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Nuclear Power Counts As A Renewable? Arizona Senate Committee Says So…

Who would ever consider nuclear power to be a “renewable” means of power generation?

Well, the Arizona Senate Committee on Water and Energy, for one — there might be someone else, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other person or entity….

Arizona

The aforementioned bill that the Senate Committee on Water and Energy just passed (narrowly) is SB 1134 — a bill classifying “nuclear energy from sources fueled by uranium fuel rods that include 80% or more of recycled nuclear fuel, and natural thorium reactor resources under development” as renewable energy sources.

The approval is especially funny considering the fact that Arizona is fast approaching some serious water-sourcing issues, and nuclear power plants require huge quantities of water in order to function.

Someplace like coastal Texas or California, you could kind of understand (despite the other issues with nuclear — such as very long-lived, hard to clean up pollution), but Arizona? Right in the middle of a desert, and almost completely reliant on just a few small river systems and fossil groundwater laid down during the last ice age? Hmm…

Regardless of the water issues, though, how does one go about classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source anyway?

This difficulty in conceptualizing nuclear power as a renewable power source was actually shared by many of the senators on the committee, though — which is why the bill passed by only one vote. One vote — that right there sums up one of the primary issues with democracy (to my eyes). All that it takes is a one-vote disparity to discount the opinions of the losing half of a near 50–50 split…


 

As far as the senators’ comments, here you go (Phoenix New Times):

Senator Lynne Pancrazi said she considers nuclear an “alternative energy,” but “can’t agree that nuclear is renewable;” Senator David Bradley said he “(appreciates) the fact that technology is allowing us to use rods a few times, but that doesn’t make it a renewable;” and Senator Sylvia Allen said they could argue back and forth about the definitions of renewable and recyclable, but that it isn’t the point of the bill.”

The senator behind the bill, Senator Steve Smith, didn’t really address these issues, having merely stated (while referencing “recycling” fuel rods): “Basically we just want to burn that energy twice.”

“Burn the energy twice” doesn’t sound to me like someone talking about a renewable energy resource. Perhaps that’s just me, though.

While the bill was passed by the committee, it still has to make its way through: the rules committee, the Senate, and the House of Representatives — which a similar bill last year was unable to do.

One last comment from the bill’s backer, Senator Smith, before ending this article: when asked about the differences between nuclear and renewables, he stated that when it comes to nuclear material, “we have so much that can be reused that it’s almost renewable.”

What? Do the bill’s supporters/backers really not have a better argument than that?

Image Credit: Public Domain

 
 
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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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