CWA: Why no thorium reactors?

I just finished speaking on a panel about alternative energy at the 63rd Annual Conference on World Affairs. I wanted to share a quick tidbit, which I think you all will find interesting. In the course of our conversation, someone in the audience asked us why the United States hasn’t funded much research into thorium-based nuclear fission reactors. I have no idea. But Douglas Ray, who heads up alternative energy research at the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory had an interesting take on this. From his perspective, the lack of thorium research probably has less to do with any corporate lobbying on the part of the established nuclear industry, and more to do with the fact that the American public fears and mistrusts nuclear energy research, in general. Nuclear isn’t a popular thing to fund, and so thorium doesn’t get funding.