The fallacies of drilling or nuking our way out of our petroleum addiction have become quite evident, now that the hot air phase of the elections is over. The idea that we can solve the fuel problem by drilling new oil and gas wells off the coasts of the USA has a number of problems, primary of which is the simple fact of market economics (geeze - now I'm sounding like a free market Republican). If you've been paying any attention at all, you've certainly noticed that the price of gasoline at the pump is below $2 per gallon and still falling (dare I ask why we were paying over $4 per gallon a few months ago?), because the price of oil by the barrel has been in free-fall. The oil companies have suspended any thoughts of new drilling because - yep - the price of oil is too low to create the obscene profits they're used to, and want.
But wait, you say, isn't nukaler power the answer to our problems? It doesn't pollute, it's quiet, it's safe..... Well, one of the basic laws of ecology is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. In addition to safety and security issues, a major problem with nuclear power is the waste it generates, material that remains dangerous for a very, very long time. As discussed in a New York Times editorial today, there is still not a national repository for nuclear wastes, as ordered by Congress in the 1980's. "Tens of thousands of tons of spent fuel and military waste" are sitting around in temporary storage around the country waiting for the national repository to open. The Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada - the only one that has been pushed forward since the 1980's order - appears to be doomed by a combination of politics and technical issues. And oh, by the way, as designed, it is too small for the amount of waste that is now waiting for a place to go.
Using a controlled nuclear reaction to boil water for steam turbines has always seemed to me to be a bizarre and dangerous technology. Actually using a technology that generates extremely toxic waste that lasts for millennia, and deferring the decision to future generations about how to safely dispose of the waste is more than bizarre - it is simply irresponsible and immoral.
As citizens, we actually have some power here. When gasoline was over $4 per gallon, we drove our cars less, and also drove down the price of gasoline (supply and demand theory). Now that the price has fallen, let's not go back to our old ways, let's continue to use the gas guzzlers less. And the demand for electricity (i.e. more nukes)? Conservation has not been a part of the Cheney energy policy, but small to moderate increases in the amount of electricity each of us conserves, coupled with real conservation policies from the Obama administration, will literally speak truth to power.
It's up to us folks, and the time is now. Power to the People!