Dean Clough

February 8, 2023

Portico Darwin: Nuke Texas!


2 Minute Read
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Nah, it's not what you think.  In fact, I want to nuke Texas so badly, and in such a positive manner, that I almost called in my heavy hitters.

But I didn't.  Because wanting Texas to be the center of clean energy, and especially the modular nuclear power plant industry, should not be fantasy. 

Yes, some background is in order.

First, and in general, I am on record as completely backing nuclear power, whatever its footprint.  And that's because it is the least bad power source available, in terms of safety, cost, ability to scale, and environmental damage.  (If you're doubtful, you really should listen to this Freakonomics podcast for the facts.)

But beyond that, there's huge news.  The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has certified what is only the seventh approved design for a nuclear power reactor in this country.  And that design is for Small Modular Reactors (SMR), of those designed and already being offered by Nuscale Power

NRC Certifies First U.S. Small Modular Reactor Design | Department of Energy

This is a big f'ing deal!  This means there are no legal impediments any longer to build these next-gen plants.

What does this have to do with Texas?  Aren't they already moving big on wind power? 

Yes, but let's first review the profits for 2022 as reported by some of the world's largest oil and gas companies:

  • ExxonMobil = $55 Billion
  • Chevron = $36 Billion
  • Shell = $40 Billion
  • BP = $28 Billion

These are profits, mind you - this is the money they kinda had left over.  And, as you might have heard, they're all record numbers, and those numbers total $159 billion. 

Now, here's where we nuke Texas, and I guess this is the fantasy part.  I'd like to see these companies pool just a bit of their profits and build and operate a demonstration Small Modular Reactor, right in one of the "oiliest" parts of the state.  Estimated cost to build a decent-sized SMR?  $10 billion - less than 10% of their profits from one year.

In fact, this area is presently full of refineries, oil tanks and other really nasty stuff.  The highlighted area below (which is approximately 6 square miles!) is Texas City, southeast of Houston and near Galveston, in Texas.  It's followed by a photo of what that the area looks like today. 


Would a clean, small nuclear plant like the one above not be an upgrade?  It could never be dirtier or more dangerous than what's there now - explosions and toxic emissions occur here on a not-infrequent basis.

And while not all of the oil companies above are based in Texas, their and the state's connection to each other and energy is undeniable.  Plus, Big Oil could work with the various governmental and interest groups in Texas in ways others can't, and get this done.  If they only wanted to.  

I will say again I believe Texas can and should lead the way for the US and world on clean energy.  In fact, wouldn't it be a great sign to everyone if the legacy energy companies went first, with a demonstration Small Modular Reactor they pay for and operate, right there in Texas?  It would be a massive PR win, and almost certainly a money-maker, especially if they ran it themselves.

Or is nuking Texas just a fantasy?


There was little (OK - no) feedback on my blog on gender and race

That's of course fine, and actually not even true. 

For the record, I do not ask Julie her opinion on what I write here.  Occasionally, she'll offer unsolicited praise, which I of course sincerely appreciate. 

Like she did on Monday.  Unprompted, she said "I liked your blog on gender today." 

What a woman!

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


Featuring "Galveston" and yes, "Rhinestone Cowboy", here is the late, great cocaine vacuum Glen Campbell with a collection of his finest, The Capitol Years 65/77.

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.