WHAT IS the United State’s largest source of emissions-free power? It’s nuclear energy. The nation’s 93 commercial reactors account for 55% of our zero-carbon power. They are the foundation of our effort against climate change and yet that hasn’t stopped the environmental movement from cheering their closure.

In fact, major environmental organizations continue to push for the early closure of nuclear power plants, preferring a wind and solar-only future even if it means rising emissions in the near-term and a more expensive and difficult road to a carbon-free power sector.

The Biden administration — to its credit — has made keeping existing nuclear power plants open a bulwark of its climate plan and is working to double down on advancing and deploying new, more cost-effective designs. In their view, we don’t have the luxury to rule out any technology in the climate fight.

That stance has environmentalists incensed. In fact, more than 600 environmental groups sent a letter to Congress in opposition, claiming that nuclear power is a “false solution.” Never mind that the International Energy Agency as well as countless research groups have endorsed nuclear energy as absolutely essential to globally replicable and effective emissions reduction efforts.

The environmental movement – never much for practicality – increasingly talks about the scale of the climate challenge and the urgency of action out of one side of its mouth while throwing up obstacles to a range of needed solutions out of the other.

Harmful as the environmental movement’s opposition to nuclear power is, its extreme distaste for mining is worse.

The very technologies that environmentalists favor — solar power, wind energy and electric vehicles (EVs) — are far more minerals intensive than the technologies they must replace. A “clean energy” future is one that must come with far more mining.

For example, a typical EV needs six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car and an offshore wind turbine requires nine times more minerals than a natural gas plant.

As the IEA recently reported, deployment of these technologies will require huge increases in the production of a long list of minerals. For battery metals, so critical to the deployment of EVs, demand will skyrocket. Lithium demand is set to soar 40 times by 2040 with cobalt and nickel demand jumping at least 20 times.

But despite the abundant evidence underscoring the importance of critical minerals to the energy transition, environmentalists can’t get out of their own way. Instead of working to encourage mining in the U.S. under world-leading environmental and labor standards, they’re blocking it.

New mines — for everything from copper to nickel and lithium — are running into extreme environmental opposition. Mine permitting in the U.S. is regularly stretching a decade or more. Essential projects for the minerals we know we need — the very minerals that will either enable or throttle climate progress — are being stonewalled.

Consider the story of a proposed lithium mine in Nevada that if built could provide lithium for 400,000 EV batteries a year. A rare flower — called Tiehm’s buckwheat — described as looking little different than a dandelion, calls the proposed mine site home. Despite promises from the mining company to transplant the flower to other locations, environmentalists are vehemently opposed to the project.

The Center For Biological Diversity (CBD), an environmental group opposed to the mine, told Reuters the United States should make preserving biodiversity a higher goal than the clean energy transition. “The Biden administration is at a crossroads and the Tiehm’s buckwheat is a symbol of our times,” said CBD’s Patrick Donnelly.

If that’s the case, enough is enough. The impracticality and wrongheadedness of the environmental movement are obstacles to addressing the climate challenge we can’t afford. It’s past time to elevate voices of reason offering pragmatic solutions and tune out those unwilling or incapable of embracing the urgency of the moment.

Howard Shaffer is a retired professional nuclear engineer living in Enfield.

Sunday, December 05, 2021
Friday, December 03, 2021
Thursday, December 02, 2021

IN 1850, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester Prynne, after being seduced by the local pastor, becomes pregnant and bears a child out of wedlock. Prynne is convicted of adultery and sentenced to wear a scarlet letter “A” for the rest of her life.

ON TUESDAY, Nov. 16, there was a public hearing for a non-germane amendment to HB255 for the purpose of requiring exemptions for conscience, religion, and medical, including prior infection, for all entities in the state of New Hampshire when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. The amendment w…

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

WHEN MY Merrimack constituent, John, was sixteen and started his first job after school as a dishwasher, he didn’t give much thought to the payroll taxes coming out of his weekly check. But during the subsequent 49 years of working his way to Medicare enrollment, he learned those taxes would…

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

MY NAME is Katie Kinnane and I’m a special education mom with children in Hollis. What does that mean? It means that I’m a member of a community team — parents and the school district — that work together to ensure that my children are receiving the services they need to succeed in life. It …

Monday, November 29, 2021

A RECENT New Hampshire Sunday News had a front page story that started with “a social media post by a little known group,” which caught my attention. A second item, “Reactions to Rittenhouse verdict highlight country’s divisions” also did for similar reasons. A question we need to consider i…

Sunday, November 28, 2021

DESPITE RISING public pressure to decrease gun violence and institute smart, common-sense reforms around ownership, the last several years have seen a relaxation of regulations regarding guns in our society. It is a right and a privilege, but we can all agree that it carries with it clear re…

I’M GOING to tell you something, something that I’ve never told anyone before. It has brought me no end of shame, and I’m afraid that I’ll lose the respect of my friends and coworkers by admitting it. The truth is… I’m from Massachusetts.