March 26, 2001
Vice President?s Views on Nuclear Energy Are Misguided
Nuclear Power Is Incapable of Addressing Global Warming
WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Vice President Dick Cheney?s views on nuclear power, espoused Wednesday on CNBC, are ill-informed and misguided, according to Public Citizen.
Contrary to the vice president?s assertions, nuclear power is not capable of combating global warming because of the exorbitant cost of reactors and the long lead time needed to build them. Further, the steps needed to generate nuclear power — mining uranium, enriching radioactive fuel and constructing reactors — add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
“The nuclear industry, a major political funder, wants to leverage the energy crisis to get a second chance at a boondoggle technology,” said Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen president.
The nonprofit energy research group Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) 10 years ago debunked the nuclear industry?s claims that reactors could ease global warming. RMI figured that if we were to replace coal-fired power plants with nuclear reactors in an attempt to reduce greenhouse emissions by 20 to 30 percent by 2050, we would have to complete one nuclear reactor every one to three days for 40 years. RMI analysts found that every dollar spent on energy efficiency is approximately seven times more effective in reducing carbon dioxide than a dollar spent on nuclear power.
And nuclear power generates nuclear waste. There is no known way to safely dispose of nuclear power?s most dangerous byproduct — high-level radioactive waste.
“Clearly, nuclear power is too expensive and has too long a lead time to effectively counter carbon dioxide emissions,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of?Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “The vice president can’t solve global warming with nuclear power, and any further reliance on nuclear energy will only increase the risk of a major atomic catastrophe and create additional radioactive wastes that will remain dangerous for 240,000 years.”