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Reluctance puts us at a disadvantage

Published:06/29/2008 Opinion
Reluctance puts us at a disadvantage    Print Snohomish Times    
It seems that whenever there is a spike in oil prices, people start wondering why we are not energy independent. It happened in the early 70s, the late 80s, and now today. Every time it happens, our representatives tell us that they are working to fix the problem, but evidently nothing has changed. Instead of solving the problems, we start arguing about unrealistic solutions. For example, it takes more oil to make bio-fuel than just simply burning it in our cars.

In the midst of all of this political and public confusion, I rarely hear the words "nuclear power." The United States has enough uranium reserves to be energy independent for more than 1,000 years if we use fast-feed reactors, which are currently used by France and Japan. Nuclear power works by collecting a small amount uranium-235 (U235) from a large amount of uranium-238 (U238). This small amount of U235 can create energy with the by-products being plutonium, U238, and fission products. Fast-feed reactors then take U238, the major component in nuclear waste, and combine it with plutonium to make even more energy. This produces 100 times less waste than current American plants, and despite popular misconceptions, it is statistically safer than fossil fuel production.

However, during the 1970s, the use of plutonium for energy was banned because America wanted to set the example for anti-weapons proliferation. Did any nations follow suit? No. One of the major headlines today is Iran's nuclear power program. China has goals to create one nuclear power plant a month but we haven't created a new plant in 30 years. Why are we still following legislation that doesn't work and puts us at a disadvantage to the rest of the world?

Nathan Kelley - Everett

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