Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CHU - A MIXED BAG

Obama's choice of Steven Chu as Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) looks to be a mixed blessing.

Nuclear Watch of New Mexico reports that "Chu comes to the cabinet from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California [a major nuclear weapons development site], where much of his research was on renewable energy. His selection could signal big changes in how the US uses science to tackle the challenge of national energy independence. DOE spends around $6.6 billion a year on nuclear weapons research and production -- compared to about $4.6 billion on applied energy research and $4.7 billion on basic science. With tight budgets and new priorities, science could now finally be favored over weapons."

Emphasis, I'd suggest, on the word "could".

Journalism professor Karl Grossman was a co-founder of the Global Network in 1992. His expertise has always been in the field of nuclear energy and recently Karl wrote an extensive piece on the Chu appointment.

In the article Karl writes, "Although he has a keen interest in energy efficiency and solar power and other clean forms of renewable energy, Chu is a staunch advocate of nuclear power."

“Nuclear has to be a necessary part of the portfolio,” declared Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, at an economic gathering last March in Palo Alto, California organized by Stanford University.”

Grossman then calls on two leading anti-nuclear power activists for their views on the Chu appointment.

Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project of Beyond Nuclear, asks whether Chu “can afford to squander his commitment to renewables by pouring all these resources down the nuclear rat hole. You can’t have both worlds—particularly in the economic depression we’re sliding into. We’re at a crossroads and we have to make definitive choices.” Gunter says it’s “time to leave 20th century mistakes” such as nuclear power “behind and commit to renewables.”

“He’s really big on efficiency and renewables,” says Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, of Chu. But he is “looking at nuclear as well. He and President-elect Obama are not anti-nuclear, and not perhaps as versed on it as they should be.” Mariotte has a major concern that “they will accede to demands to fund nuclear power made by Congress”—awash in contributions from the nuclear power industry and with many members loyal to the national nuclear laboratories in their districts.

These will be tough questions for Obama, Chu, and the Congress to answer. Invest diminishing national resources in "green technology" job creation or waste mountains of cash on the nuclear mess? This will be another area where splitting the baby in half, a prime Obama tendency, will be a fatal mistake.

And still the problem remains, what does the nation do with nuclear waste? Would you like it stored in your backyard?

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