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An Inconvenient Question for Al Gore
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, May 25, 2006

Samuel Thernstrom asks it:
In the meantime there is one technology that could dramatically reduce America’s greenhouse-gas emissions—and yet environmentalists are fervently opposed to it. Al Gore doubts it has much potential. But the only cost-effective way we know right now to produce thousands of megawatts of zero-emissions electricity is nuclear power. America, of course, hasn’t built a new nuclear plant since Three Mile Island, but that’s going to change. Just how many plants are built, and how quickly, will depend in part on how fierce the environmental opposition is. Will Al Gore lead the way?
If it is all about greenhouse gasses, Al, how about it?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I remember a Kristof editorial last year with the perfect title: "Nukes are Green." Anyone who calls themselves an environmentalist *should* be in support of nuclear power, and it is unfortunate that it has been met with resistance.
Written By: Kinsey
While the current age of the plants (Average=35 years) puts them in their max lifetimes (60 years) and a 10 year construction timeline might lead someone to think we’ve got 5 years left to mess around, the 10 year average construction time is from breaking ground, not the start of the eco protests.

Oh, and the last wave of plants to make grid connections was in the mid to late 1980’s (Yes, there’s that one outlier in 1996). All the people who managed those projects and have the experience to build a commercial reactor are nearing or in retirement. Sure, we could build them again with no help, but waiting and losing that knowledge would be a waste.

Or we can just sit and hope we can master controlled fusion.
Written By: Anonymous
URL: http://
I remember that the same luddits who are behind Al Gore, were the same people back in the 1970’s who did all they could to kill the domestic nuclear industry. They had rock concerts (No Nukes) and stupid movies (The China Syndrome) full of fearmongering and crock science. Just like today.
Written By: kyle N
So we outsource the building of nuclear power plants to any of the multi-national companies who have vast experience doing it.

There, problem solved.

Now, what to do with the watermelons...
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
With respect to the costs (read "subsidies") of constructing and operating a nuclear power plant, I’ve seen the "fact" asserted that nuclear power is much more expensive than any other form of power. I have no idea if this is true or not, and I’m wondering if anyone here has reliable data (pro or con) regarding the issue. Thoughts?
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
I’ve seen the "fact" asserted that nuclear power is much more expensive than any other form of power
I’d have to question that. Even if it were true, how much of the "costs" come from legal delays and lawsuits by the "No to power" crowd? The utilities make money on the plants operation, the plants pay into a trust fund to cover waste disposal (Current estimate has that trust fund containing 100 years of operating costs for Yucca when it opens), they establish and fund a trust fund to pay for decomissioning of the plant. (Maine Yankee’s shutdown seems to be showing that trust fund is funded properly.)

This sounds very similar to the arguent that capital punishment is more expensive than life sentances. Only true because the same people agitating against the death penality on a cost basis are doing everything they can to drive the costs up.
Written By: Anonymous
URL: http://

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