Proposed NAP platform: CEASE ISSUING LICENSES FOR NEW FOSSIL FUEL POWER PLANTS
The NAP should immediately ban the licensure for construction of new electric power plants powered by fossil fuels — coal, oil, or natural gas. Power companies must turn to nuclear power or alternative energy sources for all new power plants. Additionally, beginning ten years after that ban goes into effect, the NAP should ban all license extensions for existing fossil fuel power plants; when a plant reaches the end of its planned life, it must be decommissioned. Extending the life of existing fossil fuel power plants indefinitely will not be an option.
The reasons for this platform are as follows:
1) Fossil fuels must necessarily become scarcer over time, eventually becoming prohibitively expensive to use for such mundane tasks as generating electricity. As shortages become more acute, having 857,000 megawatts of fossil fueled generating capacity (as the US does today — ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_electricity_production) will appear shortsighted indeed. The phase-out of fossil fuel use for generating electricity should begin as soon as possible to minimize fuel supply issues in the future.
2) Fossil fueled power plants are, by far, the worst environmental polluters among the various types of power plants in common use. “Clean coal” is only clean compared to regular coal-fired plants; it’s filthy compared to any responsible energy source. Natural gas is comparatively clean but still pollutes far more than nuclear power.
3) These power plants require the mining of fossil fuels — thereby contributing to global climate change. If global climate change is to be curtailed, all fossil fuel power plants must be decommissioned. It would cost more than 5 trillion dollars to replace all of these plants immediately, but by banning new construction now we can phase them out as they get old and need replacement at minimal cost to taxpayers or utility customers.
4) By competing for the limited worldwide supply of petroleum, oil-fired power plants increase the cost of oil for all consumers — including gasoline and diesel fuels for cars and trucks as well as for tractors and construction equipment.
5) The reduction in use of oil will also greatly reduce our dependence on foreign countries hostile to American interests, along with all the strife that entails. Eventually we might get to the point where we no longer need to pander to these countries to stay on trading terms.
It’s worth noting that, looking at construction costs alone, fossil fuel power plants are the cheapest things available. Nuclear plants, for example, cost considerably more to construct but then save in the long run because the fuel cost is negligible. Hence, utility companies are faced with the decision to save money in the short term or plan more wisely for the long term — and as we all know, many corporate executives will choose to maximize profits in the short term just to line their own pockets before they retire and turn the whole mess over to a successor. This ban would remove the decision from them; they will have to plan more responsibly from now on.