The dangers of nuclear energy have been recognized since shortly after the Eisenhower administration, but the week’s events at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power station and the tremendous danger the meltdown posed to the population of Japan is now an all too real reference point. Whether that will be enough to derail the nuclear efforts currently imagined stateside remains in question. President Obama insists the nuclear efforts will continue, but with many Republicans pushing for more domestic oil production and nuclear proving more dangerous than imagined, keeping it on the agenda might be an uphill battle.
What could potentially be a loss for nuclear energy will be a gain for oil which, to compare energy to a boxing match, is the undefeated heavy-weight champ. Alternative energy had several good shots last year, with government and venture capitalists alike pouring major funds into everything from solar to wind, nuclear and more imaginative ideas for creating energy. Time and time again though, oil has won out. Green energy was supposed to create green jobs and many believed it would help wrench us out of the recession. After two years, the results were disappointing. People, venture capitals and Capitol Hill alike, have lost interest in the endeavor.
A top ranking official at the head of the Chamber of Commerce has begged that we look at the current energy reality, oil, rather than continue to allot funding into options, that like nuclear, have revealed cracks that need mending.
Oil wins again in Japan in another way. With the major nuclear plant shut down, the world’s third largest economy, which will likely require more energy than ever as it works to rebuild infrastructure destroyed in the natural disaster, will now have to rely more on oil. Coupled with the on-going conflict in the Middle East, it’s possible prices, which reached as much as $105 per barrel at recent highs, will climb even higher.
With the threat of the economy buckling beneath the added weight of these oil prices, will the government turn to producing more nuclear power, or will they submit to Republican demands for greater domestic oil production? There has been a consistent push toward more domestic oil, increasingly on both sides. The potential for guaranteed oil related jobs, the economic boost brought on by cheaper petroleum and the minimized reliance on an area that has proved itself ripe with political conflict are become more attractive by the day. Smaller, American oil companies with huge oil potential in areas like California and elsewhere all have the potential to the reap the benefits of the switch.
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