Choose and explain a stance on nuclear power

Robert Bradley Jr.'s commentary (VG, Sept. 12) failed to make its case, whatever it was. Bradley is credited as the founder and CEO of the Institute for Energy Research. This must be a new organization, as he needs to do a lot more energy research.

The energy marketplace is not and never was "consumer-driven." People only buy energy when they can access it and afford it. Otherwise, they do without.

If it is true that "wind power directly competes against ... the economics of nuclear," that is because nuclear power, as he rightly states, is heavily subsidized by the federal government, while renewables such as wind, solar, hydro and geothermal only get tax credits (not the same thing as subsidies) and are, at best, small scale and so are much cheaper.

It is true that it is "the job of government officials to decide which energy technologies succeed and fail." If government wants its people to have energy, it must decide how best to provide it and what types to provide. In the 1950s and 60s, the U.S. government bought land and paid for the construction of nuclear power plants and hydroelectric dams throughout the country. But it then turned its operation and maintenance over to private firms, which rely on "ratepayers," also known as consumers.

Nuclear power's main competitors are not renewables but rather fossil fuels — coal, oil, natural gas — which are just as costly to obtain and use but also produce electricity on a large scale. Fossil fuels get both subsidies and tax credits.

If Bradley's goal is to promote nuclear power, he should stop calling for the elimination of tax credits on renewables, which are beneficial in many ways to taxpaying consumers, but rather beg the government and its taxpayers for even more money to tear down all the remaining decades-old nuclear plants and replace them with brand new ones using the latest, much improved, modern technology. Now that might be a case worth making.

But if his goal is to help taxpayers, he needs to demand the elimination of all subsidies to nuclear and fossil fuel corporations, as that money could be better spent elsewhere, in particular, promoting the use of renewables on all federal properties which will in the long term save the taxpayers billions of dollars.

Vernice Thompson


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