Now, yes, of course the temptation is to mock Alec Baldwin when he expounds on non-acting-related issues, subjects such as the environment or war or politics. After all, this is the fellow who promised to leave the country if George Bush were elected president. Apparently. According to some reports.
At any rate, the actor abides opining, most recently at Rutgers, where he led a one-sided discussion on the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant. The owners of the southern New Jersey plant, Chicago-based Exelon, are seeking a 20-year renewal of the plant’s operating license. Baldwin’s against it.
“The people who are in favor of the license renewal are looking to line their pockets,” said Baldwin, who has a leading role in the NBC primetime comedy “30 Rock.” “We don’t stand to make any money. Our goal is purely public health and safety.”
What is that logical error? Poisoning the well? Ad hominem? Ah, well.
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) sought to have a voice in this quaint “teach-in,” but were blocked from participating. But Eric McErlain of NEI’s excellent blog, Nuclear Notes, still weighed in with context and facts in anticipation of the event. Points such as New Jersey relies on nuclear power for 52 percent of its electricity. (NEI state fact sheet.)
Like me, Baldwin is a native of Long Island. And as folks in the nuclear energy industry know, it was back in the 1980s that activists there that helped scuttle a perfectly good nuclear power plant — Shoreham — that was just about ready to accept fuel.
What was the result? How about some of the highest electricity rates in the nation, ones that squeeze the pocket books of working class families. I guess Baldwin is trying to bring that same sort of sensibility to New Jersey.
New Jersey’s manufacturers, representing 10 percent of the state GDP and employing some 316,000 people, depend on that nuclear power.
Despite the paucity of facts in Baldwin’s opposition to clean and safe nuclear energy, it’s wrong to make fun of him. After all, unlike most actors, he has first-hand experience with nuclear power, safely shepherding a defecting Soviet nuclear sub into American control back in 1984. That’s an insight few of us can bring to the debate.
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