See How A Nuclear Power Plant Helps The Environment This Earth Day

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Daily Caller News Foundation visited the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Maryland on April 20th. The following is part of a series of articles about the tour.

The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant sits on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, about 50 miles outside Washington, D.C. The reactors are surrounded by 1,500 acres of land, the vast majority of which is untouched by plant operations, and utilized as a wildlife habitat.

The area around the reactors even contains three bald eagle nests and TheDCNF personally observed an osprey, a bird of prey, fishing around the reactors. The plant’s operations modestly warms the water in front of it, causing fish to gather, which benefits human and avian fishermen.

The environmental benefits of the plant aren’t limited to bird habitat, however, as it significantly lowers the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the entire state

“Calvert Cliffs will continue to play an important role in Maryland’s clean energy future by offsetting more than 9 million tons of carbon annually,” George Gellrich, site vice president of Calvert Cliffs, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Gellrich’s carbon hypothesis is also supported by independent research, like that of economist Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute, writing in The Detroit News earlier this month. Perry noted that the 2012 closure of the two-reactor San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California caused CO2 emissions to rise annually by 9 million metric tons, equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road.

“If the US, and the leaders of other countries, are going to be serious about reducing CO2 emissions, they have to get serious about nuclear energy,” Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Unfortunately, that’s not happening … the US now faces the possible closure of 10 gigawatts of nuclear capacity over the next few years.”

The average single nuclear reactor prevents 3.1 million tons of CO2 emissions annually and accounts for 63 percent of non-CO2 emitting power sources. Nuclear power is far cheaper than wind or solar power, making it “the most cost-effective zero-emission technology,” according to The Economist.

“Matching the low-carbon electricity output from that same 10 gigawatts of nuclear capacity with solar would require installing twice as much solar capacity as now exists in Germany, a country that produces about one-fifth of the world’s solar electricity,” Bryce continued.

Despite these environmental benefits and falling CO2 emissions, environmental groups continue to heavily lobby against nuclear power. Green groups like The Sierra Club still believe nuclear energy leads to “energy over-use and unnecessary economic growth.

“Indeed, even though the IPCC and the International Energy Agency have both made it clear that nuclear capacity must expand dramatically in order to meet the emissions-reductions goals, groups like The Sierra Club, and politicians like Bernie Sanders, continue to push for the closure of existing nuclear plants,” Bryce concluded. “The anti-nuclear attitude of the Green/Left provides yet another unfortunate example of the disconnect between their rhetoric and the real world of math and physics.”

Gellrich, Perry and Bryce are good examples of how large majorities of scientists, engineers and economists agree that nuclear power is actually great for the environment and economy, regardless of their political ideology. Opinion polls show that the more people know about nuclear power, the more likely they are to support it.

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