NASHVILLE, Tenn. (ABP) — The Southern Baptist Convention's top public policy official predicted Japan's nuclear plant crisis would prompt calls to halt the expansion of nuclear power in the United States.
"That would be a tragedy," the head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said March 12 on his weekly radio program, Richard Land Live.
Land said Japan generates more than a third of its electricity by nuclear power. China is building scores of nuclear power plants and the French get 80 percent of their energy from nuclear power.
"If we do not want to see a substantial drop in our standard of living over the next 50 years in the United States, we need to be building nuclear power plants," Land said.
Land said Americans should not be building them close to earthquake zones, but that is not an option in Japan, where the entire country is earthquake-prone.
"Should we build a nuclear power plant over the San Andreas Fault? Probably not," Land said. "But can we build one in Iowa? Can we build one in Minnesota? Yeah. Can we build one in other places that have no history of earthquakes? And I don't think there's going to be a tidal wave hit Iowa anytime soon. I don't think there's going to be a tidal wave hit Minnesota anytime soon. I don't think there's going to be a tidal wave hit Kansas anytime soon."
Land said nuclear reactors in Japan facing possible meltdown were designed to withstand either an earthquake or a tsunami, but both at the same time was too much for them.
"But I guarantee you, the global-warming cuckoos have already come out and said, 'This earthquake and this tidal wave are because of global warming, climate change,'" Land said.
"These people," Land said. "… A leaf drops to the ground; it's global warming."
"They don't use global warming any more," he continued. "They use climate change. The climate's always changing. They've ceased to be able to prove that the earth is getting warmer and that human beings have anything to do with it if it were. So now they are in the process of shifting over to climate change."
Land urged his listeners to pray for the Japanese.
"We pray that the loss of life will be minimal," he said. "We pray that their scientists will get the nuclear reaction under control, that there will be a minimal loss of life as result of any emissions from the nuclear facilities."
"This is particularly a sensitive issue in Japan, of course, which is the only country that has had nuclear bombs dropped on it and had tremendous experience with radioactive sickness and the consequences from being exposed to large amounts of radioactivity," he noted.
Land told callers that Japan's crisis cannot be compared to the 1986 nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant in the former USSR, because Chernobyl was inherently unsafe from the start. In the partial core meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, he reminded listeners that no lives were lost.
In fact, Land said, in the more than half a century the U.S. has had nuclear power, no one has ever died while generating nuclear power in the United States. That compares to 600 people a year who die extracting fossil fuels in jobs like coal mining and offshore drilling for oil.
Lane said if the U.S. were using nuclear energy on the same scale as France, it would help poor people around the world, whose biggest obstacle to improving their living standard is energy costs.
"If we weren't sucking up all the oil, then the price of oil would go down, which would hurt the extremists and help poor people," Land said.
Land criticized Democrats in Congress for stifling progress toward a comprehensive energy strategy for 40 years, all the while maintaining the country's dependence on foreign oil.
"It's insane," Land said. "We are hostage to people who hate us in the Middle East when we don't need to be."
"We need to drill," Land said. "We need to build nuclear power plants. We need to do everything we can to have zero dependence on foreign oil sources, other than Canada. Then let those Mideast radicals suck on their own oil pipelines."
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.