Over the next week or so, I will be comparing the positions of Krystal Ball and Scott Robinson on a myriad of important issues. Krystal and Scott are both seeking the democratic nomination in the First Congressional District this year and they both appeared at a candidate forum hosted by the Stafford Democratic Committee this past Saturday.
The first issue that we will delve into is the environment. Both candidates were asked to talk about their environmental priorities and whether they support Cap and Trade.
Both candidates agreed that the preservation and protection of the Chesapeake Bay should be a top environmental priority; however, as opposed to Scott, Krystal displayed a much more thorough understanding of the issue at hand. At times it seems that Scott was just memorizing things and simply trying to recite them from memory. Not once did he mention anything about the effect climate change is actually having on the bay.
Krystal strongly believes that the
current regulatory regime for controlling nonpoint source pollution is just broken. We’ve got to fix it, we’ve got to get the EPA more involved in controlling nonpoint source pollution.
She also understands that in order to get the bay under control that we need to directly address, and in Wittman’s case acknowledge, the effects that climate change is having on the bay. Krystal goes on to say that
we can do everything right with the bay in terms of controlling pollution and it would all be for not, if we do not get climate change under control. It contributes to the algae blooms that create the dead zones that cause all the problems.
Krystal goes on to explain that
We are home to the second most vulnerable coastline to climate change. Second, only to New Orleans. So, this is an area that will quite frankly be under water, if we don’t get this under control. And Rob Wittman has voted time and time again against renewable energy. He voted against Cap and Trade. We’ve got to get serious about controlling climate change or else the bay is in big trouble.
Krystal also spent quite a bit of time advocating for renewable energy. She noted the huge potential of wind power off the coast of Norfolk. It has some of the highest sustained winds in the country and the shallow depth makes it very cost effective. She also noted the potential for solar power throughout the district.
The candidates differed substantially on Cap and Trade. Scott does not support it and Krystal does. Scott didn’t offer any reasons on why he opposed it.
Krystal on her support for Cap and Trade:
it is exactly the sort of market-based energy reform that, again, a responsible Republican should support. It uses market mechanisms to set the price, so it is as little government intervention as possible. And it is a policy that has been proven to work. Helped us to reduce acid rain under the Clean Air Act, so we know that it works.
Another issue that arose was nuclear power. Scott is a big supporter of nuclear power plants and Krystal is not ideologically opposed to it. Krystal thinks that wind and solar power are better ways to go. Her big issues with nuclear power plants are how to deal with the waste that they generate and the incredible construction costs to build one. Krystal noted that
construction costs on nuclear plants have gone up from an estimated $3 billion per plant 5 years ago to now an estimated $9 billion dollars.
She brought everyone’s attention to the fact that the President has decided to commit taxpayer dollars to backing loans for nuclear power plants, which she strongly opposes. She explains that the reason why the government had to get involved
was because no one in the market thought that this was a good deal. 50% of nuclear power plants do not make good on their loans.
It simply does not make fiscal sense and unnecessarily puts taxpayer dollars at risk.
Perhaps the biggest bombshell (perhaps quite literally) was Scott’s explanation on what he would do with the nuclear waste generated. He seemed to imply that nuclear waste would not be an issue with breeder reactors, something he strongly supports. When I first heard that I was speechless and it further reinforced the fact that he doesn’t do his homework.
The one advantage of a breeder reactor is a limitless supply of fuel; however, the disadvantages seriously outweigh any benefit. The waste produced by the breeder reactor must still be reprocessed, so that the 239Pu byproduct can be filtered out and reused by the reactor as fuel. 239Pu is also incredibly dangerous. It is so dangerous that the nuclear industry puts limits on how much of it an individual can handle over a lifetime. The fuel that this reactor uses and produces can also be used in a nuclear bomb. The security concerns are enormous and puts this country at a huge security risk, as these reactors would be present a huge target for terrorist organizations. If all of that isn’t enough to scare you, the costs for these reactors are very high.
I’m shocked that Scott would strongly endorse using breeder reactors, especially based on his background in the military. His biography indicates that he managed policy development regarding weapons of mass destruction as his final assignment at the Pentagon. You would think that with all of his “experience” that he wouldn’t be proposing something that has the potential to endanger the security of this nation.
It is clear to me that Krystal has a way better grasp on environmental issues and, most importantly, does her homework before making policy decisions. This is just the sort of person that this district needs.
UPDATE: For an excellent further analysis of these issues, see Blue Virginia.