Skip to main content

What Environmentalists Know

Ken Edelstein over at Mother Nature News acknowledges that what we might call “classic” environmentalists, those raised on the Whole Earth Catalog and the No Nukes concerts, might have a bit of a problem.

How much less politically radioactive nuclear power has become was underscored Oct. 11 in a Sunday New York Times op-ed co-written by Sen. John Kerry. As Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor and then as senator, the Democrat was a vocal foe of the Seabrook nuclear power plant, then under construction in neighboring New Hampshire. He remains an environmental darling -- the climate-change bill co-author tasked with rounding up Senate supporters of the historic legislation.

Then, what about the fact that Kerry did co-write that editorial? Is it a sign of breaking faith?

The NYT op-ed generated buzz because Kerry wrote it with a Republican colleague, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. It signaled that some Republicans actually might support a climate bill this year if it contained significant compromises, and that Democrats might agree to such compromises to get the bill passed.

A lot of those compromises have to do with nukes.

Well, that’s a bit round about. More likely, Kerry saw that climate change legislation has no chance of achieving its goals without nuclear energy. Both EPA and EIA have concluded this. But Edelstein is right that climate change certitude is wreaking havoc upon the zeal that powers the anti-nuclear movement. These are bright folks and scientific consensus does speak to their interest.

Other environmental groups shouldn’t be described exactly as pro-nuke, but they are keeping their options open. The Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists -- all highly respected organizations with a strong bent toward research and policies -- have said they’re at least willing to consider nuclear energy as part of broader legislation.

Well, if you’re of a mind, that’s a bucket of cold water in the face. It’s like watching dominos topple.

Sadly, even Edelstein’s efforts to restore nuclear energy to its proper sinister place in the pantheon of evil seem a bit half-hearted.

With the start of this year’s National Hockey League season, NEI struck a sponsorship deal with the Washington Capitals; there’s nothing like rink-side signs that say “Clean Air Energy” to get your message across to members of Congress who happen to be hockey fans.

It gets “the message across to members” of environmental groups, too, which might be a cause for alarm. Nuclear energy has been the fear trigger for so long that we get why it would be tough to let go of it – we held onto our Amiga computer way too long, like a piece of ourselves we didn’t want amputated – but sooner or later, reality trumps all.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Knowing What You’ve Got Before It’s Gone in Nuclear Energy

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

Nuclear energy is by far the largest source of carbon prevention in the United States, but this is a rough time to be in the business of selling electricity due to cheap natural gas and a flood of subsidized renewable energy. Some nuclear plants have closed prematurely, and others likely will follow.
In recent weeks, Exelon and the Omaha Public Power District said that they might close the Clinton, Quad Cities and Fort Calhoun nuclear reactors. As Joni Mitchell’s famous song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
More than 100 energy and policy experts will gather in a U.S. Senate meeting room on May 19 to talk about how to improve the viability of existing nuclear plants. The event will be webcast, and a link will be available here.
Unlike other energy sources, nuclear power plants get no specia…

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…