Policymakers frequently tout their support for an all-of-the-above approach to energy generation, yet somehow nuclear energy largely seems to disappear from that conversation in any meaningful way. And many environmentalists — who castigate coal, insisting that we need clean, renewable energy — flatly ignore nuclear power, despite its zero carbon dioxide emissions. Instead, they hold up wind and solar and biofuels — none of which are ready for primetime — as the solution to our nation’s energy problems. Yet, nuclear power is one clean energy source that actually has the ability to provide affordable, reliable energy on a large-scale basis.
Knowing just how much sense nuclear energy makes, it is frustrating to listen to conversations and debates over energy generation that either flatly ignore nuclear power or dismiss it as unsafe. (For some articles that debunk some of the myths and fears surrounding nuclear power, see here and here.) Cutting down on carbon emissions is apparently the premier goal of many unless doing so would mean using nuclear power – something actually effective and affordable.
But last week, Forbes ran an interesting piece by former EPA Administrator Carol Browner. Browner was Administrator of the EPA under President Clinton and served as director of President Obama’s Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.
Her commentary immediately addressed that frustrating contradiction that exists among many who oppose nuclear energy:
“I used to be anti-nuclear. But, several years ago I had to reevaluate my thinking because if you agree with the world’s leading climate scientists that global warming is real and must be addressed immediately then you cannot simply oppose clean, low-carbon energy sources.”
Browner notes that “[e]xisting nuclear power plants…emit virtually no carbon pollution and are among the cleanest sources of electricity available.”
If climate change activists are serious in their belief that man is responsible for global warming, then you would expect more of them to rally behind nuclear as an energy source. Unfortunately, an “all-of-the-above” approach sounds nice, but it’s often just a catchphrase that doesn’t necessarily represent a comprehensive energy policy.
(And of course, nuclear power isn’t the only casualty of the “all-of-the-above” refrain: President Obama claims an all-of-the-above approach to energy, yet apparently that does not include support for coal power or the Keystone XL pipeline…)