Yesterday, New Yorker senior editor and staff writer, Hendrik Hertzberg held a live chat with Elizabeth Kolbert to follow-up with his piece “Some Nukes,” definitely worth a read.
However, the Live Chat was an incredible open-forum, no-holds bar discussion about nuclear energy that included questions like:
QUESTION FROM PATRICK: Interesting piece. Has your position on nuclear power changed over the years? There was just a story in the local paper here in Poughkeepsie on Congressman John Hall singing at a No Nukes concert in the 70’s and now supporting nuclear energy.
HENDRIK HERTZBERG: Yes. I almost put John Hall (who represents a part of Rockland County, where I grew up and still spend most weekends) into my piece. My “position” has indeed changed. For one thing, it’s fuzzier. I used to be a no nukes guy. Who was I to argue with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Riatt, to say nothing of John Hall? But global warming has changed the playing field. I still prefer conservation + renewables, of course, but nuclear, on the whole, looks like an acceptable choice compared to fossil fuels, especially coal.
QUESTION FROM MIKEHO: when you write that nuclear power plants are terribly expensive to build—how much of that cost is actually building costs versus the costs to assuage the local residents?
HENDRIK HERTZBERG: Actually, the local residents often want the nuclear plants—jobs jobs jobs. In Sweden, which has just decided to build a nuclear plant [repository] after decades of not doing so, two towns have fought each other for the right to have it located in their back yard. Nuclear plants are inherently expensive, assuming you want to be fairly sure they don’t blow up. Once they’re built, the operating costs are fairly low, but there’s still all that debt to pay off.
Read more at the New Yorker.