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Delvin Touts Nuclear Power

by Michelle Dupler
Tri-City Herald, August 25, 2009

Sen. Jerome Delvin went nuclear on the Seattle P-I website on Monday over Frank Chopp's comments on energy policy.

Chopp paid a visit to the Tri-Cities in July and told his Eastern Washington audience, among other things, that nuclear power should be part of the conversation about energy policy, but that political perceptions about its safety had to be overcome.

His environmentalist base read the Herald's story about Chopp's visit and called him out on those remarks, resulting in some quick backpedaling by Chopp to soothe lobbyist Clifford Traisman.

Most of the flap at the time was over Initiative 937 and whether hydropower should be considered a renewable energy source for purposes of the initiative's targets.

But Delvin, R-Richland, has since zeroed in on Chopp's comments on nuclear power, which makes sense since the Columbia Generating Station, the only commercially operated nuclear power plant in the Northwest, sits in his district.

Delvin and fellow Eight District Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, have been vocal about the benefits of nuclear power during their time in the Legislature.

The pair co-sponsored an Energy Independence Day at the capitol in February that brought representatives from Areva, Energy Northwest, Infinia, Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Tri-Cities Research District over to talk about the abundance of energy options in the Tri-Cities, including nuclear, solar, hydro-electric and wind power.

In his guest editorial Monday, Delvin argued it isn't possible to replace power plants that burn fossil fuels solely with wind, solar and other renewables without considering nuclear power.

Here are a few snippets, although you can read the whole thing here:

- The U.S. Department of Energy forecasts that the America will need 40 percent more electricity by 2030. That's also true here in Washington.

Our state is fortunate to have clean, renewable hydropower -- but we are now using virtually all the hydropower available. We cannot grow it 40 percent, never mind the amount needed to make up for the loss of coal, oil and gas. This task becomes even more insurmountable if the Snake River dams are removed.

Wind and solar power cannot produce enough electricity to fill our baseload demands. These technologies -- by their very nature -- are intermittent, volatile and expensive.

- To give up all energy produced from fossil fuels, we need another source of energy that's cheap, clean and full-time. Fortunately, one exists: Nuclear power. Europe is flourishing on it. In fact, France produces 80 percent of its energy from low-cost, zero-emissions nuclear power.

- We can choose to struggle along with enforced reduction of our baseload power source, experiencing brownouts and blackouts, depressing our economy and sliding into second- or third-world status.

Or we can choose clean, affordable nuclear energy to supply Washington with a powerful baseload capacity that would keep our homes comfortable, our businesses humming, and our environment pristine.

This naturally piqued my curiosity. Are Delvin and the Republican caucus setting the stage for a fight over energy in the 2010 session?

Pat Albright, Delvin's spokeswoman in Olympia, said he's currently traveling -- she thinks he's in Peru -- so he wasn't available to talk today, but she wasn't aware of any specific agenda other than Delvin's ongoing zeal for the topic.

"He has always pushed nuclear and always will," Albright said. "He's like 'Mr. Nuclear.'"

Michelle Dupler
Delvin Touts Nuclear Power
Tri-City Herald, August 25, 2009

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