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Krauthammer: 'Nuclear Energy Is Dead' After Japanese Crisis

Noel Sheppard's picture

It was likely not a surprise to "Inside Washington" viewers that most of the usual suspects on the panel Friday saw the crisis in Japan as not being good for the future of nuclear powered electrical plants in this country.

What certainly must have raised a couple of eyebrows though was the strongest opposition to any further construction of such facilities coming from lone conservative Charles Krauthammer (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I think nuclear is dead as a result of this. Look, if Three Mile Island which was a picnic compared with this – one reactor, human error, no health hazard outside of it – as opposed to four reactors, no human error, human heroism in fact, and it’s a disaster of ultimate proportions and in Japan which, you know. It’s not like Chernobyl’s shoddy Soviet construction and expertise. That’s the gold standard and it’s, it’s, it’s gonna, there’s going to be a problem that will take weeks and will leave a residue for years. The resurgence of nuclear energy is dead. We will keep the plants we have, we’re going to inspect them. Look, the Germans have taken seven of their seventeen offline. The Chinese who are kind of reckless environmentally have suspended all construction. It’s over for nuclear. It’s not going to recover.

COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: A resurgence, but the resurgence of interest in the idea. The prospect of bringing some nuclear plants online not very good anyway it’s beginning. Why? Because Wall Street has to come in and finance those, those power plants, and there was no interest at all on Wall Street in taking that kind of investment.

KRAUTHAMMER: That’s why Obama, the federal government under Obama and Bush were offering huge loan guarantees as a way to step in override the market and encourage this, but that’s not going to go on. I think its day is done.

As the Left and their media minions love citing conservatives when one of them says something they agree with, it seems a metaphysical certitude Krauthammer's comments will make the rounds in the coming days.

As that happens, we should hope that it is part of a greater discussion concerning what our energy policy should be without nuclear.

The Left and their press are already opposed to coal due to the dreaded carbon dioxide. Oil is hated for similar reasons and is already over $100 a barrel.

In deference to Al Gore and his moronic followers, wind and solar are not close to being able to meet this country's electric needs, and the possibility of getting a new hydroelectric plant built is slim because it might kill some fish.

We as a nation appear to be approaching a tipping point where environmental concerns are about to make it impossible for us to power as well as heat and cool our homes, offices, and factories.

With all due respect to Krauthammer who is indeed one of my favorite writers and commentators, are we really going to allow what might have been a once in lifetime confluence of historic natural disasters dictate our energy policy for the coming decades?

Isn't there instead a far more rational approach to this matter whereby existing plants along the coasts are upgraded to account for tsunamis, and new facilities are built within reasonable distances from fault lines as well as the oceans bordering our eastern and western flanks?

My learned conservative friend should be advised that these reactors survived a 9.0 magnitude quake and all the aftershocks including ones in excess of 7.0. The problem was caused by a tsunami, which is not something we'd have to concern ourselves with at plants 50 to 100 miles inland.

That fellow panelists King, PBS's Mark Shields, and NPR's Nina Totenberg expressed skepticism for nuclear's future was one thing. For Dr. Krauthammer to not only share in the hysteria but also advance it was unfortunate.

Let's hope Charles has a change of heart before he writes his next column or it could be him causing a journalistic tsunami by taking such an extreme view on this important issue.


#1 This article told me a lot

This article told me a lot more about Noel's bias than Krauthammer's. He didn't say whether he thought it was good or bad that nuclear was dead. He just stated that these events are going to kill its prospects, something that I agree with. Really, are any of you crazy enough to say that the events involving the nuclear reactors in Japan is actually helping the case of those who are for more nuclear energy? I'm actually in the more anti-nuclear energy category than Krauthammer is, but I'm not going to waste energy arguing the case in this environment because I know anyone on the fence about it up till now just got tilted over into the no category for the next few years. That isn't to say we shouldn't turn this into a great big discussion on U.S. energy policy. But we have to get the discussion away from the MSM. It would be good as a great topic of discussion for those upcoming presidential hopefuls.

#2 Bias is a loaded word.

I don't think either Noel or Krauthammer are "biased."

I think they both stated their opinions, which happen to be different.

#3 We are all biased, the trick

We are all biased, the trick is to look past our biases.
Nuke em til they glow; then shoot em in the dark

#4 Well, since I'm a mature and

Well, since I'm a mature and grown adult, I can comprehend the idea that a tragic car accident doesn't necessarily mean we should put an end to all driving of automobiles. See, some of us are evolved enough to understand how the world works and not take a drastically alarmist position on every little thing (i.e. Bull Moose Prog and Dr. Krauthammer). I'm still in favor of nuclear energy in the United State of America. And, as far as Krauthammer is concerned, we all love him so much that we don't actually keep a running tally of his prognostic errors. How many times over the past couple of years has Dr. K boldly presumed something with the air of certitude and been dead wrong?

#5 I agree with Dr. K

As I posted somewheres around here earlier this week, the anti-economic-growth crowd (and let's be honest here, as that is exactly what is behind all this) is going to exploit the events in Japan to the hilt, and get all of the mileage out of it they possibly can.

The government-educated dumbMass sheeple will fall for it as they always do, and none of us will live long enough to see another nuclear power plant built anywhere in America.

And it won't matter one bit if the electrical rates triple, or even quadruple.


Vote for the American in November

#6 I'm with you, Dave. The

I'm with you, Dave.

The enviro-wackos are positively giddy over this. Politically speaking; I won't accuse anyone of being indifferent to loss of life.

We'll start to her that if  there's even the remotest possibility that one of our nuclear reactors, somewhere, might be hit by a 100-year earthquake, then we shouldn't build them, period.

I can't wait to see what they "find" when they inspect our current plants.

#7 mb, The enviro-Luddites have had this country by the...

...proverbial short hairs for well over three decades now. 

When is the last time a nuclear power plant was built here? Or an oil refinery?

And I really hate to say it, but even with the wide availability of information today, particularly via the Internet, I actually believe we are a more ignorant nation than even thirty years ago.

Just look what happened in November of 2008. Do you think someone as mysterious as Obama would have been elected POTUS back then?

I don't. Not even if he was lily-white.

As for their "concern" for the loss of life, I am guessing they are in the same small minority as those "environmentalists" that express concern for the environment.

Most are doing it for other reasons, and those reasons are centered around stifling economic growth - not out of concern for human life or the environment, but for power and control.


Vote for the American in November

#8 Run the numbers. The US

Run the numbers. The US currently gets about 20% of it's power from nuclear. Divide that out to 50 states and it means about 15 states get power from nuclear. (I'm no math whiz, I'm sure some of you out there can be more precise) If (as Krauty says) 'nuclear is dead', then that means the government is going to have to tell 15 states in the country that they're going to have to go back to the dark ages and live without electricity.

They can build all the wind farms they want. The math says it's impossible. Even after years of liberal pimping wind and solar, the country barely gets like 4-5% of its power from these unreliable sources. And their performance is poor - they still have to stay connected to nuclear/coal power plants on cloudy days and days when there isn't much wind. 'Bio fuels' are even less advanced. The government's disastrous attempt to go to ethanol did nothing but plunge the entire world into a food crisis by raising the price of corn. Ethanol has proved to be an unviable dud. So - shut off the nuclear plants and .... what then?

Even with the 5% of the power from wind/solar/bio that still leaves at least 10 out of 50 states completely without power. And in this age when everyone is used to having juice for their computers, iphones and whatnot, the people will NOT tolerate 'rolling blackouts'. They'll throw anyone and everyone out of office who tries to institute such a policy. Cries to 'do it for beloved mother Gaea' will not count for beans when people get cold in winter and want some heat. Nor will the internet crowd tolerate any official who tries to take away their mobile access. They'll cut off the political head of anyone who tries - even their beloved 'sort of god', Obama.

So - if nuke is 'finished', what then? There will only be two options. 'Drill baby drill!' (oil) or 'mine baby, mine!' (coal). Suddenly Palin's ideas sound pretty smart, huh?

If a Liberal/Democrat politician/media figure wants to put their arms around you, or pat you on the back, all they're doing is looking for a good place to stick a knife.

#9 There are two more options

There are two more options which liberals will push with increasing insanity and a third they won't consider.

1) conservation and magical energy efficiency standards (we know we can't conserve to energy self sufficiency) and

2) De-industrialization as promoted by Hansen, the recession made a good start.

3) population reduction? Electric consumption growth is proportional to population growth. Liberals know what needs to be done there but they are too invested in vote buying to send the illegals packing.

#10 Oddly enough...

The People's Republic of Vermont gets about 70% of its electricity from nukes.  This according to some information I saw on CNBC on Thursday.  I wonder if the Socialists who live there are aware of that nasty fact?

"CONSUMED DEMOCRACY RETURNS A SOCIALIST REGIME" - Slayer, "Fictional Reality", from Divine Intervention (1994)

#11 The Reality of Nuclear Power

There has been way too much hysteria and not enougfh reality. Yes the potential risks involved with Nuclear Energy are huge but so are any modern petro-chemical operations. It was not that many years ago that Union Carbide had an incident in India where many were killed. When we build nuclear reactors we are trying to tame a very unruly dragon. We have kept this particular dragon under control for very many years but as the crisis in Japan has shown that when this dragon is set free it is very difficult to get him back under control. What is needed is a real world risk assesment. Would we be better served without Nuclear Power? Would smaller mini plants be a safer alternative? How about direct convesion as in Nuclear Batteries? I come from Nuclear Powered subs but the size of the reactors used by the Navy are miniscule compared to the reactors in power plants and there is the real problem. The potential risks are huge. What is needed is a little time, distance and reflection. We need energy and nuclear power is a very real source of vasts amounts of it. What is needed is a way to extract that energy without subjecting the population to such devastating risks, no matter how remote. Remember there was no design failure except that no one thought such a devastating earthquake and resulting tidal wave were even possible. This points out why, when working with systems where failure of that system can kill we must design it in such a way that it will always fail in a safe condition even if it means deliberatly sacrificing the reactor and containment structures.

#12 Dr. K is right, but what we should have learned is... that these plants are safe. If you built plants like the ones in Japan in the middle of the U. S., say Kansas, there shouldn't be a problem at all. If a tsunami hits Kansas then it is the beginning of the end of the world.

#13 Krauthammer on nuclear power

It is rather rare to have a high profile no nonsense major media reporter and rarer still to witness a more balanced report actually broadcast, but watch as WGN-TV's Dina Bair actually interviews a genuine nuclear expert who puts some perspective on the Japanese situation and some cold water on Mr. Krauthammer's willingness to throw in the towel on nuclear power. deadeyedan

#14 When Krauthammer is good,

When Krauthammer is good, he's good. But all too often he's the first person to declare the end is nigh and we should all head for the hills. He's also beholden to GOP party insiders who many Conservatives like myself can't stand. (Because they can't find enough ways to reach across to Democrats).

#15 Agreed, Krauthammer seems to be way too

fatalistic lately. What happened to Obama's magical powers of triangulation that he predicted would emerge? He's proven himself to be more partisan than ever with his joke of a budget and his support of the teachers' unions.
"Liberalism is hideous.  It is the antithesis of being pro-human.  It looks at life as a burden in and of itself to be managed, rather than as a blessing to be explored and lived to the fullest." --Rush Limbaugh

#16 Cooler heads will prevail

Ironically, Noel is more correct on this than Krauthammer. The Japanese reactors took a licking and kept on ticking, until the Tsunami hit. Water, traveling at that speed, is very difficult to defense against. If nothing else, I'm sure we'll take a good look at nuclear facilities, close to the ocean, and try and figure if they're likely to get hit by a Tsunami. Ironcially, in Japan, that was a huge possibility, given their history, then again, a 30 footer is still unusual. It will be fun to watch the House and Senate hearings on Nuclear Power Safety, which you just know are going to come up. Will there be a built-in bias between the Democrats and Republicans in their approach to the hearings?
Vote Republican - Then you'll only be called a racist one more time.

#17 Might as well

bury the plans to make a nuke plant and then when civilization has to start over the plans will have survived the great dark ages.  The people who survived will have the found technology and it does not have to be reinvented as no one would know how to make one. 

#18 Where Is The Love, My San Francisco Brutha?

No hat tip Noel?  Scooped you by about seven hours.  Where is the love?

Hammer Hits Thumb

Also, going to disagree with you on how the three other panelists opined about nuclear power as compared to Dr. No.

  • Colby King:  "No, this is not going to stop what we're doing with nuclear power..."
  • Nina Totenberg:  "It would be irresponsible not to pause a moment and review... what we're doing, and make sure we're up to snuff enough as we can be."
  • Mark Shields:  "On the ropes...a mandatory eight count, and perhaps even two eight counts.  Nuclear industry has always been the problem.  I mean every presidential debate we go to Yucca Flats in Nevada and argue what are we going to do with the nuclear waste, and that becomes the question.  And so we've never decided what we're going to do about nuclear waste in this country.  But, given the seriousness and the gravity of the problem with energy and the Middle East and oil and the price there was an opening for nuclear energy and that is closing fast from Japan.

Positivity definitely ratcheted downward as opinions emanated sequentially from Eeny to Meeny then Miney and finally Moe.  But, the three other panelists did not call nuclear energy dead like sour Kraut.

#19 Krauthammer and Mark Shields

Mark Shields is my all time favorite poster boy for liberalism. Here he brings up the onerous "debate" about Yucca Flats yet never (like all his lefty colleagues) wonders whatever in the world France does with its waste despite getting 80% of its electricity from nuclear. Did it ever occur to these guys to just ask the French if we could dump ours where they do? "Oh, no", cried the Democratic Congress a couple of years ago. They stopped funding a special program at Argonne National Laboratory which would have enabled a manner of recycling nuclear waste, a way of re-enriching it, that the French actually use. There was never a good reason to "store" it anywhere. Liberalism; government of the people, by the theories and for the ideologists - deadeyedan

#20 Krauty and the Moderator

Krauty and the Moderator briefly touched on France's handling of spent fuel. Hammer said we don't want to make it into plutonium because that would increase the amount available (for misadventure, I surmise). My impression was not only that Kruathammer see's the Left crushing nuclear power but that he, Charles, is all for crushing nuclear power as well. A little too passionate in his speech IMO.

Charles has had three big errors in the past 3 years:

  1. Obama is da Man.
  2. Sarah Palin is a joke.
  3. Nuclear power is dead.

Dr. K. needs a vacation to clear the mental processes.

#21 Not only that...

...but France has no place to put the waste it cannot reprocess.  Interestingly, all of that sort of waste can fit into a hall closet, even after 35 years of intensive nuclear operations.  But anyways...only two nations in the world have facilities for the long term storage of nuclear waste.  Those would be the United States and Finland. 

"CONSUMED DEMOCRACY RETURNS A SOCIALIST REGIME" - Slayer, "Fictional Reality", from Divine Intervention (1994)

#22 Thanks for reminding me,

Thanks for reminding me, Unsane.  Mark Shields explicitly said "Yucca flats" instead of "Yucca mountain", the actual federally designated/legal location for storage of nuclear waste.  The flats were used for nuclear explosion testing IIRC.

A significant distinction which should garner as much ridicule coming from the expert panelist Shields as what happened with Bachmann's Revolutionary War era gaffe.

#23 if we can go to the moon....

If Charles is merely talking about the politics of nuclear that's one thing but if he means the nuclear plants themselves I totally disagree. Nuclear power plants are a thing created by engineers. If that thing is deficient then it's an engineering problem to be solved. That will take nuclear engineers and not us peons or tv pundits to come up with a satisfactory answer. A future without enough power will kill more and impoverish more than all the nuclear accidents there have been since nuclear power was first turned on.

#24 Who are they kidding? All

Who are they kidding? All forms of viable energy production were dead before the earthquake. No oil. No shale. No coal. No natural gas. No nuclear. No sht. It's SNAFU and you can't blame the Japanese for that. It ain't a popularity contest. The Fed's under Odumbass didn't allow it before and they won't allow it now.

#25 That's what I'm wondering

Charles is a little late to the party. For all intents and purposes, nuclear has been dead in this country for 30 years.

#26 This is too bad, because

This is too bad, because nuclear power is a very good, reliable energy source.
The Rocky Mountain Collegian: Illustrating Idiocy

#27 Hey Noel. You missed Krauthammer's Point

CK was just stating his opinion on the long term impact of the events in Japan. I respect CK because he's such a clear eyed observer of what's going on, and he has a wonderful knack for seeing where today's events are taking us. He thinks Japan's nuclear disaster, which was caused by nature, not human or technical failure, is the death knell for nuclear powered electricity in America, in very large part because we're watching it play out in horrific and terrifying detail day in day out on TV. Just as the Hindenburg crash, and the spectacular film footage we've all seen, killed the use of large dirigibles for travel and transport, the Japan tsunami and the "crash" of those nuclear power plants will kill any hope of expanding nuclear power in the United States. That's not a statement "For' or "Against" nuclear power. It's only his view of its dim future, and I think he's right. I've always supported use of nuclear power, but after what's happened in Japan, I don't think I will be buying any of its stock.

#28 The nuclear stance of CK

is as radical and extreme as his stance on Palin. Like Palin, nuclear power is here to stay.

Some will ignore it, others will blatantly wish it away absent opposition qualified by alternative solution. This piece is right on the money , it wasn't the quake itself, but rather the water that did the damage causing so many problems.

To be sure, the entire world should learn lessons from what happened in Japan. We did so after TMI and we did so again as a result of Chernobyl. Heck, we are still learning from Chernobyl.

I propose that rather than endlessly slam Nuclear power, this happening in Japan should be employed as a means of impressing upon Iran why it is that nuclear activities must have international partnerships involved.

Nuclear bombs are not a game but neither is nuclear energy. I submit that the world should use what has happened in Japan as a means of learning rather than a political football.

That an individual right exists requires that some policy positions be removed from the table of debate.

#29 Krauthammer is not a

Krauthammer is not a conservative in any meaningful sense. At best, he is an old school, cold war liberal. A thoughtful guy, who is worth reading and listening to--not a conservative.

#30 If you want to defend against

If you want to defend against tsunamis, fine. But you also have to defend against terrorists and acts of war. Is that really feasible?

#31 Nuclear powered electrical

Nuclear powered electrical energy is not dead in France.

80% of it's power is generated from Nuclear power plants. It's not going anywhere Charles.

That comment reminds me of the old joke of the British Empire and insularity. "Fog in the English Channel. Continent cut off."

CHINA uses FRENCH designed and built nuclear power plants. 

And they are plowing ahead. They're not stopping because of US public opinion. They want cheap, plentiful nuclear generated POWER. If you rthink they're manufacturing is unfair NOW, wait till the Greenies make it so expensive in the US, it will be cheaper to import from Mexico and Canada.

CHINA HAS 27 --- THAT'S TWENTY SEVEN nuke power plants currently under construction.

Yet once again the most innovative, competitive country the world had ever seen is bent on a suicide mission to go backwards.

A country that used to LEAD the world in technological progress now decides its future based on  TV images.

All of the above Mr Obama? --- How about ALL OF THE BELOW, instead.

#32 One more thing...

...and China, unlike France, is very seismically active. 

"CONSUMED DEMOCRACY RETURNS A SOCIALIST REGIME" - Slayer, "Fictional Reality", from Divine Intervention (1994)

#33 nuke power

I think nuclear power will always be a part of the energy mix until wind and solar become a feasible alternative. Sorry Charlie. Just because it's perceived as dangerous doesn't mean it isn't needed. Future safety improvements are always possible too.

#34 Krathammer Is a Beltway Insider

Like many "conservative" pundits in the DC area, Charles wants to be invited to all the Beltway cocktail parties and many of the best ones are thrown by Democrats. Krathammer, Will, Frum, etc. are bought and paid for by the liberal media. They can't stray too far off the reservation.

#35 I was right.

I've been predicting Krauthammer would increasingly come to love the taste of beltway koolaid and continue to go from being conservative-sounding to liberal, and this proves me right.
---- Let us all eviscerate the trolls and fill their carcasses with bile and venom.
Visions and Principles blog

#36 Huh?

The earthquake in Japan was one of the biggest ever recorded and the Tsunami that followed was huge. This is like saying airlines are dead because of a plane crash. Stupid statement but he has made mistakes before.

#37 No deaths, No injuries to civilians in sJapan from Nukes

No reports of injuries, sickness or death to the populace from the Japanese nukes. .... Sure, the 50 plant workers initially doing repair are at some risk (typical of major industrial accidents). But the measures taken prevented injuries to those outside the plant. No reports of radiation exposure to civilians. ...... ..... The only reports are too much I-131 for infants in Tokyo's water (twice the allowable level for infants under 12 months). . I-131 loses half its radioactivity every EIGHT DAYS (half life). ...... ......... Something like 20,000 people died in this incident. All from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. .... ..... ....Perhaps nuke plants cause earthquakes. ...... ...... ...

#38 Now the inconvenient truth

Now the inconvenient truth revealed by Fukushima:

“Among about 100,000 A-bomb survivors registered at Nagasaki University School of Medicine, male subjects exposed to 31-40 cGy [centigrays] showed significantly lower mortality from non-cancerous diseases than age-matched unexposed males,” the researchers found. “And the death rate for exposed male and female was smaller than that for unexposed.” The 31-40 cGy is a measure of radiation absorption higher than the general population in the vicinity of the plants is likely to have received.

What we are witnessing is the death of the liberal myth that all radiation is bad. The only bad radiation is Acute, if radiation doesn't kill you immediately it turns out that it prolongs your life. Kind of like fire, get too close and your dead, in the cold it keeps you alive. You gotta love the irony of nature.

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