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George Daly
Business school dean

George Daly

George Daly is Dean of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. An accomplished scholar, he also has taught courses on leadership and economics.

Lessons from Three-Mile Island

Q: Republican leaders have built their energy policies around increased oil and gas extraction, dismissing environmental dangers. How should they respond to the Gulf oil spill if they want to preserve offshore drilling as a politically viable option?

I would urge the Republican leaders (and anyone else) to move away from catch phrases and slogans that mask the complexities involved in making long-term choices of great importance. The midst of a crisis is not an appropriate time to appeal or react to the emotions of the moment in the making of broad policy choices. This is a good time to remind the public of the potential consequences of doing so.

For example, the reaction to the Three Mile Island disaster -- essentially freezing all building of nuclear energy facilities -- has not served the nation well. Instead, it has led to an increased dependence on foreign energy sources as well as adding to carbon dioxide emissions that many believe to be a prime source of global warming.

What is needed, instead, is a pragmatic approach to a complex set of choices among imperfect alternatives. Offshore drilling has possible adverse consequences, one of which is being played out in the Gulf today and we should learn as much from it as we can. But all of the other alternative sources of domestic energy have their own environmental and economic challenges. This should serve as a reminder to all of us to react not reflexively but thoughtfully. Offshore drilling never was a simple yes or no choice and that remains true today.

By George Daly

 |  May 4, 2010; 5:10 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The lesson from Three Mile Island was that investors turned away from an industry where a $1 billion asset turned into a $2 billion liability overnight even in a well-contained "transient."
The nuclear industry still cannot pay its garbage and insurance bills and relies on "socialist" government programs after 60 years. Total costs remain unknown as long as waste disposal remains unsolved.
We should work toward renewables, especially photovoltaics, if we really want to leave a safe energy system with zero fuel costs for our grandchildren.

Posted by: Butteoid | May 5, 2010 12:08 AM
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