Recently, we had a pretty lively discussion on the prospects of nuclear energy on the Facebook fan page (Haynesville Facebook page). I was pressed on discussing how I felt about nuclear power. I also received a number of notes asking me if nuclear energy is discussed in the film (no, that can be the next film, let me know if you’re interested in looking at an investor package?).
Here are my thoughts on this: Being a child of Three Mile Island accident, the Chernobyl disaster and “China Syndrome”, I was finely tuned to not like the idea of nuclear energy. The idea of a nuclear waste accident was enough to keep me up at night and the recent arguments against Yucca Mountain (made by bloggers, residents and environmentalists) didn’t help. In recent years, and especially while making this film, I’ve changed my thinking a bit and softened to the idea.
Nuclear is a great energy source. It’s efficient, and it’s mostly clean (aside from the occasional opening of a waste spigot and radioactive water spilling into a local river*). All that said, there is still a huge hump for this country to get over. The hump is squarely rooted in time, money and public opinion. From what I understand, it takes 10-12 years to get a nuclear power plant permitted and built. Also, though I know the cost is likely to come down, the current cost of a nuclear plant is around $5 billion. Lastly, most people don’t want a nuclear power plant in their backyard (or a waste dump beneath their homes).
I know. There is a more efficient, safer nuclear power solution in new advance on how to extract and use U235. But even the most gung ho nuclear experts say we’re around 15-20 years before that technology will be ready. When you factor that in with the idea that it takes a decade to build, then you throw in the cost, I think everyone agrees that we need to start executing an energy solution right now.
I set out to make a documentary about a huge natural gas find, and its affect on three lives. The original purpose wasn’t to stump for natural gas as a fuel source for the energy future. I found that, as I looked deeper into the energy future and saw the options, I felt that finds like the Haynesville Shale find could make a real difference in the way we produce energy. That led me to the belief that natural gas could help us have a cleaner energy future. Right now, we can start changing dirty coal plants to natural gas. Right now, we can start to twin natural gas turbines with a renewable energy infrastructure. Right now, if we like, we can even start to use natural gas for the sole purpose to bide our time as a nuclear solution is developed and implemented in a safe, efficient and clean manner.