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A Nuclear President?

NuclearThree Mile Island, Control Room 1.

Well, someone has come right out and said it:

“Sen. John McCain called Wednesday for the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.”

That’s according to an A.P. article by David Espo, well worth reading in its entirety.

We have written quite a few times about the likelihood of a return to nuclear power in this country and elsewhere.

It could simultaneously satisfy the growing demand for electricity and the growing concern over carbon emissions released by the burning of coal, which is the primary source of U.S. power plants. (About 20 percent of our electricity already comes from nuclear energy; some people seem to think that we burn oil to make electricity, which is rarely the case any more.)

There are a lot of hurdles to nuclear power (many of them addressed in Espo’s article) and a lot of potential negative externalities as well, including the risk of a nuclear disaster — but there are a lot of reasons to believe that this risk has been gravely oversubscribed.

If nothing else, I am glad to see that nuclear energy is on the table during this presidential campaign.

One big factor to keep in mind as the energy future is worked out: even if the perfect electric car were brought to market tomorrow, it would hardly be a perfect solution from a carbon-emissions standpoint since the electricity needed to run the car would still come from coal-fired plants. If, however, our electric grid 20 years from now were mostly nuclear, it could be a double win, since nuclear plants could provide emission-free (for the most part) electricity for homes as well as cars.