The Instigator
Con (against)
7 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
14 Points

Resolved: The United States should Significantly Increase its Use of Nuclear Energy

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/23/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,521 times Debate No: 5791
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)




*** Due to Lack of Room, w/o making the Argument max to long (I think debaters should be concise) If you need to see any sources please ask and I will post next Round

I affirm the Resolved: The United States should significantly increase its use of nuclear energy

Before I begin I would like to make a Quick Definition
Significantly as Defined by Princeton Universities wordnet is- in an important way or to an important degree

1. Nuclear energy does not help the climate

2. Nuclear energy harms the environment

3. Nuclear Energy efficiency

4. Nuclear energy economically.

Contention One: Nuclear Energy does not help the climate

~Looking towards Japan's nuclear plant capacity from 1965 to 1995 Japan's capacity went up from zero to over 40,000 MW. During the same period Carbon Dioxide emissions went up from about 400 million tons to about 1200 million tons.

~Major studies conducted by MIT and the IAEA state that if nuclear power is to play a meaningful role in addressing climate and reducing carbon emissions. We would need to Triple the number of reactors in the US [currently 104], and at least quadruple the number of reactors across the world [currently 440], all by the year 2050. Even with this astronomical increase, you would only reduce carbon emissions by about 20%. And logistically speaking, the nuclear industry is capable of building only 12 reactors per year worldwide.

Contention Two: Nuclear energy harms the environment

Sub point A: Nuclear Waste and Radioactivity

~Dr. Mark Winfield, who examines Nuclear Energy, finds that an estimated 90 - 100,000 tons of waste can be attributed to uranium production for domestic energy purposes.

~As long lived decay products such as Thorium-230 and Radium-226 are not removed, they are turned to sludge which contains 85% of the initial radioactivity of the ore. In addition, the sludge contains heavy metals and other contaminants such as arsenic, and chemical reagents used during the milling process.

~Furthermore, although the Yucca Mountain repository, as proposed, can house as much as 122,000 tons of waste, congress has mandates that it be limited to 77,000 tons. There are already about 64,000 tons of used reactor fuel at commercial plants in 33 states waiting to be shipped to Nevada.

Sub Point B: Air Pollution

~As found by with Helen Caldicott, Nuclear reactors consistently release millions of radioactive isotopes into the air and water each year. These releases are unregulated because the nuclear industry considers these particular radioactive elements to be biologically inconsequential. This is not so. These unregulated isotopes include the noble gases krypton, xenon, and argon, which are fat-soluble, and if inhaled by persons living near a nuclear reactor, are absorbed through the lungs, it then migrates to the fatty tissues of the body. These radioactive elements which emit high energy gamma radiation can mutate the genes in the eggs and sperm and cause genetic disease.

Sub Point C: Water

~The State of New York estimates that the Indian point reactors cause the mortality of more than one billion fish a year.

~In the case of the Oyster Creek Reactor in Tim's River New Jersey, the State Department of Environmental protection estimates that the cooling system kills millions of fish, shrimp, and other aquatic creatures each year and that dead marine life expelled from cooling systems back into the source stream create a shadow effect blocking sunlight to underwater organisms and limiting oxygen uptake.

Contention Three: Nuclear energy efficiency

~Nuclear reactors require a steady flow of cool water in order to operate. In recent years, elevated temperatures in rivers and ocean water have caused nuclear power reactors to be taken off-line. Hot water not only may violate the technical specifications for reactor core cooling, hot water does not cool the reactor condenser, which simply means, the device does not work

~The short comings of nuclear power reliability were also evident in July 2006 when, in Sweden back up generators malfunctioned during a power outage, forcing shutdown of the reactors at forsmark. Plant workers reported to Swedish media that it had come close to a meltdown. Following the incident, Swedish officials shut down half of Sweden's ten nuclear plants triggering record price increases

Contention Four: Nuclear Energy has negative economic ramifications

~According to the Center for American Progress, Nuclear power plant construction costs, materials labor and engineering rose by 185 percent between 2006 and 2007 More recently costs have been increasing even faster, American Electric Power Company CEO Michael Morris states "I'm not convinced we'll see a new nuclear station before the 2020 timeline, citing realistic costs of about 4,000 dollars per kilowatt. Since then, the prices utilities are quoting for nuclear have soared 50-100 %.


I want to thank Con for proposing this debate. I am accepting this debate so that we may all educate ourselves, as I am not an expert on the subject, and the question interested me. I will try to research each point to the best of my ability, and hopefully the best choice for America will be exposed in this debate.

First of all let me point out that nuclear power is only one peice of the puzzle for "new energy" sources. My arguments will look at the bigger picture, but specifically this very essential piece of the puzzle.

Contention One: Nuclear power plants to not emit carbon dioxide. Because of this simple fact it is easy to speculate why nuclear energy use went up, but CO2 emissions did not go down. Second, it is important to note that my opponent's statistics are not coincidental. The biggest rise in carbon emissions in Japan have been from 1990-2008. Household carbon emissions posted the highest gains with a 40% increase. Officials attribute this rise to the fact that now more Japanese own household appliances, and more Japanese drive cars than they did between 1965-1990.

Looking to more recent data, however, Japan has reduced emissions by 1.2million tons (2006-2007). A study was made of the Japanese energy system using the MARKAL model to determine what technologies are needed to reduce future carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear energy can make the greatest reduction by the year 2010, and is essential to further reduce emissions below the 1990 level. Continued expansion of nuclear power after 2010, together with energy conservation, renew- ables, and especially greater use of natural gas, would continue to lower emissions. Even with a choice of the more than 200 energy technologies considered in the model, however, no drastic emission reduction can be achieved in Japan with the assumed growth in energy and the national economy.

The case against nuclear reactors due to logistics will be addressed in contention 4.

Comtention two: Sub A: I agree with the basic issue of safe nuclear waste and radioactivity. Methods must be (and are being) developed in order to safely store nuclear waste, and recycle spent rods. Even so, the problem will not be eliminated by eliminating nuclear energy and/or not expanding nuclear energy which now consists of 20% of American energy production. Most nuclear waste comes from nuclear non-proliferation treaties, research facilities, and excess military grade plutonium and uranium. All these issues must be addressed, but opposition to nuclear energy has only stalled progress for the past 30 years.

Sub B: Nuclear power does cause air pollution. BUT when compared to pollution caused by the burning of fossile fuels, the pollution from nuclear energy then becomes negligable when considering an alternative to fossile fuels. 3 million people are killed worldwide by outdoor air pollution annually from vehicles and industrial emissions, and 1.6 million indoors through using solid fuel (WHO). In the U.S. alone, fossil fuel waste kills 20,000 people each year. A coal power plant releases 100 times as much radiation as a nuclear power plant of the same wattage. It is estimated that during 1982, US coal burning released 155 times as much radioactivity into the atmosphere as the Three Mile Island incident.

Most of the exposure to radiation in the US comes from normal background radiation and medical procedures. No studies have ever shown a higher percentage of radiation amongst residents living close to power plants than residents anywhere else in the US.

Sub C: That estimate is not from "the State of New York". The estimated fish deaths are caused by the cooling systems, which use natural water sources to cool plants, and fish eggs and small fish are caught in the cooling system and overheated. Technology has long existed that might reduce the fish kill by 90 percent or more. Cooling towers allow a power plant to recycle the water rather than continuously pump it in. New power plants are required to use cooling towers. The Indian Point issue is currently being litigated, and that is an outdated plant. The Oyster Creek Reactor issue will be addressed in the same legislation.

Contention 3: Cooling towers can resolve this issue. Sweden is not a leader in nuclear power, and I would urge you to address concerns and issues occuring in the US, as the debate is about nuclear energy in the US. Chernobyl is often cited as the dangers of nuclear energy, but that reactor was completely outdated and the technology behind it was far behind anything in the US at the time.

Contention 4: The NRG and other agencies estimate that every new power plant will create 6,000 construction and 1,000 permanent operating jobs (more conservative estimates put construction at 2,400 jobs). I'm running out of room, so I will await my opponent's response and respond accordingly.
Debate Round No. 1


First I will Go to my opponents case and if space alots I will rebuild my own case

First looking to his Contention one and that nuclear plants do not emit carbn dioxide......... This can be blocked in two seperate ways 1st the actual nuclear cycle itself and 2nd how can nuclear energy be efficient....... first to nuclear cycle M V Ramana, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development,reports on July 1st 2005 that In reality several steps in he nuclear fuel cycle, from Uranium mining to enrichment to reprocessing emit copious amounts of greenhouse gases. What we see is not only are carbon emissions released from nuclear energy but during the early steps to even begin to create nuclear energy release many more emissions. As America Magazine, of June 23, 2008 finds Reactors are only part of the nine-stage nuclear fuel cycle. This cycle includes mining uranium ore, milling it to extract uranium, converting the uranium to gas, enriching it, fabricating fuel pellets, generating power, reprocessing spent fuel, storing spent fuel at the reactor and transporting the waste to a permanent storage facility. Because most of these nine stages are heavily dependent on fossil fuels, nuclear power thus generates at least 33 grams of carbon- equivalent emissions for each kilowatt-hour of electricity that is produced. and as the Oxford Research group finds that because of this if we were to increase are amount of nuclear energy we would have the same amount of CO2 emissions by 2050, So nuclear energy is just going to cause the same problem in 42 years, what we need to look at is other alternatives which are more cost effective and can meet demand

Which leads to the efficiancy
First we look to the uranium shortage....Dr Youngson cautions that it is too soon to tell how significant this nuclear resurgence will be in the longer run, but the surge in the price of uranium in recent years suggests that demand is likely to continue to outstrip supply. The price of uranium increased by more than 1,000 per cent from 2002 to 2007, driven by a perception of tight supply and market speculation. Ambrian's research shows that uranium supply from mining has consistently failed to meet demand since the early 1990s, one of the main reasons being the very long lead times of developing uranium mines. also we look to the demand In addition to being risky, nuclear power is unable to meet our current or future energy needs. as Kristin Ferchette at the university of Notre Dame finds: Because of safety requirements and the length of time it takes to construct a nuclear-power facility, the government says that by the year 2050 atomic energy could supply, at best, 20 percent of U.S. electricity needs; yet by 2020, wind and solar panels could supply at least 32 percent of U.S. electricity, at about half the cost of nuclear power.

To Rebuilding:
Attack C2 SA) What we need to do is first find a way to store this before we can possibly increase nuclear energy my opponent must show you where we can store this waste before we can even think about increasing nuclear energy

SB) In Belarus 2000 kids had to have there thyroids removed due to the noble gases in the air as Dr. Helen Caldicott finds and we look back to my C2 we see that these can lead to genetic diseases, simply the risk is too high

SC) Cooling twoers are used across the world, the technology aobviously isnt there, these cooling systems are a problem and need to be fixed, and simply we cant just kill fish now to save them later supposidly

C3) The US has not significantly increased nuclear energy, we have to look to foreign examples to see what can possibly happen, and obviously cooling towers cant solve the problem, otherwise nuclear reactors would not be taken offline

And Lastly to C4) Jobs is utterly flawed Because no new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States in over 30 years, foreign companies have more experience building such plants. while considering constructing a new nuclear reactor, the American utility Constellation partnered with the French-German company, Areva, to build a model plant in Finland. The United States must produce more electricity to keep up with increasing demand, but relying on foreign companies to build nuclear plants means fewer jobs for Americans in the energy sector.

Lastly I would like to bring up a C5) that i have lightly touched on also in minor rebuttal to C4)
Wind and Solar are a much better option and safer
Jim Harding, former director of power planning and forecasting for Seattle City Light, estimates that nuclear plants constructed today would provide electricity at between 12 and 17 cents per kilowatt-hour. To put this cost into perspective, the average U.S. electricity price in 2006 was 8.9 cents per kWh, and well-placed wind turbines can produce electricity @ less then 5 cents per kilowatt hour and solar at abou 11 cents per kilowatt hour

GoodLuck Opponent


Before we look at my opponent's arguments that nuclear energy is a process that produces carbon emissions, let's first look at some key facts:
1. Nuclear power plants generate about 20 percent of U.S. electricity. They do not burn anything when producing electricity, so they do not produce any combustion byproducts. By substituting for other fuels in electricity production, nuclear energy has significantly reduced U.S. emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide.
2. In 2006, U.S. nuclear power plants reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide—pollutants controlled under the Clean Air Act—by 1 million short tons and 3.1 million short tons, respectively. The amount of nitrogen oxide emissions that nuclear plants prevent an-nually is the equivalent of taking more than 51 million passenger cars off the road.
3. Also in 2006, U.S. nuclear plants prevented the discharge of 681 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is nearly as much carbon dioxide as is released from all U.S. passenger cars. As a matter of fact, between 1995-2007, U.S. nuclear plants prevented the discharge of at least 600 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
4. Generating 1 million killowatt hours produces 996 metric tons of carbon dioxide from a coal-fired plant, 809 metric tons of carbon dioxide from an oil-fired plant, 476 metric tons of carbon dioxide from a natural gas-fired plant, and none from a nuclear power plant.
Now to address my opponent's argument: there is no method of producing electricity that in the manufacturing process, product aquisition process (mining, transporting, etc.), and maintenance process will not depend on fossile fuels. Nuclear energy is, again, only one component of energy independence in America, and it does not address fossil fuel burning vehicles. However, neither do the other methods of producing clean electricity. It is also important to point out that the processes you are speaking of are not continuous with nuclear energy. Uranium mining does not occur in the US at the frequency which, for example, coal mining does, nor do fuel rods get spent as often as coal is burned. For example, a University of Wisconsin study found that nuclear energy's life-cycle emissions are 17 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalents per gigawatt-hour. Only wind and geothermal sources ranked lower, at 14 and 15 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalents per gigawatt-hour, respectively. Now, it is important to note that clean energy accounts for only 27% of US energy, nuclear power accounting for 20% of that. Though nuclear energy cannot be the only alternative to fossil fuels, it is a very important piece of the pie, as I have mentioned before. In a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy- given the lack of solar, wind, and hydroelectric plants already in place (they account for a combined 7% of clean energy in America)- nuclear power would be a major pivot point.

Regarding my opponent's argument on efficiency, let me first start by stating his argument does not contradict my own. If nuclear energy production takes up 20% more of America's energy needs by 2050, that will be a 100% increase from now, and nuclear energy would then account for 40% of America's electricity generation. In his own argument, full production of solar and wind would bring the "other" number up to 39% of America's electricity needs. That would mean that by 2050, 79% of America's electricity would be clean. That would mean that by 2050 we would be producing nearly 80% less carbon emissions. That's a great number, yet my opponent provides this info as if it would be a bad thing. My argument is not for competition between clean energy sources. Making a significant increase in nuclear energy production does not mean we cannot have a bigger increase in other clean energy sources. That is the idea.

As for availability, Current usage is about 65,000 tU/yr. Thus the world's present measured resources of uranium (5.5 Mt) in the cost category somewhat below present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for over 80 years. Exploration has been at it's lowest levels between 1985-2005. With the recent increase in exploration and renewed world interest it is only a matter of time before supply and demand equal out. Even now with uranium at it's highest spot prices, nuclear plants are the lowest-cost producer of baseload electricity. The average production cost of 1.76 cents per kilowatt-hour includes the costs of operating and maintaining the plant, purchasing fuel and paying for the management of used fuel.

Storage: It is obvious safe storage should be a primary objective in the development of nuclear energy. Significantly increasing the use of nuclear energy requires the develpment of sustainable storage and recycling technologies. The only proponent who denies this requirement is John McCain.

Belarus not the US. Cases in the US? 8,000 limit next time
Debate Round No. 2


dkerwi8993 forfeited this round.


Mangani forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


First Id like to apologize for forfitting last round...I did not have internet acess ok to the arguments:

First: My opponent needs to look back to my round 2 where I proved carbon is released in earlier stages, this is a problem that my opponent has DROPPED
Second: Look back to my Contention 2 I showed Radon Krypton and other gases released that have lead to thyroids being removed in Belarus see heres where my opponent needs to look to other examples, how can we look to what has happened in the U.S. when we have never significantly increased use of nuclear energy, my opponent needs to be able to disprove these examples,

My Opponent must disprove:
Same amount of Carbon emissions by 2050
Noble Gasses
And CO2 released in early stages this disproves all the early facts brought up

Continuing on,
How can it be an important piece of the pie with all these problems happening weither it be with the cooling systems (which is part of nuclear energy) or the waste or anything my opponent has dropped these and dropped my arguments to these

Efficiancy....Heres the problem Nuclear Energy currently creates 20% of energy so that would be a 0% Increase it can only create 20% due to increasing demand thus meeting ZERO percent
And again the cleanness is incorrect, look to the earlier stages

Storage...Ok so lets put this into a logical scenario....we increase nuclear energy and increase the need for storage so we increase the use of nuclear energy and the waste creates and then what do we do with it...... well we have to wait till its developed this is illogical, the storage has to happen first, before we can even think about increasing nuclear energy

In the end what we see here is dropped contention and not stable enough links by my opponent please vote con


My opponent claims I did not address the issue of carbon emissions released in the aquisition, maintenance, and post-production stages of producing nuclear energy. I in fact have addressed this issue providing stats that indicate the release of those emissions is through the use of fossil fuel burning vehicles in mining, transport, and construction. I pointed out this part of the process is equal throughout the field of energy production. I also pointed out that nuclear was just one piece of the puzzle to cleaner energy and energy independence. By using clean energy like nuclear, we can free up natural gas reserves for use in these vehicles. THEN there will be little to no carbon emissions at any step in the production of nuclear energy. Until then, it is a reality with ANY type of energy production, including wind and solar.

I addressed the Belarus issue by stating the US is not Belarus. Our methods of production, disposal, security, research- we are far superior on all fronts to all developed nations, let alone Belarus. In fact, the incident in Chernobyl occured in 1986, and scathing reviews have been written about the various inadequacies at the plant, including poorly trained personnel. My opponent claims we shouldn't use the US as an example, but at 104, we have almost double the amount of nuclear power plants in France and Japan (59 and 55 respectively). Only two major accidents in the history of civil nuclear power have ever occured, and the Three Mile Island icident was contained. Only TWO major accidents in over 12,700 cumulative years of use in 32 different countries. There is no argument against the fact that nuclear power is potentially hazardous, but safer methods are being developed, and even without those methods there have been only two major accidents in history. Only one can be pointed to having a major affect on the population, and that is because there were no fire prevention/containment methods in place at the poorly built, poorly managed facility at Chernobyl.

If nuclear energy production in the US is raised by 20% of the total- as my opponent points out is the maximum possible with current manufacturing constraints to do so by 2050- and solar and wind were ramped up to represent 39% of total energy production, that would mean that 79% of US energy production would be clean by then. That would lead to a drop of 79% annual carbon emissions. I pointed this out in my last argument...

My opponent argues that he doesn't see how it is an important piece of the pie. Well, rather than citing 1,000 sources that say it is a significant piece of the pie for the path to energy independence and clean energy I will ask readers to do a simple google search, and read the thousands of comments from educated sources. There are very few energy experts claiming nuclear shouldn't be a significant part, but even most of the detractors admit it should be.

My opponent's argument on efficiency makes no sense.

Efficient: (1): effective operation as measured by a comparison of production with cost (as in energy, time, and money) (2): the ratio of the useful energy delivered by a dynamic system to the energy supplied to it.

An increase in production of nuclear energy would, in fact, result in an increase in it's share of total energy production in the US. His argument that demand increases is true for ANY type of energy, and therefore moot. His argument contradicts logistical reality and needs. If nuclear energy falls below 20% of total energy we are working backwards. We will be working LESS toward the goal of clean and independent energy, as even by his own estimates by 2050 solar and wind will go up to 39% of total energy. If nuclear is not ramped up, and demand goes up at a rate that would eliminate nuclear's 20% share, then any clean alternative would be meaningless because we would have to support the need with no-so-clean sources like coal and natural gas. That is counterproductive to the goal of cutting carbon emissions.

My opponent opposes energy because methods for storage have not been put into place, and efficient recycling hasn't been developed. I am arguing that they MUST be developed, and this will result in a significant increase in nuclear energy production. The beautiful thing about science is that when something is not available, but needs to be, the research and development of the process alone creates jobs. The implementation creates more jobs, and the use of these methods will create even more. Research and development is already in place, and not too far off from success.

My opponent seems to have given up in this debate. He has not offered any new arguments to my rebuttals, and has placed redundant arguments. Conventional logic is the belief that the US should significantly increase it's use of nuclear energy. ,,,,
Debate Round No. 4


dkerwi8993 forfeited this round.


I forfeited round 3 in an effort to even out my opponent's forfeiture of Round 3. Now he has forfeited Round 5.

Though my opponent provided some "cons" to the "pros" of the use of nuclear energy, he has not provided any concrete reasons as to why the United States should not significantly increase it's use of nuclear energy. In fact, his contentions- a significant increase would only raise use by 20% max by 2050; demand for energy will increase; etc. are in favor of a significant increase of the use of nuclear energy when we take into consideration his main con- the environment. Nuclear energy is not the safest method for producing energy according to my opponent. Indeed uranium is much more hazardous than coal, but how many people have died in uranium mines compared to those who have died in coal mines? (

Thousands of Navajo Indians have died mining uranium. This must be acknowledged. But looking at the above information- 5,000 annual deaths in China due to coal mining, thousands dead throughout history in the US, let alone the other accidents associated with the production of energy, nuclear is the safest because the material is the most dangerous forcing companies to take strenuous precautions.

The effects of nuclear energy on the environment have been weighed. It is one of the safest and most efficient means of producing energy. It is cheaper energy than coal, it employs technology that is further developed than a massive increase in solar, wind, and hydro energy, and it is amongst the lowest in carbon emissions. Yes- we need to develop safer ways to store and recycle spent rods. Yes, we need to develop safer ways to transport and mine uranium. Yes, we need to find safer ways to cool reactors. The need for development of technology BEFORE significantly increasing the use of nuclear energy does not mean we should not do it.

A significant increase would be in harmony with my opponent's contention that it is only possible to raise production by 20% of the total. Current use is at 17% in the US, and a raise in 20% by 2050 is a more than 100% increase- especially if demand rises (to maintain current market share levels). He claims an increase of solar and wind is possible to raise it to 39% by 2050. Great! Those are also essential pieces of the energy pie!

In conclusion, in order for the US to accomplish energy independence, security, lower energy costs, and improve greenhouse emissions- the United States should significantly increase its use of nuclear energy.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by batman 9 years ago
i am a puFer and would accept this challenge, but alas i do not have time.
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