Greenpeace founder touts developing nuclear energy

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As an avowed anti-nuclear activist in the 1970s, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore never dreamed he would become an advocate for the technology he once pledged to stop.

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Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, says today's environmentalists are more opposed to coal than nuclear.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, says today's environmentalists are more opposed to coal than nuclear.

"The anti-nuke feelings of the '70s grew out of the peace movement," said Moore, who is now a co-chairman of the pro-nuclear Clean & Safe Energy Coalition. "In those days, nuclear energy was lumped in with nuclear weapons."

Today, however, America's commercial nuclear industry is re-emerging in a post-Cold War world vastly different from its turbulent past.

"Public support for nuclear energy has gone nowhere but up in the last 10 years," he said. "Many environmental groups are also moderating their opinion of nuclear."

Moore spoke Tuesday at Plant Vogtle, which is in line to become the site of the first new commercial reactors built in the U.S. in decades. Later, he held a roundtable discussion with local leaders in the office of Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Climate change, linked by some to coal-fired energy production, is one of the reasons nuclear power has become more appealing, he said.

"Today's environmental movement is more opposed to coal than nuclear," he said. "In some circles, it comes down to a choice between the two."

Other nations -- France and Japan in particular -- are already far ahead of the U.S. in developing nuclear energy and devising technology to recycle spent fuel. Such reprocessing options exist in the U.S. but probably cannot proceed without funding and support from the government.

"Unless the government steps in, there's no way U.S. utilities would step up to invest in recycling," he said. "It's still much cheaper for them to just buy new uranium."

Moore also said nuclear energy can be a source of jobs and economic development, especially if small modular reactors -- such as those proposed for development at Savannah River Site -- can someday be deployed to provide power for mining and other programs.

Moore stayed with Greenpeace for 15 years in various leadership roles before leaving the organization, which now contends through a page on its Web site that he had only a peripheral affiliation with the environmental group.

"Looking back, we did a lot of cool things. We stopped bombs and saved whales," Moore said. "I left because I did not care for the direction of my fellow directors, who were involved more in social and political causes, and not so much science."

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wildman 01/26/11 - 05:07 am
Age does make one smarter,

Age does make one smarter, thanks for making the right decision. Maybe now we can move ahead of the other countries and again be a leader in innovative technology.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 01/26/11 - 07:20 pm
In person, this guy comes

In person, this guy comes across as a washed-up and inarticulate has-been. A rather sad chap who is getting his ticket punched by the nuclear industry. But he did tell the truth about reprocessing having to be socialized, as in France, to have even a whisp of a chance of going forward.

mgrah92 01/27/11 - 02:19 am
As Dr. Moore notes it was a

As Dr. Moore notes it was a mistake to lump fear of nuclear power and fear of nuclear weapons together. The costs of everything we purchase is linked to the costs of electricity. The prosperity that we live in is directly linked to an abundant and predictable supply of electric power. There is no legitimate business case to be made in support of wind or solar power as a baseload supply for electricity since we do not have a cost efficient capability to store electrical energy. Check out how well solar and wind power are working in European countries; they are breaking the bank to subsidize construction and operation of wind farms and solar power. Consumers in the US could not afford to purchase solar and wind power if it were not for the very large federal subisidies. The United States only has 27 new reactors planned at 18 sites while the rest of the world is rapidly advancing nuclear power. Foreign coutries have over 150 reactors planned and 340 proposed . Almost all of the Middle Eastern countries now have plans to build nuclear plants since they realize carbon based fuels are limited. I urge everyone in this country to support licensing and construction of new nuclear power plants.

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