Although former US Vice President Joe Biden’s just-released plan for dealing with climate change includes plenty of compromises with Greens from the left wing of his Democratic Party, the really good news is that he did not cave on nuclear power.
Yes, his $2 trillion plan envisions enormous investments in renewable wind and solar energy. However, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president seems to have heeded prophets such as Bill Gates and Jonathan Tennenbaum, who argue persuasively that renewables simply will not be enough to replace carbon-polluting coal, oil and gas.
If Biden is elected, his plan says, his initiative will “target affordable, game-changing technologies to help America achieve our 100% clean energy target.” Included here are “small modular nuclear reactors at half the construction cost of today’s reactors.”
Biden’s people worked within a task force seeking compromise between his followers and people aligned with leftist Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist who himself tried for the Democratic nomination. Sanders long has been identified as an opponent of nuclear power, considering it too dangerous.
The outcome: In a section headed “Identify the future of nuclear energy,” the Biden plan says Americans “must look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies. That’s why Biden will support a research agenda … to look at issues, ranging from cost to safety to waste disposal systems, that remain an ongoing challenge with nuclear power today.”
The far left’s favored term for a movement against climate change appears only once in the entire report where it says, perfunctorily, “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we meet.”
Instead of “Green,” a loaded term that tends to signify a position on the political spectrum, the Biden plan’s emphasis is on achieving “clean” energy. That matter-of-fact, non-political term appears over and over, countless times throughout the pages of the plan. For example:
“The Trump administration is allowing America to fall behind in the clean energy race for the future,” the plans says. “The Biden administration will put the United States back in the driver’s seat, making America the world’s leader in clean energy research, investment, commercialization, manufacturing and exports.”
So imagine Biden gets elected and Congress supports his plan – and then the vastly expensive renewables portion of the plan hits the sort of roadblocks predicted by Robert Bryce, a contributor to Forbes magazine:
“Biden’s decarbonization plan calls for the deployment of ‘millions of solar panels – including utility-scale, rooftop, and community solar systems – and tens of thousands of wind turbines.’ Siting that much new renewable capacity will require covering vast swaths of land with new infrastructure at the same time that politicians and landowners from California to Vermont are fighting against the encroachment of large-scale renewable energy projects.”
No huge problem, really. Since his attack on the problem has been visualized as broad-gauged, a President Biden shouldn’t find it too difficult to divert unspendable funds tagged for renewables to cheap, safe, advanced nuclear solutions – of the sort that Jonathan Tennenbaum has described in the pages of Asia Times for the past year.
But of course any American who agrees with the current president that climate change is a hoax is free to vote for Donald Trump. Trump accused Biden of launching a “hard-left crusade against American energy” and pushing a platform “that would demolish the US economy.”
“He wants no oil and gas,” Trump said as he criticized Biden’s plan to reduce carbon emissions.