Tuesday, January 8, 2008

EDITORIAL: Are nuclear and coal power the answer?

January 2, 2008


We asked our readers: Should we revisit greater use of nuclear and coal-fired plants for our electrical needs? Here are your responses:

Ed Arzouian, Johnson City

Should we revisit greater use of nuclear and coal-fired plants for our electrical needs? The simple answer is: no. The better answer is more complicated.

The premise of the question is flawed and the choices skewed away from better answers. Both alternatives are poor. Why not look more closely at wind, water, solar and geothermal power? They are all better alternatives in terms of sustainability and the environment.

Coal is 19th-century technology improved with some 20th-century bells and whistles. It is still a bad choice.

Nuclear power does make sense if all your other options are limited, but New York state's and the United States' options are not limited, so why adopt nuclear before looking at the other choices?

In our northern climate and particular weather pattern, with our limited days of sunshine (52 days), solar power is not a very good or realistic alternative. It can help on a small, individual basis for some applications, but its utility on a large scale is limited in this area. However wind, water and geothermal power would be better alternatives, except for the short-sighted, close-minded, petty attitude of the general public in this area and the lack of capital to development the technologies.

That being said, the whole discussion is moot because the tree huggers and self-centered individualists will never allow any kind of plant or generation station to be built. They are even opposed to wind turbines.

Even if they did, others would never allow them to put up transmission lines to send the power anywhere anyway. The people in New York State in general and Broome County in particular seem to think electrical power is a God-given right for which somebody else in some other place owes them. Their isolationist attitude has them treat even New York City, Rochester or Buffalo as hostile foreign countries. It is really quite remarkable in this age of globalization that people here think on such a small scale.

The only way anything will get built is if it pushed through on a federal level, and it will be a long fight. Things will change here only when too many people start freezing to death in their homes in the winter or die of heat stroke in the summer and their jobs dry up as plants move away, tired and broke from paying the highest energy cost in North America.

Ed Honrath, Afton

I wholeheartedly support greater use of nuclear power to generate electricity. I have been reading about nuclear power lately, and it is essentially non-polluting and does not add to global warming. In regard to safety, new designs eliminate the concerns of the past.

The only issue is where to dispose of the waste, which is also safe, but of course no one wants it nearby just in case there is a problem.

Nuclear is definitely the way to go for our electric power needs, and we all should encourage our government representatives to support it as well.

David Preston, Charlotte, N.C.

Nuclear is clean and safe. As soon as they can find a way to deal safely with the waste, which will be radio active for thousands of years, I will be for it.

Coal emissions can be scrubbed, but it greatly increases the cost.

Drilling in the wildlife preserves is only a temporary solution. It doesn't contain enough oil to be considered a solution.

Oil consumption in this country has more than doubled during this administration alone (I am not blaming the administration).

We apparently learned nothing from the embargo in 1973. We are far more dependent on imported oil now than we were then.

Hydro power is best where possible. Anything in perpetual motion can be used to turn a generator and should be explored: wind, waves, etc. Solar power is efficient, but the exotic metals involved are toxic and create a disposal problem. Solar can, however, be used to heat water by convection for small projects.

Small steps are better than doing nothing while we search for the ultimate solution.

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