By now, we all know that Nurse Vinson, who treated Ebola “patient zero”, Thomas Duncan, who later died of the virus, had asked the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) if she could travel to Cleveland and then return to home to Dallas. In fact, she called the CDC several times to report her temperature and to ask if it was safe to travel commercially. The CDC said that since her temperature was only 99.5°F instead of 100.4°F, it was OK to travel by commercial airline!
However, when it was first reported in the national news that Nurse Vinson had traveled to Cleveland and then returned to Dallas, CDC Director Tom Frieden stated in a press conference that she should not have traveled, since she was one of the health care workers known to have exposure to Duncan.
Director Frieden basically threw Nurse Vinson under the bus. The next day the national news reported that Nurse Vinson had, in fact, contacted the CDC multiple times to ask if it was OK to travel with the low grade fever she had at the time.
Why Director Frieden did not know (or did not care to reveal) that his organization had been contacted by Nurse Vinson to ask for permission to travel escapes me and probably most other people in this country.
The CDC has received billions of dollars over the last 68 years to prepare for just this type of event, which in my opinion, they have failed at. (The CDC budget for 2014 alone was $6.9 billion.)
This is what I call Blistering Bureaucratic Incompetence. What does this have to do with thorium energy? Plenty.
There are a couple of other three letter agencies that are at least as bureaucratically incompetent as the CDC in regards to nuclear energy. Let me name them for you:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and The Department of Energy (DOE).
The NRC is legally charged with:
- Increasing the productivity of the national economy
- Strengthening its position in regard to international trade
- Making the Nation self-sufficient in energy
- Improving the general welfare
- Increasing the standard of living
- Strengthening free competition in private enterprise
- Restoring, protecting, and advancing environmental quality
Since the NRC was created by Congress forty years ago in 1974, I don’t think they have performed to their charter, as outlined, in part, in these seven items.
Additionally, the DOE spends billions of dollars on all sorts of projects, including billions of dollars on nuclear bombs, but it can’t seem to find a dime for molten salt reactors. The DOE has never spent less than $2 billion per year on nuclear bombs since 1948.
Like a stock prospectus says, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But in this case it is. The NRC and the DOE are business as usual. If you like the performance of the last 50 years by the folks legally charted to develop commercial nuclear power, then keep the NRC and the DOE.
I don’t want the future to be the same as the past has been where fossil fuels continue their dominance as nuclear shrinks and withers away. I want to see nuclear power flourish. I want to see breathtaking innovation in all things nuclear because I believe that it will benefit myself, my family, neighbors, and ultimately all humanity.
I submit to you that the federal agencies and regulations are established to protect incumbent companies and industries from competition from newcomers and particularly have empowered the anti-nuclear folks (funded by the incumbents) to delay/stop the licensing and permitting of nuclear plants through the federal judiciary. This is the key one must see if they are to understand what happened to nuclear power in the US.
Let me reiterate my point. If things don’t ever change, they won’t be different.
Let’s change the legal and regulatory structure that has specifically hampered nuclear energy. I call for a devolution in the regulation of nuclear power from the Federal Government back to the states. Let the states decide how and what kind of nuclear power (if any) they want in their states. California can continue to hate nuclear power, but I hope my home state of Utah will eventually embrace it.
Besides, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Baja California Norte, and maybe even Oregon can sell nuclear power to California to charge their Tesla cars and power the air conditioning of those unfortunate souls who don’t live on the beach.