Why Does the Left Ignore Nuclear Power?

They focus on wind and solar, but those sources are miles behind.

Predictably absent from the Democrats’ party platform for 2016, as it was in 2012 and in 2008, is a coherent energy strategy that matches their rhetoric on climate change. Once again, they have had the opportunity to face the facts on the benefits of nuclear power, and once again, they have chosen to demonize the one non-fossil fuel energy source that can come close to meeting their lofty goals of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

It’s not that the Dems are ignoring nuclear power. As Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, points out, they bring up “nuclear” plenty of times. It’s just that each mention links the word to other catchy terms like “annihilation” and “weapon.” Nuclear as a source of clean energy that the Left craves is never brought up. It just doesn’t fit the narrative.

Throughout the Obama administration, the Left, which has always run the EPA, spoke the gospel of clean energy. They overhyped the global threat of climate change, declared it primarily attributable to human behavior, calculated that only lower greenhouse gas emissions could save us, then set about reducing those gases by any means available.

The administration established the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 730 million tons by 2030, and called for the energy sector to fall into line. They were so adamant to make this happen that they set out, and have nearly succeeded, in destroying the coal industry. And they have raised automobile fuel efficiency standards beyond a level with which the automotive industry can comply or consumers can afford.

In 2008, Obama told the American people straight up that his policies would ensure their electricity bills would skyrocket, and we are seeing the effects of this damn-the-torpedoes strategy ripple throughout the economy. The energy industry affects virtually every other industry in this country, from manufacturing to transportation to retail and beyond. There’s no mistaking that the Democrats’ cockeyed energy strategy is a least partly responsible for sluggish employment, stagnant wages and a generally moribund economy.

Regardless of your politics, it can be reasoned that cleaner sources of energy are better for everyone. Unfortunately, when the Left speaks of clean energy, they only mention wind and solar. Nuclear never comes into the equation. Ignoring the benefits of nuclear as a clean energy source is an epic mistake.

As Bryce notes, America’s nuclear reactors save the U.S. an additional 600 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. These reactors are also producing four times as much energy as wind and 21 times more than solar. Nuclear accounts for nearly 20% of America’s electricity.

Nuclear is also still a cheaper energy option than wind and solar. It can be argued that nuclear had a bit of a head start and that the infrastructure for wind and solar has some catching up to do. But it will take wind close to half a century to catch up to nuclear in terms of cost per unit, and it will take solar a whole century to do likewise.

There’s also the sticky problem that we have yet to develop an effective means of storing energy from wind and solar. The energy produced by these means is not easily transportable, and it pretty much must be used as it is produced, preventing mass production and consumption on power-plant-like scale.

There is a place for wind and solar in any energy strategy that America choses to embrace. However, we cannot cling to the platitudes of the Left that insist these are the only keys to a low-emissions energy future. Nuclear has been with us for decades, and that is because it is clean, it is largely safe, and over the long haul, it is cheap. Ignoring these facts will keep us from meeting our energy goals, and it will ultimately keep us from being the strong economic power that we need to be again.

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