America’s nuclear plants are critical to keeping carbon emissions low and are worth preserving, contrary to what William F. Shughart II argues in his recent op-ed (“Why nuclear power subsidies must end,” Web, May 22). When the Vermont Yankee nuclear facility in New England closed, the power produced by that plant was largely replaced by natural gas. This led to an increase of 3.1 million metric tons of carbon emissions in New England the following year — basically equivalent to adding 650,000 passenger cars to the roads. To imply, as Mr. Shughart does, that natural gas is a sufficient solution for carbon mitigation is dangerously reductive and risks putting all our eggs in one basket. It also fails to consider other severe consequences of losing existing nuclear plants. In New England, for example, hundreds of workers — both plant employees and others in the community — lost their jobs as a result of the Vermont Yankee closure.
The reality is that our nuclear plants provide a host of benefits to consumers across the country, and these are worth maintaining. Not only are the plants key players in carbon reduction, but they also provide thousands of jobs, help drive local economies and provide constant, reliable power. Not to mention that they provide roughly 20 percent of our electricity.
The benefits of plans and policies that keep these plants operating outweigh any costs. Take New York, for example, where Gov. Cuomo and the Public Service Commission recently put in place a Clean Energy Standard (CES) that has a provision to keep existing nuclear plants operating. For every $1 New York invests in this plan, there will be a $6 return. That’s clearly a good deal.
When it comes to nuclear energy, states are well-served to make smart investments that ensure citizens don’t lose valuable benefits.
Chair, Nuclear Matters
Former senator, New Hampshire
Former governor, New Hampshire
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