I recently read the guest column in the May 31 Examiner by Wayne Wagner on "Changing energy sources requires careful planning." While I agree with the headline I do not believe that some of the claims made in the letter are accurate. When referring to the costs associated with fossil fuel generated electricity he fails to include the costs to our environment and to the public health.
Our environment is our most precious resource. We destroy it and not much else matters. This is a public health issue as much as an environmental one. Poor air quality, water quality and soil quality results in an increase in cancer, auto-immune disease, cardio-pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes (and other endocrine diseases), and more. If you add in the additional costs in health care, converting to green energy sources is by far the most economical choice.
I realize that it is economically important to maintain a reliable and sustainable source of electricity, but we must do so with the environment and the health of the planet and all living things in mind.
There are so many ways in which pollution occurs with the use of fossil fuels and nuclear technology (from the removal of the fuel from the earth, the processing, the transport, the burning and the waste (coal ash from coal burning and nuclear waste from nuclear technology).
Mr. Wagner downplays the damage due to the nuclear accidents that have occurred around the world. He fails to understand that the contamination continues and will continue for centuries to come. The nuclear plants in Japan are still not completely contained and they continue to allow radioactive material to enter the ocean waters, which are being spread around the world by the currents.
The selling of nuclear waste is more than political. It too is a public health concern. This material is very dangerous and must be handled with great care. From what I have heard it is very difficult and costly to reprocess into a useful fuel.
Mr. Wagner also downplays the dangers from the use of coal produced electricity. It is more than political propaganda in that the coal ash produced from burning coal contains many toxic chemicals, including a number of heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium. If the coal ash gets into our soil and/or ground water it would be disastrous. The coal ash continues to build up as coal continues to be burned.
When it comes to wind, solar and geothermal energy, it is true that the infrastructure is costly to build. However, once it is built you have only the expansion and maintenance costs to deal with as there is no fuel to purchase. Nothing is burned that would create more hazardous materials which would have to be disposed of in some way.