Tennessean - Scott Broden
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander repeated his call in Murfreesboro this morning to build 100 nuclear power plants during the next 20 years.
“Our clean energy future needs to also be cheap, or we’ll drive jobs overseas,” Alexander told a few hundred people attending a Tennessee Valley Corridor event at the Embassy Suites Conference Center off Medical Center Parkway.
Alexander said nuclear power does not cause carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. He said the country could create 250,000 construction jobs to build nuclear power plants, and that’s better than 73,000 jobs to build 180,000 wind turbines.
Nuclear power plants take up much less habitat than other alternative energy sources that could potentially be destroying the environment in the name of saving it, Alexander added.
The Republican senator noted how France gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, China starts building one every two or three months, while Japan Russia and South Korea are all pursuing nuclear energy projects.
U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Murfreesboro, believes nuclear energy should be part of the equation and that advances in storage technology such as dry-cast storage and reprocessing of nuclear waste can lessen the nuclear waste problem.
“You have to have storage for nuclear (waste),” said Gordon, who noted how China is also investing in solar energy.
Alexander, though, as Gordon pointed out, said America’s nuclear power plants have figured out how to store waste during a long interim period and have time to find a more permanent solution.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Mason agreed with Alexander that nuclear power plants can safely store its waste for 40 years.
“We know it works,” Mason said. “It’s not the ultimate solution. We do have time to work toward that ultimate solution. The interim solution gives us time to reduce the volume of waste.”
In addition to building nuclear power plants, Alexander said another goal will be to have half the cars and trucks being powered by electricity in the next 20 years. He praised Nissan for working on producing electric cars and batteries by the end of 2012.
Another goal will be investing in energy research and development, Alexander said.