Mike Shellenberger writes in Forbes about the results of one of Vermont Sen. and current Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ very bad ideas: successfully urging the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
This is important because a “phase out” of all nuclear power plants in America is a part of Sanders’ climate plan. It’s a colossally bad idea. For that matter, so is banning hydraulic fracking, and Sanders recently introduced legislation to do just that.
JLF readers know that research shows the negative unintended consequences of getting rid of nuclear power, and they know the positive unintended consequences from fracking:
- Keeping nuclear power saves lives
- Getting rid of nuclear power costs lives
- Fracking solved the three big issues facing the US in the 21st century
- Brookings study finds that nuclear and natural gas are the most cost-effective ways of reducing emissions, while solar and wind are the most expensive
- US emissions are at their lowest level since 1992 (lowest per capita since the 1950s)
- North Carolina’s emissions have been falling all century, even while being one of the fastest-growing states in the nation
NC kept our nuclear plants. How are we doing in comparison with Vermont?
At this point it’s worth comparing Vermont’s results with North Carolina’s. Vermont shuttered a nuclear power plant. North Carolina kept ours. Here’s how North Carolina’s electricity generation changed over the course of this century, thanks to price-competitive natural gas from fracking and retaining nuclear:
At the start of the century, coal was the top source of electricity in North Carolina by far, producing nearly two-thirds (62.1 percent) of the state’s electricity. Now it’s nuclear (33 percent) following by natural gas (30 percent).
So that’s our baseline for comparison. These data aren’t from comparable years, but they still capture what’s going on:
- Emissions, VT: +16% (between 1990 and 2015)
- Emissions, NC: –37.5% (from 2000 to 2017)
- Emissions per capita, VT: +5%
- Emissions per capita, NC: –50.8%