Nuclear-Free Oklahoma

William Genesen
January 28, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017


Fig. 1: President Jimmy Carter leaving the crippled Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Nuclear power plants are a tremendous source for energy]. They can provide massive amounts of energy and have minimal operating costs and little to no emissions. So why would this not be the optimal source for energy? Well, there are some down sides to having a nuclear power plant (see Fig. 1). First off they are very expensive to build and can cost up to around 5 billion dollars to complete. It is very hard to come up with these monumental startup costs. It takes multiple companies to partner together and can take up to a decade to complete. On top of that, there are health risks. Nuclear power plants require millions of gallons to cool them off so they don't overheat. In the case of a plant in Oklahoma, this water would come from one of the many rivers that run through the state. After being used, this contaminated water would be filtered back into the river. For many people, the scariest part about a nuclear reactor is the risk of meltdown. Although relatively unlikely, it still can happen and would have a disastrous effect.

History of Nuclear Power plants in Oklahoma (Black Fox)

Oklahoma has come very close to having a Nuclear power plant. [1] The Public Service company of Oklahoma announced plans to install a nuclear power plant in Inola, Oklahoma, in 1973. Quickly after the announcement, multiple Oklahoma residents stood up against the idea of a nuclear power plant. Over 9 years of back-and-forth fighting over whether to have a nuclear power plant occurred. In the end, the anti-nuclear movement won, and the idea was scratched. The biggest reason for this was the fear of a nuclear meltdown. The cost for building the plant would also have been too much of a burden.

Other Reasons

Oklahoma energy is also dominated by fossil fuels. The state is under a rich deposit of oil and natural gas. Oklahoma's economy has been dominated for many years by the oil and natural gas industry. The oil and gas industry in Oklahoma has had tremendous success, and these leading companies have gained great power due to the money made from the industry. Because of this, there is very little incentive to attempt to make any large changes of their sources of energy. Also, to quiet environmentalists, Oklahoma also has invested in hydro, wind, and solar power. The most successful of these renewable energies is wind energy. Oklahoma is ranked number 3 in the nation for total energy generated from wind, and this ranking is projected to keep climbing. [2] Until the gas and oil becomes depleted, Oklahoma is very unlikely to make and energy changes.


Oklahoma is a huge producer of energy for the United States. The vast majority of this energy comes from oil and gas. Along with this large amount of energy comes billions of dollars. The power and money of the energy business in Oklahoma is larger than many people realize. [3] Because of this, there is no incentive for Oklahoma to add a nuclear power plant any time in the near future.

© William Genesen. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] L. Martin, "Black Fox Revisited," Tulsa World, 15 Feb 02.

[2] P. Monies, "Oklahoma Wind Farm Construction Will Push State to No. 2 Ranking, Report Says," Tulsa World, 28 Jul 17.

[3] R. Engler. The Politics of Oil: A Study of Private Power and Democratic Directions (Macmillan, 1961).