As I watch the Fukushima crisis unfolding in Japan, and even as some brave Japanese workers are volunteering to shorten their lives to avoid an even larger catastrophe, I cannot believe that the United States is insisting that it “can’t happen here.” I can’t believe that we are not making the decision to turn from the contaminated, costly ticking time bomb that is nuclear energy.
There are so many things wrong that I am at a loss as to why anyone is willing to subsidize this industry, risking our environment and fellow citizens for an energy source that only makes up about 15 percent of our electricity needs. The mining of the uranium is subsidized, highly fossil-fuel intensive, and leaves contaminated Super Fund sites. The Price Anderson Act of 1957 limits the industry’s liability, which makes the American people the insurance underwriters for the industry. We, the people, will foot the bill for finding a storage spot for the waste that will be toxic for generations. Since 1988, utility ratepayers have paid $14.8 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund. To add insult to injury, the highly profitable nuclear industry is now looking at receiving billions more dollars in subsidies and “help” with permitting processes. Nuclear energy: affordable and green? You are joking, right?
We can do better than nuclear power, and we owe the world’s grandchildren the chance of not having to witness another Fukushima or Chernobyl. We need to stop shifting all of the various costs of nuclear power onto the American public and let the energy source sink or swim on its own. My guess is the day public subsidies are removed from the nuclear industry will be the day that alternative energy sources will no longer be seen as “crazy” and will all of a sudden become very economically viable.