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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

OPINION:

I’ve heard it said that you can’t get drunk on stupid, but I’m not so sure that’s true. Democrats here in Washington seem to be having a grand old time.

For one thing, they blindly bow down before the altar of “renewables”—chiefly, wind and solar energy—without regard for the actual costs (both economical and environmental) associated with the implementation of these sources. Democrats have not exactly been forthcoming with the American public on some of the drawbacks and environmental concerns that arise from a large commitment to wind and solar. Rational environmentalists, like Michael Shellenberger and Bjorn Lamborg, have written insightfully about these panaceas and their shortcomings.


Regrettably, Democrats refuse to educate the American public about the tradeoffs that would accompany a premature and ill-conceived transition to an economy powered only by sunshine and a mellow breeze. Instead, they doggedly vilify legacy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas.

And nuclear energy.

Yes, seemingly hell-bent to double-down on stupid, these Democrats remain steadfast in their opposition to a clean energy source that would—almost single-handedly—help them achieve their goal of reducing carbon emissions. For a party that preaches the supremacy of science, it’s mind-boggling that Democrats haven’t made nuclear power the cornerstone of their strategy to electrify the grid.

Nuclear power is reliable, efficient, and safe. It derives from an incredibly dense fuel. A single uranium pellet, slightly larger than a pencil eraser, contains the same energy as a ton of coal, 3 barrels of oil, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

It is a good way to provide baseload power to the grid that does not produce greenhouse gases (GHG). The current fleet of U.S. reactors—built mostly in the 1960s—provide about 20% of our nation’s electricity. They have an extensive record of safety, spanning several decades with only one accident in the U.S.: a core meltdown at Three Mile Island (1979), with zero fatalities.

The biggest obstacle to bringing more nuclear power online is the opposition from Democrats and the far-left eco-fanatics that power their campaigns. Their sensationalized concerns center around the questions of safety and waste. Regarding the former, the facts—as mentioned above and inconvenient though they may be—tell a more compelling story than the nuclear hysterics might otherwise have you believe.

Regarding the latter—the disposal of nuclear waste—the Democrats, and especially the late U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), made solving the problem all but impossible. You see, the United States has a final waste depository (Yucca Mountain) that was designated by an act of Congress. But Democrats, at the direction of their environmental overlords, persistently stripped funds from appropriation packages that would get Yucca Mountain up and running.

With funding for the disposal site at an impasse, Democrats rejoice in the status quo: Without a waste repository, new nuclear power plants will never be realized. Democrats know that local communities would never allow for new plants to be built, if the spent nuclear fuel is stored on sites embedded in those same communities—because interim storage ultimately becomes indefinite storage.

On the other hand, if the United States finally solves the waste problem, we will break the back of anti-nuclear obstructionists and put America on a sustainable course where our citizenry always has access to an efficient, safe, and abundant source of energy.

Or we could suffer the fate of Germany. In their headlong rush to mollify environmental know-nothings like Greta Thunberg in pursuit of climate-change dogma, the Germans had committed to shuttering all of their nuclear production capability.

Then, Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, in addition to rescinding the planned closure of three remaining nuclear plants, the German government may also reopen three other recently closed facilities.

This catastrophic decision to replace proven energy generation methods with renewables (as fomented by Russian funding sources), before any otherwise well-intentioned transition had been completed, provides a case study in what not to do with a sovereign nation’s energy production portfolio.

Virtually all polls indicate that the American public has no patience for, nor can it afford, a Democrat administration that will crater our hard-fought standard of living in pursuit of some utopian alternative. Thankfully, our fellow citizens are waking up to the dangers of a dogmatic regime willing to sacrifice our safety, economic security, and energy independence for the sake of virtue-signaling eco-speak that will do little to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The good Lord willing, time is running out on stupid.

• U.S. Representative Randy Weber, Texas Republican, holds a key leadership role on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST), serving as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy. He represents the state’s 14th Congressional District and is also a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.


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