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God, Man, and Green at Yale

Why Not Nuclear Energy?

12:00 AM, Jul 25, 2007 • By ERNEST W. LEFEVER
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In their zeal, the extreme American environmentalists have overlooked, or even condemned, the best source of clean power--nuclear energy. The most efficient way for the United States to produce more clean energy is to build new nuclear power plants. We now operate 103 such plants that produce 20 percent of the nation's electricity, all built before the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 that stuck such fear in professors, politicians, and the press. In fact, the accident produced only one casualty. Dr. Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb, is fond of saying the he was that casualty--because the widespread apocalyptic assessment caused him to have a heart attack!

The false perception of Three Mile Island has virtually stopped America from building any new nuclear power plants for 25 years, while Britain, France, Germany, and India have forged ahead. Since their beginning, nuclear plants have caused no fatalities except for Chernobyl, the massive meltdown at the Soviet-built power reactor that in 1986 killed at least 56 persons.

And nuclear power plants are clean. They throw no pollutants into the air in contrast to coal plants that produce large quantities of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

America's demand for electricity will increase 50 percent by 2025. Since we cannot depend on foreign oil, we must embark on a vigorous effort to build new nuclear energy plants that are safe, efficient, clean, and whose fuel is not dependent on imports from abroad.

Two bits of good news. President George W. Bush gingerly mentioned the need for more nuclear energy in his recent State of the Union address. And more down to earth, the Tennessee Valley Authority has just requested permission to build two new nuclear power reactors and to restart the one at Browns Ferry, Alabama, which had been shut down for 22 years. When Browns Ferry first went on line in 1947 it was the largest nuclear power plant in the world.

Ernest W. Lefever is a senior fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center and editor of The Apocalyptic Premise.