Minnesota needs more nuclear energy

by Jasper Johnson

Minneapolis lawmakers have proposed bills that would lift the moratorium on constructing nuclear plants in Minnesota, which has existed since 1994. Lifting the ban could help Minnesota transition to using safer and more sustainable nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy has come a long way since its inception. Gone are the days when nuclear power was a risky venture into the unknown. Modern reactors are reliable and have numerous failsafe mechanisms that prevent any meltdowns. The Fukushima nuclear incident represented a perfect storm of dangerous circumstances — extreme weather and a poorly located plant from the 1960s — yet there were no deaths from short-term radiation exposure from the event.

The environmental benefits of nuclear energy are numerous. Using nuclear energy rather than fossil fuels drastically reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Coal mining and the extraction of oil or natural gas also damage the environment.

Not only would nuclear power be better for the environment, but it would also quite literally save lives. The air pollution caused by fossil fuels leads to respiratory issues. Estimates show that using nuclear energy instead of fossil fuels may have already saved more than one million lives.

Relying on nuclear energy is not some futuristic pipe dream. Minnesota already gets more than 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy. One success story is France, where the vast majority of electricity is produced by nuclear energy. They have overcome the “not in my backyard” mentality and benefited greatly from nuclear power.

Minnesota needs to consider lifting its bans on nuclear energy. Lawmakers need to make the best decision for Minnesota. They should put more weight on science and statistics than on misconceived fears of their constituents.