Radical environmentalists didn’t like it when President Bush decided not to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. And they hated his lifting of the presidential ban on offshore drilling.
But whether they like it or not, our country needs a multi-pronged approach to our energy problems. A big part of any viable solution: Build more nuclear power plants.
That’s still forbidden, as far as many radical environmentalists are concerned. The folks at Greenpeace, for example, dismiss nuclear energy as “another false solution you hear a lot about these days.” Why is it “false”? Because, the group explains on its Web site, bringing a nuclear power plant online could take a number of years, and “we simply don’t have time to wait -- we need global-warming solutions that are ready to go now, like wind and solar.”
No one is claiming that we can have more nuclear power plants up and ready to go overnight. But that’s hardly an argument against building them. Indeed, because we need long-term energy solutions, the fact that it takes time to set up new plants means we should get started right away. Besides, according to Jack Spencer of The Heritage Foundation, we can reduce how long it takes. The current time frame includes four years to get a permit and five years to build the plant. But, Spencer says, once a few plants are built, there’s no reason the permitting time can’t be cut and construction done in four years.
And if Greenpeace thinks that wind and solar are “ready to go now,” it shows just how out of touch with reality the group is. Yes, wind and solar “have a role in America’s energy mix,” Spencer writes. But although the federal government has subsidized them for years, they still supply less than 1 percent of America’s energy needs. Plus, they’re expensive. As Spencer notes in a recent paper:
Coal, wind, and solar projects are all becoming increasingly expensive. If those sources were inexpensive, few would even consider building new nuclear plants, yet nearly 20 companies are pursuing construction and operating licenses for up to 30 new reactors. Renewable energy sources would not need mandates and subsidies to survive if they were affordable.