Magazine article Insight on the News

Time to Give Nod to Nuclear Power

Magazine article Insight on the News

Time to Give Nod to Nuclear Power

Article excerpt

Crisis seems to be the mode, or mood, under which this country now attends to dislocations and malfunctions. The energy crisis is a prime instance. One can be confident there is a genuine crisis when the feds are compelled to sit down and formulate a "comprehensive plan" to deal with it -- whatever "it" is at the moment.

American voracity for energy is exceeding our willingness to pay for our appetite -- pay, in this context, means both direct costs to consumers and capital costs for plants and equipment and all they entail -- e.g., extracting fuel sources from the earth.

California is a classically horrible example, and what occurs there economically or culturally slops over to the rest of us eventually. At center stage there is what the mindless mouths on TV news incessantly refer to as California's "deregulation" of energy. It was no such thing, of course. It was one of those half-vast schemes by which politicians try to split the difference -- in this case, by attempting to cover their own flanks while shielding consumers from the true costs of delivering electricity.

When the rolling blackouts began (and they will continue) the shrieks of pain were predictable, as were calls for the state to take over the public utilities and create a People's Republic of California with bureaucrats at the helm.

It won't work, of course, and Sacramento's solutions among them the purchase of the vital energy-transmission systems -- will create a High Sierras of debt that will further disrupt the state economy. At least one high-tech firm so far has vowed not to expand its operations in California.

How in the world did this mess come about? In a state where power demand steadily has increased, there has not been a new electrical-generating plant constructed in 12 years; add to that the quadrupling of the price of natural gas -- now the preferred fuel for generating plants -- in a year and you've got your front-page crisis.

Stir into the brew the radical environmentalists who are convinced we'd all be nicer and healthier if we subsisted on grubs and roots. These zealots, with their wide-eyed camp followers, have ensured that, in California, it has become next to impossible to build or even repair the generating plants that now are geriatric.

Among the sensible remedies not being adequately considered before this energy deficit makes its ominous way from the Left Coast to the rest of the land, the most glaring is nuclear generation -- the energy source that dares not speak its name. …

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