Discuss how the fears generated by the near meltdown at Three Mile Island combined with anxieties provoked by the oil crisis.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question had to be edited down.  I would suggest that the near meltdown at Three Mile Island did much to create a gloom about the future of the nation's energy condition.  The oil crisis of the time period demonstrated to millions of Americans how dependent they were on events and nations that were out of the political and diplomatic reach of the United States.  For example, the perceived fear of the Ayatollah of Iran triggered much in way of fear about the issue of oil.  This became real in many parts of the United States.  The issue of oil is felt at home with the signs of "No Gasoline Today" coupled with highway billboards featuring the picture of the Ayatollah with the caption "Fight Back- Drive 55."  Through such displays, it became clear that the energy crisis held the nation in its its vise- like grip.  This condition compelled many Americans to seek other paths of energy sources.

Into this void entered the belief that nuclear energy could provide the answer.  Nuclear energy was seen as a possible alternative over oil. At a point in the American consciousness where the oil crisis had locked in such a negative experience, there was much in way of interest in the domain of nuclear energy.  With the building of more nuclear power plants in America, this interest increased.  However, the near accidental meltdown at Three Mile Island effectively finished off this interest.  The fears of a potential meltdown around residential areas helped to enhance the energy crisis feelings that Americans felt.  The fears triggered by the oil crisis converged with the fears of a nuclear meltdown.  Exelon Nuclear's Vice President, Bruce Williams, made this clear:  "The credibility of an industry was lost."  Americans did not reject nuclear energy after Three Mile Island.  However, the rise of Not In My Backyard Initiatives did much to prevent the widespread building and use of Nuclear energy.  It was here in the rejection of nuclear energy's practical applications that its fears converged with the fears triggered by the oil crisis.

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