Our unnecessary nuclear future

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by Amanda Witherell

diablo canyon.jpg

photo of Diablo Canyon nuke plants courtesy of PG&E's Jim Zimmerlin

Sigh. Just when you're starting to think something productive might occur in the legislature, enter the monkey wrench. A recently released study outlines exactly how we could be planning for an energy future free of nuclear and coal. If only our leaders would quit pandering to industry and adopt such a plan, but instead it looks like the nuclear industry has quietly tucked a provision into the new energy bill that would provide billions of dollars of loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants.

The nuclear power industry has long argued that new plants aren't feasible unless these subsidies are granted. They scored them in the 2005 energy bill and despite the overwhelming evidence that more renewable energy sources are needed, looks like the 2007 bill will allocate even more coin toward new nuclear power plants. A lot of bitching has always accompanied the tax credits and subsidies granted to renewable power sources like solar and wind, with a lot of scorn that these industries are too expensive to stand on their own and therefore can’t serve our energy needs. But nuclear obviously can't either and has a proven track record of cost overruns.

And a dangerous new nuclear era is dawning, with advocates claiming nuclear power plants are "emissions-free" and will save us from global warming. To paraphrase one of my trusted sources, "That's like saying you don't fart and ignoring the giant crap you're leaving behind."