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Friday, March 25, 2005

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: We must take closer look at nuclear energy

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists -We must take closer look at nuclear energy

When any discussion of nuclear energy begins, the first image in most minds is a mushroom cloud, mass terror and mass destruction. Yet the facts seem to be quite different. After the partial meltdown of a reactor at Three Mile Island in 1979, psychiatrist Robert DuPont began investigating nuclear energy and was astonished to find how well-run these plants are and how poor a job has been done in getting the public to know the difference between energy used to generate electricity and nuclear weapons, which dominate the public fear in almost pathological terms.

The recent congressional vote for arctic drilling would not have been necessary if we had maintained a commitment to developing nuclear power as an energy source. Of course, in the wake of Three Mile Island, we had a number of setbacks that were unavoidable. One had to expect high levels of hysteria, finger-pointing and inevitable mistrust of industrial information - and with good reason. But we still have to get all of the hysteria and misinformation behind us so that we can seriously reconsider nuclear energy as one way of getting free of Middle Eastern dependence.

It is time to recognize what even France understands, which is that nuclear energy is the cleanest, safest and least expensive way to get beyond oil dependency. In our case, we also have hazardous things that happen to economically disadvantaged people through the emissions of coal burning.

We are due for a major reconstruction of our thinking about nuclear power. I do not mean that everyone is supposed to lie down and go to sleep, forgetting about everything on the basis of what some energy company says. But I expect our nation to grow up and move free of an irrational fear of technology. While we gobble up every new gadget, those fears take a rest, but we are quick to pick up those fears again whenever nuclear energy is brought up.

The facts are on the side of Indian Point, and we will better understand where we are when we look closely at those facts. We should not allow ourselves to be manipulated by those ideologues who pretend to hate big oil and the destruction of the environment but are not willing to consider an alternative that has proven itself the world over.

Originally published on March 20, 2005

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