Why is it that we keep reading things like this months later in the so-called "mainstream media"?
There is no certain bet in nuclear physics but work by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) on the use of thorium as a cheap, clean and safe alternative to uranium in reactors may be the magic bullet we have all been hoping for, though we have barely begun to crack the potential of solar power.
Each ton of coal we burn up contains 13 times as much energy as that liberated by combustion of the carbon in said Thorium. We could thus receive the same electrical energy we gain by burning the coal through extracting the Thorium and using the nuclear energy to produce power. With the rest of the energy, the other 12/13ths, we could then extract hydrogen from seawater (which we have lots of) and convert the remaining coal to either diesel fuel or gasoline. To put a not-fine-point on this, we throw away more than 100 billion gallons of gasoline (after conversion losses) in thorium tailings alone. That is damn close to all of our existing gasoline consumption - with ZERO oil being drilled. (PS: Those are conservative estimates - mathematically, it's 200 billion gallons!)
Even funnier that this isn't exactly rocket science. Oh yeah, we had one running at Oak Ridge for quite some time. The operators intentionally left it both unattended and without power twice in an attempt to make it melt down. It drained itself and shut down exactly as designed. No boom, no china syndrome, no radioactive waste release. In the morning they came and restarted it without incident by simply re-heating the material and pumping it back into the core. No muss, no fuss, no cloud over Oak Ridge.
Even better is that these things burn nuclear waste, turning long-life isotopes into short-life ones. The sort that decay into non-harmful isotopes within a few years, at which point they can be processed into their useful rare-earth elements (which are not radioactive.)
We have solutions to our energy problems folks. We just simply refuse to use them - and whether your political persuasion is of the left or right variety, you might want to ask your favorite politician why?
Wouldn't it be nice to create some high-paying jobs putting Throium-cycle nuclear power infrastructure into place in this country? Yes, you'd have to put a cork into the "NIMBY" folks with Federal Laws that would preempt the nonsense that is typically run with these sorts of projects.
But the question is this: Do we want to live in a petroleum-constrained nation forever, with an increasing amount of dependence on nations that hate us, or would we like to break their backs and become independent from them?