Colorado’s nuclear past clouds its new-energy future

Should a nuclear power plant be considered an alternative energy source? The Denver Post seems to think so, despite the fact nuclear accounts for about 20 percent of the nation’s electrical power.

The Post kicked off an interesting weekend piece on the regulatory hurdles facing Gov. Bill Ritter’s “New Energy Economy (NEE)” by focusing on uranium mill hearings in Telluride. Sen. Mark Udall and other politicians have been pushing a nuclear renaissance as a way to kick the national fossil-fuel habit.

The problem with that push, as a lot of environmentalists will quickly point out, is Colorado stands to get all the dirty front-end fallout from uranium mining and milling but few of the benefits because our lack of water for cooling reactors makes new nuclear power plants somewhat problematic for the state.

Meanwhile, peaceful uses for nuclear weapons continue to pose a problem for operators looking to drill for natural gas – the state’s plentiful, cleaner-burning “bridge fuel” to the Ritter’s NEE – in the Project Rulison area of Garfield County.

That’s where the federal government detonated an atomic bomb more than 8,000 feet below the surface in 1969 in an effort to free up natural gas. It was the world’s biggest – and most environmentally devastating – frack job in that it produced radioactive and therefore unusable gas.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports the Colorado Court of Appeals last week ruled in favor of nearby property owners who are concerned about what will come to the surface if oil and gas companies are allowed to drill too close to ground zero – Mothra or loads of clean and clean-burning natural gas?

The court overturned a lower court ruling and gave standing to the landowners before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission despite their lack of subsurface mineral rights. That gives the property owners and residents of nearby Battlement Mesa some hope that the state will at least listen to their concerns.

[Nuclear fracking planet: Godzilla vs Mothra via kourouna2007 ]

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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