rely on "cap and trade" to achieve cuts. Establishment environments believe he is more serious about this than McCain, which might well be so.
. Well, "cap and trade" is a method developed for years by American politicians and neo-liberal economists to avoid environmental regulation. As applied to greenhouse gases, it would mean that the government issues carbon permits to allow the emission of greenhouse gases. It distributes them to companies to cover most of their past pollution. The "cap" refers to the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions allowed by all the permits taken together, and "trade" refers to companies being allowed to buy and sell these permits among themselves. Thus a company can either reduce its greenhouse gas emissions if it didn't receive enough permits to cover its needs, or buy additional permits from other companies, who may find they have an excess of permits or who may wish to reduce their emissions so that they will have spare permits to sell. Thus in theory, firms which can reduce carbon emissions at a reasonable cost will do so, and sell their excess permits, and other firms, which would find it harder to reduce emissions, will blithely go on polluting with a seal of government approval, being required only to buy some permits to cover their pollution. In theory, the total amount of emissions are gradually lowered as the "cap" is lowered year by year, and the existence of a free-market in emission certificates is supposed to ensure that this is done in an efficient and low-cost manner. In practice, it just didn't work that way under Kyoto. It was easy to get around; companies could get exemptions; it encouraged the biofuel disaster; the enforcement was lax; and so forth. Markets, even in emission certificates, have their own logic, and it is an anti-environmental logic.
. Thus "cap and trade" is a market measure: it creates a new artificial market in pollution -- you might call it a death market. It is sort of like trying to deal with workplace injuries and deaths by replacing safety regulations with a system of permits allowing corporations to maim or kill a certain number of workers, allowing them to trade in these permits, and then gradually reducing the number of permits year by year. It is supposed to be simple because it avoids direct government regulation of how power plants are supposed to generate power and so forth, but in practice it is a nightmare. For example, how does one distribute the pollution permits and decide which major corporations get them? This is one of many sore points, and a clear opportunity for corruption.
. Obama sometimes recognizes in words that this plan has had problems when used in Europe
and Japan under the Kyoto Treaty. So his version says that all these problems will be avoided if
only the permits are auctioned off, rather than by granting them freely to companies. Thus the
government won't have to decide who to give permits to, but companies will compete for
permits. However, if this is done, it will amount to a gigantic immediate tax on fuel, and so will
have its own problems. It combines cap and trade with something called a carbon tax, which is
dealt with in the last issue of Communist Voice (www.communistvoice.org/42CarbonTax.html),
so I won't go into it further here.
. Obama also calls for a variety of different measures that, unlike clean coal or nuclear power or
corn ethanol, aren't disasters. So does John McCain, for that matter. But these are peripheral parts
of his program. Moreover, as far as possible, Obama, like McCain, seeks to work through
partnerships and incentives with the private sector. In his mind, he is going to "nudge" the
corporations into being environmental angels through subsides and through creating new
--For a real fight against global warming--
. Obama is somewhat more serious about the environment than McCain and Bush, but the methods he proposes are pretty much the same, and they are going to lead to disaster. This is because they are neo-liberal measures, that seek to avoid regulation and to work through market incentives and subsidies.
. You can't leave it to the big corporations to decide what's environmentally sound themselves: they are after profits. When cap and trade schemes are set up, the companies are still after profits. And they trade in pollution permits in ways that are profitable for themselves, but hurt the environment.
. The experience of the Kyoto Protocol shows what happens when one tries to replace overall planning and regulation with profitability and market incentives. One unexpected disaster after another takes place. For example, biofuels were declared a promising green method of generating energy. Thus a firm could satisfy its environmental requirements under Kyoto by using biofuels, which it was allowed to get from anywhere. A firm could buy biodiesel, diesel fuel made from palm oil or soybean oil or other organic source, and say it was being environmentally responsible. The firm wasn't responsible for where this biofuel came from, nor was anyone else, and Europeans bought tremendous amounts of biofuels from Brazil and Asia, where forests are being devastated to provide agricultural fields to grow biofuels.
. Instead, there has to be overall planning on a regional, national and even global level concerning carbon emissions and the ways of generating energy.
. And there has to be a struggle against the corporate interests who have been devastating the environment. Instead of giving subsidies to big oil to run a few green demonstration projects which they trumpet in TV ads, there has to be a struggle against big oil and big coal and the multinational corporations firms which have been devastating the environment.
. Moreover, the struggle to clean up the environment has to be linked to measures to help people survive the coming hardships: the major changes needed to radically reduce greenhouse gases; the changes resulting from climate change, a certain amount of which is already inevitable; and the economic insecurity and devastation facing large masses of workers. If environmentalism means giving subsidies to corporations, while taxing people more and more for the necessities of life, then such an "environmentalism" is going to be hated. Instead there has to be an environmentalism that is based on siding with the people against the polluters. It is only the masses of workers who, having eyes everywhere, can ensure that the corporations don't really pollute and violate environmental regulations. It is only the masses of working people who can provide the political and social strength to oppose what the corporations are doing.
. In the long run, protecting the environment just isn't compatible with capitalist production for profit. So long as the world's resources and manufacturing facilities and infrastructure are owned by a relative handful of capitalists, they will run it for their profit. It is only when the world is owned by those who do the work that makes it run, under socialism, that there can be stable environmental protection. It is only then that overall regulation will be done in the interests of the mass of the population and of the environment.
. But we need to do something to protect the environment now. Even if we can only achieve partial measures under capitalism, we need to do that. But those measures must be measures of real regulation, and moreover this regulation must be opened to supervision by the working masses as far as possible. The government is controlled by the capitalist ruling class, and so the working class has to be constantly vigilant about how the government agencies operate. The fight for environmental regulation is not just a fight for government regulation, but a fight against the way the capitalist government is run.
. The government is not some neutral body. Just as the Bush government and Congress are talking about regulating Wall Street by giving it a $700 billion bail-out, so the capitalist government, whether run by Democrats or Republicans, is quite capable of giving huge subsidies to capitalists under the guise of environmentalism. So the workers have to fight constantly to ensure that government regulation really does protect environmental interests, and that the workers themselves have a role in overseeing what happens. This is why environmentalism is subject to the class struggle; we cannot rely on the establishment environmentalists, who work closely with the capitalists, but must build up the environmental movement of the working masses.
. The present presidential candidates, McCain and Obama, promote a neo-liberal version of environmentalism. They won't even accept government regulation as in the old days, to say nothing of letting the workers play a role in environment supervision. They are searching for new ways to find market incentives. This is why whatever they do will be a fraud: it will be the ethanol disaster repeated over and over again.
(1) See the page on "Climate Change" on his campaign website: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/da151a1c-733a-4dc1-9cd3-f9ca5caba1de.htm. (Return to text)
(2) The climate scientist Dr. Hansen says it will take a decade or more to develop plants that store carbon underground, and that's a conservative estimate. Others suggest that it will be closer to two decades. A bourgeois thinktank, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Inc. (CERA), says that "Even in the best case, CCS [carbon capture and storage] is at least two decades away from large scale deployment. " ("Global Climate Change Response Can Spur $7 Trillion in Clean Energy Investment by 2030: CERA Analysis". (http://www.cera.com/aspx/cda/public1/news/pressReleases/pressReleaseDetails.aspx?CID=9239) (Text)
(3) All power plants that use steam turbines require a good deal of water to operate: some of the water is "consumed", for example, by being turned into vapor; and even more of the water, while (hopefully) left uncontaminated, is heated up in the course of being used for cooling. Depending on how the cooling is done, a plant with one type of cooling system might use more than thirty times as much water as another. Many present nuclear plants are of the type that use the most water. But even nuclear plants of the best design use a significant amount of water, and a nuclear plant with any type cooling system uses more water than any other power plant with a similar cooling system.
. Coal plants are the next thirstiest plants to nuclear; natural gas plants are better but still use a lot of water. On the other hand, solar power doesn't use water, and wind power uses, relative to coal or nuclear, a negligible amount of water (the blades of wind turbines periodically have to be periodically washed, otherwise water isn't used at all).
. For the nuclear shutdowns in France in 2003 see the IPS (Inter Press Service News Agency) report "ENVIRONMENT-FRANCE: Dangerous Summer for Nuclear Power Plants), July 9, 3002, by Julian Godoy, ipsnews. net/print. asp?idnews=29441. For the shutdowns of 2006, see the report in the Christian Science Monitor, "Problems with Europe's nuclear plants have raised worries just as the energy was gaining support", August 10, 2006, by Susan Sachs. www.csmonitor.com/2006/0810/p04s01-woeu.htm. And for the TVA shutdown, see "Union of Concerned Scientists Backgrounder: Rising Temperatures Undermine Nuclear Power's Promise," August 23, 2007, www.ucsrisingtemps82307.pdf. This is distinct from the shutdown at Browns Ferry the year before, on August 17, 2006, when water pumps failed. ("Operators in Alabama shut down nuclear power plant after networking problems caused water pumps to fail last year", Robert McMillan, IDG News Service, May 22, 2007, www.pcworld.com/printable/article/id,132118/printable.html. ) The shutdown in 2007 had nothing to do with reactor malfunction; it's just what happens to nuclear plants when water gets too hot. (Text)
(4) This quote is from November 2003, but McCain had been saying things like this for years. See "McCain's farm flip: The senator has been a critic of ethanol. That doesn't play in Iowa. So the Straight Talk Express has taken a detour." by John Birger, Fortune senior writer (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/11/13/8393132/index.htm). (Text)
(5) Birger, Ibid. (Text)
(6) See http://www. johnmccain. com/Informing/Issues/17671aa4-2fe8-4008-859f-0ef1468e96f4. htm. Note that it is corn ethanol which is on the market in the US. (Text)
(7) This plan is available at http://www.barackobama.com/issues/pdf/EnergyFactSheet.pdf.(Text)
(8) "Barack Obama's Plan to Make America a Global Energy Leader", subsection "Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology". (Text)
(9) "Campaign '08: Nuclear energy pulls a big switch", Feb. 3, 2008, Los Angeles Times,
articles.latimes.com/2008/feb/03/nation/na-nuke3. See Mike McIntire, "Nuclear Leaks and
Response Tested Obama in Senate", Feb. 3, 2008 for identification of Exelon as the nation's
largest nuclear plant operator. (Text) <>
Last modified on June 7, 2009.