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.
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?