Oil for naught: What do we do next

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By Stephen Lega

Our State Rep. Terry Mills has written a column about the results of a recent legislative survey. One question in particular caught my attention.

"The nation is under increasing pressure to consider alternative energy sources. Would you be willing to have a nuclear power plant in Kentucky considered as an alternative?"

According to Mills, 58 percent of the people who responded said yes, they would be OK with a nuclear plant in Kentucky. (To read all of the questions and results, read Mills column at www.lebanonenterprise.com.)

I suspect if the question had been more specific, say would you be willing to have a nuclear plant in (your county here), then the supportive answers may have been somewhat lower.

I must confess to mixed feelings on this question. As the recent months-long oil gush in the Gulf of Mexico reminded us, we are over reliant on oil in this country. Based on some news footage I've seen, we (or at least our elected officials) have known this for at least as long as I've been alive. Yet, we've done little to create the kind of infrastructure that would allow us to move away from oil.

Getting back to Rep. Mills' question. I suspect most of the respondents are old enough to remember Chernobyl, the site of a horrible nuclear accident in 1986. The accident released 100 times more radiation than the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. The results were devastating to hundreds of thousands of people and the environment.

Yet, today, in France, nuclear power provides 75 percent of the electricity. For people concerned about the environment, nuclear power supporters argue that it has less of an impact than coal or oil, provided everything is working properly.

In terms of safety, nuclear power has a decent track record since Chernobyl. Of course in the world we live in, nuclear plants almost seem like potential targets for a terrorist attack.

Do the potential dangers outweigh the potential benefits? That may be a question we'll all be asking some day.