Mark J. Perry is a professor of finance and economics at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan. He recently published an opinion piece titled Should Congress OK new nuclear power plants? Yes: We must replace natural gas that I found on Bradenton.com. (Bradenton is a city on the west coast of Florida between Tampa and Sarasota.)
Professor Perry makes a compelling argument that increased use of nuclear power would displace natural gas, an electricity generation fuel that has more than quadrupled in price during the past five years. As Professor Perry explains, that price increase has been the impetus for a huge migration of American companies that depend on gas as a feed stock to places where gas is cheaper. He also noted that the much talked about LNG is not working to stabilize US gas supplies, mainly because suppliers can get much better prices for their cargoes in places like Japan and Spain.
Here is an important quote from his opinion piece:
Most Americans probably don’t realize the effect all of this is having on some key industries. In the chemical industry, a big natural gas user, more than 118,000 American jobs have been lost since 2000.
For U.S. manufacturing overall, about 3 million jobs have been lost in that time due in large part to energy costs. Particularly in the fertilizer and chemical industries, plants are shutting down and reopening abroad to take advantage of lower natural gas prices overseas. Today there are about 120 major chemical plants – each costing more than $1 billion – being built around the world, but not one in the United States.
Here is one more important passage:
This support for nuclear energy is a hopeful sign, because the problems it has encountered have never been technological; they have been primarily political and institutional.
The United States pioneered the development of nuclear energy, and had the first major nuclear program. Most other leading industrial countries have continued developing their nuclear programs since the last nuclear plant order in the United States – primarily using U.S. technology.
Today we have the means – and more important, an urgent need – to bring that technology back home.