Clean and Safe

Nice Editorial from Investor's Business Daily:

Clean And Safe
Nuclear Power: Twenty-five killed and four missing in West Virginia. Six dead, dozens missing in China. How many more must perish in coal mines before the green lobby ends its opposition to a safer energy source?

More than 100 Americans have died in coal mines since 1984. Over that same period, not one American has died in a nuclear energy accident. In fact, no American has ever been killed in an atomic energy accident - and that includes any sailor in a Navy that makes extensive use of nuclear fission to power its fleet.

Worldwide, only 56 deaths are directly traceable to a nuclear energy accident. And all of those were the result of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster that has correctly been blamed on poor Soviet engineering and design, not atomic power's inherent risk.

When properly harnessed, nuclear power is a clean, steady source of renewable energy. It doesn't sling out ash, generate acid rain or emit mercury or arsenic. It has been safely used for decades in the U.S., Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Belgium and France. The last two use nuclear energy to meet more than half of their electricity needs.

France and Japan generate about 70% of their power through nuclear plants. France exports enough power to neighboring nations that it makes it France's fourth largest export.

On this side of the Atlantic, coal provides roughly half of America's electrical power and serves as an indispensable link in our energy chain. With 275 billion tons in recoverable reserves, no other nation is as rich in coal. We have enough to meet domestic demand for 250 years.

These facts compel us to be strong supporters of coal and the jobs it provides. We also support nuclear energy and are convinced it can provide a much larger portion of our electrical energy needs.

The numbers, however, suggest that America - the world's top economy and biggest energy consumer - has mishandled its energy policy.

While the U.S., with 104 commercial reactors at 65 plants, is the largest nuclear power provider on Earth, atomic energy generates just 20% of our electricity. Of the plants that the federal government once predicted we'd have by now, only a 10th are in operation. A new reactor hasn't opened since Watts Bar 1 went on-line in Tennessee in 1996.

During the 2008 campaign, President Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle he wanted to put in place policies that would bankrupt anyone who tried to build a new coal plant. "Once we make dirty energy expensive," he said, the plan is to develop and deploy clean, affordable energy.

He probably wasn't thinking then about nuclear energy as a clean, affordable alternative. But he should have been. Under a reasonable policy framework, men, rather than dying tragically in the mines, could be building and operating the nuclear reactors that will power a growing U.S. economy to midcentury and beyond.

We have 250 years of coal but we also have over 500 years of Uranium and many more if we move to Thorium-Fluoride reactors.

Nice to see these thoughts out in public fora...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 7, 2010 12:55 PM.

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