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Recently retired Army Col. Chris Gibson, who is challenging NY-20 Rep. Scott Murphy, is a smart guy, with a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell.

But he's a Republican, so he has to say some stupid things to get the wingnut Republican base excited about his candidacy.

For example, he's repeated the 30-year-old GOP chestnut of calling for abolition of the federal Department of Education, with the same old rationale that this would substantially reduce federal spending.

The only way it could do a small bit of that would be by substantially reducing federal aid to local school districts, which would lead to higher property taxes in NY-20.

Murphy has an ad up about this issue now, and Gibson responded to it yesterday with a loony plan to reduce property taxes by building nuclear power plants.

Details and video, below.

First, here's the ad, which evidently struck a nerve:

Property taxes are the major tax issue in NY-20, and all of New York outside NYC. Members of Congress generally can't do much about that, but whatever they've done lately -- stimulus funds, aid to schools, etc. -- is resolutely opposed by Gibson and the Boehner Republicans he hopes to join in Washington.

Yesterday, Maury Thompson of the Glens Falls Post-Star asked Gibson about the ad, and got this stupid response:

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.

Gibson saying that multiple nuclear power plants in one Congressional District will "provide property tax relief for families" is about as reality-based as calling for Congress to give everyone in NY-20 a pony and $1 million.

Let's count the ways this is stone stupid.

  1. There has not been a new nuclear power plant built in this country in more than 30 years. The major reason for that is that they are frightfully expensive -- $10 billion or so apiece. The Future of Nuclear Power Study by MIT, updated in 2009, repeats this original (2003) asessment:

In deregulated markets, nuclear power is not now cost competitive with coal and natural gas.

The update also notes that estimated nuclear power plant construction costs had doubled from 2003 to 2009, making it even less cost-competitive.

  1. There are about 60 school districts in NY-20. In the highly unlikely event that even one nuclear power plant is built in NY-20, it will "provide property tax relief for families" in just one school district, and that won't happen anytime soon -- it takes well more than a decade to build one of these things, and full property taxation in New York would take another decade. So Gibson's stupid proposal would not help the vast majority of NY-20 taxpayers at all ever, and would only help a tiny minority somewhat sometime in the late 2020s.
  1. There is an organized, well-funded and effective environmental community that would vigorously oppose any nuclear power plant project on the Hudson River (realistically, the only place such a plant could be sited in NY-20). This community recently mobilized a multi-year campaign to defeat a large cement plant in Hudson, and, way back when, helped derail Nelson Rockefeller's plan for four nuclear power plants between Albany and Poughkeepsie.      
  1. Gibson has the support of local tea partiers, who generally do not like massive government subsidies of private corporations. Nuclear power is perhaps the most massively subsidized industry ever, with federal subsidies for loan guarantees, research and development, insurance liability, waste disposal, etc. Tea partiers may not care about the hypocrisy of supporting a candidate who wants to add hundreds of billions to the national debt to jump-start the most expensive form of power production, but they should.

Gibson seemed to be a perfect candidate for the GOP bosses who recruited him while he was still wearing the uniform -- NY-20 native and Ichabod Crane sports star, sterling military record (four Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge with Star), the Ph.D., good-looking, articulate, photogenic family, etc.

But when he says stupid things like this, it's pretty clear that he's not ready for prime time.  

Originally posted to devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 05:24 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This better be made into an ad as well... (7+ / 0-)

    Ask Gibson where in the district he'd choose to put his nuclear power plants.  Have a map of the district with a floating plant and say "here?", "how about here?" as it moves around the district.  

    NIMBY principle will kill him dead on this one.  

    Grassroot passion comes and goes - Corporate interest in consistent. Message being that if you want to stay elected then sell-out, it's safer.

    by Jonze on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 05:32:57 PM PDT

    •  oh great, appeal to NIMBYism. (4+ / 0-)

      That's a great way to solve the climate catastrophe (not!).  

      How'bout all the NIMBYs put their money where their mouths are:  if they don't like nuclear, they can all buy solar with enough battery capacity to deal with long winter nights and cloudy days.  

      Otherwise they can keep their CO2 emissions in their own back yards.  

      •  Nuclear power is very expensive, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RonV, LuLu, vcmvo2, Stranded Wind

        despite heavy federal subsidies.

        The new generation of reactors are even more expensive, and essentially unproven.

        And they take much longer to build than natural gas and hydro plants.

        The NIMBY thing will inevitably be a factor whenever a site for a nuke is announced.

        But it's not the only factor.  

        A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

        by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 06:10:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OUR nuclear is expensive (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          devtob, vcmvo2, G2geek, JeffW, Mcrab

          Our nuclear is expensive because it's a welfare program for General Electric that occasionally produces nuclear plants as a by-product.

           We should hire the French to do it - standard design, excellent safety record, they can, we can't.

          •  Well, do you think (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LuLu, Stranded Wind, Joieau

            the next generation of American nukes will adopt the French model?

            Which at the time their nukes were built also included a nationwide state-owned utility, Electricite de France, buying and operating the plants.

            I certainly don't.

            A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

            by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 07:30:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Every time we tried to get a Std design (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            devtob, Stranded Wind

            Power Co's f-ed with it, and companies like GE and others that were bought by the Japanese firms had to do redesigns to please their customers.

            In this case, as in most, the free market was full of irrational actors...

            Good policy is good politics

            by AZ Independent on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 07:45:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That is because such (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              devtob, Stranded Wind, AZ Independent

              power plants are particular to their siting, and the siting is not and cannot be made uniform. Thus each plant has to endure site-specific engineering issues and each of those site-specific engineering issues must be approved. How the hell do you think a site in California that will remain unnamed got away with its plant being built entirely backwards?

              Not all - or even many - of the site-specific modifications that are made turn out well. And each of them adds to the time schedule as well as the cost.

              Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

              by Joieau on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 09:58:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'll give you some of that (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                devtob, Stranded Wind

                but what I'm talking about is a more than 50% redesign. Some plants built in the '70s and '80s were standard designs, but power co's wanted more power, less components, etc etc. So an approved 1000MwHr plant would be modified to push 1200MwHr, with all the extra custom changes to do it.

                I agree each site has custom needs, but it's not like we need to change the whole unit design for every site. There's room for standardization, and customization, to a degree. But modifying a plant over 50% creates more problems than it solves, IMHO.

                Good policy is good politics

                by AZ Independent on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 07:56:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Of course it does. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  devtob, AZ Independent

                  Nuclear power is basically a money laundering scheme and a subsidies cash cow. The reactor is basically a boiler - it heats water to produce steam to turn a turbine to generate electricity. Just like a coal fired boiler or an oil/gas fired boiler or a biomass fueled boiler or even a concentrated solar boiler. It just comes with a host of extremely hazardous 'issues' due to the nature of the fuel and the potential for death and destruction as well as contaminating vast swaths of the countryside for hundreds of years (or more) and decimating the cities they're inevitably sited right next to despite strong recommendations from NRC and various 'expert' commissions over the course of 30+ years to forbid building the beasts anywhere near population centers.

                  By the way, utilities are getting around the high cost of components by engaging in a Seimens-brokered nuclear flea market. THAT should definitely put a damper on anybody's enthusiasm for these monstrosities.

                  Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                  by Joieau on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 08:59:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  This issue is complicated, for sure. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I think we can all agree that siting multiple plant locations in one district is a stupid plan, regardless of your thoughts about nuclear power (pro or con).

                    Before any more nukes are built, I think we should revamp our regulatory structure and markets (the failed WPPSS, pronounced "whoops", has been a source of parts for years, because manufacturers of new parts have shut down).

                    Good policy is good politics

                    by AZ Independent on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 09:17:53 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The ONLY way to do it (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      would be to either nationalize the industry or semi-nationalize it by allowing utilities to form heavily regulated spin-off consortiums where each invests for what it expects to draw from the system.

                      Then new plants could be sited far from population centers and be concentrated into just 1-3 giant 'generation reservations' as would have to be done if we wanted to develop terawatt geothermal capacity in regions where there's plenty of heat bubbling out of the ground.

                      Biggest problem with either of these "national sacrifice zone" super-generation complexes is there's no essentially unpopulated area of the country where there's enough available water to make it feasible. Out west where populations are sparse and geothermal abundant, all the water goes to the big cities and crops and golf courses in the desert. Nukes are extreme water consumers.

                      Thus what we need instead is to decentralize and diversify, put those tens of billions into non-water intensive technologies.

                      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                      by Joieau on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 09:52:09 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Unproven is a red herring. It's not smth (0+ / 0-)

          drastically new, it's an improvement of the existing design. And there are plenty of old reactors still operating so you can't claim they are unproven. New reactors proposed for US are similar to those built recently or being built elsewhere in the world.

      •  I'm about winning the election (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LuLu, devtob, FG, Joieau

        This has no chance at happening - building more than one Nuclear power plant in NY-20, so it's mock worthy.  

        Grassroot passion comes and goes - Corporate interest in consistent. Message being that if you want to stay elected then sell-out, it's safer.

        by Jonze on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 06:29:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good arguments. (6+ / 0-)

    I saw the Murphy ad on TV Saturday and thought it hit the spot.

    Even though Gibson enjoys lots of support up here [we took a family drive this afternoon through western Schenectady and Saratoga counties and I don't think we saw one Murphy sign], I think a nuke plant is something nobody could swallow.

    •  I've seen that, too, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonV, LuLu, Stranded Wind, Siri
      for months now.

      Yard signs are a somewhat effective name recognition tactic, but they don't vote.

      Once voters come to know that Gibson's a Party of No Boehner Republican, most of them will vote for Murphy.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 05:54:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's clear that, despite the best efforts... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LuLu, devtob, Stranded Wind, Siri

    of Gibson's puppet masters, the man has no honor. Otherwise, he wouldn't be lying all the time.

    He's walking that tightrope that Sweeney used to walk. Pretending that he will be a moderate voice in D.C. Heck, the man's career was all about following orders. Just like he will do if he wins.

    Now that Ziegler is gone, is he still a tea party darling? As far as I know, he never answered Thompson's question about joining the TP caucus.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 05:52:15 PM PDT

  •  Ive been volunteering for Murphy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, LuLu, devtob, TheMomCat

    Ive been getting a good number of Republicans that support Murphy, but obviously, many of them dont support him.  As long as he can get 20% of Republicans and split the independent vote, Murphy will win.  I expect he'll win by around 54%-45%.  

  •  not cost-competitive with coal and natural gas. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    science, JeffW, Mcrab, Stranded Wind

    So are you supporting coal and natural gas?

    Would that be "clean" coal?    Where are you going to put the coal plants, eh?   And are you going to keep all the deadly fossil fuel combustion waste in your own back yards?  

    And when was the last time anyone who lived near a nuclear plant turned on a water faucet and got glowing water?    But you can do that trick with natural gas in an area that's been fracked:  turn on the faucet and light the water like a pilot light.   Hot and cold running methane, without the warning odor.  Just don't try to use it to put out a fire or anything.  

    And that funny taste in the water, from the chemicals used for fracking?  I suppose it's better than all the invisible demons flying around a reactor, right?   Just think of all the jobs this will create, working for bottled water companies!   And a new "cause", subsidized bottled water for the poor, that we can run on in 2018.  

    Coca Cola's bottled water operation will just love it.  

    •  OK, I get it (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonV, LuLu, TheMomCat, Joieau

      You like nukes, and others don't.

      But that's not the point of the diary.

      The point is that Gibson evidently believes that one of more nukes in NY-20 will "provide property tax relief for families."

      And that that is BS in several ways.

      Technological advances may make nuclear power less expensive, less potentially catastrophic, and less needy of subsidies, and may also make clean coal a reality some day.

      But for now, hydro and natural gas are preferable, to me anyway, for base load generation, with a serious effort at conservation and efficiency helping to reduce demand.

      And hopefully, technological advances in solar, wind, tidal, etc., will also help.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 06:27:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  natural gas still emits CO2. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, FG

        And "fracking" destroys water tables.  

        Hydro is good where you can get it.  I suppose that means the Midwest should all be in the dark.  

        Anyone who studies the climate crisis in a serious and objective manner ends up concluding that there is no way to deal with this without a major expansion of nuclear power.  

        Speaking from experience doing design engineering on 300 MW of utility-scale wind.  

        •  If there is a "major expansion (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Joieau

          of nuclear power," let's hope the powers-that-be get it right this time -- standardized design, effective regulation, competent operation, less emphasis on profits, not kicking the waste issue down the road, etc.

          Ultimately, I guess we'll just have to disagree about putting all our electricity-generating eggs in the nuclear basket.

          A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

          by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 09:52:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  oh, by no means "all" our eggs. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            devtob, Mcrab

            I'm full-force in support of renewables: solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass including from solid waste.  

            Realistically I think we can aim for 40% renewables, 40% nuclear, and 20% fossil fuels, which will reduce our fossil fuel usage by about 70% and save us from a climate catastrophe.  

            Then with about 50% gain from conservation and efficiency, the absolute quantity of generating capacity & fuel output from each of those sources need only be half of what it is at present.  

            So another way of looking at it is, 50% conservation & efficiency, 20% renewables, 20% nuclear, and 10% fossil fuels.  

            BTW, my monthly electricity usage is @ 150KWH (a typical apartment-dweller is 350), about 18 gallons of gas / month (typical American usage is about 50 - 56), and about 4 - 5 lbs. of solid waste per week including recycling (typical American output is 2 - 3 lbs. per day).  So I ferociously walk my talk about conservation & efficiency, and this is not idle speculation.  

            What you'll find is that there are many people around who have a similar profile: ferocious conservationists and supporters of renewables, who also think nuclear needs to be in the mix to get the CO2 outputs down to a safe level.   It's not an either/or, it's an and/both.  

        •  Yeah, doing hydro without elevation difference is (0+ / 0-)

          highly destructive to the environment and you don't get that much energy. So you're pretty much stuck with Mountain West, Alaska and Hawaii.

          •  Water flows downhill (0+ / 0-)

            in more places than that.

            Like New York for instance.

            A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

            by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 10:06:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If the difference in elevation is small, you'll (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              need to flood large area to build the dam. Of course, there is a hydroelectric power station on Niagara Falls. There may be a few more places in NY suitable for the stations but I'm getting the data from the reported I linked to.

              •  OK the geek in me has to jump in (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                devtob, FG

                The 20th has the FREAKING HUDSON River flowing down its entire length.

                The Hudson is TIDAL.

                There are experimental tidal generators down at the NYC end. They work.

                No nukes, no frakkin' gas, no "clean" coal, no dams.

                At some point we need to start experimenting with and using NEW technology.

                "Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this...I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over." ~ HAL

                by LuLu on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 03:42:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  The left's version of Creationism.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    science, Mcrab, Stranded Wind

    .... is anti-nuclearism.  

    France's electric grid is 70% nuclear.  Reactors dot the landscape, and many are the towns where people can see them every day as they go to work.  

    France also doesn't tolerate religious nuttery in public schools.   And they're ahead of us in science & math scores.  

    Oh, that has nothing to do with it.  Nothing to see here, move along.  "Coal and natural gas are more cost-competitive."  

    Meanwhile the ice caps are melting, but they're not in anyone's "back yard" so out of sight is out of mind, in more ways than one.  

    •  Your comment has nothing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LuLu, vcmvo2, Joieau

      to do with this diary.

      Which is about Gibson stupidly saying that highly-unlikely-to-be-built nuclear power plants will "provide property tax relief for families" in NY-20.

      Thanks for the mini-hijack, and the creationism slur.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 07:23:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am always amused when anti-nukes make (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    science, bryfry, FG, Mcrab, AZ Independent

    "economic arguements."

    Almost all of these people are satisfied with the status quo and vaguely refer to the failed and environmentally atrocious gas, wind and solar industry as being "clean," something which is pure nonsense.

    It appears that in making their "economic" arguement they have not once bothered to compare electricity rates in France, which produces 80% of its electricity via nuclear energy, with that offshore oil and gas and wind hellhole Denmark.

    European Energy Portal:  Electricity Prices.

    As a lifelong Democrat who is proud of the fact that Glenn Seaborg was a lifelong Democrat, I am as embarassed by the anti-nuke wing - which I regard as being on a level with the creationist wing of the Republican party - as I'm sure some Republicans are embarassed by [i]Tea Partiers[/i].

    Nevertheless I note that the Secretary of Energy and the President of the United States are both strong supporters of nuclear energy.

    If a Repuke says orange is orange, that doesn't make orange blue.

    Nuclear energy is the only form of energy on the planet that has an acceptable environmental profile.

    If the American public is not able to grasp that fact, the United States is surely headed for irrelevance.   China has announced and funded a program to build 80 GWe of nuclear capacity in the next ten years - and currently has 24 reactors under construction and 12 operating - one was commercially certified just last week.   They will pass the United States as the world's largest producer of nuclear energy by 2030, and produce more nuclear electricity by 2050 than the United States produces electricity.

    Why is that?

    Because they don't hate science and engineering in China.

    •  I'd rather compare NY electricity rates (6+ / 0-)

      to neighboring Quebec's.

      Where HydroQuebec rates are so low almost everyone heats with electricity.

      Do that in NY and your winter bills will be double what they would be with oil or gas.

      And that is largely because of NY's very expensive nuclear power plants.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 06:40:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It doesn't surprise me to find anti-nukes who are (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        spectacularly uninformed about where NY gets its electricity.

        Would you like to compare the rates in New York, a dangerous fossil fuel hellhole with South Carolina or New Jersey, which are each more than 50% nuclear

        You can look it up.

        One of the main features of the anti-nuke community is how extremely misinformed they are.

  •  Multiple Nuclear Plants (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LuLu, devtob, vcmvo2, AZ Independent, Joieau

    Good grief. How ridiculous can a candidate be than to identify an impossible idea as a quick fix solution? I know we are disproportionately tax burdened up here. (Waves hi from the most taxed to income level county in the country) but this is almost as absurd as running around yelling, "Casinos will save us!"

  •  The argument itself is stupid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, FG

    But let's not construe it as anti-nuke or NIIMBY, shall we?

    Nuke has its place in the power grid; but multiple plants in the same district is pretty stupid. For one, you wouldn't have the workforce, and two you wouldn't have the resources. Now, multiple units on one plant site, sure.

    Disclaimer: I'm biased because I grew up within 10 miles of a nuker, and it really did help give me a better education due to the taxes they paid to the school district- hell they even paid for my college thru an internship program! Don't work there now though.

    Good policy is good politics

    by AZ Independent on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 07:49:28 PM PDT

    •  Thanks (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LuLu, vcmvo2, AZ Independent, Joieau

      I was not being anti-nuke or NIMBY in pointing out the real-world economic and political problems with Gibson's absurd idea.


      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 08:01:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you care to dig a little (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      you'll find that this sudden push for new nuclear capacity isn't about the 'trons we need to wash our clothes and light our streets. It's Great Depression II, complete with offshored industry and subsequent lack of jobs that would allow people to pay for this capacity. That isn't being used...

      It's about them building excess capacity they can feed off to other states, Canada and Mexico with the improved grid they know the gub'ment will pay for. Enron II with some exciting meltdown suspense thrown in. I want no part of it.

      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

      by Joieau on Sun Oct 03, 2010 at 10:05:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While some may use this as an excuse to export (0+ / 0-)

        I think the majority would like to see coal replaced wholesale with new baseload sources. That's my view, anyways.

        Also, we get more atmospheric radiation from burning coal than I think most people realize. Nukes that are well regulated don't release radiation. The key is to regulate them.

        Good policy is good politics

        by AZ Independent on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 08:01:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We've been hearing (0+ / 0-)

          that line of BS for 50 years. It's still BS. Properly designed, constructed and run nuclear power plants are far too expensive to justify their existence. We should choose better alternatives.

          Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

          by Joieau on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 09:01:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Recced, tipped, tweeted n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LuLu, devtob

    We all differ in ways that matter. But we're all the same in the ways that matter most.

    by plf515 on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 02:33:49 AM PDT

  •  And hopefully, Cong. Murphy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has been sent the details of your wonderful research so he can save some time on his next ad.

    He's the tag line:

    Chris Gibson: Too hopelessly confused for the 20th

    "Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this...I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over." ~ HAL

    by LuLu on Mon Oct 04, 2010 at 03:35:03 AM PDT

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