On the first of February, 2010, Dr. John A. Shanahan sent a letter regarding the future of American energy policy to Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and President Obama's Science Advisor. Attached to the letter were more than thirty pages of signatories—309 scientists, engineers and citizens from 22 countries and 36 US states. The purpose of the letter was to ask for a clarification of the Obama administration's stand on nuclear energy policy. Dr. Shanahan's conclusion: if anyone thinks that the current administration's nuclear policy solves America's energy problems, they have no idea what they are talking about.
The entire world in engaged in efforts to build a secure and ecologically sound energy future, yet the US government continues to dither over energy policy. With the exception of grandstanding sound bite events, like the announcement by President Obama that the Federal Government would offer secure loans to build the first new American nuclear power plant in the nearly four decades, nothing has been done to secure the future or craft a coherent US energy policy.
John Shanahan, a Denver-based civil engineer who has worked on numerous nuclear power plant projects, wrote a letter to President Obama's Science Advisor John Holdren about the administration’s support for nuclear energy. Shanahan met Holdren in California, forty years ago, and they had kept in touch since then. Frustrated with America's lack of progress on the energy front, John contacted a number of his nuclear friends, and they drew up a letter to the President's Science Advisor. This is how the letter starts:
Dear Dr. Holdren,
Peace on earth and preservation of the marvels of nature will not be achieved without a sound energy policy. This must include well-managed and well-governed thermal- and fast-neutron nuclear power, recycling spent fuels and depleted uranium. This was the goal of the founding scientists in the late 1940s and still is the best way to a reliable and secure energy future.
This letter is about American policy in a world that counts on American leadership. Although that leadership is vital if there is to be an orderly global deployment of nuclear technology, the United States has for a decade and a half left the evolution of nuclear-power technology largely to others, and consequently is being left behind. At present, 58 new nuclear plants (including two fast reactors, one in Russia and one in India) are under construction in 14 countries. Of these, 20 are in China, 9 in Russia, 6 each in India and South Korea. Only one is in North America, and that is resumption of work on a plant that was mothballed in 1988 when it was 80% finished. France has just announced a $7 billion commitment for a "sustainable development" program that includes promotion of fourth-generation nuclear reactors, three of which are fast-neutron reactors—a technology in which the United States was once the world leader...
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