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Goldlin, Jan (ed.) / Wisconsin engineer
Volume 80, Number 2 (November 1975)

Fumo, Joe
Bot sides--now! Pro, con, indifferent: it's time to take a stand on nuclear power,   pp. 7-9

Page 8

"Nuclear fusion could offer a cheap, virtually unlimited
supply of clean energy for all the nation of the world by the
year 2000. . ."
  One of the basic differences
between     opponents       and
proponents is the notion that
breeder development can be put
aside for a number of years
without totally annihilating the
  In Wisconsin, Senate Bill 127
calls for a five-year moratorium of
nuclear power plant construction
so that safety & economic questions
can be answered before the state
makes a sizeable committment to
the nuclear industry. The bill's
author, Sen. Dale McKenna (D-
Jefferson), defended his legislation
at a public hearing in September:
"We spent two years debating the
$5 billion SST (Supersonic
Transport) program but we haven't
spent a week in Congress or in this
Legislature debating a $500 billion
committment to nuclear power."
  The EPA also thought debate was
the best immediate solution,
suggesting that a delay of four to
twelve years in breeder develop-
ment wouldn't significantly reduce
the uranium conservation value of
the breeder.
  Even Prof. Rose, an outspoken
lecturer supporting nuclear power,
suggests we can afford to think
things out before acting. He wrote
in Science magazine recently: "I
estimate that the breeder will
almost surely be attractive when
uranium oxide, the processed fuel
which makes up the core, reaches
$50 a pound in 1974 dollars. That
will not happen in the first few
decades of the twenty-first century.
In the meantime, nuclear power is
in no danger of losing out to other
fuels, and there does not need to be
a crash breeder program."
       Research Funding
  Nuclear critics have a legitimate
gripe when it comes to analyzing
how the federal government assists
various types of energy research.
  The Energy Research and
Development Agency (ERDA) in
February requested a 1976 budget
to include $1.66 billion of direct
energy research and development.
Nearly a half billion of that amount
would go to the breeder project.
Fossil fuel research would get $311
million worth of attention, while
solar energy would receive only
$57 million, and geothermal, $28
million. Without money, critics cry,
how can non-fission alternatives be
  "Nuclear fusion could offer a
cheap, virtually unlimited supply
of clean energy for all the nations
of the world by the year 2000," says
the National Wildlife Federation.
"Although top scientists say this
process is feasible, the most
promising technology is 30 years
away, partially because of low
budgetary priorities."
  Solar power is also on a low
budgetary priority, and in 1970 it
received only one million dollars
of federal aid for research. solar
power researchers at the Univer-
sities of Arizona, Minnesota &
Houston predict solar power can
begin to play a significant role in
the nation's energy production
before the end of the century with
"reasonable" support.
A major criticism of solar energy,
however, is that it would require
large mirrors to be placed on vast
areas of open land in order to
receive the necessary sun rays.
Even if the technology becomes
available, environmentalists might
end up against such "solar farms."
  Geothermal power-power
given off from natural steam within
the earth-is pollution-free but
probably could only be used in the
West, where most geysers are.
California has had success in its
limited efforts to generate elec-
tricity from geothermal power.
Wind and ocean power may also be
regional and not worth top
governmental priority.
  Now it's time for you to make up
your mind. Do you want the fission
process bypassed until fusion or
solar energy are available, or will
that be too long to wait?
Joe Fumo is a senior in journalism.
He has been writing about nuclear
power and related environmental
issues for the Badger Herald and Daily
Cardinal since 1973.

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