We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Problem is, fission power is not a free lunch. For one thing, it produces large quantities of highly radioactive waste. For another, it depends on the supply of fissionable isotopes. That supply is strictly limited. OTOH, fusion can use hydrogen for fuel, and it can take hydrogen from seawater -- the single most common substance on Earth.
We should put a lot more effort into fusion research, and not continue to pass it off to an international consortium.
OTOH, the fission reactors in current service are equivalent to Model A Fords. There are contemporary designs that not only reduce the half life of the waste by one or two orders of magnitude, but have dramatically increased efficiency (100x), such that our supply of uranium is good for hundreds of years. That's more than enough time to develop fusion.
Check out Generation IV reactor on Wikipedia.
The nuclear power industry is extremely conservative due to the continuous attacks by anti-nuclear activists. If that situation could be resolved, the US could move to contemporary designs.
My two cents worth. If we killed all the subsidies for all the "Green Power" projects and used the money to offer a government contract to private industry for a working Fusion Power system then the beginnings of the age of fusion power wouldn't be 15 to 20 years from now (as its been for half a century) but more like 5 to 10 years.
And I mean all the alternate power boondoggles that require subsides to survive. Including; ethanol, wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal (which actually caused earthquakes in CA).
Edision and Telsa were NOT government employees and making yourself a fortune from risk and imagination is not a sin.
Obama speaks of energy as if he didn't understand that an equivalent way of speaking about it was "mass." Consider that the energy (power+energy, really) sector of the economy is maybe 1/7th of the whole shooting match. So you aren't retooling this abstract little industry that makes widgets. It's physical changes on the order of I-can't-even-begin-to-calculate-that-much-my-head-hurts (damn you, law school and possibly genetic innumeracy). Maybe that's why he and the rest of his buddies are so glib about it... they haven't even tried to get their minds around the enormity of the task they boil down to a smug talking point. It's like make-believe to them. Some guy on a 200 car coal train and some other guy greasing a 5 foot diameter windmill, er air turbine shaft on a 500 foot high air turbine amidst a field of 200 500 foot tall air turbines knows what an immensely heavy lift removing the accretions of a couple hundred years of our particular energy economy will be. Yet they talk about it on TV as if it were a magic trick that will just pop into finished shape...
Back in the 70s, "Science" published a series of articles on the potential for fusion power. It was obvious then that fusion had no commercial or military use, because a fusion plant would have to be at least ten times the cost and size of an equivalent fission plant and even more expensive than a fossil fuel plant.
Of course that analysis assumed that fusion was possible. We have now funded 40 years of failure to achieve literally nothing, as in NOTHING: billions of dollars lost and the careers of thousands of brilliant young physicists wasted. No sustainable fusion reaction, let alone net power production, has even been achieved, and it is proven that no Tokamak machine will ever do so, despite the lies of the physicists.
Until Climategate, one could reasonably rank fusion power, and its current incarnation ITER, as the greatest scientific fraud of all time, much bigger than Lysenko.
Fission is the only alternative to fossil fuels. All the so-called "green" sources, meaning solar and wind, are not only stunningly more expensive than fossil or fission power (which means they have enormous negative environmental impacts), but they are inherently intermittent and require 1 kW of fossil (natural gas) fuel backup for every kW of installed solar or wind. Natural gas is required because the backup plant needs to be capable of fast startup and shutdown. By the way, solar/wind intermittency also introduces instabilities into the power grid, ala the Northeast blackouts of recent history and my youth.
As to radioactive wastes from fission (and fusion produces them, too), they are very small in volume, and a reasonable containment program is possible (pace Miller).
I agree with your post above about nuclear fission. Why is it so hard for governmental bigwigs to realize that the more that nuclear energy is used to produce electricity for internal consumption, the less petroleum will have to be used for this purpose? Which would free up our petroleum supplies and would seem to solve our immediate and near-future gasoline shortages without the use of ethanol, biofuels, combination electricity and gasoline, and other less efficient solutions? The US has relatively vast discoveries of petroleum and natural gas locked into shale deposits right here in the US of A, just waiting to be produced, but the government seems to be determined to remain dependent on Middle Eastern petroleum producers and what the oil industry refers to as 'the world oil pool,' where the government owned petroleum companies of other countries sell their petroleum.
I'm personally very grateful, by the way, that Texas, my home state, has a nuclear generating facility, and wish that we had others. IIRC, many European nations depend on nuclear power plants for electricity. The figure I recall for France is that 70% of its electricity is produced by nuclear powered facilities. And several of the bigger Western European countries have similar figures.
I note your comment on radioactive wastes, and also agree with you there. Surely we can wait a few years for our scientists to solve the nuclear waste problem, which is about as insubstantial a major threat as "manmade global warming," Al Gore's great and profitable con.
Along the idea that Fission is NO FREE LUNCH ... In 1989 Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet wrote 'Fission and Fusion: Symbols of the Old World and the New' in response to the 'discovery' of cold fusion. It is still quite interesting in terms of understanding the need/evolutionary imperative for developing Fusion as a clean energy source for our use on this planet. Here's a link to an intro to and pdf of the article: http://circumsolatious.blogspot.com/2010/01/old-consciousness-in-contrast-to-new.html