Politics Aside: New York needs more nuclear energy plants

The price of gas is about to hit $4 a gallon, and it won’t stop there. Analysts are predicting that before year’s end we’ll see it at $5 a gallon. And, if you like expensive energy more is on the way.

Electricity prices will continue to increase, as production slowly falls behind demand and new generating plants are slow to come online.

The fault lies in our failure to develop a national energy policy that places our needs and future growth as our top priority. U.S. oil production is languishing thanks to the Obama administrations mindless attack on offshore drilling.

Meanwhile, instability is sweeping the Middle East, with no end in sight. U.S. refineries are operating above their maximum production levels, and with no new refineries in development, the amount of oil that can be brought to market has its limits.

Nuclear energy, which is our most efficient means of electricity production, will not keep up with demand. While no new reactors had been approved for decades, the Bush administration made it a priority to get new nuclear facilities online. In Tennessee, the first new reactor will come online in 2012.

Meanwhile, thirteen more applications wait for Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval before they can start to break ground.

In New York, the situation is even more dire. We do not produce enough electricity locally to meet our growing demand, so we import power from neighboring states.

Since electricity is sold on the open market where demand dictates price, it wouldn’t necessarily decrease cost to produce more electricity locally, except that a robust energy sector in New York would increase national supply, driving down prices for everyone, and we would realize additional benefits in terms of jobs and revenue.

Unfortunately, environmental extremists, who have excessive influence in New York, have blocked any new energy development anywhere in the state – NIMBY-ism on steroids. Of the thirteen pending applications for new nuclear reactors, not one is in New York.

And, new technology to extract natural gas from the upstate Marcellus Shale deposit has been blocked from use in New York, while states like Pennsylvania reap the rewards.

While nuclear power accounts for 20 percent of total electricity production in the country, in New York it is only 13 percent. Natural gas accounts for almost half, and no one is looking to build any more coal or petroleum plants.

New York needs its own energy policy for the 21st century that relies mostly on nuclear power. This would promote much-needed energy independence, while revitalizing the upstate economy, turning New York into a leader in energy production, instead of a drain on an increasingly expensive system.