Can Nuclear Power Help Climate Change?

NUC?Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge of our time,? Yukiya Amano, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, told French ministers at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday. ?As governments around the world prepare to negotiate a legally binding, universal agreement on climate at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of the year, it is important that the contributions that nuclear science and technology can make to combating climate change are recognized.?

A few days earlier, Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican Governor of New Jersey and one-time chief of the Environmental Protection Agency under George W. Bush, added her thoughts on the same topic: ?Nuclear energy already provides more than 64 percent of our nation?s clean-air electricity,? Whitman wrote in an op-ed for The Hill blog ? one sponsored by the industry?s chief lobby, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).

?[I]ts long-term benefits simply cannot be replaced by any other energy source,? Whitman added, ?especially when we consider the long-term impacts of climate change.?

It would be easy to dismiss such appeals as so much self-serving industry propaganda ? not least because Whitman herself serves as a co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, a Washington DC-based outfit that bills itself as a ?grassroots organization that supports the increased use of nuclear power,? but which is essentially a public-relations project financed by the NEI.

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