For their part, many foreign countries are going nuclear in big ways. Nuclear power produces about 19 percent of U.S. power generation, with seven new reactors now in early-planning stages — at last. France, by contrast, is self-sufficient for 79 percent of its energy, most of it nuclear-generated; it is a net nuclear-power exporter.
Notes French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
“I cannot forget that nuclear energy contributes in a decisive manner to the three objectives of our energy policy as defined by French law: to guarantee national independence in energy and the security of supply; to take action against the greenhouse effect (of carbon emissions); and to make sure that the price of electricity remains competitive and stable.
With the OPEC cartel’s 12 members controlling 77 percent of proven petroleum reserves, 40 percent of today’s supplies, and 55 percent of the petroleum traded in global markets, they effectively determine price. Other countries — most of them non-oil exporters — see the problem clearly. That is why they are turning to nuclear power generation. At least 78 new reactors now are planned, including: six in South Korea, eight in Russia, 10 in India, 11 in Japan, and 30 (yes) in China.
To too many, the cry “energy independence” translates into: “keep the U.S. independent of domestic oil.”
Yet while we develop hydrogen cars and triple or quadruple our nuclear-power reliance, we easily could (a) access more of our domestic petroleum, (b) build more refining capacity, and (c) as the Saudi Arabia of coal, use more of our black gold. And we could do those things if, politically, ideologized greens would let us — let us employ new, greatly cleaner technologies, to drill and burn.
The tide may be turning. Among others Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, and Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog and an early principal in the environmentalist movement, have moved away from their dogmatic opposition to nuclear energy. Brand views it as a way to “decarbonize energy production.”
It’s almost enough to make one weep with joy. Could such enlightenment spread to the Democrats, so in thrall to the greens, and persuade them finally to work with the Republicans in breaking our foreign-oil addiction? To stick it to the OPECs who detest us as we enrich them by driving ourselves down on their oil — and thereby to gain our own energy independence — we may stand at the brink of a historic bipartisan moment.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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