In an ironic juxtaposition, Wednesday’s presentation by the Carrie Dickerson Foundation came only a day after Oklahoma legislators met to discuss nuclear power as a possibility for meeting future energy demands.

Spearheading the discussion was Rep. Doug Cox of Grove, who described nuclear power as having the “potential to significantly reduce the state’s expanding energy burden in the future.”

“The interim was primarily an educational hearing to learn about the pros and cons of nuclear energy and whether or not it will play a role in Oklahoma’s energy solutions of the future,” Cox said, “which, I believe it will.”

Initially opposed to the thought of nuclear power himself (”I grew up in the era where we would get under our desks during school drills and cover our heads in case of nuclear war,” he said), Cox said the technologies now available and in use at nuclear plants and what he believes to be the benefits justify considering nuclear power as a practical solution to the growing dilemma of energy resources.

“I had my own concerns about safety issues in the beginning, but was impressed with the increased technology now in place at nuclear power plants and the safety measures they have for security — the more I learned about it, the more my fears were put to rest,” he said. “I also learned there’s not as much waste produced (by nuclear plants) as there used to be, so I feel this is something that needs to be given serious thought.”

With Oklahoma’s energy costs expected to increase by 40 percent during the next 25 years, Cox said all options should be kept “on the table” to help meet the demand.

While costs of a nuclear plant would be considerable — roughly $8 billion, with an estimated timeframe of completion between eight to 10 years — Cox maintained the prospect of a 1,600-megawatt plant to be feasible.

“In Oklahoma, we’re fortunate to have an abundant supply of natural gas, but — just like the oil industry — that supply may one day start to dwindle,” he said. “If we don’t even have a plan to at least meet our own future minimum demands, such as a nuclear plant, we can’t possible expect to attract and retain new businesses and sustain long-term economic growth.

“Despite the initial high costs, I think nuclear power is the best solution for providing energy for our state in the long run,” Cox said. “We’ll continue to study the issue and look at developing a viable plan — one that’s safe for the residents of Oklahoma, and one that’s effective and efficient, and will stabilize our rising fuel costs down the road.”