By Denis Hayes

Nuclear power has never lived up to the promises of its backers. Their latest claim – that nuclear energy represents an easy answer to global warming – has as much validity as that old industry chestnut of producing energy “too cheap to meter.” Let’s not be duped again.

Four decades ago, when I served as national coordinator for the first Earth Day, millions of Americans mobilized on behalf of the environment. This year, we know that the centerpiece of a healthy environment is safe, clean and sustainable energy. Climate change was a phrase unknown back in 1970; today it is part of our popular vocabulary. Halting the advance of global warming tops the priority list of environmental issues that threaten our well-being.

The nuclear industry – and some in Washington – would like us to believe that building new reactors will solve this threat. To hear them talk, the nuclear option sounds alluring. Certainly the promise of an energy source that is a low greenhouse gas emitter might carry some weight with those concerned about climate change. But let’s look at the facts.