Nuclear Plants in Utah…Not the best choice!!

While I was out of town last week at the Certiport PATHWAYS conference the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune took very different views on some of the same information coming from a meeting of the Utah Legislature’s Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee regarding alternative energy sources. While I found both articles very interesting, I was disturbed by the Deseret News inclusion of nuclear energy as a viable alternative power source for the future based on a Dan Jones poll.  

I’m sure the DN editor was just reporting the facts – and he did have cool graphics. However, the Trib wins on this one. Their analysis of the nuclear risk is more in line with the facts. Solar, wind, and geothermal have a better track record of protecting the environment than coal, oil or nuclear. I especially like geothermal for Utah. Available 7×24 regardless of weather, no pollution, no cleanups necessary, no ecosystems damaged – and it’s plentiful in Utah with favorable geothermal locations dotting the state in remote areas that do not create an eye sore. Utah companies like Raser Technologies are making this a reality with plants coming on line starting in 2008. My discussions with noted Clean Tech investor and environmentalist, Vinod Khosla, indicate he also likes geothermal a lot.  

Nuclear won’t be online until 2018 (if we start the process next year) and we won’t have any better answers then than now for how to deal with the  permanent waste storage problem caused by every nuclear power plant. Let me ask you a question, how would you feel if terrorists made the next Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown a reality in your state?

My biggest concern about the Dan Jones poll reported in the DN article is that the people of Utah need some education if more than 60 percent think nuclear is a great option for Utah. Maybe we should talk to some of the survivors of the open air nuclear weapons testing in Southern Utah done 50 years ago – how quickly we forget.

From the public relations perspective how can Governor Huntsman back up the statement (2003), “Utah must not be the dumping ground for America’s radioactive wastes” while becoming a creator of that waste?  That could be an unintentionally damaging environmental PR message by a state seeking to be seen as Going Green. (I’ll be exploring Utah’s state and city environmental strategies, or lack thereof, in future entries.)

My favorite part of the DN article is that Utah Governor Huntsman’s Energy Advisor, Dianne Nielson is starting to get out in front of this developing story. Let’s hope she is getting good advice. I will be watching her progress carefully. Utah has such great potential as an environmental leader. We must get it right.

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About the Author:

As founder of PilmerPR, John Pilmer, APR serves as a PR and marketing communications advisor for both emerging and established companies. He offers customers more than 20 years of results-driven business PR and marketing experience. John and the firm have provided PR consultation and campaigns for clients such as Mozy, Novell, AdvancedMD, Certiport, NextPage, ElectraTherm, Altiris, Avamar, EmergeCore Networks, FSLogic, INVISUS, 10x Marketing, MWI, Project Insight, REIC, Seastone, US Synthetic and Funding Universe (now Lendio), among others.

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