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"In Washington, you've got a situation where the 'nuclear party' transcends the Republican and Democratic party."

I wasted some time today variously laughing and scowling at the dueling camp comments in Cenk's diary. The usual HR free-for-all over who's a Democrat, a better Democrat, the best of the best Democrat, and who's a closet Republican, Independent, Libertarian, whatever. That much overheated partisanship all in one place seems bound to cause an internet meltdown one of these days.

Meltdowns seem to be everywhere these days, though, and no minor or major DKos meltdown in any corner of this multifaceted website can hold a glowing fuel rod to Fukushima or to what happened when the corium got all the way through the planet's core to bubble up on Capitol Hill.

The remark that opens this diary is from Peter A. Bradford, who served as a Commissioner of the NRC from 1977 to 1982. The subject of a NYT blog article this week, Agency Smackdown, Round 2: A Critique of 'the Nuclear Party'.

"Transcends" is a word politicians are inordinately fond of, as are political party propagandists (those who actually write speeches, campaign ads, do the PR sell jobs for legislation, etc.). Every election cycle someone tells us from one corner or the other all about how this candidate or that candidate "transcends" political labels, but we all know that's pablum for idiots and naifs. "Transcendence" is not a functional tool in the political shed, it's just a trendy $20 word. Like "Hope" or "Change."

So when someone in the know about such things states so unequivocally that the nuclear game "transcends" politics, it's something to think about. It's about the very childish and very public mutiny by industry shills disguised as government regulators against their captain, a scientist with conscience who wouldn't turn his back and ignore the worst nuclear disaster this world has ever seen. By taking reins lawfully granted him when Fukushima melted and exploded its way into the public nightmare last spring, he committed a cardinal sin against an industry - and an entire technology - that is and has been since its inception far more powerful than mere political parties and politicians. A power that has for more than half a century dictated policy and controlled governments throughout the world with a heavy (metal) hand not shy of mass murder, incessant warfare, or even ultimate impoverishment of the civilization upon which it depends for its very existence.

Bradford, who is now an adjunct professor specializing in nuclear power and public policy at Vermont Law School, mused about the cartoon tyrant the mutineers painted the Chairman to be, with a touch of understated humor…

"These are professionals, they're grown-ups, they don't get scared under their desk by one commissioner, even the chairman," he said. "It doesn't pass the straight-face test."

No, it doesn't. Not even if you, like everyone else in the nation who was paying attention to the House and Senate hearings in mid-December, wouldn't find it difficult at all to believe commissioner Kristine Sviniki could be scared under her desk by a grouchy pencil sharpener. She knows who butters her bread, and took her stand accordingly.

As part of a VLS investigative panel that issued a report yesterday entitled Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Economics" Bradford expressed a more hopeful view of the industry post-Fukushima than his disdain for American politics lets on…

This is an important moment to compare what is really likely to happen over the next 10 years with the industry's expectations" of a nuclear renaissance[…] When that comparison is performed properly, it becomes clear that we are witnessing not a revival but a collapse of expectations for new reactor construction."

The Nuclear Energy Institute [NEI], an industry trade group that maintains a solid presence in all aspects of NRC operations, is obviously concerned about that very thing. NEI thus took its ideological feud with Gregory Jaczko public because it is desperate to prevent any new or strengthened regulations on the industry in the wake of Fukushima. They want the Chairman gone so they can go back to business as usual without ever having to address what's wrong - what has ALWAYS been wrong - with this filthy, outrageously expensive and absurdly dangerous technology. I disagree with Bradford - I think they'll get exactly what they want.

They always do, because this power really does "transcend" politics. That in no way means they won't PLAY at politics if they have to, and win every time.

Originally posted to Joieau on Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 06:55 PM PST.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK.

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