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Idaho Statesman publishes our response December 24, 2008

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, Agriculture, economic benefits, Elmore County, Energy policy, Greenfield nuclear development, Idaho Statesman, nuclear industry, Politics and nuclear, reactor types, reprocessing, rural nuclear, Snake River Alliance, Water policy.
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For the past 30 years, the nuclear industry has kept a low profile, producing more energy with fewer reactors and with the best safety record imaginable. The industry is now making an effort to better publicize itself and that includes responding to misinformation.

The Idaho Statesman was kind enough to print this response to a recent Sierra Club column. You can see the online version at The Statesman’s site as well as the ensuing discussion.

Jennie Ransom: Nuclear power is very much a part of our green energy future

READER’S VIEW: ENERGY
Edition Date: 12/23/08

jennifer-ransomJessica Ruehrwein’s Nov. 12 Reader’s View repeats many of the same myths about nuclear power and we must present the truth. (While we disagree with Ruehrwein, her tone is a welcome change from the trademark incivility of the Snake River Alliance.)

Anti-nuclear activists are becoming increasingly isolated. Indeed, Scott Howson, one of Ruehrwein’s colleagues and chairman of the Rappahannock Group of the Sierra Club, said, “I see a solution ultimately in nuclear energy. It’s non-polluting, and that’s what we’re all looking for.”

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Wildlife Habitat Council, African-American Environmentalist Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Environmental Defense are also willing to consider nuclear as part of a solution to global warming. In this past election, both Barack Obama and John McCain supported nuclear, as did all Idaho Republican and Democrat congressional candidates. A record 74 percent of Americans favor nuclear energy, according to a September 2008 Bisconti survey.

Like many people, I used to be opposed to nuclear power, until I did my homework. There is no other source of carbon-free power that can provide the reliable, low-cost energy our nation needs to remain secure and prosperous.

Alternate Energy Holdings is proposing the Idaho Energy Complex (www.idahoenergycomplex.com), the first base-load power plant in Idaho in 30 years. In contrast to first-generation reactors that need 30 million gallons of water daily, we’ll consume as few as 100,000, thanks to a hybrid cooling design. Water will move through the facility for cooling and go to farmers, a biofuels facility and greenhouses. Our opponents know this, yet they continue repeating misinformation (see our blog at cleanidahoenergy.wordpress.com).

It is true nuclear plants have high capital costs. The trade-off is that nuclear fuel is very inexpensive. A pound of uranium sells for about $45, yet a fuel pellet the size of your fingertip produces as much energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas or 1,780 pounds of coal.

Despite the supportive rhetoric, environmentalists routinely oppose wind farms because of their potential to decimate bird and bat populations and the large amounts of land they consume. In contrast, nuclear plants take up relatively little land, fit both urban and rural areas and the land around them typically becomes habitat. Ruehrwein also omits mention of the subsidies that all forms of energy require, including renewables.

The spent fuel from American reactors over the past 50 years could cover a football field about 15 feet deep. That’s not much when you consider nuclear provides 20 percent of our nation’s energy and 80 percent of its carbon-free energy. All this spent fuel can be reprocessed into more fuel, as in other countries, but we don’t reprocess because of environmentalist opposition.

Our opponents conveniently forget to mention the merchant wind farms and geothermal producers that are already exporting Idaho power. They join the merchant farmers, food processors and computer chip makers who bring money and provide jobs in Idaho. The IEC would generate more energy than we could consume in the current market and help capture some of the $2 billion that Idahoans send out of state for power annually.

Oddly, critics seem to have no problem with merchant renewables. And neither do we. In truth, we have much in common with opponents in our support of renewable energy. However, we – and most Americans and political leaders – know national economic and security interests demand a mainstream, inclusive approach that recognizes renewable, nuclear, natural gas and other clean and low-carbon approaches.

Given nuclear power’s contributions and stellar safety record, we believe it is extremist and closed-minded to exclude any form of energy from our nation’s future.

Jennie Ransom is vice-president of administration of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.

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