Should We Shut Down Nuclear Plants?

That is the rising call among the Luddites of the left. Never failing to take advantage of catastrophe, some are urging that we start shutting down nuclear reactors in the United States – especially those of a similar design to the reactors failing in Japan.

First off, it should be kept in mind that the reactors in most trouble are those of a much older design – some of them are decades old. Technology has advanced a bit over the past 30 or 40 years and so the reactors we want to build today will be far more robust and able to take disaster much easier. There is no perfect technology in the world. Everything human beings do will be flawed and bear with it the chance of complete failure. To make our plans based upon suppositions of the very worst case scenario is asinine.

Secondly, figure the odds. Japan was hit by a 9.0 earthquake triggering a gigantic tsunami within minutes – there was no chance to prepare or take emergency steps to lessen the chance of a major failure at the nuclear plants. Now, there is the chance of the very same thing happening in California – which, as I understand it, has two operating nuclear power plants. So, there is cause for concern and those plants should be reviewed with this catastrophe in mind and whatever needs to be done to prepare for it should be implemented. But to shut down all the power plants when hardly any of them are at risk of any sort of Japanese-style disaster is stupid.

Rational policy dictates that we learn from the past, not run in fear from it. Now we know yet another thing which can happen and we should prepare for it. All nuclear power plant designs should be reviewed for earthquake preparedness, sudden loss of power and floods. Any deficiency in such areas should be remedied – and if we determine that any existing power plants simply cannot be made to meet the known threats then they should be scheduled for shut down as soon as replacement capacity is ready, not before.

Life is risky. In fact, you can eat right and exercise all you want – you’re still going to die. Sooner or later everyone you know, including yourself, will be dead. We don’t want to take wanton risks with human life, but there is no way to live without risking your life. Wake up in the morning and your risk starts right away.

If anything, given what is happening elsewhere in the world, this is a time to go on crash course of nuclear plant construction. America needs vast amounts of readily available and inexpensive energy from proven technology if we are to rebuild our manufacturing, mining and agricultural sectors. Unless we want to build a lot of coal or other fossil fuel plants, the only way we can get this amount of energy is from nuclear power. With modern technology bulked up by the lessons learned in the Japanese earthquake, we can build these plants swiftly and durably.

Unfortunately, the leadership we have today is a set of frightened rabbits – and rabbits who want to please the left wing base in advance of the 2012 elections. While noises have come out of the Obama Administration that we’ll still advance on the nuclear power front, you can bet your bottom dollar that no such thing will happen. Leftist pressure to go slow or stop it altogether will be immense, and Obama isn’t the man to stand up against pressure. And, so, we’ll continue to wallow and attempt to advance in a quixotic attempt at “green energy”, which is a great form of energy as long as you don’t need to turn your lights on every day. As in all things, America’s only real hope is to get rid of Obama in 2012 and hope for new leadership with bit of courage and sense.