Thank you to Alan Wirzbicki for his informative op-ed “The climate case against Ed Markey” (Opinion, Aug. 27). My husband, Bob, and I watched the campaign against nuclear power generation with sadness. He was an engineer on construction of the Connecticut Yankee nuclear plant in the 1960s. I saw this amazing structure rise and came to appreciate the good sense of having power without air pollution, smoke, pipelines, or coal cars. I also cared about replacing the environmental destruction and human illness caused by using coal.
American nuclear plants are safe, but they’re also highly engineered and expensive to construct. France took a different approach. After the oil crisis, the government pushed to develop nuclear expertise and standardize plant design. France reached up to 90 percent of power production from nuclear or hydro, and it continues to have one of the lowest per capita carbon footprints worldwide.
Climate change exponentially increases the urgency of using nuclear power. But our liberal leaders are still willfully blind, as exemplified by Jerry Brown, former governor of California (a hero for his support of science), who worked to close that state’s remaining nuclear plants and supported fracked natural gas.
Even environmentalists discount the cost of the status quo, which necessarily includes fossil fuels, and overestimate the benefits of new, small-scale technology. Solar and wind have many environmental costs, the greatest of which is ignoring the benefit of our existing nuclear infrastructure and power production.
Nuclear should be part of the Green New Deal, a national push for power in the public interest. Plentiful, carbon-free power will enable us to electrify everything — heating, transportation — and will support development of poorer nations.