Also in the WSJ: “There is No Such Thing as Nuclear Waste”

Michael Giberson

William Tucker, author of “Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Long Energy Odyssey,” has an essay in today’s WSJ pinning the U.S. nuclear waste problem on decisions by Presidents Ford and Carter to abandon reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

The reasons for abandoning reprocessing – mostly fear that plutonium would end up as bombs in terrorist hands – are no longer such a concern (because other sources would be more convenient, should someone want to develop a bomb, than a U.S. reprocessing facility). Reprocessing dramatically reduces the waste disposal problem.

Tucker says, “France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains — from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy — beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague.” (Maybe the Nuclear Energy Institute could offer to store the unused material from reprocessing in the basement of their Washington, D.C., offices?)

Because it is not news until it is on Comedy Central; or, carbon taxes their brains

Michael Giberson

Carbon tax and cap-and-trade fun, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and bloggers at Common Tragedies.

In brief: on Monday the WSJ lead editorial complained about the distributional effects of cap-and-trade, correctly noting that the effect of pricing carbon would depend on consumption but misleadingly illustrated with a chart based on carbon-emitting production by state.  Two economists at Resources for the Future sent a letter to the editor pointing out the problem, and after the WSJ said it would not run the letter, one of the economists – Rich Sweeney – posted it on his blog at Common Tragedies.

Subtlety being the soul of blogging, he headlined the post: “The Wall Street Journal is an idiot.”

This morning at CT, Sweeney is back with, “Write a letter to the editor, and nobody cares. Call someone an idiot on the internet and…….”

The answer is: get your letter published in the WSJ. Nearby on the editorial page is a rejoinder, where the editorialists, in their words, “try to take their [the RFF economists’] argument seriously.” [What?  Does this mean the first editorial was done without considering recently published work by the mainstream-if-slightly-staid folks at the pre-eminient environmental policy think tank?  I guess for the second editorial, the difference was that the WSJ editors were actually wearing their thinking caps.]

Elsewhere in the house of WSJ, Environmental Capital blogger Keith Johnson pulls up a chair ringside, “Knockdown, Dragout: Think Tank v. WSJ Edit Page on Cap-and-Trade.”

Johnson concluded:

The RFF guys responded this morning: “Now the question is whether the WSJ really cares about the true net effect of carbon policy on households in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, or if they’re simply clinging to any story that will allow them to politically undermine cap and trade.”

It’s certainly fodder for a lively debate. The only thing that would make it better would be moving it to Comedy Central.

I’m all for getting this debate onto Comedy Central.  We will be talking about cap-and-trade and carbon taxes in a few weeks in the Energy Economics class.

Students here are leaving for Spring Break this afternoon.  I figure Comedy Central is about the only chance I have got to get a serious energy econ idea entertained by even a handful of students for the next 9 days.

[Note to Jon Stewart: Call me.  I can play straight man.]