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U.S. Must Pursue Nuclear Power Now

September 22, 2008

By Douglas Turner

On energy policy, Democrats are offering the nation only Woodstock fetishes like bongs, beads and sideburns instead of solutions to a worsening crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, has already cut funding for the Yucca Mountain, Nev., long-term storage facility for nuclear wastes.

Hunkering down with Reid in the commune last week was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, whose “energy bill” offered no real avenues for new sources, but plenty of empty comfort for environmental Luddites.

The Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, of Illinois, promised to shut down Yucca Mountain. He’ll throw away the $8 billion already spent there. And what will Obama do with the $27 billion that electrical ratepayers have already collected for its operation?

If Obama is elected, those 275 glass logs holding high-level nuclear waste that are sitting on railroad cars near the West Valley Nuclear Demonstration Project in Cattaraugus County will just stay there. Maybe forever.

Perhaps then the Democrats will start a program to buy used bicycles from the Chinese, and charcoal space heaters for Americans who can’t afford to pay their soaring oil or electric heating bills.

That is, if electricity is a reliable source of energy in New York State in the future. Max Schulz, a researcher for the Empire Center, said demand will so outstrip electric supply in a decade or two in New York State that we may “not be able to turn on the lights.”

New Yorkers already pay the third-highest electricity rates in the nation, after Hawaii and Connecticut, Schulz’s report shows. New York pays 16 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the national average of nine and half cents, and three times the rate in Idaho.

New York’s electric rates took a hike after hysteria over the accident at the nuclear plant at Nine Mile Island, Pa., prompted then Gov. Mario Cuomo to shut down the $6 billion nuclear power plant at Shoreham, Long Island.

Last year his son, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, joined then Gov. Eliot Spitzer to oppose a license extension for a nuclear plant that has run without incident since 1974. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, of New York, also sounded alarms about safety at the plant, Indian Point.

Democrats never waste an opportunity to exploit the legacy of fear about nuclear energy, while the rest of the world moves ahead.

While Democrats spurn energy options, the People’s Republic of China is sprinting to build new nuclear plants to supply energy for factories it has taken from America. The PRC, using French and Canadian technology, has six nuclear plants under construction, and a dozen more nearing the building stage.

France reacted differently to the Middle East oil shocks of the 1970s than we did. Because France developed technology for safe plant operation and waste disposal, its 59 nuclear facilities now provide 75 percent of the nation’s energy.

France is the world’s largest exporter of electricity, and makes more than $4 billion a year from sales. France also enjoys the industrial world’s lowest rates of greenhouse gas emissions.

Cheap, safe, profitable and environmentally sound energy.

Contrast that with Spitzer’s plan to bar nuclear power plants from streamlined construction permitting. There’s been no change in state policy since Spitzer’s fall, and none here.

Tossing a bone to her San Francisco district, Pelosi virtually forbade the House to include nuclear power in the energy bill.

Many well-meaning people flocked to the anti-nuclear movement after Nine Mile Island and Chernobyl. But blind opposition to all nuclear power has since morphed from a cottage industry into a leftist power bloc, whose influence must be broken.

e-mail: dturner@buffnews.com

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