Tuesday, June 16, 2015

California’s mega-drought: don’t blame just Mother Nature

An op-ed in Forbes.com by James Conca notes the benefits of nuclear power in helping to ameliorate, to some extent, the disastrous drought now gripping California (and to a lesser extent, Oregon and Washington). Specifically, he notes the nuclear reactor at Diablo Canyon’s supply of energy to the desalinization plant nearby as key in helping to provide desperately needed fresh water to the region. (The author is a consultant with specialties in environmental science and geology, and has worked for both environmentally-focused activist groups such as NRDC, as well as the chemical industry).

Perhaps more such “desal” plants would help to alleviate the drastic water restrictions and skyrocketing energy costs that are accompanying this historic drought. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. In 1976, the state’s voters forbade construction of any new nuclear facilities, out of baseless fear of nuclear power. Au contraire, in 2013 one-half of the state’s nuclear facilities was permanently shut down due to excessive wear found in the facility’s infrastructure (the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station). The remaining facility at Diablo Canyon accounts for approximately 18 percent of the state’s energy supply. The decline in hydropower’s contribution, coupled with the inability to construct more nuclear plants, has led, paradoxically, to a spike in both use of natural gas (counter to CA’s strict green policies) and in the cost of electricity there. (For a peer-reviewed evaluation of nuclear energy, see ACSH’s publication here.)….. Read more.

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