Yesterday was, in some ways, the culmination of months of NIRS’ work on nuclear power and climate issues, as we showered the Environmental Protection Agency with many thousands of public comments on its proposed Clean Power Plan. That followed months of outreach that resulted in the turnout of many thousands–far more than we had expected–for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent to the People’s Climate March in September.
In general, we support the EPA Plan’s intent–to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. But the Plan fell short in that goal, did not give enough credit nor do enough to promote renewable energy, and, most importantly, provided unwarranted support for aging, uneconomic nuclear reactors already rejected by the marketplace, and which can easily be replaced with cleaner renewables and energy efficiency programs.
In other ways, however, far from a culmination, yesterday seems more like a beginning. Now that we have explained to the EPA, in formats ranging from a paragraph to hundreds of pages of great detail, both the shortcomings of its proposal and how to fix them, we already are turning our attention to what comes next.
That will mean dealing with the Plan as it is actually read when finalized, which is unlikely to be exactly how we have encouraged it to be modified. And that will mean working in the states, with regional, state and local grassroots clean energy organizations to prevent the nuclear power industry from claiming its dirty old reactors and toxic fuel chain are somehow an appropriate solution to the defining environmental problem of our day–the climate crisis. Besides preventing that silliness threatening to be catastrophe, it also means supporting the genuine clean energy technologies that can power our future without carbon emissions and without strontium, cesium, plutonium, tritium, you-name-it emissions as well.
That’s where we’re headed next and that’s where we hope every one of you will be joining us. In the meantime, below is the press release we sent out yesterday about the nuclear power/climate issue and the thousands who made their voices heard to the EPA and which thus was wholeheartedly ignored by the media.
148 ORGANIZATIONS, THOUSANDS OF INDIVIDUALS, WHILE BACKING INTENT OF EPA’S PROPOSED CLEAN POWER PLAN,
URGE AGENCY TO REMOVE SUPPORT FOR DIRTY NUCLEAR POWER AND INSTEAD ENCOURAGE CLEAN ENERGY
While supporting the general intent of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to address our climate crisis, 148 organizations—representing millions of Americans–today submitted comments to the agency urging it to reconsider and remove its unwarranted support for nuclear power in the plan.
For a variety of reasons, ranging from its excessive cost to its widespread environmental impact not related to climate change to its inhibition of deployment of clean energy technologies, nuclear power is counterproductive—even given its relative low carbon footprint compared to fossil fuels (but substantially higher than renewables)—at effectively tackling our climate crisis.
Despite this reality, the EPA’s proposal includes support to prop up aging reactors proven uneconomic in the marketplace as well as construction of new atomic reactors.
In addition to the 148 organizations, from every section of the U.S. and supported by organizations from seven other nations, more than 10,000 individuals submitted comments against the nuclear provisions from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) website and 11,506 individuals submitted brief comments prepared by NIRS from a CREDO Action website.
The comments submitted today termed the EPA’s evaluation of radioactive waste and nuclear power’s effect on water resources “woefully incomplete and alarmingly inadequate” and added that the agency failed entirely to address “a host of other environmental impacts unique to nuclear, including uranium mining and nuclear accidents.”
Perhaps most significantly, the comments stated, “In general, the Clean Power Plan’s consideration of nuclear appears to be based on a dangerous fallacy: that closed reactors must be replaced with fossil fuel generation, presumably because other low-/zero-carbon resources could not make up the difference. In fact, renewable energy growth has surpassed all other forms of new generation for going on three years, making up 48% of all new electricity generation brought online from 2011 to July 2014. The growth rate of wind energy alone (up to 12,000 MW per year) would be sufficient to replace all of the “at-risk” nuclear capacity within two years, at lower cost than the market price of electricity, let alone at the subsidized rate for nuclear the draft rule suggests.”
“Nuclear power is not going to solve global warming, nor even be helpful in reducing carbon emissions,” said Tim Judson, Executive Director. “The EPA is taking an historic step, but it needs to remove the biased incentives for nuclear from the Clean Power Plan. Nuclear is too costly and unreliable to solve the climate crisis, and it is simply too dirty and dangerous. Solar, wind and other clean energy solutions have arrived, and every dollar wasted promoting nuclear is a dollar that won’t go to solving the climate crisis.”
“The EPA must not ignore this widespread public sentiment that nuclear power is no solution to climate change,” said Michael Mariotte, President of NIRS. “Just a few weeks ago, many thousands marched with the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent in New York City with the same message: climate change is the defining issue of our time and we need genuine 21st century clean energy solutions, not more obsolete technology from the 1970s like nuclear power.”
The statement that unified that Contingent stated: “The solutions to the climate crisis are not difficult to identify. A nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system is a necessity. It is an energy system that relies not on antiquated energy models of the 20th century and their polluting nuclear power and fossil fuel technologies, but on the safe, clean, affordable and sustainable renewable energy, energy efficiency, and modern grid technologies of the 21st century.”
The comments submitted today and signed by 147 organizations are here: www.nirs.org/climate/epacppsignonletter12114.pdf
The NIRS website generating 10,000+ comments to the EPA is here: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18179
The CREDO Action website with 11,506 sign-ons is here: https://www.credomobilize.com/petitions/take-nuclear-power-out-of-epa-carbon-rules.
NIRS also participated in the drafting of even more substantive comments, prepared primarily by attorney Diane Curran, Dr. Arjun Makhijani, and Mark Cooper, along with Chris Shuey from Southwest Research and Information Center. These long and detailed comments can be found on the front page of NIRS’ website, www.nirs.org.
December 2, 2014
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