Francophile Newt wants to build a few hundred nukes too — and shut down every coal plant!

First John McCain and now Newt Gingrich turn out to love the cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Better start checking them both for U.S. flag lapel pins!


On the Hugh Hewitt show (see here), Gingrich dissed the new ad he made with Speaker Pelosi on climate and offered “real solutions:”

HH: Now can I ping you a little bit, Mr. Speaker? You made the ad with Nancy Pelosi, and I think that campaign is asking Americans to suspend critical thinking, not that I’m on one side or the other.

NG: Well…

HH: I just think thirty second ads on something that complicated asks…it’s not the way to debate this, because it almost makes it impregnable to debate. Did you consider the downside of doing the ad with her?

NG: Yeah, we spent six weeks thinking about that decision, and I do a newsletter every week. You can go to [sorry, for some reason, my PC just refused to copy that link], my first name, and sign up for it. It comes out for free. Over 700,000 people get it. And next week will be on energy policy and environmental policy. And I’m going to outline a stunningly different view than Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. But my message to conservatives is you’ve got to get on the stage and debate. You can’t stand off-stage and scream no. And I’m perfectly happy, if you’ll look at the ad carefully, we said this was a topic we disagree on a lot of issue. But we agree we should try to solve this. And I’m perfectly happy to offer real solutions, and I’ll give you one example.

HH: Go ahead.

NG: If the United States produced the same percent of electricity from nuclear power as France, we would take two billion, two hundred million tons of carbon a year out of the atmosphere. And by that one step, we would be 15% better than the Kyoto goals.

Now, we’ve already seen that if we did what France does — and yes, it boggles the mind that two leading Freedom-fry eating conservatives are publicly advocating doing just that — we’d need, say 600 to 700 nukes by 2050, depending on whether we embrace electricity as a transportation fuel [See “McCain calls for 700+ new nuclear plants (and seven Yucca mountains) costing $4 trillion“].

But Gingrich’s final statement suggests

  1. He wants to build 1400 nukes and shut down every last coal plant, every gas plant, and every refinery or (more likely)
  2. He wants 400 nukes, he wants to shut down every coal plant, and he made a classic climate error and a classic energy mistake.

1. Gingrich said if everyone in this country drank the French Kool-aid [Aide de Kool?] then we’d “take two billion, two hundred million tons of carbon a year out of the atmosphere.” Small problem — the United States doesn’t actually emit 2.2 billion tons of carbon, though we are getting close, thanks in part to Gingrich’s long-standing efforts to block action on climate and defund the clean technologies he now claims to embrace (see here and here). To save that much carbon, you’d have to build 1400 one-gigaWatt nuclear power plants (i.e. 2 wedges) and shut down 1400 GW of coal, which, of course, we don’t have. But I suppose we could shut down every natural gas plant and convert every vehicle in the country to electricity, including the airplanes, though that would be a bit tricky.

2. Okay, okay, so Gingrich made a classic climate error — so classic I’ve blogged on it before (“The biggest source of mistakes: C vs. CO2“) and even done it myself. He means we’d “take two billion, two hundred million tons of carbon DIOXIDE a year out of the atmosphere.” Fair enough. But that would still require building 400 nukes — which means he is making the classic energy mistake of ignoring electricity demand (or assuming we are going to magically build all of those power plants so fast that demand doesn’t have a chance to go up its projected 1.1% per year).

Plus, we would only save that much carbon dioxide if we used those nuclear plants to shut down every last coal plant. If we merely built the nukes without shutting down the coal plants, we obviously wouldn’t reduce emissions at all, and then, in fact, nuclear power would be under half of total U.S. electricity. Of course, we’d probably never build that many nuclear plants so quickly unless the government mandated it and heavily subsidized it. And, we’d certainly never shut down every last coal plant unless the government passed a regulation mandating that.

I’ll bet you never knew Newt was so radical, so anti-coal, so French-loving, so Kyoto-loving, so radioactivity-loving, so … regulation-loving. I’m not certain exactly what political philosophy embraces all of those ideas — other than the philosophy of “I’ll say any damn thing I want to so I can pretend to care about the environment while ensuring we do nothing whatsoever on global warming — and the media sure as hell will never ask me a tough question because it involves a substantive issue and not my pastor.”

One thing I’ll give to Newt — his is, as promised, “a stunningly different view than Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi” — or pretty much anybody else who either cares about the climate or knows anything about energy.

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17 Responses to Francophile Newt wants to build a few hundred nukes too — and shut down every coal plant!

  1. Eli Rabett says:

    You GAVE UP FRENCH FRIES??? That fails the intelligence test, but cheese? Life ain’t worth living without cheese.


  2. I’d vote for Newt Gingrich on that political platform alone–1400 new gigawatt-class nuclear powerplants by 2050, and no coal or oil or natural gas. Just electric cars.

    Forget Kyoto–this would drive US CO2 emission down to a tiny fraction of what Kyoto demands.

    We could do this–not with light-water reactors, but with liquid-fluoride thorium reactors.

  3. David B. Benson says:

    Kirk Sorensen — Electricity wqon’t work for everything.

    Ocean vessels and other ships
    Large trucks and constructiion equipment

  4. Shannon says:

    My fear is that we have given comfort to the enemy in having those We ads come out. The upside is obviously the message that Republican icons are not arguing against the existence of global warming. But we are giving them a pulpit on which to preach subsidies for nuclear power and coal carbon sequestration, which stinks. Can’t we just have them debate and delay us some more while we put the low-carbon economy in place? We don’t need them to get a leg up just before elections.

  5. Kirk Sorensen — Electricity won’t work for everything.

    Ocean vessels and other ships

    LFTR reactors on ships.

    Large trucks and construction equipment

    Methanol from hydrogen from high-temp LFTRs and CO2 capture.


    That’s a toughy. Again, I’d probably say methanol from the same process as above.

  6. 1400 gigawatts of nuclear power from LFTRs would consume about 1400 metric tonnes of thorium a year. Consider that 3200 metric tonnes is buried in Nevada, a single mine site in Idaho can produce 5000 tonnes a year from a pit the size of a football field, and that we mine 65000 tonnes of uranium now to produce 100 gigawatts of nuclear power from light-water reactors, and the resources requirements of 1400 GWe of thorium power are pretty modest.

  7. Paul K says:

    Mon dieu! Votre rhetorique est sophisme. Viva la Francais. Vive energie nucleaire.

    Eli Rabbett made a fine rebuttal to this ridiculous partisan spin on the other McCain nuke thread. How about we build one nuclear plant. It has been a long time since the last one was built.

  8. Mark Shapiro says:

    Re electrically powered aircraft –

    A fascinating idea that has actually been tried – powered by microwaves, with a receiver on the craft to convert the microwaves to electricity. Canadians flew something they called SHARP – a drone for communications that could stay aloft indefinitely. No fuel on board means no fire or smoke risk. Nice!

  9. Mark Shapiro says:

    And, about half the takeoff weight of a 747 is fuel (400,000 of 850,000 pounds).

    Leave the fuel on the ground! Of course, that does leave the question of the best way to beam the power to the plane . . . Microwaves? lasers? ordinary light?

  10. jorma lehmijoki says:

    10 million TWh from the Greenland ice mass potential energy, fresh water for whole the world. For a century.

    100 million TWh from the Antarctica. For one thousand years.

    Forget all other energy sources. Electricity and hydrogen energy from ice, that is all we need. No climate catastrophe any more.

  11. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Hello Mark!

    Google “P&O Ventura” . This new cruise ship was just launched, and is one of the biggest vessel of this class every built. Can you imagine how much fuel is required to top off the tanks!

    The A380A AirBus tanks hold ca 84,000 US Gal of jet fuel. And the company has booked orders for over 200 aircraft.

    Hello Kirk!

    Methanex (Vanciuver, BC) sells anhyd methanol for $US 1.50/ per gallon, and it has been used as a fuel for trucking in S. Cal and in racing cars for decades. It would probably be very easy to adapt FlexFuel cars to run on wood alcohol!

    Buy stock in this company before Howe Street (Vancouver’s Wall Sreet) start hyping wood alcohol as “The Fuel of Future” promoting jthe clever engineers in companies

  12. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Darn It! Hey Joe! Why can’t we have a “Preview Comment Button”? Or have the “Submit Comment Button” moved flush left and away from the scroll bar?

    Text should read: “…”The Fuel of Future” as they did for hydrogen and the stock of fuel cell-maker Ballard Power Systems and other companies suchas Planktos.

    Planktos is classic Howe Street promotion, which trades on the OTC pink sheets, and is tauted as a company whose ocean fertilization programs will stimulate and sustain so much alga growth that gazillion tons of CO2 will be sucked from the atmosphere and the Earth will be easily saved from destruction by runaway global warming.

    Unfortunately, according to the company’s recent press announcements the first pilot program was cancelled due to lack of sufficient capital on account of unanticipated costs. Translation: The stock promoters and company principals are pocketing the greedy but clueless inverstors’ cash and are getting rich for this typical Howe Street “pump and dump” scheme.


  13. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Hello Eli!

    How could you forget the wines from The Island of Doubt and from Osooyos?

  14. Eric Sutherland says:


    This tactic is being used by bread crumb droppers like Gingrich as well as the pseustainability crowd.

    Gingrich’s genius lies in crafting a series of talking points that leads the unthinking into the galley were they can be enslaved to propel the ship of state into peril. All to benefit his paymasters.

    Unfortunately, he is only co-opting the success that the high priests of carbon neutrality have enjoyed by parading ineffectual solutions shrouded in the complex veil of tecnhology across the altar. The unknowing masses gasp in awe and delight at the promise of solutions delivered by the masters of science and policy.

    All that false prophets need is the spectre of an omnipotent, smothering evil and a flashy, contrived sales pitch that demonstrates their reslove and character in the face of adversity. Last time around the evil was the unstoppable advancement of government intrusion and Newt’s most inspiring attribute was his willingness to gut even the most effective program in the name of conservatism.

    This time, the horde on our heels is real. Real solutions are available, but it is not surprising that Gingrich cherry picks only those that threaten pain for Hugo Chavez and no one else. It is also not surprising that he is able to entrain a few self-serving neoenvironmentalists in his entourage at the same time.

    Your words Newt- Real change requires real change.

    Fort Collins, CO

  15. Dwight says:

    Another “minor” technical point to point out is that there is no mention of where we get all the water to cool all of these new reactors. Under current regualtions nukes generate steam power at lower temperatures (power) than the newest gas (and probably coal) plants in use. A less efficient heat engine means more waste heat per watt delivered. And more wate heat means more cooling water. So by swapping out our gas and coal plants for nukes we also would significantly increase the already large water consumption from electrical power generation.

  16. Dwight, high-temperature reactors use less water per megawatt generated, and some of them could even use air-cooling. Lack of cooling water isn’t going to inhibit the next generation of nuclear power.