The Assemblyman begins with a fundamental questions for which he suggests that nuclear power is the appropriate answer.
How can working class Californians afford low-CO2 power without nuclear being in the mix? Solar is too expensive. Wind is periodic. Nuclear needs to be fully discussed. (emphasis mine).We could debate the impacts of his two assertions regarding Solar and Wind, but I want to suggest that he is not even asking the right question. While framing this as an issue for the "working class" may be politically expedient, it misses the ecological question, one that I believe to be the political question of the future. I would frame it in the following manner.
What steps should we take now to ensure that we leave a livable planet for our children unto the 7th generation?Winona LaDuke has long championed the idea of a 7th Generation Amendment and it from her writing that I gather this idea. LaDuke argued on the basis of that fundamental document of America, the Constitution.
The preamble to the US Constitution declares that one of its purposes is to secure "the blessings of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity." Shouldn't those blessings include air fit to breathe, water decent enough to drink and land as beautiful for our descendants as it was for our ancestors?This leads me to make a different set of assumptions than the good Assemblyman made.
- The rapid depletion of oil reserves (e.g. ANWR) will sacrifice the future for immediate political gain. It is in the best interest of all (and I mean internationally) to protect current reserves and to extend our ability to call on them as necessary for as long as we can.
- We are entering a time in which there are three competing uses for natural gas: nitrogen fertilizers for agriculture, the generation of electricity and the manufacture of plastics. We have the ability to affect all three of these if we had the will to do it.
- The need to expand our electric generation capability in the medium range is driven by the building sector. That uses 48% of total energy (pdf:p.8), much more than transportation. Focusing on transportation as the way to reduce our demand on fossil fuels misses the real target.
- It does not make sense to say that we have the technology to make nuclear safe but do not have the technologies to make our buildings more energy efficient or to revise agricultural practices to require less nitrogen. If there is a technological answer to a problem, then it is only a question of choosing where we demand that technological solution. I don't think that our government really believes in our ability to innovate new solutions.