As promised, one of the first things John did upon arrival in Washington was begin to make trouble for the Indian Point Energy Center (IP).
In a move that has enraged advocates of nuclear power, Hall introduced a bill that will require an independent safety assessment of Indian Point - surely designed to expose problems and flaws that will warrant shutting it down.
Hall said "it would never have been sited here if the population 40 years ago was what it is today", noting that 8% of the population of the entire United States lives within the 50 mile kill zone that surrounds the plant.
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets says "if an independent study was done, I'm' sure we'd do very well on it".
A regular commenter, whose own blog (that I won't link to because it doesn't allow comments) defends IP well, criticizes the independent assessment as "an exercise in partisan attack futility".
Rep. Eliot Engel supports the independent study pointing out that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can't do the job on it's own, saying "the NRC never met a nuclear plant they didn't like".
Meanwhile, I sit bemusedly watching, enjoying the posturing, withering criticism and great one-liners from both sides, I ask myself "what's the big deal with an independent safety assessment" before a creaky old powderkeg is relicensed for another thousand years?"
Given Entergy's steadfast position that IP is one of the safest nuke facilities in the world and all is well, why fight the ISA? Entergy should welcome the opportunity to put the debate to rest. Rather than pull a Saddam and kick inspectors out, they should throw open the doors to every inspector with even a casual interest, rather than risk the might of a hostile invader Congress bent on chasing them into a spider hole.
Entergy knows the no-nukes lobby is only going to grow stronger over the coming few years. If, and I mean IF, IP is really that safe, why the strident opposition to inspection?
It wasn't the left who coined the phrase "energy security" and forced energy to become a bona fide National Security Issue. It was the producers and their friends in DC who did that. Intended to mean oil, it naturally grew in scope to include nukes as well.
So as an exercise in ensuring our "energy security", putting the debate, finally, to rest around Indian Point, and easing the unease the 8% feels in the backs of their minds when they see the smoke and reactor domes, Entergy should embrace this opportunity for all it is worth.
Unless, I shudder to think, they have something to hide.