Jon Block recently wrote a SFGate.com Forum commentary titled On U.S. Energy Policy: Nuclear power is not today’s solution for global warming. According to the article byline, Mr. Block serves as the nuclear energy and climate change project manager for The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
A position with that title would be useful in many organizations, but at UCS it puts the person into the intellectually challenging position of fighting climate change while at the same time fighting a major weapon in the fight against climate change.
I liken it to being given the task of stopping a tank without the use of firearms or explosives. I picture a rather lopsided joust.
On September 12, 2007, Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, wrote an opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle titled Nuclear energy needs to grow. Ms. Whitman did a good job of laying out the case for nuclear power development – though she neglected to mention a few of advantages that I find most important. Oh well, you cannot put all arguments in a single, space limited column.
Jon Block’s response to Whitman’s commentary starts off with the following sentence: “For the past year, former Environmental Protection Agency head Christy Todd Whitman has been working as a paid spokesperson for the nuclear power industry.”
It became less factual after that. Here is a sample of his letter. It reads like a series of talking points without the bullets:
This lack of meaningful nuclear industry oversight is potentially life-threatening. A major accident could kill thousands of people and contaminate large regions for thousands of years. Congress needs to ensure that the NRC enforces its own regulations before additional nuclear power plants are built. Whitman would do well to acknowledge this need and call for improved oversight, because a nuclear accident would derail any increase in nuclear power capacity.
Nuclear plants also pose serious security risks. Nuclear plants store highly radioactive waste in fuel pools and above-ground canisters. Both are potential terrorist targets. A large aircraft flown into a fuel pool could cause a fire that would release sufficient radioactivity to contaminate tens of thousands of square miles. Above-ground canisters could be hit with grenade launchers, which are readily available. On-site storage needs to be made more secure.
The SFGate.com forum site accepts comments after a simple registration process. I encourage you to add your $2 worth to either or both articles, even if they are both written by professional spokesmen who were paid to produce their commentaries.