Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), while touring Rocky Mountain National Park and observing the ill health of the lodge-pole pine trees, confirmed his belief that nuclear power is a useful tool in the battle against climate change.
“If we want to respond to climate change, nuclear has to be part of the solution,” Udall said.
Senator Udall was touring the park along with Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Both senators represent states with a large portions of their population consisting of people who have lifelong concerns about the effects of human activity on the environment. Both senators have expressed concerns over the effects of climate change on important lands, especially in the national park system.
Udall’s position on nuclear power has riled some of the people in the Environmental movement, but he is in good company with lifelong environmentalists like Stewart Brand, James Lovelock and Patrick Moore. Each of those well-respected thought leaders believe that the challenges associated with nuclear energy are easier to solve than the need to continue dumping billions of tons of CO2 created by burning enough fossil fuel to supply the world’s energy demands.
Udall is a strong proponent of the state’s New Energy sector and is seen as a friend to the green movement in the state. His advancement of nuclear power, however, has alarmed environmentalists, who see the risks posed by uranium mining and nuclear power plant construction as far outweighing any benefits to be derived from expanding the contemporary nuclear industry.
Keith Hay, energy advocate for Denver-based Environment Colorado, has argued against the inclusion of nuclear power as a part of any clean-energy discussion. Hay told the Colorado Independent in May that there was “a strong push by southern Democrats to include nuclear and clean coal in the renewable energy standard” but that environmentalists thought any such tack was misguided at best.
“Anyone who has seen the front end of uranium mining for nuclear knows that it is in no way clean.”
(Source: Udall reasserts controversial pro-nuclear position)
I wonder if Mr. Hay has seen the front end of natural gas production, steel production, or even copper production, each of which are necessary components of competitive energy sources like natural gas, wind and solar energy. I wonder if he has read the same projections as Randy Udall, Mark’s brother, who wrote the following, just a few days ago:
It’s a heartbreaking dilemma: The gas industry has not been gentle on Western landscapes, but climate change could be worse. So pick your poison. To displace coal with gas, we’d need to complete 30,000 to 40,000 new wells a year for decades to come. If that’s our only strategy for averting climate disaster, we might need to put somebody like Sarah Palin in charge of drilling.
(Source: Column: Can natural gas save the world? )
I also wish that the author of the piece about Senator Udall’s visit to Rocky Mountain National Park had been a bit more consistent with his reporting by including a modifier in the sentence claiming that his position was upsetting to Environmentalists. It should have read:
His advancement of nuclear power, however, has alarmed some environmentalists. . .
One more thing that Senators Udall and McCain have in common is that they represent states that played a major role in making the US the world’s largest uranium producer for several decades before the miners abandoned the effort when uranium prices collapsed. Both states still contain valuable deposits and have a number of active permitting actions in progress.