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Should New Zealand Re-Think Its Anti-Nuclear Energy Position?

Coming out of last week's APEC summit in Australia, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark took credit for watering down some of the official statements about nuclear energy and climate change.

But as it turns out, not everyone back home in New Zealand thought that was a good idea. From the New Zealand Herald:
That nuclear power poses risks is indisputable. But those risks need to be assessed in context of the certain - not potential - environmental havoc that is being wrought by the use of fossil fuels to generate energy. In the US, more than 600 coal-fired power plants produce 36 per cent of that country's - and almost 10 per cent of the world's - emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. China is building a new coal-fired power station every week.


It may well be that nuclear power is not viable here on practical or political grounds, though the likelihood is that we will fail to meet our emissions-reduction targets without a change in energy strategy. But we do ourselves and the world no favours by refusing out of hand to endorse or explore the nuclear option. When the biosphere collapses, it won't spare this country just because we remained philosophically pure.
Kiwiblog and @ my wits' end took notice too.


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Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…