The proposition that nuclear power is climate-friendly was largely refuted by experts at a Nov. 7-8 conference sponsored by the Nuclear Policy Research Institute. The supposed lack of greenhouse gas effects from fission-fired plants has created a political climate that is spurring new nuclear plant proposals outside California. "The potential for a nuclear renaissance is real," said Gregory Jaczko, Nuclear Regulatory commission member. While the NRC supports increasing nuclear power use, experts attempted to demolish several of nuclear proponents' arguments-starting with the perception that nuclear power does not create greenhouse gases. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions released from nuclear power is affected primarily by the quality of uranium ore used. Reactors that use high-grade ore-the supply of which is shrinking-produce about 20-40 percent as much carbon dioxide as is released from combined-cycle gas-fired plants, according to J.W. Storm van Leeuwan, energy systems and chemistry consultant with Ceedata. Facilities that use low-grade ore emit as much CO2 as gas-fired plants, he added. The amount of global warming gases associated with nukes rises significantly when the life cycle of nuclear power-from mining to waste disposal-is factored in. Nukes cause more greenhouse effects indirectly, according to experts. \t Investing in the complicated technology, notorious for cost overruns, means a reduction in investments in wind, solar, and other green power plants. "Nuclear power had its chance and failed," said Dave Freeman, former head of the California Power Authority, the California Independent System Operator, and the state's two largest municipal utilities. "You need huge subsidies before anyone will even talk about it." The last nuke plant in the US was built in 1973. \t Freeman also questioned the wisdom of investing in costly new parts to extend the life of Pacific Gas & Electric's and Southern California Edison's nuke plants. \t "No one has ever run a plant for 50 years," Freeman said. Extending the life of the plant may look good on the balance sheet because of the low cost of electricity, he said. However, the billions of dollars in investment should be spent on efficiency and renewable energy supplies as called for by the state's energy agencies, which would help meet California's greenhouse gas reduction targets. Radioactive Waste Dump's Funding Cut Funding for the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump was cut by federal lawmakers on November 7. The 2006 budget was reduced to $450 million from the $650 million that was proposed by the Bush administration. In addition, legislators hoping to wrap up a bill on energy and water also eliminated proposed funding for on-site interim waste storage. Instead, they agreed to spend $50 million on fuel recycling. The U.S. Senate and House are expected to vote on the legislation at the end of the week. The proposed waste repository in Nevada has been stalled numerous times, and the dump license application is seriously behind schedule. Californians have given the federal government more than $1 billion to build a permanent radioactive waste site. The Energy Commission in its draft 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report, which is up for approval November 21, rejects using new nukes to help meet energy demand because of the lack of a waste repository. Building new nuclear plants in this state is forbidden until such a site is available.