Politics & Pandering: Inside the Democratic Disdain for Nuclear Energy

The snake charmer plays his tune and the serpent rises, hypnotized, charmed. Yet beneath the allure of music, posturing, and theatre, lies the real question—who is charming whom? Unfortunately, it seems one can easily apply this question to the curious relationship between Democrats, their constituents, and the global albatross of climate change. The population stirs the clean energy song, the politicians writhe and moan to its music before the 2020 pulpit, and then turn around and hypnotize their voters with cartoonish promises of reduction deadlines, emission percentage goals, and prophetic demands levied at the high walls of industry, and the people swoon. Also known as the song and dance routine. Yet neither the snake nor the charmer, whomever each one is, performs the truth. Snakes cannot hear music and the charmer sees only his reflection. Vibrations and shadows.

The sound of the truth comes pouring in. The International Energy Agency (IEA) published a report last month detailing the ineluctable role nuclear energy must play in any initiative toward clean energy, stating “without more nuclear energy, global carbon dioxide emissions will surge and efforts to transition to a cleaner energy system will become drastically harder and more costly.” This speaks to an alarming gaffe in the Carbon Reduction/Clean Energy crusade—namely that where nuclear power plants are retired and shutdown, egregious carbon-spewing natural gas plants are erected to take their place and fill in the energy gap. This is almost universal in occurrence, which begs another question—how exactly does everyone screaming on their mothers’ graves that nuclear energy is a vile, evil, and shockingly dangerous option while flat-out demanding a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, realistically expect to ever reach such a goal? Wishful thinking? Devout prayer? Armed coercion? The case is simply impossibly, as it has always been, without nuclear energy. As the IEA eloquently states: “$1.6 trillion in additional investment would be required in the electricity sector in advanced economies from 2018 to 2040 if the use of nuclear energy continued to decline. That, in turn, would mean higher prices, as electricity supply costs would be close to $80 billion higher per year on average for advanced economies as a whole.”

Within the same report the IEA addresses the favorite go-to of renewable zealots, wind and solar energy—they’re summation is simple: renewables alone are not enough. Among a simple reason, one that would even give the political/media spinsters a run for their money, is land-use conflicts. It turns out people and their communities simply don’t want to give up their land for thousand-acre solar panels or sprawling wind turbines. This is true in Europe as well as in the United States. “Resistance to siting wind and, to a lesser extent, solar farms is a major obstacle to scaling up renewables capacity”, the IEA states. In May, a county in Illinois voted against a 12,000 acre wind project that called for over 67 turbines reaching a height of nearly 600 feet—that same month also saw Indiana pass legislation preventing the zoning of land for industrial-scale wind turbines. Since 2015, over 200 government entities have rejected proposed wind projects, and solar projects are not far behind. Opponents of nuclear energy bemoan the size of Nuclear plants, and yet seem either oblivious of conspicuously arrogant about the vast scale wind and solar projects require of the land and surrounding environment—and half the time they can’t even functionally operate due to nature’s whims, with the battery technology to support such lapses currently nothing more than a fantastical daydream. Says Cambria town supervisor Wright Ellis, whose town recently rejected a 100-megawatt solar project in New York, “We don’t want it. We are opposed to it.” Ellis stated the “permanent loss of agricultural land” and devaluing of surrounding homes among the reasons for rejecting the proposal.

The IEA isn’t alone in its assertion that a clean energy future is not possible without nuclear energy. The International Panel on Climate Change recently made the following proclamation regarding what is necessary for clean energy: “achieving deep cuts in emissions will “require more intensive use” of low-emission technologies “such as renewable energy and nuclear energy.”

And here we which the great American Divide: obsession with clean energy and a long, deep-seated, intensely psychological distrust of nuclear energy. Until we either put aside our politics in order to serve whatever best accomplishes our goal, or we finally admit to ourselves we care only for proliferation of our own image and nothing else, this schism will continue to grow. It’s anyone’s guess when, and more importantly, if, this will ever happen. Once again, who is charming whom?

Otek however, believes in the potential of nuclear energy and stands firm in our commitment to the industry. That’s we strove to become a Class 1E company and geared our NTM and SSAM metering technology to help the industry get back to its place of prominence. Our two flagship models can replace obsolete ammeters in nuclear I&C rooms Form, Fit, and Function using all the same wiring and panels, with only minimal operator training, and can do so on an individual basis as the analogs fail or all at once in a single planned outage. We’re doing our part to help the industry meet its promise.

For more information on our efforts to help the Nuclear industry through technological panel meter innovation, or to peruse our vast selection of products, please feel free to give us a call at 520-748-7900 or email our sales team at sales@otekcorp.com