Nuclear power is not green, nor is it economical. The industry says it cannot build new nuclear plants without federal aid for their poor poor technology that was supposed to be too cheap to meter. Certainly by now. So, they get $20 billion, thanks to the Bush administration after the Energy Act of 2005 dole-outs. Then, Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut was trying to help them suck up another $50 billion of our taxpayer dollars. But why stop there? Now we almost had the Lieberman-Warner Bill S.2191 coming to the floor of the Senate on June 2, 2008. It was supposed to be the Climate Security Act to finally address global warming. But really, in whatever form it seems likely to morph into, it will be the nuclear welfare act, after Lieberman, or maybe Georgia’s Senator Isakson get through with it. $550 BILLION is the figure you should fix in your brain, that could be given to the nuclear industry via S.2191. (Though the latest is that the bill will now be S.3036, and Barbara Boxer is introducing an amendment that will give the nuclear industry $92 Billion, with Senator majority whip Harry Reid of Nevada’s blessing…Oh! Pain!!!!)
Will this be a fair or wise investment to foist onto the backs of our children? Remember that ‘Wall Street casts a skeptical eye on nuclear power plants and no company is ready to order one without federal loan guarantees.’**
You can do something about this happening tho, if you call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and tell them to vote against S.2191/3036 and all its amendments. More on that below.
Since our zero environmental score (with the League of Conservation Voters) presidential candidate John McCain wants to go 80% nuclear, like the French, Senator Lieberman will try to accomodate him somehow by fixing some nuclear power changes into S.2191/3036. Senator Isakson, according to a Friends of the Earth May 12, 2008 memo, drafted an amendment ‘that would have created new tax breaks for the construction, operation, and manufacturing of nuclear power facilities, provided federal support for the training of workers and engineers, weakened nuclear waste transport laws, among other things.’
What actually transpires, what amendments actually are offered and approved, will add drama to all the craziness that goes with forging all things nuclear that are possible onto the backs of the American taxpayer. Many young people may think this is great, as many older citizens may, who have forgotten that there is something called radioactivity that is very dangerous, produced in vast amounts, inside these plants that boil water with the fissioning of uranium to create steam to turn a turbine to create electricity.
News that Germany has realized that leukemia and other childhood cancer increases around nuclear plants are indeed caused by the radioactivity produced and released by these plants has been reported in the New Scientist on April 28, 2008. That at least 300,000 people have died so far thanks to the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986 has been tallied up by Dr. Alexey Yablokov. Dr. Yablokov was president of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, and former environmental advisor to the late President Boris Yeltsin. He also noted in his new book that life expectancy in Russia, which had been the same as that of the United States before the Chernobyl accident, has dropped to 59 years for men, and 64 years for women, a fact that Dr. Yablokov attributes principally to Chernobyl: “You see longevity dropping precipitously right after 1986 and the accident.”
Recent calculations of cost and visions of reality make the nuclear power option seem a terrible choice, but one that is lobbied for very well via the subsidies we give the industry that end up ultimately in the pockets of our governmental representatives. Should we finally build a new nuclear plant after none have been ordered since the 1970’s will only lead us to have the first nuclear plant on line in 2015 at the earliest. By then solar power will likely much more safely be economical at 5-12 cents per kilowatt hour. Nuclear power on the other hand, if all costs are included from decommissioning to actual construction and mining and liabilities to the environment and human health will be somewhere between 14 and 19.75 cents per kilowatt hour*. Dr. David Goodstein, former vice-provost of CalTech and physicist, told me that as of now, if we martial our resources, will and money, a much better investment will be solar power, because in just ten years 100% of USA electricity could be supplied by solar power.
Besides that, our science-ignoring leaders want to further the nuclear option by importing nuclear wastes into America for disposal here, and reprocessing nuclear waste. 20,000 tons of Italy’s low and intermediate level waste could be arriving here all too soon if Americans never hear about it. Much of this waste will end up in dumps in Tennessee by being re-classified by corporations like EnergySolutions as not radioactive enough to worry about. There is a comment period ending on June 10, 2008 on this importation, that could set a precedent to make America the world’s dumping ground for nuclear waste. Italy loves it because they didn’t know how they were going to get rid of their nuclear waste. They had closed all their nuclear plants by 1990, after the Chernobyl accident caused them to wise up.
Reprocessing is the dirtiest stage of the nuclear cycle. Only France and the UK are still doing it, and the UK will be phasing it out within a few years, according to Arjun Makhijani. New waste streams are created by this terrible split-end of nuclear technology that will poison the areas where the reprocessing plants are stationed. Here is a quote from Mr. Makhijani’s ‘France’s Nuclear Fix?’ published in Science For Democratic Action Volume 15, No. 2, January 2008:
‘The La Hague [reprocessing plant in northern France] uses a pipeline to discharge hundreds of millions of liters of liquid radioactive waste into the English Channel each year, polluting the oceans all the way to the Arctic. This egregious pollution continues on the basis of a disingenuous renaming of the liquid waste as “discharges.” If the same waste were put in 55-gallon drums and dumped overboard from a ship, it would be illegal under the 1970 London Dumping Convention. But somehow the “discharges” are permitted.’
Yes, Candidate McCain and Senator Lieberman, and your avid compadres, let us be like the French. Or should we be? In that same article, Makhijani tells us that the ‘French are having second thoughts’ about nuclear power. ‘Less than 31 percent of the French public favor nuclear energy as a response to today’s energy crisis. 54% are now opposed to investing 3 billion euros in the construction of a new reactor, while 84% favor the development of renewable energy.’ Did you know that the European Union is planning to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable technologies (which does NOT include nuclear power) by 2020? Or that Spain has set a 30% renewables-produced electricity timetable for 2010?? Or that Denmark, TODAY, produces 20% of its electricity by windpower? Or that Germany is phasing out nuclear power? Why? How? Because Germany leads the world in windpower megawattage at 22,200. 1000 megawatts is the average output of a nuclear plant. So, Germany has the equivalent of 22 nuclear plants-worth of windpower. And they are adding more than 1000 megawatts of windpower each year at an increasing rate. Their 24 nuclear plants must seem like an ill-advised liability, but soon they will be shuttered. Besides all this, Germany is gobbling up as much of the world’s solar power technology as possible.
And here we are with Bush and McCain heading us into a dark radioactive dead end alley, bored by greed merchants and scientific techies who have forgotten about biology and the fragility of the cell and life, besides the profit and loss ledgers of the future.
* ‘Nuclear Power Plant Electricity: A Simple Costing Model’ by Philip D. Lusk – see this at http://www.nirs.org> **’Nuclear Power Costs,’ by Arjun Makhijani, Science For Democratic Action, Volume 15, No. 2, January 2008, page 2.
Here is the May 19 alert now, from NIRS and http://www.nirs.org to help you participate in our democracy and stop this nuclear travesty before it goes too far….
May 19, 2008
|For more info, contact:
Michael Mariotte, NIRS 301-270-6477 12
Ken Bossong, Sustainable Energy Network 301-588-4741
|Sign-on Letter to Senate: Stop Nuclear Subsidies in Climate Legislation. Climate Focus Should be Energy Efficiency and Renewables.Dear Friends:Below is a letter written by our friends at the Sustainable Energy Network, addressing the principles the Senate should be considering as it takes up the Lieberman-Warner climate crisis legislation (S. 2191) the week of June 2.Both organizations and individuals may sign this letter. See instructions below. But please sign by 5pm Eastern time, Tuesday May 27.And please, do not sign this in lieu of calling your Senators and demanding no nuclear subsidies in climate legislation! Your calls—and those of your friends and colleagues—are absolutely vital to winning this effort. But we do encourage you to sign in addition to making your calls to your Senators (Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121).
If you wish to sign on as an ORGANIZATION, please provide:
Your Name + Title
If you wish to sign on as an INDIVIDUAL: Please clearly state that you are signing on ONLY as an individual and provide:
If you wish to also provide your organizational affiliation “for identification purposes only”, it will be listed with this clarification.
Please send your sign-on information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for all you do!
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
AS YOU CONSIDER CLIMATE LEGISLATION, FOCUS ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY STRATEGIES, OPPOSE NUCLEAR POWER AND FOSSIL FUEL INCENTIVES; APPROACH CAP-AND-TRADE CAREFULLY
May 28, 2008
Washington, D.C. 20510
Attn: Environmental/Climate/Energy Legislative Assistants
We, the xx undersigned business, environmental, consumer, energy-policy, faith-based, and other organizations and xx individuals are writing to urge you to give great care and thought to pending climate change legislation which may come to the Senate floor next week.
We believe that the grave threats posed by global climate change must be addressed now and action taken to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Moreover, the pending vote on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), and any amendments that are offered, has the potential for setting the principles and parameters for any federal legislation that is ultimately enacted into law. Consequently, we believe it essential that any bill that emerges from the Senate meet several criteria.
First, federal legislation must — at the very least — set the United States on course to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by no less than 80 percent by 2050 — a target higher than the 70 percent goal proposed by S.2191. However, even a reduction of 80 percent may fall short of what is actually necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. A growing number of analyses now suggest that far greater reductions, accomplished within a much tighter time frame, may actually be needed. Therefore, we urge you to reject legislative proposals that would set merely symbolic or insufficiently aggressive goals.
Second, if a cap-and-trade system is to be part of the nation’s climate change policy, it should be designed thoughtfully and should be viewed as only one in an arsenal of strategies to shift the nation’s economy on to a path of sustainable energy development.
Carefully structured, a cap-and-trade system can play an important role in reducing GHG emissions. However, a poorly designed system could prove to be economically costly and administratively difficult-to-administer, do little to promote renewable energy technologies, and result in the transfer of pollution to low-income communities without actually achieving any significant reductions in GHGs.
If cap-and-trade is to be a part of the United States’ climate change strategy, it should provide for enforceable and rapidly declining ceilings on GHGs, a simple and transparent administrative structure, protections for low-income and other vulnerable communities, and full auction of all carbon credits with the funds targeted at sustainable energy investments.
Third, national climate change legislation must give emphasis to making a rapid transition from fossil fuel energy sources to renewable energy sources coupled with deep cuts in energy waste through energy efficiency improvements and other measures. A number of recent analyses have suggested that U.S. energy use can be reduced by 30 percent or more while renewable energy technologies — some of which have been experiencing 30-45% annual growth rates in recent years — could be brought on line far more quickly than other options to meet most of the country’s supply needs.
Tapping this potential, however, would necessitate substantially more aggressive energy efficiency standards for homes and other buildings, lighting and appliances, electrical generation and transmission, industrial machinery and processes, and agriculture. It would also require much more stringent fuel-efficiency and emission-reduction targets for cars, trucks, and other vehicles coupled with fundamental changes in national transportation policies.
To realize the full potential of the cross-section of renewable energy technologies, long-term (e.g., ten years) tax incentives, significantly increased federal RD&D funding, expanded procurement policies, national interconnection and net metering legislation, a national (banded) portfolio standard, and other steps must be acted upon.
In addition, changes in the federal tax code to encourage investments in energy efficient and renewable energy and to discourage continued use of carbon-based technologies, including phasing-out subsidies to fossil fuels and coal-fired electrical plants (unless they incorporate 100% carbon capture), need to be part of the mix.
Similarly, national climate change legislation should not divert federal resources into long-term, unproven, expensive, and potentially environmentally risky fossil fuel technologies such as so-called “clean coal” and carbon capture and sequestration. The financial burden for demonstrating the viability of these technologies should fall primarily on the shoulders of the fossil fuel industry and not federal taxpayers.
Finally, climate legislation should not include direct or indirect subsidies or mandates for nuclear power; in fact, such subsidies should be phased out. An expansion of nuclear power would merely exacerbate the still-unsolved problem of radioactive waste disposal while adding to concerns about plant safety, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation. In just three years, cost estimates for new nuclear power plants have already tripled or quadrupled and continue to rise. And when a full accounting of the full nuclear fuel cycle is considered, nuclear power is not the carbon-free technology its proponents suggest.
Consequently, investments in nuclear power would prove to be a costly mistake that would divert very limited public and private funds from sustainable energy solutions that can be brought on line far more quickly, at much lower cost, and with fewer safety and environmental risks.
In conclusion, we stress that we believe that early and aggressive action to address the threat of climate change is absolutely necessary. But we also believe that great care and attention be given to designing legislative strategies that emphasize rapid deployment of sustainable energy strategies and not divert resources to nuclear power or speculative fossil fuel technologies.
We appreciate your consideration of these views.