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Nuclear Energy: South Florida's Misunderstood Friend

Thanks for that, Smithers. Now that we're in the midst of the public hearings on whether to build two new nuclear power plants on Turkey Point, Florida Power & Light is asking you to think of nuclear power as an adorable, avuncular, and perfectly harmless cartoon character.

Keep Smilin' Joe Fission in mind, especially if your thoughts should wander toward questioning why you should help pay for $18 billion nuclear plants in a region whose population is shrinking and using less energy.

Because, hey! Your smiling, gubernatorially appointed members of the Public Service Commission have already decided that you need the new plants. That was in 2007, when gas was really expensive, which it's not anymore, but whatever.

Sure, there are some environmentalists in Tallahassee who say FPL's wrangled permission for the plants as an excuse to give business to the construction contractors, but look at all these jobs!

And last month, that contractor Westinghouse totally agreed to make improvements to its plant in Columbia after federal regulators found it to be in violation of safety standards. Why, to believe in this "conspiracy," you'd have to also believe that FPL lobbyists are friends with regulators at the Public Service Commission -- an absolutely ludicrous assertion, at least while the Florida attorney general's investigation into ethical misconduct is still pending.

Besides, Crist appointed those PSC commissioners, and he reacts furiously to the mere whiff of corruption, which is why yesterday he so forcefully said he's "monitoring the situation." That means you don't have to! Just drop that monthly check in the mail, and you can bet Smilin' Joe Fission will keep on grinning long into a future where the only "meltdowns" are political in nature.

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Thomas Francis

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