Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bi-Partisan Agreement on Nuclear Energy

Earlier this week President Obama held a press conference to discuss the new loan options for a new wave of nuclear power plants. The President added over 8 billion dollars of loan guaranties to creditors and utility companies that decide to invest in nuclear energy. These new guaranties bring the total of nuclear loan funds to 58 billion dollars.

After 37 years America can once again tap into the most efficient energy source in the world. Both parties in congress have already made progress on bi-partisan support for new nuclear power plants in the United States. In a time of gridlock in Washington, this new development is a fresh breeze in a stifled energy market. The recession has strained alternative energy sources such as wind and solar due to their high operating cost and inability to help base power grids with energy consumption.

Nuclear energy solves several political and economic problems in the United States. Conservatives want energy production to increase within in the United States’ boarders. This would help create jobs, stabilize the economy, increase federal revenues, and curtail US dependence on foreign oil. Liberals want to cut CO2 emissions, create jobs and focus on the environment. Nuclear energy accommodates both liberal and conservative views. Nuclear reactors emit zero CO2, provide jobs in construction and manufacturing, cuts dependence on forging oil, and allows stable base-power load for renewable energy.

However, the transition to new nuclear energy will not be easy due to lobby groups that feel the danger of nuclear energy is not the solution the country needs. These anti-nuclear sentiments are rooted deep in the American psyche. From the three eyed fish that lives outside the nuclear plant on The Simpson’s to Three mile Island in New York, Americans fear the unknown dangers of nuclear energy. Because of this strong public opinion on nuclear energy the US has not built a nuclear power plant that is still operating since 1973 yet nuclear energy still accounts for 20 percent of electricity in the US.

Something has to give. The United States is the richest country in the world but still runs on the same coal technology that started the first industrial revolution. Renewable energy will not reduce CO2 emissions in the short or long term without coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear energy. The grid needs to be upgraded and building nuclear power plants will encourage new grid technology to be utilized. In addition, America cannot support standing armies in the Middle East defending oil supplies or allow OPEC to dictate oil prices. Nuclear energy is the only solution to all of these problems.

Fortunately, the newest generation of nuclear power reactors can be constructed in factories and shipped by rail. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ 02/18/10 A-1) these small reactors can be produced in factories rather than building them onsite which cuts down on cost and building time for new power plants. The time for nuclear energy is here and it is time to readdress many unfounded fears about nuclear energy and radiation in America.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jordan! Great opinion. I've read about these smaller reactors and let me tell you they are pretty cool in an engineering sense. They produce more energy, are much safer, and more compact, which allows for transportation and, more importantly, less material to build.