New England’s opposition to nuclear power is actually increasing its carbon dioxide emissions and harming the area’s attempts to fight global warming, according to a Wednesday report by the Institute for Energy Research (IER).
Nuclear power dropped from providing 34 percent to 29.5 percent of New England’s electrical power between 2014 and 2015. This was largely due to the shutdown of the Vermont Yankee reactor. IER calculated that the shutdown of this reactor caused New England to emit an additional 2 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2015.
Environmentalists predicted that when the plant closed, its electrical output would be replaced by wind and solar power. The plants output, however, was almost entirely replaced by natural gas, according to a blog post by the vice president for external affairs of the reactor’s company, Entergy. Vermont was the first state to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which produces the natural gas that it increasingly used to produce power.
A single nuclear reactor can prevent up to 3.1 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions annually. The Economist calls nuclear energy “the most cost-effective zero-emission technology.” The Wall Street Journal agrees that “[if] the world intends to address the threat of global warming and still satisfy its growing appetite for electricity, it needs an ambitious expansion of nuclear power.”
“Nuclear energy is good for the environment because it is the largest source of electricity that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. In fact, nuclear accounts for 63 percent of the electricity from zero-carbon sources,” Mitchell Singer of the Nuclear Energy Institute told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Carbon dioxide emissions substantially increased when Germany decided to abandon nuclear energy in favor of solar and wind power after a nuclear disaster in Japan galvanized environmentalist opposition. They had to rely more heavily on coal plants to cover the power demand in the evenings when “green” energy doesn’t produce much power.