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America is the world's top research nation, yet we continue to embrace coal power, an outdated power source that's dangerous to mine and emits hazardous chemicals.  (Source: CNN.com)

A coal plant emits 100 times more radiation into the environment than a nuclear plant of the same capacity. It also emits cancer-causing compounds, precursors to acid rain and greenhous gases.  (Source: Safer Environment)

America has been paying in human life for decades for its coal addiction, as illustrated by the most recent accident in West Virginia.  (Source: CNN.com)

Modern nuclear power is clean, safe, and affordable, so why are Americans afraid of it? If France can generate over 80 percent of its energy from nuclear power, why can't we?  (Source: Herve Lenain/Corbis)
Coal is dirty, dangerous, and outdated, so why can't Americans move ahead?

Scientists have gifted the U.S. with the technology we need to take our energy future into our own hands.  You could tear down every nuclear reactor in the U.S., rebuild 10 times as many reactors as the current number and still produce less waste on a yearly basis, by using modern designs such as liquid metal fast breeder reactors (LMFBRs), pebble bed reactors, and molten salt reactors.  And with promising technologies like thorium reactors and fusion-fission hybrid reactors on the horizon, it would certainly seem that the time for nuclear is now.

And yet America remains fearful of nuclear, even as President Barack Obama has tried to cajole Americans into finally embracing nuclear power again.

Most Americans don't realize it, but we already get 20 percent of our power from nuclear energy generated in the U.S.  That is truly domestic energy; true, it comes at a cost of some waste, due largely to outdated reactor designs largely built in the 60s and 70s, but at least we are in firm control of this power source.

Most of the rest of America's power budget comes from the fossil fuels to which America is so addicted.  American cars run on oil, a resource we have to purchase in large quantities from volatile foreign theocracies.  And in America, most of our power comes from a power source far more dangerous to Americans than nuclear energy -- coal.

The high price in life paid when it comes to coal was illustrated by the Montcoal, West Virginia mining disaster that resulted in the death of 25 Americans.  This event was not a first.  In fact, nearly every decade in recent American history has been punctuated by a mining disaster that killed 20 or more people.  Other disasters are equally common abroad.

Guess how many people have died from "hazardous" nuclear power in the U.S.?  If you guessed "not a single one" you'd be absolutely correct.  

In fact, even if you are concerned with nuclear waste, coal is a far worse fuel source than nuclear.  After all, coal ash is very radioactive.  Per energy a coal plant puts 100 times more radiation into the environment than a nuclear plant.  We've known this since 1978 when a J.P. McBride a researcher at a national laboratory revealed this in an exhaustive peer-reviewed study.  We now know that coal ash is also carcinogenic and, along with other coal waste products, can cause cancer in humans.  And that's on top on the chemicals that form acid rain, and thousands of tons of carbon emissions that the plants also pump out.

Coal is horrible for the environment and quite dangerous both directly and indirectly.  So what's the solution?  Solar and wind may provides some of our nation's needs, but these are discontinuous power sources and they remain expensive.  In other words they're worthy of research and mild investment, but not a blind charge.  Nuclear, on the other hand, is affordable and tested.

Memory is a powerful thing.  Mismanagement of nuclear power, such as the 1986 Chernobyl accident and the close call at Three Mile Island in 1979 still remain prominent in the minds of many.  But you're at your own peril if you ignore reality and live in the past.  And the truth is today nuclear power is not only affordable, but it's far safer than the buried hydrocarbons that our nation is so addicted to.  One can only hope that the American public will embrace common sense and together push our country towards a clean, safe, affordable future in which nuclear power is the integral cornerstone.





"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive







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