Time to Say Hasta la Vista, Nuclear Moratorium

Nicolas Loris /

It’s time for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to put his money where his mouth is. He’s a vehement believer that the United States needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and in March he advocated the use of nuclear power in America. He said,

I myself think that nuclear power has a great future, and I think that we should look at it seriously again. I know there are people who are scared about it, and I know there are certain environmentalists that put the scare tactics out there, and they frighten everyone that we’re going to have another blowup and all of those things. But I think technology has advanced so much.”

But there’s a problem.

State lawmakers imposed a moratorium on building new nuclear plants in 1976. While Schwarzenegger believes California should study nuclear power, he does not propose lifting the ban.”

More research? What California needs is more energy (remember 2003?), and if Governor Schwarzenegger truly believes that manmade carbon dioxide is a problem, nuclear energy is the perfect vehicle to reduce emissions. While many of us believe that the jury is still WAY out on CO2, the fact that nuclear energy produces very little solid waste and no atmospheric emissions makes it extremely environmentally friendly. So why not lift the ban?

The country already has 104 reactors, (3 in California) providing approximately 20% of the nation’s electricity (15% in California). That’s not even counting the 103 reactors that our Navy safely uses to power its submarines and aircraft carriers. Few realize that over the past 50 years the Navy has operated for over 5,800 reactor years and steamed over 136 million miles without accident or radioactive release.

And the Governor wants to study it more? What is this, an 8th grade Algebra test?

It’s not like California is adamantly anti-nuclear. The same article reports that “50 percent of voters support building new nuclear plants in California.”

Of course, California has its share of wannabe NoNuke activists trying to recapture the propaganda-laced magic of the 70’s. Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California, for example, went as far as calling nuclear power in CA a “dead-end” and arguing that “We have far cleaner, cheaper and safer energy resources like solar, wind and geothermal, and we should be investing in those.”

As I’ve said before, if nuclear energy is too expensive. If that’s true, then so be it. But it shouldn’t be the Sierra Club’s decision or Congress’s decision. The decision should be left to the private sector without any subsidies from government.