The new move by George W Bush to turn the US (and the clock) back to nuclear energy has placed the energy debate center stage. Under guise of self sufficiency in a world awash, apparently, with terrorists meant for killing or incarcerating this is an exercise in zenophobia.
There's a similar debate here in Australia as the federal government has flagged the option that Australia should go nuclear for its energy needs. With almost 40% of the word's urnanium in the dry earth within its borders the logic of a nuclear driven Australia has a rationale perhaps?
But it won't happen. It won't happen because the debate is a stalking horse not for the construction of nuclear power stations but for more uranium mines. Essentially the point of this 'debate' is to increase the allowed number of uranium mines in the country and to get the population to agree to the principle that since 'we' sell the ore we should also take back the waste.
Selling the option that Australia should become a nuclear dumping ground is a very hard call but it does underscore a major problem any fuel cycle argument has to contend with -- even Bush's. Australian working people have a proud tradition of opposition to uranium mining and the key debate today is whether the Labor Party will junk its 'three mines policy' at its next conference.
Back in 1984 when the 'three mines policy' was adopted by the ALP there was a groundswell away from the ALP and within a few weeks the Nuclear Disarmament Party was born. This was a major watershed in Australian politics as the NDP's initial electoral success kicked started the process that later led to the formation of the Green Party here.
The irony is for those who think that left is genetically different from the green, is that the driving force in the NDP's reach out was the Democratic Socialist Perspective -- now a key component in the Socialist Alliance here.
So the issue of uranium is so hot here that it altered the direction of Australian politics irrevocably as it not only fostered the later formation of the Greens but it kick started a major political trend toward left (and green) regroupment in this country.
And strangely, that relates to California -- as the discussion we had, flowing on from the 1984 break out included Peter Camejo as the rethinking and the discussion was being driven not only by the experience here but also the example of the FMLN of El Salvador and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. And consideration of it's electoral ramifications were being formatted by the success of the German Green Party at the time.
That was the crucible. So while it may be de rigueur to act locally the sort of politics that was pursued has very rich international roots buoyed up by an open ended discussion about what is to be done? Thats' the sort of discussion that needs to be rebooted today.