I was recently struck by an urgent desire to subvert Harvey Wasserman's current antinuclear effort at NukeFree.org, so I used his "contact your representative" feature to send this message to Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Zach Wamp:
In light of our nation's ongoing energy crisis, as well as climate change, it is vital that we develop a diverse portfolio of energy sources that will provide our citizens with cheap, safe energy for the foreseeable future. I believe that currently, nuclear power is the only technology that fits the bill. Renewable energy is only cheap in the feverish imaginations of the rent-seekers who are eager for politicians like you to force the citizenry to buy their product via "renewable energy mandates." Nuclear is currently competitive with fossil fuels. And in real terms, nuclear is safer than either fossil fuels of some kinds of renewables. Coal plants cause global warming and release noxious, carcinogenic particulates into the atmosphere, while windmills produce so many worker accidents that in any given year they kill more people than the US nuclear power industry has in fifty. Outside the realm of wishful thinking, the expansion of nuclear power is essential to the continued health and prosperity of America. Meanwhile, the "Renewable Energy Mandate" is, in effect, a tax raise on all Americans who buy electricity. It makes as little sense as a "coal mandate" or an "oil mandate." All energy sources should be compared based on their actual virtues- and on this issue, there has been broad consensus among scientists for decades- that nuclear power is the answer.
I myself was born and raised in Oak Ridge and I know better than to believe the stories that anti-nuclear activists have promulgated for decades about nuclear power. And as a historian studying Soviet history- and in particular, the history of the Soviet nuclear program- I have considerable familiarity with the history of nuclear energy abroad as well. My professional and personal opinion that opposing the construction of new nuclear power plants is not only foolish, but irresponsible. Fortunately, our own state is moving in the right direction, but there are powerful forces working to lead our country astray.
Please work to see that our country's energy future is secured. Be willing to compromise. For instance, there is no reason that a nuclear renaissance has to be tied to the Yucca Mountain facility. Certain members of Congress are determined that this project fail. But I believe that this may not be a bad thing, and could in fact benefit our state. In light of experience in Russia, France, and Japan, I believe that we should construct a centralized interim repository for nuclear fuel, and I believe that Oak Ridge is a logical place to put it. As a longstanding Oak Ridge resident I can assure you that many Oak Ridgers would welcome this- not just because of our familiarity with nuclear materials and nuclear technology. The founders of our city had a vision- a vision of a world made, safer, healthier, and wealthier by nuclear energy. They may have built bombs, but they dreamed of nuclear desalination plants that would make the African desert green and fertile. Although most of the men and women who first had this vision have since passed away, I hope to someday help make it a reality.
Please take these thoughts into consideration when the current Energy Bill comes up for debate.
My girlfriend suggested that the last part was over the top, but it's true. (Perhaps my childhood in Oak Ridge was a bit abnormal.) It's not like I think Lamar Alexander is going to suddenly sponsor sweeping new pro-nuclear legislation after reading my letter. I'm just sticking it to Harvey Wasserman.