A Washington Post editorial calls Germany’s decision to close its nuclear plants a bad mistake. Referring to Chancellor Merkel’s decision to phase out nuclear power, the Post said:
But clearer heads warned that then-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision was a mistake that would force Europe’s largest economy to rely on fossil fuels such as lignite, an especially dirty form of coal. Which is precisely what happened. Though Germany has invested heavily in renewables, it nevertheless has had to burn massive amounts of coal since 2011 to keep its economy running. Absent nuclear, Germany also depends more on Russian natural gas, a deep geopolitical vulnerability that gives leverage to Russia’s authoritarian government.
Nuclear energy frightens many people. But the deadly chemicals that coal plants spew into the air should scare them more. So should the existential threat of climate change. At the least, countries with legacy nuclear power plants — the United States has many — should aim to keep them online for as long as possible rather than repeat Germany’s mistake.