Last month, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council expressed opposition to nuclear energy.
The council, which was established by President Joe Biden’s sweeping executive order on January 27 of this year, included nuclear energy in a list of projects it deemed would “not benefit a community.” This serves as just the latest example of nuclear power being excluded from the national discussion as we supposedly seek cleaner and more sustainable energies.
The political bloc behind green power has become something of a fandom, in the same way, that one might support their local football team. Support for green energy has become both unconditional and, seemingly, exclusive, with active efforts made to combat equally viable alternatives that fulfill their stated goals. This is far and away the truest with nuclear power.
Contemporary progressives have come to view nuclear power in the same vein that they do fossil fuels: a danger to be eradicated. An FAQ sheet of the Green New Deal, a broad proposal which had been adopted by major Democrats such as 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, explicitly excludes nuclear energy, claiming it would not allow for the construction of new nuclear power plants and considering the decommissioning of all American nuclear plants if possible within a decade.
One may find the left’s aversion to nuclear power to be surprising. Just like their green initiatives, nuclear power eliminates carbon emissions. Despite the fearful stigma perpetuated by outliers such as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, nuclear power remains among the safest energies in use today. Watt for watt, the mortality rate for nuclear energy is eleven times lower than even rooftop solar. To neglect and even outright suppress such a powerful energy source that checks all the boxes of what they’re looking for on paper could easily be interpreted as hypocritical.
Despite the aesthetically motivated nature of the left’s pursuit of an exclusively green future, conservatives should stay wary of the fact that both the popularity and supply of fossil fuels are waning over time. Drawing on a finite pool of resources, there will be a future where it is no longer a viable energy source, with improving technologies only prolonging its inevitable depletion.
When the time comes to leave fossil fuels, where will the political right turn? We require a source of energy that is viable for the private sector, can be upheld with limited intervention by the government, is unchained from the narrow aesthetic of green energy, and can continue to perpetuate American dominance of the global energy market. This is where nuclear energy enters the conversation.
Nuclear power as an industry was first pioneered by the United States in 1951, and quickly became a staple of American ingenuity in the energy sector. Despite being largely undiscussed, the United States remains far and away the largest producer of nuclear power globally, at 807,078-gigawatt hours as of 2018.
Despite having been held back by a general stigma born of severe outliers and overregulation, nuclear power has proven itself a highly lucrative industry for the private sector, providing nearly half a million jobs and contributing $60 billion annually to the United States’ GDP. Nuclear energy holds vast untapped technological potential, as seen by research into low-cost small-modular nuclear reactors, the potential use of vastly more powerful nuclear fusion, such as the promising ITER reactor experiment, and the more efficient recycling of nuclear fuel exploding in recent years.
All things considered, nuclear power may easily have a greater capacity for growth and improvement than any other power source currently on the grid, despite already being such an economic powerhouse.
Conservative ideology is also uniquely suited to solve the obstacles nuclear power currently faces. For decades the nuclear industry has been tangled in a web of red tape large enough to catch a school bus, with individual nuclear power plants shouldering a whopping $219 million in regulatory liabilities. Meanwhile, nuclear regulations have been largely untouched for decades, viewing modern reactor designs with the same caution they would a plant in the seventies. Free marketeers are perfectly suited to deregulate the industry and make it more lucrative than ever before.
When it finally comes time to abandon ship, conservatives can trust that they shall find all of the same elements in nuclear energy that originally made them fall in love with fossil fuels, with the added bonus of surpassing the progressive models of green energy. Boasting a strong presence in the private sector, and being uniquely American-led, future conservatives will lead the fight to destigmatize and deregulate nuclear power, ushering in a new age of energy production in the US and globally.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.