In Honor of Earth Day, Former Michigan Governors Advocate More Nuclear Power

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Three former Michigan governors–Republicans John Engler and William Milliken along with Democrat James Blanchard–are commemorating Earth Day by calling for more nuclear power in Michigan.

The three write in the Detroit Free Press that:

As former governors, we support expanding Michigan’s nuclear energy capacity. Carbon-free nuclear energy has long been a workhorse for the state’s energy needs, powering one out of every four homes and businesses. Because nuclear energy produces virtually no air pollutants, it accounts for more than 87% of all carbon-free electricity generated in the state each year.

Aside from singing the praises of nuclear energy as “clean” energy, the three further argue–citing a nuclear industry front group–that building nuclear reactors in Michigan would help create jobs:

It takes as many as 2,400 skilled tradesmen to build each new reactor, and once built, they employ 400 to 700 workers at salaries few can match, according to the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.

Predictably, the three ignore questions over the immense cost of new nuclear plants, as well as debate over just how much electricity Michigan actually needs. They assert that Michigan’s “energy demand is surging,” but others said that such projections are based on flawed numbers and that energy demand will likely decrease.

Moreover, the international environmental group Greenpeace–who has campaigned against nuclear energy for years–has just released a report titled “Nuclear Power: A Dangerous Waste of Time” that highlights the risks associated with nuclear power. It points to the unsolved problem of radioactive waste; the risk of catastrophic accidents; and the dangers posed to global security.

In its report, Greenpeace argues that nuclear accidents and “near misses” are frequent occurrences and that there is no such thing as “permanent” ways to dispose of nuclear waste. Moreover, it criticizes plans to “reprocess” spent fuel as creating more waste and increasing health problems.

With the environmental and health impacts of nuclear power–including the possibility of increased cancer rates in Michigan’s Monroe County–do we really “need” nuclear power?

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org

9 thoughts on “In Honor of Earth Day, Former Michigan Governors Advocate More Nuclear Power”

  1. Never mind that Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace supports nuclear power and has been fighting for it for years.

  2. Every time I drive past a coal fired plant, I thank the environmentalists for keeping the clean scourge of nuclear power from us.

  3. @bugmenot: Yes, Patrick Moore worked for Greenpeace over 20 years ago, but he did not co-found the organization according to Greenpeace:

    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/nuclear/patric-moore-background-inform

    Beyond that, he’s been a paid consultant for the nuclear industry–along with other environmentally destructive industries like the timber industry–for years.

    Some more interesting info on Moore:

    http://www.nuclearspin.org/index.php/Patrick_Moore

  4. @dean: There are plenty of other options–for example any number of renewable energy sources–that can be pursued. It isn’t simply a matter of nuclear or coal.

  5. I’m still waiting for someone to do the math to calculate how many wind turbines it takes to replace one nuke plant, and then tell us where to put the pretty things.

    Or you could tell me how many acres of solar panels it would take to do the same thing, with the same follow-up.

    France has all the clean energy they need. Would that we had had the sense to follow them on this issue. But we didn’t, and now we have coal.

    Thanks!!

    PS: Trees are “renewable” too.

  6. @Dean,

    You are not the first person on this site to sing the praises of France’s nuclear energy program. Where did you get this information? In a class? From a mainstream media network? Talk radio? I’m really curious to know.

    Thanks.

  7. Multiple guests, and the host, on the Bob Brinker show, along with Spiegel online and NRC.nl, and probably others. It’s not a new concept.

    Standard design nuke is really the only current non-polluting option until something magical is found, and that hasn’t happened yet.

    I’d like an answer as to the number of wind turbines or acres of solar panels

    that are necessary.

    Really.

    thanks

  8. I find it so mind-boggling that anyone can speak of nuclear power as “non-polluting.” Nuclear power may not have the same effect on the environment as coal, but that doesn’t mean it’s somehow “clean.” Even if there were no accidents from use of nuclear power and no residual effects on the communities near nuclear plants (which, as most of us acknowledge, there are, and they’re serious), it’s not a tenable solution to just keep burying the waste in big new boxes–especially because those boxes inevitably end up leaking. Nuclear power should not even be considered as an option.

  9. Here’s a recent article on Michigan’s “need” for nuclear power that might be relevant to the discussion:

    http://blog.mlive.com/cns/2009/04/role_of_nuclear_power_in_state.html

    Greg White, the legislative liaison for the Public Services Commission, said nuclear technology is too expensive and takes too long to build to help achieve the governor’s “45 by ’20” initiative.

    “I do think that nuclear power can play an important role in moving us forward,” White said. “You just can’t get anything built between now and then.”

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