It’s no great revelation to say that the mainstream media, fractured though it may be these days, holds great power. It’s not direct power; the media can’t make actual decisions. Rather, the media grabs a theme–a meme if you want–and holds on to it, and repeats it, and provides slight twists to it so it can be repeated again, until it becomes accepted wisdom. While the media, especially the mainstream media, is often behind the curve, behind reality, once it catches up and snares and spreads that meme, it doesn’t take long for it to establish itself. And once a concept becomes accepted wisdom, then the actual decisions tend to follow in unison. As a group, politicians rarely stray far from accepted wisdom. Continue reading
Yesterday, an amazing thing happened. Yes, President Obama released the first real climate action policy in the U.S. ever. But that’s not all. The incredible thing—the one that will be most important in the years to come—is … they got it basically right.
Including on nuclear power. President Obama just made it the policy of the United States that nuclear power is not a viable climate solution. And not just that, but renewable energy can replace nuclear power just like it can replace fossil fuels. Continue reading
The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet released the final version of its Clean Power Plan (CPP), but reportedly has sent it to the White House for final review and the public release is expected in August.
But the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), which typically has vastly underestimated and under-projected the growth of renewables over the years, recently released projections of how much carbon emission reductions the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would produce, based on several different scenarios. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
One thing you can always count on from the nuclear power industry: when it comes to greed, the industry has no shame whatsoever; no matter how much taxpayer and ratepayer support nuclear power receives, the industry will always ask for more.
Kind of like my four year old, who sometimes would rather not get a cookie at all if her demand for two cookies instead of one isn’t met.
In its Clean Power Plan proposal to reduce carbon emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bent over backwards to bail out the nuclear industry from its own mistakes and problems–the ones caused by its own uneconomic nuclear reactors. The ones that can’t compete not only with natural gas, but with renewables that are even less carbon-intensive than nuclear.
Indeed, because nuclear reactors are so large, and so expensive, they are an anti-climate weapon. The continued operation of uneconomic reactors as well as any construction of new reactors just crowds out development of clean energy sources. Why should a utility build wind farms and solar plants, and help homeowners put solar on their rooftops, if they can get federal government agencies like EPA, and state governments as well, to establish policies that soak taxpayers and ratepayers to keep reactors running or build new ones–whether they’d be profitable on their own or not?
It’s the dog days of August; Congress is out of town (not that it does much when in D.C.); news is kinda slow….
But there are a few items that deserve some attention; so let’s first pause for a moment to recognize today’s 69th Anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing and then get to it.
*The Economist recently published a piece by Brookings Institution visiting fellow Charles Frank purporting to show that nuclear power and gas are actually cheaper over their lifetimes than wind and solar power.
That flies in the face of recent evidence, and the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins has now published a rebuttal of the article that “shows that those priorities are artifacts of Dr. Frank’s obsolete data. Replacing nine of his wrong numbers with up-to-date empirical ones, even without correcting his methodology, reverses his priorities to the ones most energy experts would expect: after efficiency, the best buys are hydropower (on his purely economic assumptions), then windpower, photovoltaics, gas combined-cycle (assuming 1.5% methane leakage), and last of all nuclear power. <em>Continue reading</em>
It’s been a while since we caught up on the news, so let’s jump right in….
EPA chief Gina McCarthy has in essence admitted that our analysis of the EPA’s proposed carbon rules is correct: they are intended to boost the nuclear power industry, and are especially an effort to protect those uneconomic reactors–mostly owned by Exelon–that would close without more subsidies. However, McCarthy also demonstrated that she doesn’t know much about nuclear power or the reactors she’s trying to keep open: “There are a handful of nuclear facilities that because they are having trouble remaining competitive, they haven’t yet looked at re-licensing (to extend their operating lives). We were simply highlighting that fact,” McCarthy said at a round-table discussion with business leaders in Chicago. In fact, of the dozen or so reactors that have been publicly cited as in danger of closing because they’re losing money, only Exelon’s Clinton reactor has yet to receive a license extension. Perhaps that lack of knowledge at the top levels of the EPA is the reason the proposed rule is so inartfully worded.
In any case, McCarthy’s admission is just one more reason to make sure the largest possible response is provided to the EPA. The first step is signing and spreading the word about the NIRS/CREDOMobilize petition here. The next step is to begin organizing to attend, speak out and protest at the four public meetings EPA is setting up for public comment. Continue reading