Skip to main content

Nuclear Matters to Carol Browner in Chicago

Uh-oh:

Not too long ago Carol Browner would have sided with the activists clad in white hazmat suits protesting nuclear power outside the City Club's lunch Tuesday in downtown Chicago.

Or maybe not so uh-oh:

"I can't believe what I believe about climate change, about the dangers of carbon pollution and take off the table a carbon-free form of power," said Browner...

That’s an evolution that a lot of environmentalists have experienced in the last decade, as shown in the movie Pandora’s Promise. Browner speaks with great authority, as she is the former EPA administrator under President Clinton and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under President Obama. The Chicago Tribune turns over a lot of the article to anti-nuclear activists, so Browner does not get her full say.

So is there a fuller way to hear Browner’s views on nuclear energy? Happily, local radio station WBEZ interviewed her and, as expected, she is bullish on nuclear but still exceptionally judicious. She pushes for green energy diversity and balances concerns about nuclear safety (and acknowledges that the industry’s record is very good) and proliferation (ditto) against the threat of climate change (dire). The solution presents itself, is in fact inevitable – you can’t solve the emissions puzzle without nuclear energy.

You can listen to the 10 minute interview, which ranges over a number of environmental issues, at Soundcloud. Browner represented the Nuclear Matters campaign in Chicago along with former Sen. (and current Nuclear Matter co-chair) Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and others in a panel discussion on the future of nuclear energy in Illinois. This is a large topic we’ll address more fully another time. In the meantime, if you want a primer on just how important nuclear energy is to Illinois’ emission reduction goals, this story fills the bill and provides some pointers to more information. You can also pick up some of the conversation at the Chicago panel from Nuclear Matters’ Twitter feed, which is well worth subscribing to.

---

I was surprised to see an anti-nuclear energy screed at The New Republic. The writer, Zoe Loftus-Farren, is a contributing editor at Earth Island Journal, not a very friendly nuclear outlet. Even aside from that, I’d say the articles there are not really to my taste – they’re a bit dreamy, which is at least an interesting approach:

The poet, novelist, essayist and farmer [Wendell Berry] discusses organic foods, his frustrations with the environmental movement, and his love of his horses.

Brower Youth Award Winner Doorae Shin writes that being a progressive activist has fulfilled her childhood fantasy to attend Hogwarts.

Is altruism possible across species borders? And – the crucial question – can an entire species learn to shape its behavior, to its own cost, for the good of other species?

But I like the New Republic. So disappointing.

Comments

Engineer-Poet said…
You forget, the bulk of the staff of TNR just resigned in protest of the new owner's strategy to turn the magazine into on-line click-bait.

The TNR name may exist, but what's left is a zombie at best.
Chris Bergan said…
An interesting talk at the City Club of Chicago from a few days ago. Bayh & Browner spoke as expected, but the position of union officer Sean McGarvey is a welcome surprise (to me at least).
http://youtu.be/octsQF4Y_H0

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 …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…