Short Term

I’ve got to wonder whether the people in charge of the planet (both the business and political rulers) have ever tried planning a route more than 3 inches from their face. Specifically, the Bush administration’s plan to build more nuclear plants to ease gasoline prices.

[U.S. Energy Production Breakdown Graph] From North America–The Energy Picture There are two (major) issues and one big question with the administration’s plans as I understand them: firstly, as of 2000, only 5% of the electrical power in the U.S. comes from oil, and uses “relatively little petroleum compared with the transportation and industrial sectors” (7.3% of total use in 1998), which means that even if every oil-fired power plant was shut down tomorrow, it would at best translate into a $0.15 decrease in gasoline prices.

The second issue is nuclear waste. Aside from the fact that nuclear waste as a substance is only slightly less evil than concentrated smallpox (since smallpox can reproduce), it is estimated that it will cost $40,000,000 to move the current nuclear waste from the 101 nuclear plants around the U.S. to the Yucca Mountain facility. This estimate, of course, was made pre-9/11, so doubling that cost just for added security is probably being conservative. Since it’s a DOE project, add about 50% for overruns and that brings the grand total up to $100bn just to move the nuclear waste we have right now. The way these guys are acting, it’s almost as though they’ve decided that the future of the American economy is just a quasi-militarized cleaning up of the messes that massive corporations have left behind.

The other part of Bush’s plan is to build refineries on old military bases. I wonder if he’ll push through the military environmental regulation exemptions he wanted to a couple years ago first, and then lease the land to Bechtel & friends, sans those pesky environmental regulations.

But, of course, it’s also possible that Bush’s energy “plans” will turn out roughly the same way his “Mars, Bitches!” plans did: more pie-in-the-sky distractions for the continuing downward spiral of a dying empire. For example: no mainstream (i.e. non-financial-oriented) news organizations are talking about the fact that the balance-of-payments problems are still wildly out of control and nothing is being done to fix them.