Nuclear energy is not the same as clean energy

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Exelon Corp.'s Clinton nuclear power station | John Dixon/The News-Gazette via AP

The recent editorial, “Illinois could be a leader in clean energy. Let’s not screw it up,” asks legislators to ‘step in’ without asking what they did right and wrong during the last action they took on state energy policies.

While legislation advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency is to be applauded, the $2.3 billion bailout to three privately owned Exelon nuclear energy facilities should be evaluated for its costs and the impact on expanding renewable energy. Of course, legislators should do so promptly, as it seems Exelon did so well with their last bailout that they are going to come back for another.

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As energy legislation hits Springfield again, the public will be inundated with the terms “clean,” “renewable,” “green,” “low carbon,” “carbon neutral,” “carbon free,” “non-carbon,” and “net-zero emissions.” These terms will be used interchangeably, which only serves to confuse this fact: Nuclear waste and radioactive releases are not part of the calculus when the nuclear industry and others try to sell nuclear energy as “clean.” It is not.

Legislation that speaks only to “clean” as it relates to managing carbon emissions, without considering the 10,000 tons of nuclear waste in Illinois (the most nuclear waste of any state) is misleading. Also, consideration of the entire nuclear fuel cycle and storage of nuclear waste is carbon- intensive, which is not part of the “clean” calculus either.

We would also like to see Illinois legislators ‘step in’ again on energy policy, but this time with both the “carbon footprint” and the “nuclear footprint” included.

Gail Snyder, board president, Nuclear Energy Information Service

Jussie Smollett’s shame

I am writing this late on Wednesday, after the announcement that celebrity du jour, Jussie Smollett, is now a suspect and not a victim in a weeks-old media circus about an alleged attack.

The shamefulness of this turn of events is heightened by the fact that your paper gave a miserly sixth-of-a-page mention to the still-unsolved immolation murder of a 15-year-old young man in Austin. This horrible misdirection of focus and resources to a Hollywood personality over a native son of Chicago is truly appalling.

I must admit that I do not remember when this crime happened in 2016. But I also don’t remember the story of Demetrius Griffin garnering pages a day, for weeks on end, after the original horror was reported.

In the meantime, Chicago’s finest and their precious resources have been misdirected by a fraud and charlatan. Shame on us all.

Dennis Allen, Wilmette

Soaring national debt

Two of the major promises made by Trump in 2016 were that he would eliminate the national debt in eight years and that Mexico would pay for a wall on the southern border.

After two years, it is safe to say that he will not eliminate the national debt in eight years and Mexico will not contribute a dime to build the wall. What will happen is that taxpayers will end up paying the entire cost of the wall, and instead of the debt being eliminated, it will soar to almost $27 trillion by 2024.

Victor Darst, Huntley

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