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 Response Page - Joe Shuster  Interview on renewable energy resources     

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Joe Shuster Interview of

The Questions:

_7.9 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, are conventional oil reserves likely to be exhausted in about 30
years, assuming current global consumption of oil and forecasts for worldwide
population and economic growth?

_8.5 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, can we expect wind, solar, bio-fuel sources and conservation to be
helpful, but not sufficient?

_8.0 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, do we need to turn to new-technology nuclear power in a major way to
solve our energy needs?

Joe Lampe (10) (10) (10)
Recently I've done much reading on nuclear energy history and technology and I'm convinced that fast neutron reactors are the most likely path to energy independence. Solar and wind will help, but will be insufficient. Ethanol is junk science, and is a dead end with many undesirable side effects. New technology in the transportation sector can greatly reduce fossil fuel use.

Our oil shale and Alberta's tar sands may contain more oil than the world's other
proven reserves, but so far there is no workable extraction method on a commercial
scale. See 2005 Rand report. My brother in law, a retired nuclear plant design and construction engineer, has come to essentially the same conclusions as Joe Shuster.

Dennis Johnson (8) (10) (10)
Thank God for the Engineers! Too bad they are so seldom listened to amid all the hue and cry of politicians and talking heads. We do need to drill now to bridge the gap between the present and a mostly nuclear future, and maintain energy independence.
As to global warming, read Bjorn Lomborg's new book on the subject : (Cool It, Vintage
Books, 2008) for similarly rational thought on that issue.

Rich Adkisson (5) (10) (5)
I get all my electricity for my apartment in Texas from wind and hydro power. I strongly support alternative energy such as wind and solar. Nuclear is part of the picture, I don't know if it is the "major way" and the arguments presented were not altogether convincing.

Paul Hauge (10) (10) (10)

Connie Morrison (10) (10) (10)

Bob Brown (8) (9) (10)

A very informative discussion. While I generally support Shuster's arguments, I get somewhat confused by the different projections concerning available energy resources and energy demands for the future. I am somewhat skeptical of projections which seem to be linear when reality rare is.

There is no question that there needs to be a mix of sources and that nuclear needs to be a major part of that mix. While hydro and wind sources are limited I would hope that there might be some breakthroughs in solar power and hydrogen that might alter the situation and make them greater parts of the solution in the future - just as the new technology in nuclear has made that more acceptable to many and hopefully more available than it was in the past.

As an aside, I remember proposing legislation during the first energy crisis (early 1970s) that access to sunlight be made a property right and the news media had a field day making fun of the proposal which of course then never got passed. Now that this is a subject of substantial interest it is another indication that times, issues, concerns, and people do change.

Fred Senn (5) (10) (10)
Interesting! I'd feel better about his scenario if other experts chimed in to support. If he's right, how do we mobilize to do it?

John Finnegan (8) (10) (9)
The critical issue is disposal of nuclear waste and the safety issues connected to that approach. If that is solved through building new generation plants then the nuclear approach is an excellent one.

Patti Hague (8) (9) (8)

Robert A. Freeman (6) (9) (10)


1. Don't think it matters much whether it is 20, 30 or 50 years. They are going to run out.

2. Strongly agree. There is no reason though that we should not continue to pursue them and continue to improve their efficiency.

3. Strongly agree - the idea of re-equipping all our automobiles to run electric would make a key difference in addressing our energy problems. A nuclear solution is the only workable one apparent and within reach.

Peter Heegaard (10) (10) (5)
Not sure. Natural gas may be the best bridge until others are perfected (See Boone Pickens presentation to National Press Club.)

Charles Lutz (9) (7) (9)

Jim Keller (10) (10) (10)

In the short run I feel we will turn to Nuclear Power and Hybrid/electric vehicles, as well as public transport, which was not mentioned. In the longer run, we will see new technology emerge because this will be such a lucrative market.

Wayne Jennings (9) (8) (8)
I've been worried about the future energy needs and have concluded that nuclear will be necessary. The growth of third world nations will only accelerate the problem of not enough oil to go around. Plus the pollution problem makes non-fossil action even more necessary. This talk interested me so much I ordered the book.

Don Fraser (8) (9) (7)

Donald H. Anderson (10) (10) (8)

Continue to look for other ways of finding resources to solve our energy needs.

Dan Loritz (_) (8) (3)
My guess is that as oil reserves decline new ways to produce energy will be found - probably some type of technology (that we can't envision now) to turn hydrogen into energy.

Bob White (8) (8) (8)
Although I can't assess the accuracy of Shuster's claims for new nuclear technology, his ideas are surely worth pursuing. The trend behind his central thesis should be underscored: Oil production will decline because reserves are being depleted. I've seen studies showing how most producers have gone past the point of peak oil production and are now on a downward slope. However, I do think Shuster dismisses to lightly the issue of global warming.

Joe Mansky (7) (0) (7)
If you believe that a strongly centralized system is needed or desirable for energy production, then the author's proposal is attractive. If however, you are looking for a new paradigm for energy production, namely one that is decentralized and diverse, then the solution the author describes is far less attractive. One thing seems clear to most informed observers, be they the author or Pickens - the need to get our transportation system off oil and onto electricity is paramount, from a political, economic and an environmental standpoint.

As mentioned in an earlier reply to a transportation-related question, I encourage discussion of the use of a carbon tax to both help fund the development and implementation of alternative energy technologies and to provide an incentive to use less carbon-based fuels. This need not be a "new" tax but could partially take the place of a reduced sales tax.

Marianne Curry (10) (10) (10)

This book should be required reading for policy makers holding public office, whether local, state or federal. And it should be promoted by Oprah's Book Club. Clearly, where we are is comparable to depletion of whale oil in the 19th century. You can argue about global warming and how long supplies will last, but that is diversionary. The fact is that America has exported our assets wholesale to unstable oil-rich OPEC at a rate never before experienced in history. We have a Faustian bargain that cannot be sustained economically. Let us get on with creating a future for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren instead of harnessing them to debt, inflation, and political instability. If we can go to the Moon in 10 years, we can do this!!

Ray Ayotte (10) (5) (10)

David Broden (4) (10) (8)

1. The key word here is conventional. If we are referring to crude as pumped today the volume of available crude will be down significantly but not depleted. If however we address oil from shale, tar sands, unexplored/unfound/newly found sources, addressing environmentally sound extraction of off-shore and other such locations-and also the use of coal conversion we will have resources at a higher cost but available. The availability of oil resources will however be more costly and require that the allocation of costs to extract and refine must be balanced between how we use these resources and how others types of energy are used so that our energy supply and distribution is done in the most cost and energy efficient manner. The expression of oil lifetime in terms of years is only relative to how we balance the extraction and use with other capabilities, the advances in technology for location, extraction, and refining, and how energy resources are established for the citizens of the world.

2. One problem with the energy discussion is it is easy to find parochial or pet rock solutions and not a total energy system for all applications--when each source is considered wisely there are benefits for each based on the cost to establish, cost of technology, how and where it is used, the distribution, etc. To solve the energy problem we must begin with a vision of energy from source to beyond use (waste and environmental issues) and include the cost of technology evolution, distribution, how use devices will change (how will automobiles, trucks etc. evolve) other modes of transportation, heating etc. A balanced look at the energy topic will result in a system of energy sources that are used and deployed much more efficiently than today

3. Nuclear power must be one of the most important evolving sources of energy. The technology needed has been identified and improvements continue to evolve. Nuclear power offers many advantages but cannot nor can others stand alone. Nuclear must move ahead with improved understanding and focus on safety, public understanding, acceptance of a waste management system and the value of nuclear power to the entire energy needs. If viewed as a total system nuclear will find a expanding and major role in the energy supply--and because of cost and efficiency will have impact both on availability and cost--and will like have an influential driving effect on the type of product used for various energy use--more electric autos--electric rail etc. The nuclear must begin with a commitment to nuclear as one of the major thrusts of energy but only as one of several balanced components--we cannot let a single focus be the only source that is almost worse than doing nothing because when there is an issue and it is delayed or stopped or cost increase the risk to success is so high that we have accomplished nothing --again a reason for balance.

Chuck Slocum (8) (7) (10)
Mr. Shuster makes sense, based on current energy supplies. New technology and forthcoming energy related discoveries will only provide temporary relief, in my view. I agree that a bold and comprehensive plan is necessary now and do wish him well in the marketing of his book.

The election of a new president in 2008 will be a window of opportunity. What about former Presidents Clinton and Bush joining with other distinguished leaders from throughout the world? Perhaps Nobel prize winning Al Gore would have interest as he grows his "An Inconvenient Truth" international organization.

State Sen. Sandy Rummel (8) (9) (1)
In a conversation with a businessman from Germany last week, he said that many Europeans are very uncomfortable with France's heavy dependence on nuclear, and that there are mini accidents and leaks all the time. I wonder why we are not talking more about distributed power, especially solar pv? If power is distributed, we save on the cost of transmission, and more importantly, become less vulnerable to attacks on our energy sources. Concentrating energy in a few plants seems to be tempting fate. Solar is safer, would generate many many jobs, prices would go down as use goes up. In addition, in Minnesota we are moving closer to having demonstration plants for high octane algae oil generated off of water treatment facilities: cleans air, cleans water, no competition with food chain...small footprint, potential to meet our country's gasoline needs (contact Met Council and Dr. Ruan, UofM).

Chris Brazelton (10) (7) (5)
The subject is very complex. Not having read the book and not being an expert on the topic, it's hard to know who to believe as so many "experts" are in conflict with each other on the solutions. There is so much money at stake, it's also difficult to know to what extent the opinions are being driven by profit motive and to what extent they are the best solutions for the country.

Obviously, any solutions must be cost effective, and if generated by private industry need to be profitable. Someone who stands to make a lot of money on Compressed Natural Gas is likely to see that as a big part of the solution. Likewise with any other part of the solution.

I thank you for presenting this speaker and spreading the word about his book, as it will add to the information base from which ultimate policy will be determined.

David Alden (8) (8) (7)

Bill Kuisle (2) (8) (1)

John Carlson (8) (10) (10)

I was moved to order Joe's book.

Brian Thiel
I read the summary of Joe Schuster's talk with GREAT interest. As one who has spent most of his life checking the facts underlying all kinds of important choices people make, it is always good to read/hear from those whose point of view is both unconventional and well-researched.

About 15 years ago I was at a very interesting dinner meeting with the CFO of a large Western US energy company that has a giant investment in a nuclear plant as well as a number of fossil fuel plants. He tempered my enthusiasm for nuclear with his comment that coal plants produced energy at greatly lower prices.

It would be extremely interesting to have a hidden microphone in the moose head on the wall of the club when somebody like that person has an informal discussion with Mr. Schuster if their viewpoints today were to diverge significantly on the net cost to generate electricity by all the various methods. (All those details keep muddying the water, eh? It is always difficult to compare projected cost of a new technology versus the known and accepted cost of an existing one. Even if there is significant difference in the projections, the risk of missing something, slows the rate of adoption.)

But, if Mr. Shuster has correctly assessed the comparative costs, the policy choices to be made are much clearer... move steadily and quickly toward a whole new technology. But.... of course, due to their great financial interests, the existing energy producers will surely try to preserve their favorable positions as long as possible. And that is why politics is so messy... you have to get elected to affect public policy and you have to have money from the economic interests to get elected. Sigh!

Carolyn Ring (8) (10) (8)

Bill Hamm (8) (8) (10)

Question 1, I suspect while his figures are close, new discoveries may well alter those projections considerably. Question 2, again under current strategies and with current technology his figures are likely quite accurate but new technology such as lower production costs for solar and more efficient wind generation systems could conceivably significantly increase his projections. Question 3, the new Nuclear energy proposals show the most certain of these ways to make the biggest difference in the next 50 years. While I like Joe's work it like the Pickens plan totally fails to look at Geothermal as a viable source. Under Yellowstone Park lies a huge lava dome waiting to erupt and cause us catastrophe. It contains the ability to produce all of our electric needs until that day comes with technology proven by Iceland yet environmentalists are to afraid that letting us tap
this energy source fearing it will affect "Old Faithful" or other natural wonders. The reality is that the more energy we draw off that lava dome potentially the longer it may be before it blows. We need to get serious about geothermal here and now because that lava dome is our cheapest natural source of energy by far and we need to start using that even before we start building more Nuclear Plants.

Shirley Heaton

Very interesting presentation. As I read it I wondered if this was the scenario when the automobile was introduced to replace the horse and buggy; the intro of the airplane; or man's exploration of space? What we need now is those with the 'right stuff' to get together, overcome the obstacles set in their path by the "business as usual folk" and lead the way.

Mary Tambornino (10) (5) (5)

Vici Oshiro (8) (9) (5)

Need further study before making stronger commitments - especially on nuclear. Am glad to learn of the new technology.

John S. Adams (8) (9) (8)

Tom Swain (8) (7) (10)

Tim Olson (5) (10) (10)

Great conversation! How about regional oil? Drill North Dakota to serve the upper Mid-west, increase off-shore for the coasts and the gulf for the southern states. Import from Canada and Mexico. About 15 years ago, someone suggested we'd be out of oil by now. I don't know that anyone has a great handle on the world oil supply.
I think some hybrid auto technology could involve the mix of natural gas with gasoline for increased fuel efficiency. Yes to Mr. Shuster's nuke ideas. I don't buy into global warming...God's in charge of the weather.

Ellen T. Brown (10) (10) (10)
The best news in the interview was the info about productive uses for radioactive waste. I have long thought there must be some residual value in this, if it is so potent as to require 10,000 years to decompose, and am happy to hear from someone who knows something about it that there is.

Ray Ayotte (5) (8) (10)

Clarence Shallbetter (8) (9) (8)

Question 1: Conventional sources are likely to be depleted but as their price increases it's likely technologies will both discover and refine sources not presently affordable for the market. This price escalation may be necessary to create the investments needed to move to alternatives such as nuclear.

Question 2: Yes. The growing base of power needed to fuel vehicles with electricity and to provide desired air conditioning in all buildings will exceed the likely amount generated by solar and wind. Conservation in transportation such as car pooling holds considerable promise but it requires significant changes in the habits of people, changes many are unwilling to make without substantial financial incentives to do so. Changes in the power source of vehicles will occur once it is clear that cheap gas will not become available. The substitution of electricity for gas hold the greatest promise in transportation, not labor intensive public transit which also requires massive changes in living space arrangements. It is also inconsistent with the desire of people to have a vehicle attached to where they live that enables them to go wherever and whenever they want to travel.

Question 3: Yes. The biggest issues here are disposal of spent fuels. If the new technology does this with enormous margins of safety then I think public fears might be overcome and nuclear can proceed. The probable high cost of these new plants, however, probably means that people and the economy will need to increase its expenditures on energy.

Larry Schluter (7) (6) (9)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

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