Conservatives call for nuclear power

The left is absolutely fanatical about the environment. Its relentless obsession with environmental concerns almost seems to trump that of national security. Liberal politicians bemoan the need to “improve the environment” in intentional attacks against conservatives.

Unfortunately, that assumes conservatives care little about the environment. If one can see beyond the incessant jeering of the left against the right, one can see conservatives also aim to find solutions to environmental problems.

The inception of Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow is a tribute to conservatives seeking common sense and practical solutions to today’s environmental challenges. Countering the inimical ideology of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, CFACT promotes environmental change, but not at the expense of thoughtfulness and people’s rights.

A zeitgeist issue bound to be thrust to the forefront of today’s political discourse is the U.S. energy policy. Clearly we cannot depend on energy from foreign countries, especially those that vow to kill us! Besides the delicate feelings on that subject, the idea of nuclear power also provokes controversy.

Many espouse spurious claims that nuclear power is unsafe, vulnerable to terrorism or threatens the environment (the proverbial “waste” argument). I wonder about the source of such flawed thinking. Marshall Brain asserts that “a pound of highly enriched uranium Ö is equal to something on the order of a million gallons of gasoline” on howstuffworks.com. And the energy equivalent to one metric ton of nuclear fuel is a few million tons of fossil fuel. So why the stern resistance to using nuclear power?

No noxious gases are emitted from nuclear power plants – in fact, no pollutants whatsoever. And radioactivity is a minor issue with nuclear power, because coal-fired power plants are guilty of emitting 100 times more radiation. Pundits might parrot the potential for a Chernobyl-like catastrophe in the United States. But this bespeaks plain ignorance.

Unlike the flawed Russian design, all “reactors at (U.S.) nuclear power plants are encased in steel-reinforced concrete containment structures up to 4 feet thick,” according to February’s Environment & Climate News. If an unthinkable accident – such as the Chernobyl meltdown – were to happen domestically, the containment building would prevent the escape of dangerous radioactivity.

Pithily, nuclear power plants cannot be made into nuclear bombs. Even if terrorists attempted to attack a nuclear reactor (which can withstand the force of a commercial jetliner impact), they would have to breach the best security money can buy. Impregnable security at nuclear facilities is critical to their operation.

The waste issue is the most popular argument for those inexorably warring against nuclear power. But how much waste are we talking about? Compare burning millions of tons of fossil fuels with a mere 20 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste. A sensible solution to disposing the waste is to encapsulate it in glass, steel and lead and bury it deep in the desert.

Liberals might prefer the bird-slaughtering eyesores of 300 square miles of unreliable wind power, the amount needed to generate 1000 megawatts of electricity. But when we have a safe, limitless supply of nuclear energy, why do so many people conspire against the idea? (Eighty percent of France’s power comes from nuclear reactors!) Exploring nuclear power is how conservatives combat the energy issue, not with mendacious scientific reports and fear tactics.

At 7 p.m. on March 1 at Coffman Union, CFACT will present a speaker discussing the ingenuity and effectiveness of nuclear power, a topic continually resented by the left.

Lindsay Brown is a music performance junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]