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King: Revealing the rest of the story on nuclear power
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"And now ... (long dramatic pause) .., for the rest of the story."

Most readers will remember the voice of Paul Harvey. His career in radio spanned seven decades. Today we call his type of narrative a "back-story," additional information or the story behind the story.

The following is "the rest of the story" about a recent Associated Press article. Its headline, "Older, younger crowds team to fight nukes." The piece was picked up by papers from coast to coast and appeared in The Times in an abbreviated form.

Anyone who reads my column knows I have a long history of opposing nuclear power. I am one of the "older" activists described in the piece. The AP article, of course, caught my attention. It was balanced but inconclusive, and it ended with a comment by a former opponent of nuclear energy, Patrick Moore.

Moore, now co-chairman of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, says of nuclear opposition: "I believe we made a mistake." He admits the constriction costs of a nuclear power plant are high but says the operating costs are low and "... nuclear energy is a safe and a valuable resource."

The "rest of the story" is information The Associated Press did not provide and the second half of the article that The Times did not print.

The AP coverage provided several full-color photos and appeared in papers across the country including the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe. While I doubt the color pictures were in their print editions, they were on their websites. Nuclear Watch South's coordinator, pictured in the photos, is Glenn Carroll, a longtime friend and regular visitor to this part of the state. The AP photos were taken in her Atlanta office.

Several of those "older" activists live near Gainesville. Two Nuclear Watch South's board members, Joanne Steele and yours truly, live in White County. Adele Kushner, now 86 and still full of pep and vinegar, lives in Banks County. Furthermore, the beautiful banner displayed in the AP photos was sewn here in my office.

The second half of the article puts a somewhat different light on nuclear protest. The massive marches are a thing of the past. Activists are now Internet savvy. They no longer protest on street corners; they testify before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

There have been no dramatic nuclear accidents for some time now, and radioactive waste is low on the public's worry list. The public wants jobs and "... energy at all costs." The public, however, doesn't understand nuclear economics. The true cost of nuclear energy, like the U.S. debt, is easy to ignore. Just pass it on to future generations.

But unobserved by most, as the cost of nuclear energy has gone up, the cost of alternative energy has gone down, and these figures have now met and passed each other. John O. Blackburn, economics professor at Duke University, call this the Historic Crossover, and you can learn more about it on the web. Just put Historic Crossover in your search engine.

Simply put, the price of green energy is now cheaper than that of nuclear energy.

Nuclear power plants are still being pushed by powerful, well-funded lobbyists, and the government is still listening to their pleas for tax credits, loan guarantees, easier licensing and other favors. But when the public discovers that electricity can be produced cheaper, faster and safer by other means, enthusiasm for nuclear power will fade.

The second half of the AP article ended with a quote from Jan Magers of Des Moines, Iowa. Ms. Magers has been fighting nuclear power plants for nearly 40 years, and she's convinced that no one wants a nuclear reactor in their backyard. She says, "The groundswell (against them) will come when they announce where the sites are."

Meanwhile a new generation of activists are joining us older folks to get the message out.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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