Why America Needs Nuclear Energy (Part One)

Not long ago, I got an energy summary from my power company in the mail. And as it turns out, nuclear generation is the single biggest source of the electricity I use. That didn’t really surprise me, though — because after all, at the time there were five producing nuclear plants within a 100-mile radius of my home. However, as of yesterday, there are now only four…

That’s because the last remaining active reactor of the infamous Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania shut down on Friday, four decades after the “disaster” that unfairly blighted this crucial American energy industry.

Though re-certified in 2009 and approved for use until 2034, TMI (as it’s called locally) is being mothballed early because of economic reasons — among them cheaper power generation with natural gas.

Many, no doubt, find this closure a reason to rejoice. But I am not among them.

Why? Two reasons…

One, because I love nature, wildlife, and the environment more than Leo DiCaprio and other limousine liberals who feel justified in creating massive carbon footprints so they can gather at exotic international resorts to drink away their angst about cow farts.

I wish I were kidding, but this actually happened back in July, at a posh Sicilian seaside villa — with an estimated 114 private jets in attendance, spewing out approximately 1.72 million pounds of atmospheric CO2…

The second reason is because I can plainly see what these same ivory-tower leftists have in store for us little people, vis-a-vis our electricity, should they succeed in ascending to power in America. And it’s scarier than tofu, a vegan diet, and an entire herd of cattle giving you the “Dutch oven” treatment the day after pinto bean night at the feed trough.

So let’s hold our noses and dig into it…

Nuke solves climate change — why isn’t that enough?

If the radical left’s dogma about CO2, greenhouse gasses, and global warming is true (and I’m definitely NOT saying it is, just making a point here), then they should be championing nuke power — and lobbying Congress for its immediate expansion all across the fruited plain. And they should be at the Pennsylvania State House in Harrisburg right now picketing, holding rallies, and shouting “Save Three Mile Island!” with bullhorns…

In case you didn’t know, that’s because nuclear power generation does not produce ANY CO2 or other greenhouse gasses at all, or even any form of air pollution. This is an undisputed fact. And in many areas of the U.S. — including mine — when you shut down a nuclear power reactor, you increase the grid’s reliance on carbon-spewing coal, oil, or natural gas plants.

So where are all the eco-warriors on this issue? Have you seen groups of them demonstrating for nuclear power? I haven’t…

Yes, nuclear carries some potentially serious risks (we’ll talk about this later) in the worst-case scenarios. But so do other energy sources. So if your political “Alamo” is global warming, nuke is undeniably in the same category as wind, solar, or any other form of green energy. And it’s much more grid-scalable, which makes it the greenest major energy source on Earth, by far.

Currently, 16% of the world’s electricity comes from nuclear generation. To put this in some perspective, France — the world’s undisputed heavyweight champion of nuclear power-per-capita — gets over 71% of its grid current from nuke, and is the largest net electricity exporter in the world because of it. In the United States, that figure is 19%, only slightly more than the global average…

But when you look at things through the lens of carbon impact (again, I’m not saying we should be looking at everything through that lens, only that we increasingly are looking at it that way), nuclear is the clear eco-winner even here in America, where it’s a relatively small percentage of our grid power.

That’s because even though nuclear provides less than a fifth of America’s electricity overall, more than three fifths of the “zero-carbon” power on our grid comes from splitting atoms.

Now imagine how low our collective carbon footprint would be if we got over 70% of our electricity from nuclear, like France does. Wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and all the other “green wet dream” power sources put together — which account for around 11% of U.S. grid power combined — can’t even begin to carry nuke’s jockstrap in this department.

Because of nuclear, France puts pretty much everyone in the developed and developing world to shame in the carbon game. Even including Monaco, their closely-tied micro-state, they only emit around 331,000 kilotons of CO2 annually — less than 1% of global CO2 — despite being the world’s sixth-largest economy…

Plus, their CO2-to-GDP ratio is four times better than China’s, and more than twice as good as the U.S. (even though we’re well below the world average, believe it or not).

Point is, by virtually all measures, France’s global leadership in reducing atmospheric carbon is undeniably due to their embracement of nuclear energy…

And we could do exactly the same thing here in America, silencing the climate change clamor once and for all — regardless of whether it’s really happening (or really our fault) or not. Fully embracing nuke power would also dramatically reduce the horrible pollution and environmental destruction of coal mining, something very close to my heart, as an avid outdoorsman.

So again, the questions are…

Why isn’t nuke a much bigger part of our overall energy consumption picture?

And what would it take for it to become the central pillar of America’s energy mix?

The answers, as usual, begin with politics…

Everybody knows that pretty much every heavyweight liberal since pro-nuke Kennedy (my favorite Democrat and third-favorite U.S. president) hates atomic energy.

Carter banned the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, which could’ve been an enormous boon to America’s nuclear energy industry. Clinton ended nuclear power research altogether in 1993. And Obama effectively killed the Yucca Mountain underground nuclear waste storage site that had been in the works since the Reagan years.

The current crop of far-left Democrat presidential contenders is no exception to this general rule. Slacker hippie Bernie Sanders has always railed against nuke power — and is actively campaigning on its phase-out. So is Elizabeth Warren. Kamala Harris has remained evasive and noncommittal on the subject…

And although “moderate” Joe Biden’s energy platform does include nuclear power (so he says right now, anyway — ask him again in 20 minutes), he’s been predictably vague on its future expansion. He’s also on record back in 2008 saying he would not increase nuke’s share of America’s grid capacity.

Again, the point is that the aggressive expansion of nuclear power could almost completely de-carbonize U.S. energy production (again, for whatever that’s actually worth). Regardless of this simple, obvious fact, American energy consumers are facing a very troubling truth…

That because of global warming hysteria of questionable validity, a huge chunk of the energy sources we rely on are squarely in the crosshairs of every single Democrat that’s likely to win the 2020 nomination. Because it’s not just nukes they hate — it’s fossil fuels, too, even clean-burning natural gas. Every one of these candidates is promising to make radical changes to America’s energy infrastructure in the name of carbon neutrality, in very short time frames.

So you connect the dots.

Using myself as an example, I get 34.5% of my electricity from nuke, 31.1% from natural gas, and 28.6% from coal. Combined, that’s over 94% of my power…

What happens to that 94% of my electricity if Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders gets elected, and wages all-out war on both fossil fuels and nuclear energy?

Or down the road — when someone who’s REALLY radical gets in the Big Seat, like AOC?

We’ll all be living in grass huts, with Chinese-made solar panels strapped to our roofs to heat our daily ration of meatless burger patties…

To be fair about it, though, politics is only part of the roadblock against nuclear energy expansion in America. There are structural problems that need to be solved before nuke can take a substantially greater role in our overall energy picture — toxic waste management being the biggest.

But in the next installment of this series, I’ll reveal how one up-and-coming technology could solve this problem, supercharge America’s nuclear power industry, and solve the global climate-change “crisis” for good (if there actually is one).

Sincerely,

Jim Amrhein

Jim Amrhein
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder
WhiskeyAndGunpowderFeedback@StPaulResearch.com

You May Also Be Interested In:

Jim Amrhein

Just like he was 15 years ago, when first he sullied the pages of the original Whiskey & Gunpowder e-Letter and various other forums, Jim is still ornery, opinionated, politically incorrect, and shamelessly patriotic. He’s also more convinced than ever before that government can’t do much of anything right — except expand in scope and...

View More By Jim Amrhein