As published in the June 14, 2019 edition of The Oklahoman

The HBO series “Chernobyl” has given viewers another reason to fear nuclear power. Fair enough. But the discerning viewer will note that the horrific effects of the 1986 reactor plant explosion were directly related to the former Soviet Union’s incompetence, bureaucracy and propaganda machine.

The “accident” at Chernobyl and the 2011 reactor catastrophe in Japan are solid reasons to fear nuclear meltdowns. But there are also solid reasons to embrace responsible, sustainable and environmentally sound nuclear plants.

This may not happen because of the fear factor but even more so because of the political party most obsessed with climate change. While 82 percent of surveyed Democrats say climate change is their top priority, the horde of Democratic presidential candidates remains unplugged from nuclear power expansion.

Recently, the International Energy Agency reported that the ongoing scale-down of nuclear energy will lead to a surge in global carbon emissions, and “efforts to transition to a cleaner energy system will become drastically harder and more costly.”

If the production of power from nuclear sources continues to decline, the report said, an additional investment of $1.6 trillion will be needed between now and 2040. These costs will be passed on — raising prices by nearly $80 billion per year, on average, in developed nations.

What about wind and solar? The IEA report declares that wind and solar cannot fill the gap. Resistance to large-scale wind and solar projects, much of it fueled by liberal leaders, is part of the problem.

Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, says that since 2015 about 230 government entities from Maine to California have rejected or restricted wind projects, and “an increasing number of rural communities are fighting large solar projects.”

At the same time, the United States faces a wave of nuclear reactor retirements, including nine plants in the next three years. The IEA estimates domestic nuclear capacity could shrink by more than half in the next 20 years. Meantime, demand for electricity won’t decline by nearly that much — if any.