NY-20 Congressman Chris Gibson won election easily, as the 2010 Republican wave, powered by know-nothing tea partiers and their media cheerleaders, swept him and five other NY GOP Congressional challengers into office.
He's been supporting the Boehner/tea party agenda in his votes so far, and is staking out an unusual position as a leading proponent of nuclear power.
Gibson's a smart guy, with a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell, so he couches his nuclear-power advocacy as part of an overall program supporting all domestic energy sources -- renewables, gas, oil, hydro, coal and nuclear.
But the one he really wants to talk about is nuclear.
Back during the campaign, Maury Thompson of the Glens Falls Post-Star got this out of Gibson:
Where the pressures are right now is on property taxes. And property taxes, of course, are used to fund school districts. My idea is that we tie this to the energy plan. And what we need is nuclear power plants in NY-20. Nuclear power plants will give us cleaner energy. One plant can actually provide energy for 300,000 households. And it will also provide property tax relief for families.
That's absurd -- "property tax relief for families" from a nuclear power plant would occur in one school district, one town and one county, in a district that has 10 counties, and scores of school districts and towns.
Recently, Gibson has been promoting his nuclear fool's errand, even discussing it with President Obama on Air Force 1, during the presidential visit to GE's new battery plant in Schenectady.
And Gibson got some press in The Saratogian and the Troy Record (same story in both) with this lede:
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson wants to bring a nuclear power plant and waste reprocessing facility to his district to reduce American reliance on foreign oil.
Absurd again -- foreign oil is a minor source of electricity, in NY and around the country.
The major reason that no new nuclear power plant has been built in this country in more than 30 years is that they are too damn expensive -- $10 billion or so for a 1,000-megawatt plant.
And even nuclear power's extravagant federal subsidies -- many billions in loan guarantees, research and development, insurance liability, waste disposal, etc. -- are not enough to make these projects financially viable.
If building new nuclear power plants is such a good idea, why won’t anyone put their own money at risk without government loan guarantees?
The bottom line is that nuclear power cannot compete against natural gas except under relatively extreme future cost scenarios, none of which are likely in the foreseeable future. Federal efforts to force nuclear power plant construction will thus prove economically counterproductive.
"Federal efforts to force nuclear power plant construction" seem to be what Gibson is up to, even though he was notionally elected to cut federal spending and reduce government interference in the marketplace.
Around here (Albany, NY), there is a new power plant in Rensselaer, powered by natural gas and producing 650 megawatts, that cost just $800 million and took 10 years from first press release to power production.
Gibson's fantasy nuke in NY-20 is years from its first press release, and decades from producing power.
The Glens Falls Post Star took note of Gibson's nuclear fetish yesterday, in an editorial headlined "No nuclear plants in the 20th Congressional District."
Here's a taste:
It's difficult to get too excited about Congressman Chris Gibson's goal of siting a nuclear power plant in the 20th Congressional District.
Given the uncertainty surrounding nuclear power with regard to cost and health issues, as well as issues related to the removal and disposal of highly radioactive waste products, we wonder how exactly the congressman hopes to realistically get a plant built in our area.
Raise your hand if you'd be comfortable having one built in your town. Keep ‘em up so we can count everyone. OK. Got it.
Our new congressman surely can find better uses for his time and efforts than pursuing a campaign pledge of nuclear power over other safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternatives.
A nuclear power plant isn't needed in the 20th Congressional District, isn't wanted and won't ever gain acceptance.
It's time to drop it.
Gibson's goal, according to The Saratogian article, is
to introduce legislation that would encourage private investment in nuclear energy and streamline a federal loan program.
What Gibson really means is he wants even more federal subsidies for nuclear power, at the same time he is joining the Boehner/tea party types in demonizing the deficit.
Maybe Gibson is not so smart after all -- loudly advocating for more billions for nuclear power, which would obviously increase the deficit and rile his base.
And it's all a big waste of time, because there will never be another nuclear power plant on the Hudson River.