Nuclear Power in a Warming World: Solution or Illusion (Rep. John Shadegg)

The U.S. Department of Labor says it’s safer to work at a nuclear power plant than a bank. For every 200,000 work hours at American nuclear power plants in 2006, there were 0.12 accidents. Nuclear energy is safe. A person living near a nuclear power plant has a 25 times higher chance of being killed by a lightening bolt than dying as a result of radiation exposure from an accident at the plant. Furthermore, Nuclear power has the cheapest cost of production of any major electricity source and produces 70% of our nation’s carbon-free electricity. In 2006 alone, the nuclear energy industry in the United States prevented the emission of over 680 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy has enormous potential that cannot be ignored.

Given the growing uncertainty among leading members of the scientific community regarding global warming, I believe that it is necessary to obtain more conclusive research prior to enacting broad reaching, climate change related legislation. At the same time however, we all want cleaner air and have a steadily increasing energy demand so it is important to explore numerous clean energy options.

Additionally, the increasing cost of energy has placed an enormous financial burden upon Americans, especially the poor and elderly. If we fail to find solutions today, the most vulnerable members of our society will bear the brunt of our inaction. While some of us are actively looking for ways to ensure an affordable, reliable energy, the Democrats are allowing radical environmental groups and special interests to hamper the development of alternative energy, particularly nuclear energy.

Extreme overreactions and rash judgments have no place in discussions on energy or global warming. Scare tactics must stop; it’s time to have frank, honest discussions so we find the solutions that will make it easier for all Americans to live, work, and travel.