Nuclear power is essential to a clean-energy future in the US

The Pentagon recently declared climate change our country’s No. 1 national security threat — one that exacerbates threats abroad, causes extreme weather conditions and affects our air quality and health. 

In his Feb. 8 op-ed for The Hill, “Don’t go nuclear on climate change just yet,” Yousaf Butt erroneously charts a path that will fall short of the challenges before us.

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The truth is that nuclear energy, along with other carbon-free energy sources, is a critical tool in combating climate change. Like any good and well-balanced energy plan, there should be a diverse mix. Nuclear energy should be part of our all-of-the-above plan that leverages all sources of clean-air energy. 

Nuclear energy is, in fact, the country’s largest source of clean-air energy that’s available 24/7. It currently provides more than 60 percent of our country’s carbon-free energy. Clearly it punches outside its weight class when it comes to diminishing the threats of climate change. 

Plus, it ensures a stable energy source for hundreds of thousands of people during extreme summers and winters, and it provides thousands of above-average, high-paying jobs across the country. 

To those who claim nuclear energy is too dangerous, I counter that the United States has a proven safety record and the most stringent regulations. These serve as a model worldwide, in fact. Constant monitoring and multiple backup safety systems are in place at every facility in the country, 24/7.

Given those achievements and nuclear energy’s critical role in combating threats to our climate, we should all support its continued viability.

From Christine Todd Whitman, CASEnergy Coalition co-chairwoman, former EPA administrator, Oldwick, N.J.


Federal oversight board is not the answer to Puerto Rico's woes

Voters in Atlanta last March approved $252 million in debt in order to fund road improvements. Almost a year ago, voters in New York approved $2 billion in bonds for technology and infrastructure improvements for schools throughout the state. In coming months, North Carolina’s electorate will also vote on a $2 billion bond for investments in higher education. These are basic examples of American democracy in action, with citizens playing a direct role in public finance. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico is suffering its worst financial crisis in history, struggling with $69 billion in debt accrued by politicians with absolutely no say-so from the general populace. 

In response to the debt crisis, Republicans in the U.S. Congress are discussing the possibility of imposing a Federal Financial Control Board on Puerto Rico. This board would have complete authority over Puerto Rico’s finances, with no control, supervision, oversight or review by Puerto Rico’s governor or legislative assembly to assure that Puerto Rico does not fall into the same lending and administrative practices as before. 

There’s been no discussion of mechanisms such as citizen bond referendums, often present in these lawmakers’ districts. Though Wall Street seems to be thrilled with the idea, the proposal has been rejected by most other sectors as being undemocratic and outright colonial. A federal control board may succeed in calming the worries of bond investors and hedge funds, and without a doubt the old practice of deficit spending with no checks and balances is unsustainable, but it does absolutely nothing to improve structural issues, economic well-being or, most importantly, citizen say-so in public affairs. 

Proposals for such a board provide poor short-term solutions that create less democracy when the problem to begin with is the lack of democracy in general. 

From Luis Gallardo, Puerto Rico