Dems need to consider nuclear energy

Will Marshall


KAI RYSSDAL: Hillary Clinton is going to be the headliner tonight at the Democratic National Convention. She and the other speakers taking the podium can be expected to hammer the Republicans on the economy. While the convention's on we've asked Democratic policy junkies to tell us about an issue they think the party's neglecting. Today, commentator Will Marshall says Democrats are short one plank in their energy platform.

Will Marshall: Party platforms aren't exactly beach reading. But they do tee-up the critical choices voters will face in this fall's presidential election.

The Democrats, for instance, devote big chunks of their platform to energy security and climate change. They rightly blast the Bush-Cheney policies that have turned a blind eye to science and made our country more dependent than ever on fossil fuels. And they spell out a smart, clean energy alternative.

But there's a missing element in the party's platform, and that's any discussion of the future of nuclear energy. In fact, nuclear power doesn't rate a single mention in 57 pages.

That doesn't make a lot of sense, especially in a document that calls man-made climate change the greatest threat to our planet. If that's true -- and most scientists believe it is -- shouldn't we be expanding nuclear energy, instead of ignoring it?

Nuclear energy has a huge advantage over coal. It's climate friendly. It doesn't pump any carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere. And it generates loads of power -- almost 20 percent of America's electricity needs.

Nuclear energy is no panacea. It's expensive and generates a lot of waste we haven't figured out how to get rid of yet. And Democrats are absolutely right that our country needs to invest big-time in clean and renewable fuels. But in the near term, there just isn't going to be enough solar, wind, hydro or geothermal power to keep the lights on in our offices and factories and heat our homes in the winter.

If we don't expand nuclear energy, we'll have to turn to coal and gas to meet America's growing appetite for electricity. That's an inconvenient truth for environmentalists whose hostility to nuclear power hasn't changed since the Three Mile Island incident back in 1979.

Other countries aren't so superstitious. China has plans to build dozens of new nuclear plants. And France already gets 80 percent of its electricity from atomic energy.

It's time for U.S. progressives and Democrats to break the taboo on nuclear energy. What better way to show we're serious about protecting our planet?

RYSSDAL: Will Marshall is president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute. That's a think tank affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council.

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Mispronunciation of the word aside Mr Marshall's commentary reminds me of an old joke and a variation thereof. Nuclear fusion is the energy of he future and always will be. Nuclear fission is the energy of the past and always will be.

Homer Simpson, Pres. George W. Bush, and Karl Rove may not know how to pronounce it, but if Will Marshall wants to appear on radio and be accorded any credibility, he should learn how to pronounce the word "nuclear."

FYI - The "mispronunciation" of the subject word is very common in the nuclear power industry. I believe such pronunciation originated in the US Navy where nuclear power was first applied and from which many of the "experts" were trained.

"Nucular" energy — come on! That's how our president Bush pronounces it. Will Marshall should know better. More, he fails to address the issue of nuclear — that's NUCLEAR — waste. Sure France relies heavily on such energy, but simply dumps its highly radioactive waste in where? The ocean. Out of sight, out of mind. It's the old settlement days philosophy of "The solution to pollution is dilution!"

Jimmy Carter mispronounced it too, but the more important point is that we don't need it. Google "Clean Energy Future" (select the ORNL link - there are others) and read the chart on page 5 of the Executive Summary. Then think about the implications of a y2k report which develops a strategy which eliminates all new carbon growth for 20 years at 12% less cost than doing nothing, and doesn't use any nuclear power (report mentions nothing about newcular power) when gasoline cost a buck, natural gas cost a third of today's price, and coal was half as expensive as it is now. This report is for people who like heavy lifting. The lite version is that we have enough efficiency to keep us on track to a permanent global warming solution for about two decades, by which time solar PV and solar thermal will be cheaper than new coal, which is already half the price of new nuclear power. The efficiency strategy will pump tens of billions of dollars into the economy every year, if we can get the fool factor out of the equation.

Dems need to consider nuclear energy?
Yes they do.
But they won't.

I'm among those who was completely distracted by the mispronunciation of "nuclear." Where is this person's credibility as an "expert" or "spokesperson?"

You chose a "progressive" to speak on a crucial top[ic and the guy cannot pronounce the work NUCLEAR correctly.
Why have a Bush-like idiot talk about nuke you lurrr energy if you purport to be a serious program?
Then you follow him with some nonsense about wrapping gifts in MONEY!!! What planet do you folks live on?
MANY people can't afford or buy adequate,healthful provisions/food, not to mention pay for gas or fuel for heating.
How insulting!


After 8 years of President G.W. Bush, haven't we heard enough about "nukular" energy? Let's discuss good and not so good attributes of nuclear energy.

Should a follow-up commentary be scripted, answers to the following questions would help to assess opinion:
1. Where would increased capacity be sited, waste stored, & how transported;
2. What's timeframe for approval, (NIMBY response) and construction;
3. What are total capital and operating costs and funding source;
4. How do answers compare to answers for all non-fossil alternatives?
5. How can a listener take this seriously when all she can hear is blah nuCUlar blah nuCUlar?


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