Your morning jolt: ‘Not time to shut down’ nuclear power, says Phil Gingrey

This week, Republicans in Washington were prepared to highlight the need for more nuclear energy in the United States.

Given the events still unfolding in Japan, they intend to stick with the topic. But the tone will be different. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Marietta Republican and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was on Fox News on Sunday, cautioning against overreaction:

Said Gingrey:

”I think we should go forward. This nuclear reactor withstood a 9.1 Richter scale earthquake and a tsunami, and although there was a hydrogen explosion in the outer containment, the inner containment building is secure. Of course, it remains to be seen – we’ve got to watch this evolve….

“But this is not the time for us to shut down our ability to generate nuclear power. We’re only doing 20 percent. We probably need to be doing 30 percent.

The situation has indeed evolved. A Japanese official is now saying that fuel rods were exposed at one plant. The fallout in the U.S. – no pun intended – could be severe. From this morning’s New York Times:

The fragile bipartisan consensus that nuclear power offers a big piece of the answer to America’s energy and global warming challenges may have evaporated as quickly as confidence in Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors….

“I think it calls on us here in the U.S., naturally, not to stop building nuclear power plants but to put the brakes on right now until we understand the ramifications of what’s happened in Japan,” Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut and one of the Senate’s leading voices on energy, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

My AJC blogging colleague Jamie Dupree this morning writes of dashed GOP plans:

“We want to find out why it takes so long to go from start to finish on a new nuclear reactor,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), who touted hearings this week with members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission….

[I]nstead of a Wednesday hearing that will focus on ways to get things moving in the U.S. on nuclear energy, look for critics of nuclear energy to be raising concerns about it, while backers will be on the defensive.

The matter is by no means an academic argument in Georgia. Last year, President Barack Obama offered $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur construction of a new nuclear power plant – the first one in the U.S. in 30 years – in east Georgia.

***
Republicans in Georgia’s 159 counties held organizational conventions on Saturday – another step toward the party’s May state convention in Macon. State chairman candidate Tricia Pridemore arrived at the Cobb gathering via helicopter, with Gov. Nathan Deal to escort her – a sign that there’s a great deal of money being spent in this campaign.

The Pridemore campaign quickly noted that state aircraft wasn’t involved. She used the craft to fly to the GOP gathering in Hall County as well, said campaign spokesman Edens Davis.

***
This morning’s Marietta Daily Journal notes that many topics were mentioned at the Cobb GOP gathering. But county’s Tuesday sales tax vote appeared to be off-limits:

The SPLOST has so divided a county that prides itself on being a conservative bastion, that speakers at Saturday’s county Republican Party stuck to more unifying topics being debated in Washington, D.C., like the budget, health care and President Barack Obama, rather than mention the hot button issue in their backyard .

Proponents and opponents both held rallies, hours apart, at the Marietta Square on Sunday. Former Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr served as the voice of those against the tax. Former state senator Chuck Clay was among those who spoke in favor.

***
The Fulton County Republican Party sends the following results of a presidential straw poll taken at its convention:

– Newt Gingrich: 25.1%

– Mitt Romney: 17.1%

– Herman Cain: 15.6%

– Ron Paul: 6%

– Mike Huckabee: 6%

– Mitch Daniels: 5.5%

– Haley Barbour: 5.5%

– Tim Pawlenty: 5.5%

– Donald Trump: 2%

– Michele Bachman: 2%

The real surprise was that former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin received the support of just .5 percent of attendees.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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36 comments Add your comment

Tom

March 14th, 2011
9:30 am

There will be an attempt to attach Sunday sales as an amendment to SB150 (distilled spirits at golf courses), UNLESS the Senate’s League of Cowards prevents any amendments!

CALL YOUR SENATOR! ALLOW THE AMENDMENT AND A FLOOR VOTE!!

Tom

March 14th, 2011
9:36 am

Also, the Paulding GOP Convention adopted a resolution in FAVOR of the pending Sunday sales legislation. Hear that, Bill Heath?

SpaceyG on Twitter

March 14th, 2011
9:39 am

Georgia Power is sending all their 70 lobbyists to Japan to help boost, er, morale. Better yet, as an offering to the nuclear power gods.

MiltonMan

March 14th, 2011
9:45 am

France uses Nuclear power for 80% of its electrical requirements and 0 issues. How come no one is mentioning this?

Jack Smith

March 14th, 2011
9:45 am

As always, the problem with nuclear energy is that it is nuclear.

SpaceyG on Twitter

March 14th, 2011
9:48 am

Here’s a fun little online exercise where you can plug in your zip code and see what nuclear reactors’ fallout range (of 200 miles) you’re within. But lemme just let you know now Atlanta is within the 200 mile range of eight reactors. Eight.
http://www.nukepills.com/nuclear-reactor-maps.htm

Intown

March 14th, 2011
9:52 am

Nuclear reactors are scary.

Engineer

March 14th, 2011
10:09 am

It is an overreaction. The majority of US nuclear power plants are well inland and far from earthquake and tsunami zones. What we are seeing happen in Japan is a perfect storm of worst-case scenarios. In today’s world with high prices on oil, and global tensions from energy problems, we need to tap and utilize all available sources for our energy needs.

Force

March 14th, 2011
10:10 am

“State chairman candidate Tricia Pridemore arrived at the Cobb gathering via helicopter,…”

Impressions matter. When people see this kind of thing it turns a lot of them off. Not smart to reinforce the perception of the haughty, arrogant Republican just to save a few minutes travel time.

DannyX

March 14th, 2011
10:28 am

Newt Gingrich
Mitt Romney
Herman Cain
Ron Paul
Mike Huckabee
Mitch Daniels
Haley Barbour
Tim Pawlenty
Donald Trump
Michele Bachman
Sarah Palin
—————–

Scary.

AMB

March 14th, 2011
10:46 am

Maybe if the GA GOP had concentrated on real problems like traffic congestion instead of social issues, their leaders wouldn’t have to ride in helicopters to reach campaign events.

Last Man Standing

March 14th, 2011
10:47 am

Nuclear energy offers the only viable means of producing sufficient, clean energy. The tragic event in Japan supplies readers, listeners and viewers with words such as “exposed” and “radiation release” without truly explaining the incidents. There has been no significant radiation release from any of Japan’s nuclear facilities. The technology has advanced to the state that containment is a reality rather than a hope.

The various news reporting mechanisms, whether print or broadcast, are engaging in the practice of reader/viewer/listener containment. Their reports are designed to keep people’s attention focused on the news source of their choice. Perhaps the writers and talking heads don’t really know what they are doing. The cynical side of me tells me they are self-serving.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

March 14th, 2011
10:50 am

I see the Southern Company lobbyists wasted no time beating down the down to Mr. Gingrey’s offices.

Ya gotta hand it to those utilities, they have the slickest – and most behind the scenes – lobbyists in the business.

Roekest

March 14th, 2011
10:51 am

Americans are too easily gun-shy. How many years have the Japanese reactors existed with no problems? Now, one earthquake rattles (no pun-intended) the nerves of Americans who know a boost in our reactor numbers is the logical thing to do. Simple solution folks: don’t build our reactors in California. They can power their state with pot and hippie-love.

What about solar and wind

March 14th, 2011
10:54 am

If you want nuclear energy, then make sure the plants are built in your community.

RetiredSoldier

March 14th, 2011
10:55 am

Obama
Obama
Obama
Obama

Scarier

pot meet kettle

March 14th, 2011
11:14 am

Herman Cain is a black man.
If you called him scary, then you must be a racist.

pot meet kettle

March 14th, 2011
11:16 am

2nd note, if any of you baptists decide to help the people in Japan (and all sarcasm aside, you should) remember, that the Japanese allow children to drink sake, and they sell it on Sunday.

HUH!?!?!

March 14th, 2011
11:21 am

People thinking like Retired Soldier….

even more scarier!!!!!!

joe

March 14th, 2011
11:44 am

DannyX = racist / hater

GaBlue

March 14th, 2011
11:48 am

The lobbyists who spend the most purchasing their legislators win. Did Dr. Gingrey mention how the people of Georgia are being forced (via using electricity in their homes) to become investors for Georgia Power’s newest nuclear plant they’re building? (I’m guessing he didn’t comment on that.) So much for keeping gubmint out of the private sector. The “private sector” uses government to force citizens to PAY UP FRONT for something for which we will NEVER see a return on our investment, let alone get our investment back. Why can’t they go to the [ever failing] Georgia BANKS for investment capital? Heh.. because they don’t need to, that’s why. You’ll pay to build it, and if you live long enough to receive power generated there, you’ll pay out the azz for that, too. Grandma? She’s not getting *bleep* outta that deal. But hey, *bleep* Grandma, right?

Ask not whom Dr. Gingrey and the Georgia legislators represent: it ain’t you.

Engineer

March 14th, 2011
11:50 am

@ “What about solar and wind”: I grew up and lived about 40 miles from Plant Hatch (for those unfamiliar, Plant Hatch is near Baxley, GA on the Altamaha River) and would have no problem if another plant was built in southeast Georgia, or pretty much anywhere else in Georgia for that matter.

In regards to solar and wind power, while they offer some promise, neither are cost effective. Perhaps with future innovations, they will become more cost effective, but as it stands, nuclear power is our current best option for clean energy.

Dirty Dawg

March 14th, 2011
11:57 am

The thing about Gingrey, and indeed any politician around here that’ll compromise whatever passes for his/her principles depending on which way the ‘legalized’ bribery scam we’ve got running our government tells them to, compared to Japanese officials, is that in Japan if these folks take a risky position on something, or manages to screw the pooch so bad as to result in a human and economic disaster – they commit hari-kari to atone for their shame. Now we know Gingrey, et. al., wouldn’t have the cajones for that, but what if we were to require him, or any of the other ‘bought and paid for’ pols, some sort of a ‘price to pay’ if something goes wrong, whataya bet they’d at least think twice – or more likely raise their ‘bribe price’? For example, what if we say to Gingrey, ‘OK, we’ll go along with you on this, but if there’s a nuclear accident anywhere in the US, you have to quit your job and give back all the money you’ve ever received in campaign contributions – even those that you’ve got stashed in overseas accounts…and if there’s a nuclear accident in Georgia that causes X-amount of economic disaster and/or loss of life, we crank up ‘Old Sparky’ for your a$$ – yeah I know we did away with Sparky, but in this case I’d vote to dust it off.

In other words, when there’s no ‘down-side’ for these jerks, you can bet that they’ll simply ‘go where the money sends them’.

Brainiac

March 14th, 2011
12:17 pm

Sounds like a lot of you know “Little or nothing” about nuclear plants and energy. We have never suffered an injury or death from any of our nuclear facilities. Some countries get almost ALL of their electricity needs from nuclear plants. For the uneducated “THE SKY AIN’T FALLING”, Japan suffered their worst earthquake ever(9.0) and the following aftershocks and tsunami has caused the majority of the damage,

Alabama Communist

March 14th, 2011
12:44 pm

LOL……..poor ole Phil, he is trying to defend Custer last stand once more!

Rman

March 14th, 2011
12:54 pm

Why would anyone let actual facts get in the way of populist fear-mongering. The first generation nuclear plant in Japan was designed in the 1960’s and built in the 1970’s. For as bad as it sounds, the actual containment facility has performed well beyond designed standards, and has yet to actually fail. The new third generation Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors slated for Vogtle are actually designed to be safely shut down and cooled in an emergency without having to rely on any electrical power whatsoever.

At 300 feet above mean sea level, Vogtle should be outside the envelope for any tsunami not generated by a planet-killer sized asteriod; which incidently would be the only force that could reasonably generate a 9.0 level earthquake in Georgia as well.

Besides, the world is going to end anyway in 2012, right?

GaBlue

March 14th, 2011
1:02 pm

Who’s guarding our nuclear facilities, anyway? Or are we all “safe” now that we take our shoes off and get pornographic body scans at the airport?

no more nuclear!

March 14th, 2011
1:29 pm

gingrey backs more nuclear power? If his family was exposed to radioactive waste from a meltdown like in japan, he wouldn’t be in favor. Nuclear energy is too dangerous and must be ended totally in the U.S., immediately before some big disaster happens like japan.

Engineer

March 14th, 2011
2:03 pm

@no more nuclear: In regards to your comment about a meltdown in Japan, as the radioactive material hasn’t eaten through the containment it is not a meltdown as of yet. I’m not saying it can’t happen, I’m just saying as of right now, the fuel is still in it’s container, so it isn’t technically a meltdown as of yet.

Last Man Standing

March 14th, 2011
3:35 pm

I can see now that there will be some disappointed people unless Japan vanishes in a mushroom cloud of radioactive dust.

Run for your lives! The fear mongers are loose and wandering around in our midst!

Cynthia Tucker McKinney

March 14th, 2011
5:28 pm

More folks have died riding around with The Swimmer, than have died in Nuke plants in our country. Carry on fear mongering libs. Carry on.

Diogenes

March 14th, 2011
9:39 pm

We need more data before decisions about what to do are made.

Money Talks

March 14th, 2011
10:56 pm

gingrey likely gets big campaign cash from nuclear lobbyists—no surprise what side he’s on.

Engineer

March 15th, 2011
8:13 am

@Money Talks: Or maybe Gingrey is actually putting thought into his decision and looking at the facts, rather than giving a knee-jerk reaction to fear mongering.

claytondawg

March 16th, 2011
11:41 am

Nuclear Power has been a very stable system for electricity. Keep, continue, and increase its use. We’re headed for disaster with our dependency on foreign oil.