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The Los Angeles Times' "Weak" Arguments Against Nuclear Energy

The Los Angeles Timesran an editorial on nuclearenergy this past weekend. It’s pretty weak tea.

Senate Republicans and many moderate Democrats are seeking to lard up prospective climate and energy bills with billions of dollars in loan guarantees and other subsidies for nuclear power, even though it makes no sense as a solution to climate change and is a terrible option from an economic, environmental and national-security standpoint.

Lard. Pork. Get it? We understand that the Times doesn’t like nuclear energy – and they have every right not to – but the arguments, like the one above, are flatly contradicted by, how shall we call it, reality.

Like a lot of absolutist anti-nuclear advocates, the Times gets a little stuck when trying to figure out what to do about climate change, which it clearly views as a problem.

And renewable-power plants can be built almost immediately, without the long permitting delays faced by nuclear reactors. Some clean-energy strategies, such as energy efficiency and combined heat and power systems, actually end up saving money rather than costing it.

Well, sure, except you have issues of siting, transmission, individual mandates to get through Congress and a host of other issues. We have no beef at all with these methods, and think they ought to be pursued aggressively, but pretending they’re issue-free is dishonest.

And here the Times get a little more stuck:

Electricity can be generated by pumping water into hot, permeable rocks deep underground, and as the technology improves, the potential for geothermal is enormous. According to an
MIT study, in fact, geothermal plants could eventually supply as much power as the nation currently gets from its nuclear reactors -- without producing any radioactive waste.

But as the Times admits, the technology isn’t where it needs to be yet and, as it doesn’t mention, siting is really an issue, as one basically has to go where the geysers are. (And you have to spend an impressive amount of money for what may prove a dud well. And there are greenhouse gas emission issues, though far less than fossil fuels). Again, no beef from us, really, but looking to nascent technologies when you have one that is well understood just seems stubborn.

The Times also takes a run at the “myth” of intermittency (wind and solar) but you can take that one apart yourself.

Nuclear power is a failed experiment of the past, not an answer for the future.

A failed experiment that produces 20% of America’s electricity capacity despite a 30 year issue-free hiatus. If that’s failure, The Times really has no definition of success.


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