Renewables or Nukes?

Ned Farquhar has become one of my favorite opponents recently. He can always be counted on to represent and write about the latest energy and environmental issues from the green angle. In today’s Albuquerque Journal, he argues that nuclear power is not safe, not cheap, and will inevitably fall into the hands of terrorists. While there is a nugget of truth in each assertion, his claim that we should transition from nuclear (and just about everything else) to solar and wind, is absurd and based on green fantasies that have no bearing on reality.
First, he sets up a straw man, saying “Anyone who proposes nuclear power as a silver bullet, the single answer to our convoluted energy and security issues, is ignoring huge issues.” Of course, all forms of energy have issues and no one that I know of is arguing that nuclear is the “single answer” to our energy “problems.” Of course, what Farquhar doesn’t mention is that the people who have created what problems we have are the very greens he represents.
The resurgence of nuclear is a response to the hue and cry against greenhouse gases and the supposed “crisis” of global warming. The nuclear waste issue, on the other hand, could easily be handled in a free market, but once the federal government took charge, the issue became politicized and prices went up dramatically. Another red herring cited by Farquhar is the supposed danger of uranium falling into the wrong hands. While it is true that the United States tries to strictly limit access to weapons-grade uranium, the type of uranium used in energy-generating reactors is far different.
Ultimately, all of his problems with nuclear power can be boiled down to the simple fact that nukes are not politically correct. Only wind and solar power are beloved by greenies. Of course, even the two percent number cited by Farquhar as the percentage of our energy supply that comes from these politically correct sources is overblown.
The fact is that wind and solar are inconsistent and expensive. Given the high level of subsidies now handed to these industries, they may grow slightly as a percentage of our energy supply, but even a goal of producing 5% of America’s energy usage is a bit far-fetched. The fact is that we need coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear. No amount of wishing and hoping is going to change that.