Nuclear power as an answer to climate change?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Despite a renewed interest in nuclear power around the world [front page, Nov. 24], nuclear power remains a dangerous distraction from real solutions to the climate crisis. The fundamental problems of nuclear power plants have not changed. The plants are risky, expensive and dangerous, and they are vulnerable targets for terrorist attacks.

After decades and billions of dollars of public money wasted, there is no solution to the problem of radioactive waste. Instead of pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into subsidizing a mature and dangerous industry that will leave a toxic legacy for future generations, policymakers should stay focused on getting our energy from clean sources that will last forever.

Kyle Ash, Washington

The writer is senior legislative representative for the Greenpeace USA's Global Warming Program.

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The Nov. 24 front-page article on nuclear power's resurgence shed light on a broader, more important issue. Historically speaking, it is not surprising that views on nuclear energy are coming full circle. For 40 years and running, U.S. energy policy, or the lack thereof, has been based on politics instead of a strategic vision. More specifically, it has catered to the political power of the environmental movement and its "cause of the day" instead of the less noisy, but considerably more stable and reliable, scientific community.

In the 1980s, nuclear power was supposedly an imminent catastrophe and a long-term pollutant. Now it's considered a "tool against climate change." Our lawmakers need to resist the politics of environmentalism and focus on a stable, strategic policy based on science and risk management. Until then, why would anyone invest billions in public and private funds in energy technology that is almost certain to fall out of favor once again before its benefits are actually realized?

Mike Hawthorne, Burke


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