John McCain has called for forty-five new nuclear power plants by 2030 (when he will be ninety four years old) and made a strong pitch for the safety of such plants, while using the argument that they are being built in Europe, Russia, China, everywhere else and (to use the language of Dr. Strangelove, "we cannot afford a nuclear power plant gap").
Now, let me say that I am not ready to dismiss nuclear power out of hand. A case can be made for it as part of an overall energy policy, assuming that the kinds of safeguards that exist, from my readings, in France and some other countries (which corporations never really established here) are put in place. But given our declining infrastructure, it is very unlikely that companies given carte blanche by a McCain administration would establish such safeguards. Also, as environmentalists contend, nuclear power is both too expensive and potentially too dangerous. It is not only environmentalist opposition and memories of Three Mile Island (which unfortunately have long faded) which explain why no new nuclear power plants have been built in the U.S. in decades. As Daniel Weiss, of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a progressive policy group noted, "Wall Street won't invest in these plants because they are expensive and unreliable so Senator McCain wants to shower the nuclear industry with billions of dollars of taxpayer handouts."
Longterm nuclear power plant construction will , at least at the present time, do nothing to limit gas prices that are the result of both demand and the manipulation of supply by transnational oil companies and oil producing nations. And, we, if not McCain, should remember that nuclear power has always been very expensive for consumers. Power companies raise prices on the level of their investment and nuclear power for electricity has meant higher costs for both consumers who use directly the energy produced by such plants and often by consumers whose rates go up because of the investments of their service providers in nuclear power and the costs of maintaining nuclear installations (which companies pass on to consumers).
Instead of digging for more oil regardless of its environmental effects and building new nuclear power plants, which Bush and his new ideological soul mate McCain call for, both through huge subsidies to big private business, we have got to begin to think of a national energy policy with a large public sector and regulation of private companies in the public interest, meaning the interests of consumers and the environment. Both nationally and globally, we have got to remember and revive the S word, Socialism, if we are to seriously address an energy crisis which "free market" capitalist and anti-environmental corporate subsidies have made substantially worse over the last 35 years.