Posts Tagged ‘Electricity generation’

Nuclear Energy should go back on the alternative list

A friend of mine just posted a pretty great rant about “True Conservatism” of natural resources.

I was doing some research about nuclear power to provide a counterpoint to his call to change our driving habits and “go green” in our buying habits and found this fabulous Opinion piece in the Rochester Post-Bulletin from Phil Araoz.

Here are the highlights:

Winter is coming! Heating bills are rising! Oh if only there were safe, efficient ways to generate electricity without creating all those horrible greenhouse gases like coal plants do.

Wait a minute. There is one. Nuclear energy.

That’s right. Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases. It does produce waste, but the waste is low volume and can be contained, not spewed out into the atmosphere. In fact, in the United States, electricity production, mostly from coal, is the No. 1 producer of greenhouse gases. That’s right, our electrical production produces more greenhouse gases than cars, trucks and all our transportation.

And nuclear energy is working right now. In France, nuclear energy accounts for 78 percent of electricity produced, and France has the cleanest air of any industrialized country. Here in Minnesota, 20 percent of our electrical power is now generated from nuclear power. We should be generating more.

But to date we’ve been having trouble even maintaining what we have, mainly because of concern about the plants’ waste products. Here in Minnesota, we have two nuclear power plants (Prairie Island and Monticello), and not since 2003 (and even then after a long struggle) has the Minnesota Legislature approved expanded waste storage for either plant. Waste storage must be increased if these plants are going to meet growing electricity needs.

And if we really want to keep up with energy demands, we should be building more nuclear power plants. Our two plants were built in the 1970s. Think what we could do with a few more plants, built with modern designs and ready for our 21st century needs. Unfortunately, the state has banned construction of new plants since 1994. That ban should be lifted.

The reason for these bans and restrictions is concern. Concern about the waste. Concern about radiation leaks. It’s OK to be concerned. But concern shouldn’t turn into paranoia.

Our two Minnesota power plants have been operating for more than 30 years. Both have excellent safety records. Neither has ever had a major incident….

Yes there is a very small risk from nuclear energy. But what is that weighed against? How does the small risk from a nuclear power plant compare to the “true planetary emergency” of global warming? How does the small risk from nuclear energy compare to real risk that high energy prices will make some people choose between paying heating bills and buying groceries?

Nuclear energy is a real-life, present-day, emission-free technology. Unfortunately, too many politicians (especially liberal ones) like to only talk about “alternative sources” of energy that are years and years away from working. We’ve got a safe, clean energy source right here, right now. Let’s use it.

Other alternatives should be pursued too, of course. But have you see the windmill farms in northern Iowa? Not only are they an eyesore, I will testify they disrupt radio and cell reception every time we drive down 35W. And how many windmills would it really take to replace a coal plant?

Why is it that Minnesotans are so afraid of nuclear power? Educate me, please.

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