Debate Club

Should Nuclear Power Be Expanded?

Should Nuclear Power Be Expanded?

About 20 percent of the nation’s electricity is produced in the country’s 65 nuclear power plants. Unlike coal and natural gas, America’s top sources of electricity, nuclear power plants have near-zero carbon emissions. Their carbon footprints make nuclear reactors attractive, but the problems with producing electricity using nuclear technologyspecifically, the threat of meltdowns and the disposal of spent, highly radioactive nuclear fuelare well-known.

Public support for the once-burgeoning industry was seriously damaged by the catastrophic events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan last March. In that incident, the plant lost electrical power following a tsunami, and three nuclear reactors experienced full meltdowns. A series of hydrogen explosions ripped through the facility, releasing radioactive material into the air, ground, and sea. The disaster at Fukushima was eventually classified as a level 7 incidentthe highest possible level of alerton the International Nuclear Event Scale.

In the United States, the Energy Department has designated $22.5 billion for nuclear industry projects as part of its renewable energy loan guarantee program. Proponents say the investment is overdue and point to nuclear energy as an effective, carbon-neutral way to produce energy. Opponents argue that those resources would be better spent elsewhere, and they worry that incidents like the one at Fukushima could be repeated on American soil.

Should nuclear power be expanded? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:


The Arguments

#1
107 Pts
Nuclear Plants Are Powerful Economic Engines

Yes – Nuclear Plants Are Powerful Economic Engines

Eric Loewen President of the American Nuclear Society

#2
68 Pts
U.S. Should Bring an End to the Nuclear Era

No – U.S. Should Bring an End to the Nuclear Era

Jim Riccio Nuclear Policy Analyst at Greenpeace

#3
51 Pts
We Must Include Nuclear Power in the Energy Discussion

Yes – We Must Include Nuclear Power in the Energy Discussion

John Shimkus U.S. Representative, Illinois's 19th District

#4
28 Pts
Nuclear Industry Can Light the Way to Energy Security

Yes – Nuclear Industry Can Light the Way to Energy Security

Anthony R. Pietrangelo Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute

#5
3 Pts
Inherently Dangerous Technology Cannot Be Made Inherently Safe

No – Inherently Dangerous Technology Cannot Be Made Inherently Safe

Michael Mariotte Executive Director and Chief Spokesperson for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service

#6
-2 Pts
We Can't Afford to Expand Nuclear Power

No – We Can't Afford to Expand Nuclear Power

Tyson Slocum Director of Public Citizen's Energy Program

#7
-29 Pts
Nuclear Costs Are Going Up

No – Nuclear Costs Are Going Up

Edward J. Markey U.S. Representative, Massachusetts's 7th District


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