In April the Taipower announced that it was purchasing new units for its nuclear power plants… The other day Taiwan News wrote a hard hitting editorial about the KMT’s nuclear energy policies….

After years of objection while in opposition to the setting of explicit carbon dioxide reduction targets, the KMT now advocates a drive to return to 2008 levels of carbon emissions by 2020 and to return to the level of emissions in 2000 by 2025, in part by expanding the share of “low carbon” energy sources of total electricity power output from 40 percent at present to 55 percent by 2025.

Unfortunately, behind this rhetoric lurks the shadows of a deceitful drive by KMT technocratic ideologues to revive nuclear power as the core of Taiwan’s future energy policy under the “low carbon” banner.

The new program specifically mandates that “nuclear power will be considered a zero-carbon option” and the policy decision issued by KMT Premier Liu Chao-shuian that completion of the controversial Nuclear Four facility will be “accelerated” so that its two 1,350-megawatt reactor units can come on line late next year.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Shen Shih-hung stated Thursday that “nuclear power is a method to deal with carbon dioxide, but is the last resort,” but this fig leaf was discarded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs as a spokesman admitted that the MOEA is “evaluating” a fifth nuclear power facility and by the statement of a Taiwan Power Co spokesman that there was room at the Nuclear Four site in northeast Taiwan for up to 12 more nuclear reactor generating units.

It is apparent that the KMT sees the rapid expansion of Taiwan’s nuclear power capacity not a “last resort” but as a priority program in yet another example of its proclivity to allow its technocratic ideology “to drive policy.”

Typically, not only did the KMT block carbon targets, it also blocked renewable energy legislation, as the editorial notes:

If the KMT was sincere in its adoption of a “low-carbon” philosophy,” then the KMT-controlled Legislature should long ago have allowed the passage of several laws proposed by the former DPP government to achieve this vision.

The most egregious example is the draft law for the encouragement of renewable energy use, which was introduced into the Legislative Yuan over six years ago, whose passage would have allowed the promotion of enough renewable energy capacity to cover a new nuclear power facility without the risks and with greater employment benefits.

One pattern common world-wide with nuclear power is the way it shapes political behavior and political structures that are fundamentally anti-democratic. Taiwan is no exception, as the editorial notes:

Last but not least, the KMT’s planned revival of nuclear power involves our human and environmental rights.

Since the KMT ticket did not even mention plans for a “nuclear renaissance” in their campaign, the new KMT government does not have an automatic mandate to reverse the decision made by a bi-partisan legislative majority in early 2002 to adopt a “non-nuclear home” vision in the Environmental Basic Law.

We therefore support the position of the Nuclear Four Referendum Promotion Association that the question of whether to allow the controversial Nuclear Four facility to enter commercial production should be ratified by the people of Taiwan through national citizen referendum and urge that any future plans to build new nuclear reactor units should also be subject to ratification by citizen referendum.

Another issue, as the editorial points out, is the almost total lack of policy on greening Taiwan’s public and private infrastructure. What Taiwan should be doing is shutting down polluting industries…

The fundamental solution to Taiwan’s energy and carbon emissions problems requires mostly action the demand side, especially structural adjustment of our industrial structure.

For example, environmentalists estimate that over 83 percent of the alleged annual carbon dioxide reduction of 18 million tons claimed for Nuclear Four could be realized simply by vetoing plans by the Formosa Plastics Group to build a steel refinery on the Yunlin coast.

Taiwan should also be shutting down the new coal-fired power plants the DPP stupidly signed off on. Instead, it should rapidly expand renewable energy use (like windpower), make buildings green, and implement conservation. The incestuous relationship between local politicians and the construction and concrete industries not only produces massive overbuilding with the attendant strain on the environment and economy, but also creates an infrastructure that has extremely poor energy conservation characteristics.

What is truly monstrous is that these issues have not changed in the two decades after the fourth nuclear plant became a huge political issue. Rational conservation programs could obviate the need for new power plants, yet instead of introducing conservation programs, the government just builds more power plants. This is, in the energy field, the same problem we face with water, where instead of raising prices and encouraging conservation, the government just services demand by providing cheap water and building more reservoirs. Or with roads, where the government just builds more and more roads, instead of working on ways to reduce the number of cars on the road. The result is massive government debt, infrastructure suited to the 1960s, and abuse of every kind of natural resource.

All this the DPP wanted to change. But I’m not worried, because we’re all going to be millionaires once we open up to China! It’s magic! I think I’ll go outside and dress up like a customs official and build a miniature Grand Hotel in my driveway. I bet that will make the Chinese come over and bring plenty of cargo…..