Why the Greens hate nu­clear power

The rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists in­sist only wind and so­lar are le­git­i­mate sources of power

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Stephen Moore

Let’s stretch our imag­i­na­tions for a mo­ment and as­sume that the left is right that global warm­ing will bring apoc­a­lyp­tic warm­ing by the end of the cen­tury and that the only way to save the planet from ex­tinc­tion is to stop us­ing fos­sil fu­els right now. That will be a spec­tac­u­lar dis­rup­tion to world eco­nomic pros­per­ity be­cause cheap fos­sil fu­els ac­count for about twothirds of all elec­tric power gen­er­a­tion and at least 80 per­cent of trans­portand ita­tion fuel.

But if we did stop us­ing fos­sil fu­els, what would make the most sense as a mass scale sub­sti­tute to coal, nat­u­ral gas and oil. What could re­duce car­bon emis­sions but also keep en­ergy af­ford­able and re­li­able?

If you an­swered wind and so­lar power you flunk. These are the most ex­pen­sive and im­prac­ti­cal al­ter­na­tives. The ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion to keep­ing the world’s cell phones, com­put­ers, homes and fac­to­ries pow­ered up with min­i­mal eco­nomic dis­rup­tion, if it ever came to that, would be for the world to build hun­dreds of nu­clear power plants.

To state an ob­vi­ous point that al­most all the Sierra Club elites and the Michael Bloombergs of the world choose to ig­nore: nu­clear power can give us all the power we need to keep our mod­ern in­dus­trial and tech­no­log­i­cal world econ­omy rolling with­out emit­ting any green­house gases.

Yet, nu­clear power is de­clin­ing as an al­ter­na­tive en­ergy source and plants are be­ing shut­tered at a record pace. The big prob­lem for atomic en­ergy (as with al­most all fos­sil fuel al­ter­na­tives) is that it can’t com­pete on price with the new age of cheap shale gas and to a lesser ex­tent clean coal. The reg­u­la­tory bur­den on nu­clear en­ergy is also a killer, cost­ing an es­ti­mated $9 mil­lion per plant, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Ac­tion Net­work.

Even still, a nu­clear plant gen­er­ates much cheaper elec­tric power on a much wider scale than wind and so­lar power. In the U.S., for ex­am­ple, wind and so­lar re­quire about five to ten times the gov­ern­ment sub­sidy to pro­vide a kilo­watt of elec­tric­ity than does nu­clear power. And just as im­por­tant, nu­clear power is a lot more de­pend­able form of en­ergy than wind and so­lar. One of green en­ergy’s fa­tal flaws is that it isn’t scal­able for large in­dus­trial economies and it thus these en­ergy sources make na­tions highly vul­ner­a­ble to cripp­pling brownouts and black­outs as Europe and Aus­tralia have learned of late.

For those who don’t drink the Kool Aid of the rad­i­cal left en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, these are in­con­tro­vert­ible facts. But here and around the world the left is about as hos­tile to nu­clear power as they are to oil and coal.

I just got back from an eco­nomic con­fer­ence in Ko­rea, which has 50 mil­lion won­der­ful peo­ple. While I was there the newly elected left of cen­ter pres­i­dent, Moon Jae-in an­nounced a “nu­clear free” era for Ko­rea start­ing with the shut down of a ma­jor nu­clear re­ac­tor. The greens were prac­ti­cally danc­ing in the streets. But why? Few na­tions have been as re­liant on nu­clear power as Ko­rea. In many ways cheap and re­li­able atomic en­ergy helped make pos­si­ble the “Mir­a­cle on the Han River”i.e, the swift post World War II eco­nomic surge of Ko­rea. Pres­i­dent Jae-in says that re­new­able en­ergy will take its place. By the way, isn’t power from a nu­clear re­ac­tor by def­i­ni­tion the most in­ex­haustible and thus “re­new­able” form of en­ergy?

From an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tive what is hap­pen­ing in the U.S., Ko­rea, and around the world is asi­nine. Why would you want to shut­down a nu­clear plant that re­quires at most about one square mile of land and to re­place that power with wind­mills would re­quire 300 square miles of land area paved over. Do en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists re­ally be­lieve that green progress means look­ing out at Amer­ica’s ma­jes­tic moun­tains, forests, green oceans, wilder­ness ar­eas and deserts and view­ing miles upon miles of noth­ing but the eye­sore of wind­mills and so­lar pan­el­ing? What could be a greater de­spoiler of na­ture’s won­drous and nat­u­ral beauty.

I’m not a cheer­leader for nu­clear power. The stor­age of nu­clear waste, and the ac­ci­dents in places like Ja­pan make every­one un­der­stand­ably ner­vous about China Syn­drome types of dis­as­ters. In the U.S. Nu­clear plants gen­er­ally can’t get pri­vate in­sur­ance to cover ac­ci­dents and so the in­dus­try re­lies heav­ily on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for sub­si­dized in­sur­ance. Per­haps the ad­vent of smaller re­ac­tors would al­le­vi­ate the pub­lic’s fears.

My point here is that noth­ing ex­poses the in­sin­cer­ity of the global cli­mate change move­ment as does the left’s ha­tred of nu­clear power. We can save the planet from cli­mate change and have all the power we need at af­ford­able prices. But just like the greens are against clean nat­u­ral gas and frack­ing, they op­pose nu­clear power op­tions as well. The rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists are in­sist­ing that the only en­ergy al­ter­na­tive that will save the planet is wind and so­lar power — the two op­tions guar­an­teed to most de­cel­er­ate mod­ern in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and eco­nomic progress across the globe. Per­haps that is what the far left re­ally wants: to force mankind to slow down growth and hu­man ad­vance­ment. If that is their real agenda, then forc­ing busi­nesses and fam­i­lies to use in­fe­rior and ex­pen­sive en­ergy is a smart strat­egy.

Nu­clear power can give us all the power we need to keep our mod­ern in­dus­trial and tech­no­log­i­cal world econ­omy rolling with­out emit­ting any green­house gases.

Stephen Moore is an eco­nomic ad­vi­sor to Free­dom Works and co-au­thor of “Fu­el­ing Free­dom: Ex­pos­ing the Mad War Against En­ergy,” Reg­n­ery, 2016.

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