The Manhattan Project

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) unveiled a good idea the other day. He announced a plan to focus our nation on the science of energy security. He calls it the Manhattan Project, which hearkens back to the last time we used our scientific resources to win the future.

What if we as a nation decided to actually invest serious resources into finding the energy source of the 21st century? What if we decided, through better science, to find a better way to run our motor vehicles, heat and cool our homes, use our PCs and iPods — a way that would protect the environment, make us completely energy-independent, and make electricity cheaper for all Americans?

We can find a way to make a better battery, one that can power our cars and our computers. We can find a cleaner form of electricity, so we don’t have to rely on coal mining or oil drilling. We can put the oil sheiks from Saudi Arabia out of business. We can become a world leader in energy production. We can export our technology to China and India and help them become better stewards of the environment.

We already have one source of energy that we need to make a real investment in that can make America more energy-independent: nuclear power.

The French use nuclear energy for 70 percent of their electricity. The Germans decided to not use nuclear energy — thanks to the idiots that make up the Green Party — and now they are dependent on Vlad Putin for most of their energy needs, outside of coal.

Further investment in nuclear energy is hung up on a couple of political controversies. First, there is the question of storage. Because we don’t recycle nuclear waste (a decision made by Jimmy Carter, of all people), we have the political problem of where to store the waste. Most of it is stored at the nuclear facilities, wherever that might be, but that is not a long-term solution. Yucca Mountain was designated as the place for long-term storage, but political leaders in Nevada, including Sens. John Ensign (R) and Harry Reid (D), weren’t too excited about that decision, and have tried to overturn it. This needs to be sorted out before we move forward on building more nuclear plants. That can be an item for Alexander’s Manhattan Project.

Storage is one of the biggest parts in making nuclear energy safer, both physically safer and politically safer. Three Mile Island still looms large in the minds of many older Americans. But if we spend serious money in making nuclear energy as safe as filling up the tank, it will be a good investment in the future.

Another part of the Manhattan Project should be the 21st century battery, a battery that powers the car and powers the PC. The electric car is the future. Ford Motor Company just signed an agreement with Southern California Edison to work together to make the electric car more practical for California consumers. The Japanese government has put a huge investment into battery technology, which has helped its domestic manufacturers take the lead. We shouldn’t come in second place in this race.

Better science can lead to a better environment and to a more secure America. Lamar Alexander deserves a hand for putting the right focus on our energy future.