NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

IS GLOBAL WARMING SERIOUS ENOUGH TO LIFT CALIF. BAN ON NUKE PLANTS?

August 24, 2007

What if Californians considered the relative risks and rewards of nuclear power vs. global warming, increased use of imported fossil fuels and massive electricity rate hikes, and decided in favor of nuclear power?  The California Energy Independence and Zero Carbon Dioxide Emission Electrical Generation Act slated for the June 2008 ballot will give Californians that choice, says Chuck DeVore, a California state assemblyman representing Orange County.

The proposed initiative overturns California's nuclear ban, enacts seismic and environmental restrictions that place about 40 percent of the state off limits to nuclear power, and approves on-site dry-cask storage of spent fuel as an acceptable storage method for 100 years, says Devore.

  • Construction of nuclear plants, however, has been banned in California since 1976 but the four reactors under construction then were allowed to be finished; today, those reactors furnish about 13 percent of state's electricity.
  • The four reactors save $2.6 billion a year in natural gas (a nuclear reactor can run on about $30 million of fuel for almost two years) while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22 million metric tons; adding four modern reactors would let the electrical sector reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, returning the sector to 1990 levels.
  • Nuclear power has the lowest total life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of any energy source, including solar and wind; despite this, the California legislature shows no interest in nuclear power.

California can get serious about meeting its ambitious global warming goals while providing economic opportunity or it can try to power its economy on good intentions, say DeVore.

Source: Chuck DeVore, "Is Global Warming Serious Enough To Lift Calif. Ban On Nuke Plants?" Investor's Business Daily, August 22, 2007.

 

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