Nu­clear en­ergy ben­e­fits U.S.

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Amer­ica’s nu­clear plants are crit­i­cal to keep­ing car­bon emis­sions low and are worth pre­serv­ing, con­trary to what Wil­liam F. Shughart II ar­gues in his re­cent op-ed (“Why nu­clear power sub­si­dies must end,” Web, May 22). When the Ver­mont Yan­kee nu­clear fa­cil­ity in New Eng­land closed, the power pro­duced by that plant was largely re­placed by nat­u­ral gas. This led to an in­crease of 3.1 mil­lion met­ric tons of car­bon emis­sions in New Eng­land the fol­low­ing year — ba­si­cally equiv­a­lent to adding 650,000 pas­sen­ger cars to the roads. To im­ply, as Mr. Shughart does, that nat­u­ral gas is a suf­fi­cient so­lu­tion for car­bon mit­i­ga­tion is dan­ger­ously re­duc­tive and risks putting all our eggs in one bas­ket. It also fails to con­sider other se­vere con­se­quences of los­ing ex­ist­ing nu­clear plants. In New Eng­land, for ex­am­ple, hun­dreds of work­ers — both plant em­ploy­ees and oth­ers in the com­mu­nity — lost their jobs as a re­sult of the Ver­mont Yan­kee clo­sure.

The re­al­ity is that our nu­clear plants pro­vide a host of ben­e­fits to con­sumers across the coun­try, and these are worth main­tain­ing. Not only are the plants key play­ers in car­bon re­duc­tion, but they also pro­vide thou­sands of jobs, help drive lo­cal economies and pro­vide con­stant, re­li­able power. Not to men­tion that they pro­vide roughly 20 per­cent of our elec­tric­ity.

The ben­e­fits of plans and poli­cies that keep these plants op­er­at­ing out­weigh any costs. Take New York, for ex­am­ple, where Gov. Cuomo and the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion re­cently put in place a Clean En­ergy Stan­dard (CES) that has a pro­vi­sion to keep ex­ist­ing nu­clear plants op­er­at­ing. For ev­ery $1 New York in­vests in this plan, there will be a $6 re­turn. That’s clearly a good deal.

When it comes to nu­clear en­ergy, states are well-served to make smart in­vest­ments that en­sure cit­i­zens don’t lose valu­able ben­e­fits.

JUDD GREGG

Chair, Nu­clear Mat­ters For­mer sen­a­tor, New Hamp­shire For­mer gov­er­nor, New Hamp­shire Wash­ing­ton

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