Nuclear Power Called a Step Backward

Capital News Service
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BALTIMORE - As Maryland closes in on the construction of a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, an environmental organization has released a report calling nuclear power a step backward in the nation's race to reduce pollution.

The Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center report, released Tuesday, calls nuclear power "too slow and too expensive," an energy source that makes little economic sense in combating climate change.

While nuclear power might be preferable to fossil fuel-based energy sources, it is "diverting and delaying action," said economist John Howley, who was part of a panel convened by Environment Maryland.

Howley, who writes Maryland Energy Report, believes that financing nuclear power will come at the expense of cleaner energy sources, such as solar or wind power.

"Energy efficient technology ... has a bigger bang for your buck than nuclear power," he said.

But proponents of nuclear power called the report inaccurate.

"I would take what (the report) said with a grain of salt," said Mitch Singer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a policy organization for the nuclear technologies industry.

Singer cited the need for contributions from multiple, low-carbon energy sources -- including nuclear power -- if the nation is to curb carbon emissions while meeting a predicted rise in energy needs.

The Maryland Public Service Commission in October approved the Constellation Energy-EDF nuclear joint venture involving the construction of a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs plant, according to the Washington Post.

Maryland also is looking at ways to harness clean technologies.

Most recently, Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, along with Govs. Tim Kaine and Jack Markell of Virginia and Delaware, agreed to a partnership to encourage the deployment of offshore wind energy in the region.

"Maryland has charted a course to put us on the stage of national leadership" when it comes to combating climate change, said Ethan Nuss, Maryland campaign coordinator with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

And with good reason.

Maryland is incredibly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Nuss said.

Sea level rise would affect the state's natural resources and fishing and tourism economy.

"We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act in the most decisive manner to solve the climate crisis," said Nuss. "Nuclear power is not that solution."