Matt Yglesias points to an important point about nuclear power, one I left out of my discussion last week. Specifically, he notes that nuclear requires massive government subsidies to be profitable and always has. This does add another wrinkle to the issue.
Yglesias believes that we should not be subsidizing anything but the cleanest technologies, which, on its face, doesn’t seem like a terribly unreasonable position. That is, until you consider the fact that even making pretty generous assumptions, currently wind and solar have the potential to provide, say, 35-40% of our national generation requirements. I no longer have access to academic databases, so I am having trouble finding a trustworthy article with that statistic, but I did major in environmental policy as undergrad, so take my word for it.
Nuclear gets a huge amount of electricity off of a very small amount of land. It is a strong and necessary alternative to carbon-based technologies until wind and solar become more efficient.