Local View: Nuclear nixes renewables as energy choice

The abundance of pro-wind and pro-solar articles in the media reminds me of "Home on the Range," a once-popular song that praised nature. Now, with wind and solar projects increasingly dominating our country, perhaps the "alternatives" industry s...

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Denfeld’s 1947 boys basketball team is the only Denfeld basketball team to win a state title. The team’s head coach was Lloyd Holm. Team members were Rudy Monson, Larry Tessier, Paul Nace, Kenneth Sunnarborg, Eugene Norlander, Howard Tucker, Tony Skull, Jerry Walczak, Bruce Budge, Keith Stolen and student manager Bob Scott.

The abundance of pro-wind and pro-solar articles in the media reminds me of "Home on the Range," a once-popular song that praised nature. Now, with wind and solar projects increasingly dominating our country, perhaps the "alternatives" industry should update the lyrics and declare their official song to include, "Home, home on the Plains, where the clueless and profiteers play. And never is heard, the environment word, 'cause it's all about money today."

George Erickson

Winona Laduke's Feb. 16 commentary in the News Tribune, "Solar, wind mean jobs for Minnesota," ignored the environmental costs of wind and solar farms while focusing on jobs and money. That was just one example.

All of the sources of these articles should re-read my commentary in the News Tribune in May, headlined, "Alternative energy sources are making our planet sick," which criticized the Fort Ripley solar project.

On Feb. 25, the News Tribune devoted most of the Sunday Opinion cover to pro-renewable advocate Eric Enberg and Julie Pierce, who promoted her Minnesota Power's proposed natural gas power plant in Wisconsin.


Predictably, Pierce didn't reveal that natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas initially 70 times more damaging than carbon dioxide, and that our nation's distribution system and aquifer-polluting fracking wells are leaking so badly that "fugitive methane" is offsetting the gains we've made by cutting back on coal.

In 2015, California's Aliso Canyon "leak" spewed 100,000 tons of natural gas, the equivalent of adding 500,000 cars to our roads for a year. Ironically, Aliso's 100,000 tons of "leakage" was just 25 percent of California's allowed leakage, which is an indication of the power of the natural-gas industry.

Enberg, of the Citizens Climate Lobby, favors 30 percent-efficient renewables - but hides their downsides: Given that wind and solar farms primarily rely on carbon dioxide-creating power plants to provide the 70 percent of their advertised power that they fail to produce, that their killing of millions of birds and bats every year at a time when insect-borne diseases like Zika are rising, that their human "death prints" averaging seven times higher than the 90 percent-efficient carbon dioxide-free nuclear plants, and that subsidies to solar farms of $775 per megawatt hour hour when nuclear was getting just $3, environmental damage is being caused by the huge consumption of resources for "alternatives" that last just 20 years and then must be recycled.

None of these recent articles admit that nuclear power has provided gigawatts of carbon dioxide-free electricity for 50 years or admit that we have proven reactors that need no water for cooling, cannot melt down, and can consume nuclear waste as fuel. They know this in Australia. There, coal companies run ads that plainly state, "Nuclear power will kill the coal industry."

In countries like China, India, Argentina, and Russia, nuclear power is expanding. Russia is even exporting nuclear plants. In 2015, Russia's Rosatom reported orders of $300 billion, with 30 plants in 12 countries.

In the U.S., our nuclear industry struggles to stay alive, opposed by climate deniers like President Donald Trump, uninformed "greens," and climate profiteers.

Even environmentalist Bill McKibben has become part of the problem. In 2011, when he was interviewed, McKibben admitted that nuclear power was needed to reduce carbon dioxide. "Then why don't you come out for nuclear power?" he was asked. McKibben replied, "If I spoke in favor of nuclear, it would split this movement in half."

McKibben apparently has chosen silence because his allegiance to the nonprofit outranks his concern for the environment. That's tragic.


We must stop building expensive, short-lived, inefficient, resource-gobbling, environment-damaging, carbon-dependent "alternatives" and replace every carbon-fueled steam generator at every power plant with super-safe, 90 percent-efficient, carbon dioxide-free modular nuclear reactors that are not water-cooled, cannot explode, and can consume nuclear waste as fuel. Nothing else will do.

George Erickson of Eveleth is a member of the National Center for Science Education and the author of "Unintended Consequences: The Lie that Killed Millions and Accelerated Climate Change." For a free pdf of the book or to schedule him for a program, contact him at (218) 744-2003 or at . His book's website is His website is

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