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

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …