An unwise choice for U.S. energy

Things do not always go according to plan.

Safe, clean, domestic, limitless energy! Only an “incessant jeering” left-winger could be against that!

Unfortunately, the realities of nuclear energy are a little more complex than the oversimplified logic that Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow and Lindsay Brown use to describe it. I wish I could go into all the reasons nuclear energy might not be the best source of energy for the United States, but I’m constrained by time and column space. I hope I can at least address some of the things Brown said.

After five paragraphs of name-calling and baseless accusations, Brown finally makes the argument that nuclear energy is a clean, secure and safe form of energy.

I will admit nuclear power plants do not give off noxious gases (unless you consider radioactive steam from Three Mile Island a noxious gas), but as far as the chances of a catastrophe, it’s not impossible. One thing most people do not realize is that nuclear power plants are designed and built to operate in only a set period of time, and most are either approaching the end of that time or operating past their expiration dates. Combine aging power plants and equipment with cuts in employee pay, cuts in training and nuclear deregulation (which Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow supports on their Web site), and you could potentially have a serious meltdown.

If a meltdown happens and everything works like it’s supposed to, it is unlikely any radioactivity would escape. But if Three Mile Island has taught us anything, it’s that things do not always go according to plan. Although the chances of a catastrophe are small, you also have to look at what’s at stake.

Chernobyl happened in a relatively unpopulated area, but the area, which it rendered inhospitable, is about the size of half the United States. Because I don’t want to be seen as a hysterical liberal, I will reiterate that it is very, very unlikely anything will happen; but that’s not good enough for me when there are better forms of energy out there.

Better forms of energy such as “bird-slaughtering eyesores.” Actually, the total number of birds killed by windmills is incredibly small. At Buffalo Ridge, Minn., a site with 200 windmills, only 24 birds were killed in two years, none of them raptors or endangered species. Compare that to the millions of square miles of habitat wiped out by acid rain thanks to coal power (another industry Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow supports and seeks to deregulate). I’d like to go into the benefits and viability of wind power, but I’m running out of space.

What I do have space for, though, is to say that if anyone is “espousing spurious” (look it up) claims, it is Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow and the idea that mainstream conservatives give a damn about the environment.

Coal and oil, two industries responsible for the majority of the pollution in the United States, are pouring millions of dollars into the Republican Party, and they are not doing it because they are against gay marriage but because they are making an investment. And over the last three and a half years, this investment has been paying off in the form of amendments to the Clean Air Act (which do away with a slew of environmental regulations), and the billions of dollars given to these industries in tax breaks and subsidies.

Go to the Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow Web site and you can read their articles, which look as if they were written by Fox News. They support the deregulation of pollution laws and claim that the way to a clean future is through the voluntary efforts and the forces of the free market. Unfortunately, when it comes to energy production, the forces of an unregulated free market dictate that it is usually cheaper to pollute the environment and endanger the health and lives of the citizens than it is not to.

Joel Bradley is a political science junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]