Nukes: Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them
I hate to paraphrase a terrible sexist joke but when it comes to nuclear power, I sometimes feel like we can’t live with it and we can’t live without it.
There are lots of reasons to worry about nuclear power. No. 1 may be cost. As I noted last week, a recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists tallied up the costs of government support for nuclear power from uranium mining to waste disposal, and it concluded that “subsidies to the nuclear fuel cycle have often exceeded the value of the power produced. This means that buying power on the open market and giving it away for free would have been less costly than subsidizing the construction and operation of nuclear power plants.” Those costs, if anything, will only get higher because of the added scrutiny that the nuclear accident in Japan has brought to the industry.
And yet…without preserving and expanding nuclear power as an energy source, it’s extremely hard for me to see any path towards the low-carbon future that we need. As Robert Bryce, the author of Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Rules of the Future, once put it, “If you are anti-carbon dioxide and anti-nuclear, you are pro-blackout.”
These issues, and more, will be the topic of a live webcast on Wednesday June 29, 3 PM ET / 12 PM PT, presented by The Energy Collective, a website about energy and climate. I’ll be moderating. Registration is free and available here.
We’ll be talking about the following issues:
- How has the Fukushima crisis impacted public opinion and policy debates about nuclear energy?
- What do countries like Japan and Germany stand to gain or lose by giving up nuclear power generation?
- What is the carbon cost of giving up nuclear plants?
- How will countries that move away from nuclear make up that power elsewhere?
- Has the demise of the nuclear industry been exaggerated? While some countries are taking aggressive steps away from nuclear, some accounts suggest that overall, the number of nuclear plants continues to grow.
We’ll hear from these top experts. Matt and Jesse are friends and colleagues; trust me when I say they know what they are talking about:
Matthew Wald is a Reporter for the Washington Bureau at The New York Times, covering environmental and energy issues, as well as transportation, aviation and highway safety. Having joined The Times in October 1976 as a news clerk in the newspaper’s Washington bureau, Wald held positions at the New York metropolitan desk, the State Capitol in Hartford, and as a national correspondent, covering a variety of areas including housing and nuclear power, before joining the Washington bureau in September 1996. Wald has covered the Fukushima crisis extensively in the New York Times.
Edward Kee is a VP at NERA Economic Consulting and a specialist in the electricity industry with experience in nuclear power, electricity markets, restructuring, regulation, private power, and related issues. For more than 20 years, he has provided testimony as an expert witness on a range of electricity industry issues in state and federal courts, before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and before other legal and regulatory bodies in the US and around the world. Mr. Kee also provides strategic advice to companies and governments on issues related to the nuclear and electricity industries. Mr. Kee holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BS in Systems Engineering from the US Naval Academy.
Jesse Jenkins is Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the Breakthrough Institute, and is one of the country’s leading energy and climate policy analysts and advocates. He is the co-author with Devon Swezey of the “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant” report on global clean energy competitiveness strategies, and is currently working on an update to the report. Jesse has written for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, Yale Environment 360, Grist.org, and HuffingtonPost.com, and his published works on energy policy have been cited by many more. He is founder and chief editor of WattHead – Energy News and Commentary and a featured writer at the Energy Collective.
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