It was an epic day in many respects, and a testament to the strength of democracy here in Vermont. Hundreds jammed the statehouse, having traveled in terrible blizzard conditions to witness the Senate’s historic vote and make sure senators were hearing from their constituents. As the debate was underway, Senate pages scurried around delivering scores of messages from citizens to senators as they deliberated on the floor. In a memorable moment just before the vote, Senator Choate said, “Just in the past three hours I've been delivered 50 to 60 pink slips.” Our volunteers in the state house were working non-stop to make sure voters were contacting their Senators.
Every walk of life was represented there, farmers, schoolteachers, students young and old, business people, and activists who have been fighting the plant since before its construction. It was an inspiring moment for democracy as we saw the true power of grassroots action. When people stand up, raise their voices and organize we can win big victories for the planet and our neighbors. As we traveled around the state holding volunteer meetings, generating calls, letters, and emails, talking to business people, and learning from long-time community members the response was overwhelming.
When I was in Ludlow with a volunteer knocking on doors, one man asked why we were collecting letters. We explained that a group of citizens was meeting with a Senator the next day. “When, where?” he asked, and then showed up at 8:30AM on a Saturday to make sure his Senator would vote the right way. So did 24 other people; and the Senator had no choice. She voted no.
These stories are not unique, the vote yesterday was by a citizen legislature that listens to its people, and Greenpeace has worked hard to make sure those voices are heard. Our volunteers were tireless and committed, our goals were high, but we have just won a huge victory for the planet. Vermonters are tired of sitting in the shadow of this leaky old reactor and getting lied to and swindled by Entergy Louisiana.
The fight isn’t over. Entergy is a powerful corporation and has said they’re not done, and we aren’t either. Now we want to see the House show the same courage as the Senate and vote this session to retire Vermont Yankee. The vote yesterday was the first time a state legislative body has voted to retire a nuclear plant; we want the House to be the second.
This vote also sends a strong message to the nation and the world that the nuclear renaissance is dead on arrival. President Obama: Vermont knows that nuclear energy can’t be a part of our energy future. We need investments in renewable sources of energy to power our future and put people back to work. The US can follow Vermont’s leadership to the energy revolution America needs.
No Nukes (new or old)!
Jarred Cobb and John Deans
In the face of fierce green opposition and withering scorn from both liberal and conservative budget hawks, Obama has done what George W. Bush could not: pledge billions of taxpayer dollars for a relapse of the 20th Century’s most expensive technological failure.
Obama has announced some $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for two new reactors planned for Georgia. Their Westinghouse AP-1000 designs have been rejected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as being unable to withstand natural cataclysms like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
The Vogtle site was to originally host four reactors at a total cost of $600 million; it wound up with two at $9 billion.
The Southern Company, which wants to build these two new reactors, has cut at least one deal with Japanese financiers set to cash in on American taxpayer largess. The interest rate on the federal guarantees remains bitterly contested. The funding is being debated between at least five government agencies, and may well be tested in the courts. It's not clear whether union labor will be required and what impact that might have on construction costs.
The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts warn the likely failure rate for government-back reactor construction loans could be in excess of 50%. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu has admitted he was unaware of the CBO’s report when he signed on to the Georgia guarantees.
Over the past several years the estimated price tag for proposed new reactors has jumped from $2-3 billion each in some cases to more than $12 billion today. The Chair of the NRC currently estimates it at $10 billion, well before a single construction license has been issued, which will take at least a year.
Energy experts at the Rocky Mountain Institute and elsewhere estimate that a dollar invested in increased efficiency could save as much as seven times as much energy than one invested in nuclear plants can produce, while producing ten times as many permanent jobs.
Georgia has been targeted largely because its regulators have demanded ratepayers put up the cash for the reactors as they're being built. Florida and Georgia are among a small handful of states taxing electric consumers for projects that cannot come on line for many years, and that may never deliver a single electron of electricity.
Two Florida Public Service Commissioners, recently appointed by Republican Governor Charlie Crist (now a candidate for the US Senate), helped reject over a billion dollars in rate hikes demanded by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy, both of which want to build double-reactors at ratepayer expense. The utilities now say they'll postpone the projects proposed for Turkey Point and Levy County.
In 2005 the Bush Administration set aside some $18.5 billion for reactor loan guarantees, but the Department of Energy has been unable to administer them. Obama wants an additional $36 billion to bring the fund up to $54.5 billion. Proposed projects in South Carolina, Maryland and Texas appear to be next in line.
But the NRC has raised serious questions about Toshiba-owned Westinghouse’s AP-1000 slated for Georgia’s Vogtle site, as well as for South Carolina and Turkey Point. The French-made EPR design proposed for Maryland has been challenged by regulators in Finland, France and Great Britain. In Texas, a $4 billion price jump has sparked a political upheaval in San Antonio and elsewhere, throwing the future of that project in doubt.
Taxpayers are also on the hook for potential future accidents from these new reactors. In 1957, the industry promised Congress and the country that nuclear technology would quickly advance to the point that private insurers would take on the liability for any future disaster, which could by all serious estimates run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Only $11 billion has been set aside to cover the cost of such a catastrophe. But now the industry says it will not build even this next generation of plants without taxpayers underwriting liability for future accidents. Thus the “temporary” program could ultimately stretch out to a full century or more.
In the interim, Obama has all but killed Nevada’s proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. He has appointed a commission of nuclear advocates to “investigate” the future of high-level reactor waste. But after 53 years, the industry is further from a solution than ever.
Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has reported that at least 27 of America’s 104 licensed reactors are now leaking radioactive tritium. The worst case may be Entergy’s Vermont Yankee, near the state’s southeastern border with New Hampshire and Massachusetts. High levels of contamination have been found in test wells around the reactor, and experts believe the Connecticut River is at serious risk.
A furious statewide grassroots campaign aims to shut the plant, whose license expires in 2012. A binding agreement between Entergy and the state gives the legislature the power to deny an extension. US Senator Bernie Saunders (D-VY) has demanded the plant close. The legislature may vote on it in a matter of days.
Obama has now driven a deep wedge between himself and the core of the environmental movement, which remains fiercely anti-nuclear. While reactor advocates paint the technology green, the opposition has been joined by fiscal conservatives like the National Taxpayer Institute, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
Reactor backers hailing a “renaissance” in atomic energy studiously ignore France’s catastrophic Olkiluoto project, now $3 billion over budget and 3 years behind schedule. Parallel problems have crippled another project at Flamanville, France, and are virtually certain to surface in the US.
The reactor industry has spent untold millions lobbying for this first round of loan guarantees. There's no doubt it will seek far more in the coming months. Having failed to secure private American financing, the question will be: In a tight economy, how much public money will Congress throw at this obsolete technology?
The potential flow of taxpayer guarantees to Georgia means nuclear opponents now have a tangible target. Also guaranteed is ferocious grassroots opposition to financing, licensing and construction of this and all other new reactor proposals, as well as to continued operation of leaky rustbucket reactors like Vermont Yankee.
The “atomic renaissance” is still a very long way from going tangibly critical.
Harvey Wasserman is Senior Advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service. His SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org.
In the deep winter of New England, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is leaking radioactive tritium into the groundwater.
This is bad timing for Yankee’s owner, Entergy of Louisiana, because the Vermont legislature is currently considering Entergy’s request to extend the 38-year-old plant’s license to operate for another 20 years. (Vermont is the only state in which the legislature has the power to intervene in a nuclear plant’s license.)
Even Governor Jim Douglas, who has been an unabashed Entergy supporter until now, demanded the firing of Entergy Vice President Jay Thayer. Mr. Thayer swore under oath that Vermont Yankee has no underground pipes. Then it was discovered that the tritium was leaking from – underground pipes. (Still a friend to Entergy, the governor has also called for a “timeout” to allow the corporation to rebuild the people’s shattered trust.)
It’s unclear at this point who is the dog and who is the pony in this dog-and-pony show, but Entergy did get rid of Mr. Thayer. (Which is not to say he was fired. He was placed on “administrative leave” pending investigation, which means he goes on vacation until this whole thing blows over; when he returns he will be sent off to tell whoppers about some other Entergy facility.)
The new face of Entergy in Vermont is Curt Hebert, Jr., Entergy’s vice president of external affairs and former head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Mr. Hebert is known as a lifelong opponent of government intervention in energy markets. (Then why was he the federal government’s chief energy regulator, you ask? He was appointed by George W. Bush.)
So up here in Vermont, the public, press and politicians are seriously cheesed off at the out-of-state corporation that has mismanaged the state’s only nuke since it bought it in 2002 and has been caught passing misinformation again and again. What’s Entergy’s response? To send a bitter foe of government intervention to the one state where the government has more power to intervene than any other. It makes one wonder if Entergy’s CEO Wayne Leonard might be spending too much time in the radiation room.
Mr. Hebert’s greatest claim to fame is that he presided over the federal government’s deer-in-the-headlights inaction when the 2000-2001 energy crisis caused rolling blackouts in California. (Heckuva job, Curty!)
According to published accounts, Mr. Hebert – acting on Dick Cheney’s orders – covered up the market manipulation by Enron and others that led to the California and instead encouraged California to cancel its environmental regulations. Now his kind ministrations will be visited on Vermont. Oh boy.
To paraphrase Lord Acton, power corrupts and nuclear power corrupts absolutely.
In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama said that "(t)o create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country." Despite his statement, the President knows better.
Nuclear power is neither safe nor clean. There is no such thing as a "safe" dose of radiation and just because nuclear pollution is invisible doesn't mean it's "clean." For years nuclear plants have been leaking radioactive waste from underground pipes and radioactive waste pools into the ground water at sites across the nation. Mr. Obama was prompted to address the issue when radioactive contamination was found in drinking wells and off the nuclear plant site at Exelon's Braidwood nuclear plant.
In 2006, when the President was serving as a senator from Illinois, he introduced the Nuclear Release Notice Act to address the radioactive contamination of groundwater at several nuclear reactors in his state. Unfortunately, the bill never became law.
Rather than hold nuclear power plant owners accountable for the uncontrolled and unmonitored leaks, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) handed the problem over to the nuclear industry's lobbyists. Despite the fact that tritium releases to groundwater violate the terms of the nuclear plant's license, the NRC has failed to exercise its regulatory authority. Instead, NRC has allowed the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) to create a voluntary industry program to deal with the tritium contamination.
Since then, the trickle of operators of nuclear plants acknowledging that they've contaminated the ground water at their sites has grown into a deluge. The nuclear plants that have admitted leaking radioactive hydrogen or tritium into the groundwater include: Braidwood, Byron & Dresden in Ilinois; Indian Point & Fitzpatrick in New York; Yankee Rowe & Pilgrim in Massachusetts; Three Mile Island & Peach Bottom in Pennsylvania; Callaway in Missouri; Oyster Creek in New Jersey; Hatch in Georgia; Palo Verde In Arizona; Perry in Ohio; Point Beach in Wisconsin; Salem in Delaware; Seabrook in New Hampshire; Watts Bar in Tennessee; Wolf Creek in Kansas; Connecticut Yankee and most recently Vermont Yankee. This NY Times article explains it all.
This list is likely incomplete and still growing. It remains difficult for the public to track which nuclear plants are leaking radioactive contamination because the NRC has failed to update its website since October of 2007 when it abdicated its authority to the industry's voluntary initiative.
The President was then less than pleased with the industry's voluntary regulation of radioactive leaks. Then Senator Obama responded that "(w)hile it's encouraging that the nuclear industry recognizes it has a special responsibility to keep communities informed of tritium leaks, the voluntary guidelines recommended by the Nuclear Energy Institute would still allow tritium leaks to occur without the public ever finding out about it. The nuclear industry already has a voluntary policy, and it hasn't worked."
Obama's comments now seem prophetic. Recently, just one week after the government regulators extended the operating license for the 40-year-old Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey, the plant owner admitted leaking radioactive contamination into the plants ground water. This most recent revelation has prompted several members of Congress to ask the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the leaks and how regulators at the NRC have mishandled the issue.
According to Congressman Ed Markey, who over sees the NRC, "(u)nder current regulations, miles and miles of buried pipes within nuclear reactors have never been inspected and will likely never be inspected." Markey concluded that "(t)his is simply unacceptable. As it stands, the NRC requires-at most-a single, spot inspection of the buried piping systems no more than once every 10 years. This cannot possibly be sufficient to ensure the safety of both the public and the plant."
If President Obama truly wants a clean energy economy and the jobs that come with it, he should abandon the failed policies of the past. Nuclear power is a dirty and dangerous distraction from the clean energy future the President has promised America.
This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.
As I look forward to 2010 and embrace the year ahead, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic. I find myself looking back at the last year and reminiscing about where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished together.
It was my first year as Greenpeace’s Executive Director, and I started my job in typical Greenpeace style - by locking myself to a crane ladder high above Washington, DC to call attention to world leaders about the dangers of global warming.
That was just the first of many actions Greenpeace took this year to highlight the dire urgency of global warming. We “installed” wind turbines in "the Windy City," hung banners off of bridges in Pittsburgh, created a climate crime scene outside the Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC, and unveiled 50,000 of your signatures in a giant banner underneath President Obama’s helicopter as he returned home from Oslo.
And of course, Greenpeace activists scaled Mount Rushmore to hang President Obama’s face alongside the faces of the former presidents with the message that read, “America Honors Leaders, not Politicians: Stop Global Warming.” The eleven brave activists recently convicted of climbing Mt. Rushmore will each pay a fine of $460 and will perform community service in the National Park system. One activist, Matt Leonard, served two days in jail because of his past civil disobedience work.
I’m proud of our activists and everything they did in 2009, but as I look back over the year, I’m even more impressed by what YOU have been able to accomplish this year:
• Kimberly-Clark agreed not to cut ancient forests to make Kleenex and other products and set a new standard for the global paper industry.
• The House of Representatives passed landmark chemical security legislation.
• Timberland and Nike, after receiving hundreds of comments from you, helped force cattle and leather industry giants to protect the Amazon Rainforest.
• Clorox Company announced plans to convert all of its U.S. factories from dangerous chlorine gas to safer chemical processes.
I can’t emphasize enough the enormous impact of these victories, or thank you enough for helping to achieve them.
I know that 2010 will bring many challenges our way, and I’m confident that Greenpeace is uniquely equipped to deal with them. But we can’t succeed without your help!
My New Year’s resolution is to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, pass chemical security legislation in the Senate and to convince Trader Joe’s to listen to their customers and adopt sustainable seafood policies. Will you help me make my New Year’s resolutions come true?
I can’t thank you enough for your support in 2009, and I’m really looking forward to all that 2010 has in store for us.
It has happened in upstate New York, where the Unistar Nuclear Energy front group asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay its application to build a reactor at Oswego, near Syracuse.
Meanwhile, in Texas, the San Antonio city council's deliberations over building two new reactors has disintegrated into recriminations, resignations and firings over a multi-billion-dollar price jump in projected cost estimates, a furor that could doom reactor construction there as well. And in Vermont, Entergy has threatened to shut its Yankee reactor if the legislature does not approve a complex maneuver that would allow its owners to escape certain financial liabilities.
Throughout the US, while the corporate media hypes a "renaissance" of new nukes, facts on the ground say the opposite is happening. The longer that trend continues, the more likely we are to win a world powered by the Solartopian technologies that really work, including wind, solar, geothermal, sustainable bio-fuels, increased efficiency/conservation, and more.
The Oswego postponement stems from the successful national grassroots campaign sparked by NukeFree.org and others dating to late 2007. When the Bush Administration asked for $50 billion in loan guarantees to build new reactors, a well coordinated campaign rose up, complete with a music video from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, K'eb Mo and Ben Harper (www.nukefree.org). With help from key Congressional Democrats, a wide range of organizations and individuals rallied to get the $50 billion package out of proposed energy legislation. Grassroots opposition has since beaten the proposed guarantees two more times.
It is as yet unclear what new reactor funding will come from Washington in the near future. There is still an $18.5 billion loan guarantee fund left over from the Bush Era. But the Department of Energy has run into serious political and procedural problems in administering the money. It may soon announce one or more new reactor projects designated to get the money, possibly including one in Georgia, where ratepayers have been put on the line to underwrite construction even if the plant never opens.
Republican proposals for virtually unlimited future loan guarantees are now being targeted for a Climate Bill and other legislation that may or may not make it through Congress in the coming months. Sen. John McCain(R-AZ) and other industry supporters are pushing hard for major federal financing. The Obama Administration has made some pro-nuclear rumblings, but remains elusive in terms of firm commitments.
Because the reactor industry cannot get private financing for new reactors, all the pro-nuke rhetoric in the world will mean nothing without federal subsidies. After 50 years, the industry doesn't have Wall Street's backing. Nor can it get private liability insurance in case of a major disaster. And it still lacks a solution for its radioactive waste problem.
Most critically of all, the longer new construction is delayed the less competitive the industry becomes. Cost estimates are literally all over the map, with $7-9 billion for a 1000 megawatt reactor being current used as a benchmark.
But even that is not expected to last. The Oswego project involves a design financed by the French government. This latest setback indicates even they may not be as bullish on reactors as they hype would indicate. As Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service puts it, "Unistar's postponement is just another indicator that new reactors will not be built unless American taxpayers are forced to take the financial risk."
Thus as the dust settles from the failures in Copenhagen, the US might look to the conference's host country. In the 1970s a powerful Green movement stopped the Danes from going nuclear.
Instead, as even the New York Times's pro-nuclear Thomas Friedman has recently acknowledged, Denmark successfully focussed on wind power. Today the wind industry is one of Denmakr's top employers, and is a major source of both clean green energy and significant financial profit.
Throughout the world, the cost of renewables is plummeting while reactor prices soar. So if America's thus-far successful grassroots campaign against massive federal loan guarantees and other nuclear bailouts can continue, we just might find ourselves on a parallel path to a green-powered Earth.
Harvey Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.harveywasserman.com, as is HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US. He is senior advisor to Greenpeace US, and senior editor of www.freepress.org.
Luckily, the VT Legislature gave itself the authority to vote against a license renewal for Vermont Yankee, and that is what we're making sure happens when the session starts in January. Greenpeace is working in a coalition with some great local groups to move legislators that have not made commitments on what way they will vote. (We also did a tour around the state earlier this year to talk to Vermonters about nuclear power and the future of energy in their state.)
I had the pleasure of spending the last two weeks with a terrific crew of Greenpeace activists, our GOT students, and volunteers from around Vermont. We organized events in Montpelier, Rutland and Burlington with our One World hot-air balloon. We had state representatives, business leaders, other environmental groups and community members come out to the events to address the crowds. The best quote came from State Representative Paul Poirier who said something like: “I’m no nuclear engineer, just a regular guy, but know that we can’t have Vermont Yankee around any longer.”
The balloon tour highlighted the fact that Vermont doesn't need nuclear power. We have local renewable companies that could replace the plant's energy, which would put our money into the hands of our friends and neighbors rather than in Entergy's pockets. Vermonters are standing up across the state to call for a clean energy future, and we hope you are too.
No nukes in Vermont!
For more than two decades, Daniel Beltrá has been saving the world, one photo at a time. Now, the world is recognizing him for the astonishing work he has produced for Greenpeace and for the work he has produced as the winner of a 2008 World Photography Award special category sponsored by Sony for the Prince's Rainforest Project.
On Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, Beltrá will be named "Person of the Week" on ABC's " World News with Charles Gibson, at 6.30 Eastern Time, and 5.30 Pacific. The scheduled program will showcase his year-long tropical rainforest project, broadcast an interview with Beltrá, and display images from an exhibition at the Mercy Corps Action Center which runs through Nov. 15th at 6 River Terrace, Battery Park City, New York, NY.
The segment will also feature footage of Beltrá at work in Sumatra where he was shocked to find that more than 80 percent of the original forests have been destroyed and replaced by monocultures of palm oil, acacia, and eucalyptus.
I'll be watching the footage of this master environmental photographer at work hoping to pick up any clues to his technique and to try and figure out how he is able to keep looking through the lens and making equally incredible images of the beauty of the natural world and the full horror of its ongoing destruction. I hope you will tune in whether you have appreciated his past work or are just discovering something new.
Through Beltrá's lens we see the majestic grandeur of polar ice formations and the plight of polar bears leaping between melting ice pods in their disappearing habitat. Through him, we look down into depths of the Amazon forest and see the variety of plant and animal life and we see it disappear in a plume of dark smoke blotting out the wide horizon as it billows from the blackened earth under broken trees. Through his images, Beltrá takes us to the far reaches of the world bearing witness to what is happening to Mother Earth. He wields his camera to pierce the smoke and shatter the mirrors with which governments and corporations attempt to hide the awful truth of their plunder.
Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) recent promotion of a pro-nuke/pro-drilling/pro-coal agenda in the name of Climate Protection has been highlighted in a New York Times op-ed co-authored with Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC). The piece brands nuke power "our single largest contributor of emissions-free power." It advocates abolishing "cumbersome regulations" so utilities can "secure financing for more plants." And it wants "serious investment" to "find solutions to our nuclear waste problem."
The Senate Bill as now drafted also includes a "Clean Energy Development Administration" that could deliver virtually unlimited federal cash to build new reactors and fund other mega-polluters.
Also on the table are vastly expanded permits for off-shore drilling. And Kerry/Graham have talked of making the US "the Saudi Arabia of clean coal" while bringing "new financial incentives for companies that develop carbon capture and sequestration technology."
If you think pushing nukes, oil wells and coal mines to "prevent global warming" is counter-intuitive, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The give-aways are allegedly meant to attract GOP votes. The joint Kerry/Graham op-ed is being billed as a "game changer."
But even with provisions pushing a hundred new reactors in the US alone, some GOP stalwarts hint they would NEVER vote for a bill that includes cap-and-trade clauses. So is the GOP set to play the same game with Climate legislation as it has with health care: prolong negotiations, gut the substance of reform, demand---and GET---untold corporate give-aways, and then oppose the bill anyway?
What thin green substance survives could be limited to a few showpiece handouts for renewables and efficiency, with cap-and-trade as the centerpiece. But many environmentalists argue that cap-and-trade could create yet another costly bureaucracy with little real impact on the climate crisis.
To get real about solving this crisis, Congress should demand---and fund---a definitive national transition to energy efficiency and modernized mass transit. We still waste half the energy we consume. There's no source of usable juice cheaper and quicker to install than increased efficiency.
Taxes on carbon and other forms of "ancillary" pollution would help if they assess radioactive emissions (from coal as well as nukes), destruction of our oceans, lakes and rivers, removal of mountain tops, creation of nuclear waste, and so on. Merely axing the subsidies to King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas) and rendering a level playing field for true green energy sources to fairly compete with the old fossil/nukes would take us a long way up the road to Solartopia. A feed-in tariff that rewards renewables for the pollution they avoid would also help.
Without all that, the Climate Bill's outright negatives could be huge. Atomic reactors can do little or nothing to bring down carbon emissions. Projected construction costs for new nukes have jumped from $2 billion to $13 billion and counting. Body-blows to the all-but-dead Yucca Mountain nuke waste dump have left the industry, after 50 years, with nothing tangible to do with some 50,000 tons of spent lethal radioactive fuel rods. And after a half-century, the industry cannot command private construction financing or private liability insurance to cover a catastrophic melt-down or terror attack. Even if reactors could help with greenhouse gas emissions, it would take a trillion dollars or more to make a noticeable dent, and a decade or more for such reactors to begin to come on line.
But the reactor lifeline does not flow through licensing or waste. Because it has failed as a commercial technology, the industry must have massive infusions of cash and loan guarantees. The Climate Bill's real damage will be measured by the size and scope of reactor subsidies, if any.
Kerry's willingness to entertain "clean coal" and new offshore oil drilling as "solutions" for climate chaos staggers the imagination. It seems to signal that King CONG still owns Washington, and that any meaningful Congressional push for green power will demand serious re-direction from the grassroots.
DC insiders generally doubt that any Climate Bill can pass this year. Afghanistan and health care still dominate the national agenda.
But Democrats are desperate for SOMETHING to show at December's Copenhagen Climate Conference. The question is: how much will they give fossil/nuke Republicans to get a bill---ANY bill---with the world "Climate" attached?
The anti-nuclear movement has three times defeated proposed $50 billion loan guarantees for new nuclear plants. The environmental community still understands that solving the climate crisis requires the ultimate phase-out of fossil fuels. “A carbon-free, nuclear-free energy future is within the Senate’s reach," says Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service. "The approach laid out by Kerry and Graham would lead to a climate bill in name only." NIRS is organizing a national call-in this week. A nationwide series of demonstrations for the environment will take place October 24.
Preserving our ability to survive on this planet demands we phase out fossil fuels and nuclear power, and win a green-powered Earth based solely on renewables and efficiency. Ultimately, we cannot live with less.
Harvey Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org. He is senior advisor to the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, and senior editor of www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared.
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