Editorial: Nuclear power good for US

The United States has 104 nuclear reactors. Thanks to the United States government, two more will be built in Georgia.

Nuclear energy has its benefits, namely reduced emissions via clean energy and economic benefits. There are also a number of drawbacks to nuclear energy, with safety being the primary worry. However, all things considered, the positives of nuclear energy outweigh the negatives.

Nuclear reactors supply roughly 20 percent of America’s energy. Nuclear energy’s output in the United States is only out-produced by coal.

Given that coal has a number of detriments and is the primary source of energy in the United States, it makes sense that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the United States will back loans to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia. The United States is guaranteeing $6.5 billion in loans to Georgia Power and Oglethorpe Power.

At face value, $6.5 billion in backed loans sounds dangerous and risky — especially when taxpayers are on the hook for every penny. However, nuclear energy is a sound investment for the United States government. Not only does nuclear energy bolster the economy in numerous avenues, but it also helps promote effective clean energy.

Nine years ago, Congress passed the 2005 Energy Policy Act, a $17.5 billion program of nuclear loan guarantees. This announcement to commit $6.5 billion to nuclear energy is a process that has already been vetted by Congress.
One central benefit of nuclear energy is that it provides low-cost energy at a stable price. Nuclear energy is reliable because it is predictable. Unlike other energy sources such as coal, petroleum, natural gas or hydroelectric energy, nuclear energy is not reliant on the natural weather or climate conditions. Nuclear energy also is not affected by fluctuations in cost.

Another positive for nuclear energy is that it is a domestic energy source. This creates more jobs at home in America, as opposed to America’s massive importation of crude oil.

Nuclear energy is also environmentally friendly. Nuclear energy has a microscopic ecologic footprint. Essentially, nuclear energy is an emission-free energy source. Given its lack of emissions, nuclear energy produces the most electricity in an environmentally conscious way. Therefore, nuclear energy has the best bang for the buck both economically and environmentally. The water that is emitted from a nuclear energy plant is simply water. Water is used to cool machinery and never comes into contact with radioactive materials.

Because water is emitted from them, areas surrounding nuclear energy plants often become a haven for wildlife.

Nuclear energy is not perfect, though. There have been accidents in the past, namely the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania, Ukraine’s 1986 Chernobyl disaster and most recently, the Fukushima disaster of 2011 in Japan.

In all three cases, mismanagement, lack of foresight, human error and old technology played major roles.

Since 1990, there has only been one fatality at a nuclear power plant in the United States. That tragedy happened in Arkansas on March 31, 2013, when a worker was killed as part of a generator fell as it was being transported.
Sadly, accidents will happen when the use of heavy machinery is involved. Considering the advancements in technology and the expansion of nuclear energy in America, it is reassuring that there has only been one fatality in the last 24 years.

The United States government is making a wise decision to continue to push for the innovation and growth of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is efficient, cost-effective, powerful, environmentally friendly, safe and it serves as a means to bolster the economy.

A nuclear disaster is very unlikely with the best technology under the proper supervision. The only thing melting down will be our dependence on foreign oil.