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America’s green nuclear age?
A new generation of nuclear reactors is pitched as the solution to our energy and climate problems
 

“The Greens” have kept us from developing new nuclear power since the Three Mile Island disaster, said venture capitalist Bob Metcalfe in The Wall Street Journal, but they can’t stop America’s “new nuclear revolution.” Nor should they want to. A new generation of small, “far safer” nuclear fission reactors could provide us with plenty of “cheap and clean energy,” if the government would only lower the “astronomical” costs and regulatory risks of building new reactors.

Energy companies are “open” to safe, cheap new nuclear technologies, said Sara Patton in The Seattle Times, but “the nuclear industry simply isn’t there yet.” Increasing efficiency and focusing on renewable energy are safer and cheaper ways of meeting our growing energy needs than placing “another high-risk bet on nuclear power”—and they avoid the problem of nuclear waste.

Ah, but some new reactors, such as GE’s PRISM plants, are actually designed to run on old nuclear waste, said Felix Salmon in Reuters, and they’d be affordable and “super-safe,” shutting down instead of melting down if there’s a problem. They can also be retrofitted into coal plants. What's missing is “political will,” and billions of dollars for testing and approval.

The political will may be there soon, said Steve Williams in the Victoryville, Calif., Daily Press. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu “has made nuclear power an agency priority,” and the Obama administration just approved $18.5 billion in funding to start reviving the U.S. nuclear industry. Taxpayers, consumers, and even environmentalists should welcome this “vast about-face” in energy policy.

 

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