By the early 1970s, Atomic Age dreams of ubiquitous nuclear power were evaporating as fast as those Space Age fantasies of humanity soon spreading out into the solar system. The data show a clear break in nuclear reactor construction in 1971 and 1972, which suggests the decline in reactor construction is likely attributable to a
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By the early 1970s, Atomic Age dreams of ubiquitous nuclear power were evaporating as fast as those Space Age fantasies of humanity soon spreading out into the solar system. The data show a clear break in nuclear reactor construction in 1971 and 1972, which suggests the decline in reactor construction is likely attributable to a confluence of regulatory events, perhaps creating uncertainty about the future cost of safety regulations. Two of the most important events happened in 1971: the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Calvert Cliffs decision, in which the DC Circuit Court ordered federal regulators to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, widely considered the “Magna Carta” of federal environmental laws. Basically, NEPA and related executive orders require federal agencies to investigate and assess the potential environmental costs, if any, of its projects and solicit public input. (At least twenty states and localities have their own such statutes, known as “little NEPAs.”) The following passage from the Calvert decision gives a good feel for the era’s Down Wing attitude: “These cases are only the beginning of what promises to become a flood of new litigation…seeking judicial assistance in protecting our natural environment. Several recently enacted statutes attest to the commitment of the Government to control, at long last, the destructive engine of material ‘progress.’”
Wow. They wanted to stop the the engine of material progress and they did. Right out of Atlas Shrugged.
This is from The Conservative Futurist: How to Create the Sci-Fi World We Were Promised, James Pethokoukis’s cheery introduction to ending the great stagnation. Pethokoukis ably covers all the big debates about the causes, consequences and solutions to the great stagnation and does so briskly, with optimism and covering culture as well as economics. Recommended as a one-stop shop for ending the great stagnation and as a pick-me-up.
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