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Nuclear Power Has No Role in Fighting the Climate Emergency

The Aug. 26 editorial “A plan that goes nowhere” in the Washington Post claimed that Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) proposed $16.3 trillion climate plan was made “unnecessarily expensive” by his exclusion of new nuclear power construction and his intention to deny existing nuclear plants license extensions.

According to research by the Environmental Working Group, five states have already spent $15 billion in subsidies to keep their economically failing nuclear plants open. In Ohio, a whopping $1.1 billion was lavished on just two old nuclear plants whose owners had planned to shutter them. That bill will be paid by consumers.

New nuclear construction has proved to be economically unpalatable to most companies and impossible without loan guarantees. In Georgia, $25 billion has already been poured into two new plants at Vogtle, still unfinished. In South Carolina, two reactors under construction were canceled, leaving customers with a $9 billion tab and not a single watt of electricity.

That’s already $49 billion, without considering constant safety maintenance, the unsolved management of radioactive waste and, of course, the incalculable price of a major accident.

The editorial described Mr. Sanders’s plan for jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors as “cushy gigs” and advocated a “steadily rising carbon tax.” But we have time for neither sarcasm nor caution. Mr. Sanders offers a bold plan that recognizes our climate emergency. We can either get behind it or mortgage our future by doing too little too late.

This note first appeared in The Washington Post.

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Linda Pentz Gunter is the editor and curator of BeyondNuclearInternational.org and the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear. She can be contacted at linda@beyondnuclear.org.

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