Nadine Freischlad, writer for Mongabay Series: In the early 2000s, Kirk Sorensen had begun trying to revive interest in an alternative type of reactor, one that uses the element thorium instead of uranium to start the nuclear reaction, and liquid fuel instead of solid rods to sustain it. He believes thorium could make the next generation of nuclear power plants safer and easier to manage, and provide the world with an abundance of clean, cheap and safe energy. Nuclear had been considered in Indonesia before, but plans never materialized due to safety concerns. After all, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, a country of thousands of islands draped across the seismic Ring of Fire.
Nuclear power in the United States has had to fight against well funded and well organized anti-nuclear power organizations and political leaders who relied on them for votes. Incredibly, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding back development of advanced nuclear power technologies by making licensing very difficult to nearly impossible. In the 1960s a nuclear plant could be licensed in less than five years. Now the NRC says licensing new technologies could take more than a quarter of a century. North American companies are taking their new technologies to Asia to develop and license. Russia, China and other countries are doing just the opposite. They are moving ahead as fast as possible to develop new nuclear technologies. How can American citizens let this happen?
The World Nuclear Association Weekly Newsletter for February 23, 2018 reports that the USA is going to start research on fast reactors again. The United States had a tremendous lead in the 1970s. Presidents Carter and Clinton, President Obama's Science Advisor John Holdren, Natural Resources Defense Council's Thomas Cochran, and Princeton's Frank Von Hippel worked hard to close fast reactors in the USA. The United States may restart research on fast reactors after losing three decades of progress to the Russians and Chinese. Good for Russia and China. Very unfortunate for the USA. The world needs all the energy that it can get from fossil fuels and nuclear. With no false obstacles in the way, the USA could be self-sufficient and an exporter of energy and energy technologies to make a better world for people and nature.
Charles Barton, lead advocate for advanced nuclear power technologies, in particular from thorium: Thomas B. Cochran is a lobbyist employed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, to attack nuclear power on a full time basis. As befits a Lobbyist, Cochran is well compensated. In 2006 Cochran was one of the 5 highest paid employees of the NRDC, with a total compensation package approaching $200,000. In 2006 the largest single foundation donor to the the NRDF was the Energy Foundation, an environmental funding NGO, that also funds many other anti-nuclear "environmental organizations.