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A current legislative item concerns Vermont Yankee's license extension.
There are those of the green environmental mentality who believe that anything to do with the word atom or atomic is dangerous to our health and must therefore be eliminated. After all, haven't the dangers associated with this method of electrical energy production been demonstrated by reactors at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl? Three Mile Island killed no one and the Russian short-cut design is/was never used in the free world.
In the case of Vermont Yankee, it has been providing over 30 percent
of our needs for 20 odd years and now with federal O.K. an extension is
needed. The greenies want to stop our best current source of low-cost
power because of their irrational aversion to the "atomic" hysteria. If
they think at all about replacement sources they always say solar and
The sun doesn't always shine and the wind does not always blow; therefore, any electrical output from these sources must be backed up by conventional energy which relegates solar and wind to a minor role in the overall electrical energy picture. The Danes have found that due to the intermittent nature of this green source it cannot be relied upon for more than 20 percent of what is called the baseload, otherwise consistent, dependable power cannot be maintained.
Look at the renewable source experiences of other countries. Japan makes and sells lots of solar panels but these mostly for export. They subsidize their use at home but have a goal of only 3 percent use by next year. It is said that Germany, through massive subsidy programs of their own, supports wind and solar and have managed to develop this source to about 15 percent of their total electrical load but at the same time increased their electrical bill by 38 percent in just 2007 alone. Not at all a good cost-to-benefit ratio, a thing the greenies know nothing about. China of course produces electricity from its coal-fired power plants and is given a free pass as regards CO2 emissions and Kyoto.
France has been on the forefront of nuclear power for years and is said to supply 80 percent of its needs this way. Many countries in the NATO and European group are gearing up to dramatically expand the use of atomic plants. Britain, France, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania are planning or already building new nuclear plants. In the Far East, India and even China have nuclear power expansion plans.
Alternative methods of power production should be encouraged, but not with the aid of ineffective subsidies that can provide only a minor portion of the world's power needs. Our best source of non-polluting electric power is still the atom and the world is finally overcoming the irrational fantasy that the atom is not green.
There is concern regarding the nature of the low level waste that atomic plants produce. In this country the solution to the waste problem is not science. It is political. France uses reprocessing methods that are forbidden here and the storage facility at Yucca Mountain promised for the current waste has been stymied by the environmental radicals who buy off our congress people with campaign contributions. So, change here needs to be added to the list of campaign slogans of last year in order to obtain the energy the U.S. needs to maintain our American way of life.
President Obama has said that we can expect to see our electric costs skyrocket when his carbon "Cap and Trade" program is instituted supposedly to save the world from being overheated by greenhouse gasses. He estimates this plan will cost $646 million. But just think of the huge bureaucratic nightmare this would cause, all run by politicians. In the four years of the European experiment with this nonsense, the plan failed to generate the funds proposed or a functioning emissions-permit market. I think it is sad that this whole scheme is based upon emotional distortions and lies expressed by and through our politicians, mainstream media and academia just for personal aggrandizement.
When studying the earths' heating and cooling cycles recorded over many, many years we find that the solar flux changes on the sun and that reaching our planet accurately match each other. Instead of considering this data the political scientists develop predictions that can't even be successfully back-tested. As for CO2 causing glacier melting (a nice chimera shown with weeping polar bears) data shows that melting, with variations, has been on a steady upward rate starting around 1820 and continues on the same slope in spite of the six-fold increase in CO2 during the WWII industrial recovery (reference: Soon, Hoyt and Schatten, Geophysical Research Letters, 32 & 98). This shows that change in climate CO2 has no effect upon glacier shortening.
Referring to data compiled by L. D. Keigwin (Science 274), which are not estimates or predictions, show long heating and cooling cycles are long term and that we are currently warming up from the "little ice age" which occurred about when Washington was crossing the Delaware River, all a natural cyclic phenomenon.
There is much data that, in addition to the above that show that the earth is warming, CO2 is increasing and glaciers are melting, but it is nothing new. The earth has seen these cycles many, many times in the past and has survived splendidly. So forget about bankrupting the world and stop global whining. Accept nature as it exists. Concentrate on increasing our electrical supply in the most monetarily efficient manner that can be devised. Get behind the effort to keep the Vermont Yankee atomic plant producing the electric power we desire. For the U.S. and the world, promote electric power production via the atom.
Olin Potter lives in Waitsfield.