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Biden and Harris include fantasy of ”small nuclear reactors” in an otherwise progressive climate policy

the Biden-Harris agenda lists small modular reactors under its “game-changing technologies.” In a way, that’s correct. Diverting money into small modular reactors will be game-changing. It will put us firmly on the road to climate failure.

The good news is that nuclear power does not play much of a role in the Biden-Harris plan. But the bad news is that, when it comes to nuclear power, the Biden camp has indeed chosen fiction over science.

In Promoting New Nuclear Power, Biden-Harris Back Fiction Over Science, https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/11/13/in-promoting-new-nuclear-power-biden-harris-back-fiction-over-science/   BY LINDA PENTZ GUNTER  13 Nov 20, Although possibly a sad comment on his predecessors, incoming U.S. president, Joe Biden, is offering the most progressive climate policy so far of any who have previously held his position.

As Paul Gipe points out in his recent blog, the Biden-Harris climate plan uses the word “revolution” right in the headline — a bit of a departure from the usual cautious rhetoric of the centrist-controlled Democratic Party.

But ‘revolution’ is proceeded by two words which let us know we are still lingering in conservative ‘safe’ territory. They call it a “clean energy revolution”, which Gipe rightly refers to as “focus-group shopped terminology.” He goes on:

”Clean energy is a term forged by Madison Avenue advertising mavens in the crucible of focus groups. It ‘polls well,’ as they say. It means one thing to one interest group, something else to another. So it’s perfect for politics in America.

“To environmentalists, it means wind and solar energy, often only those two forms of renewable energy, and sometimes only solar. It also means good times to the coal and nuclear industry. (Ever hear of ‘clean coal’?)

“So clean energy is one of those misleading words that party leaders and, importantly, fundraisers can use to elicit money from donors of all stripes. Why say renewable energy, when you want to raise money from the coal and nuclear industries?”

The Biden-Harris energy plan hits all the right notes in its opening paragraphs, focusing on a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and emphasizing infrastructure, international collaboration and the protection of poor communities of color, who suffer the most harm from unfettered polluters.

As we know from his public statements, Biden will bring the US straight back into the Paris Agreement on climate and sees the climate crisis as the “number one issue facing humanity”. The Paris Agreement isn’t enough, but the US absence weakens it further.

Still on the right track, the Biden-Harris climate plan looks to the rights and wellbeing of workers and jobs creation. It will adhere to “science, not fiction” and recognizes that energy efficiency has an essential role to play.

And then it goes very badly — if predictably — wrong.

In the section entitled “Biden’s Year One Legislative Agenda on Climate Change,” the document proclaims “We have to get rid of the old way of thinking,” then reverts precisely to that, clinging on to nuclear power as a necessary component of its plan.

So the Biden-Harris agenda lists small modular reactors under its “game-changing technologies.” In a way, that’s correct. Diverting money into small modular reactors will be game-changing. It will put us firmly on the road to climate failure.

The good news is that nuclear power does not play much of a role in the Biden-Harris plan. But the bad news is that, when it comes to nuclear power, the Biden camp has indeed chosen fiction over science.

A bullet point called “Identify the future of nuclear energy” reverts right back to the failed Obama “all of the above” approach to “look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies”, instead of recognizing that nuclear power, a failed 20th century technology, does not have a future.

As Amory Lovins points out, this “low-carbon” approach is a perpetual mistake made by politicians and seized on and influenced by the nuclear industry — to look only at carbon savings, and not at cost and time as well.

“Costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options,” Lovins writes. “Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection. Being carbon-free does not establish climate-effectiveness.”

When you look at the precipitating drop in renewable energy costs versus the ever soaring nuclear ones; when you examine how you can reduce more carbon emissions faster and more cheaply with renewables than nuclear; and when you observe the real life examples of countries whose carbon reductions are greater after investing in renewables rather than clinging onto nuclear; then the only reason to include nuclear power in a climate plan is political.

The Biden-Harris platform will likely continue to listen to the old school. After all, it’s who they know. But if they really want that revolution, they should open their eyes to the reality on the ground.

A recent article in the Socialist magazine, Jacobin, pointed to an example in the Netherlands where a decision was made not to expand an existing nuclear power plant and instead build two offshore wind farms. Although the Fukushima disaster slightly influenced the decision, at the end of the day, as the article pointed out, it was all about “the law of value”, in other words, money. “With the declining cost of renewable energy, nuclear power simply does not make economic sense,” it said.

In an important new study out of Sussex University in the UK — Differences in carbon emissions reduction between countries pursuing renewables versus nuclear power — the researchers concluded that choosing nuclear crowds out renewables and vice versa. This means that continuing to use old uneconomical nuclear plants — or investing in new ones — actually hampers renewable energy development, and thereby progress on climate change, and results in smaller carbon reductions and at a much higher cost.

The study notes that, “per dollar invested, the modularity of renewables projects offers quicker emissions reductions than do large-scale, delay-prone nuclear projects,” the same point made by Lovins. And, as the study also says, the more we use renewables, the more improved their performance, exactly the opposite of nuclear which sees “rising costs or reduced performance with the next generation of technology.”

This last is an important point for the Biden-Harris energy team to note. By including so-called new nuclear, they are dooming themselves to wasting both time and money better spent focused on renewables. Small modular reactors will not, as their plan asserts, come in at “half the construction cost of today’s reactors.” They will be far more expensive in relation to the electricity they would eventually produce. And of course they would arrive too late, and in too small a quantity and generate too little — and very expensive — electricity to make any difference to climate change at all.

Biden-Harris must look at empirical data, not listen to spin doctors and establishment cronies who will keep them anchored to the status quo, thus deferring the very energy revolution they claim they will lead. If Biden-Harris remain in favor of action on climate AND for nuclear power, then they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the editor and curator of BeyondNuclearInternational.org and the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear. She can be contacted at linda@beyondnuclear.org.

November 14, 2020 Posted by | politics | Leave a comment

Hibakusha renew their push for the abolition of nuclear weapons

Atomic bomb survivors’ renewed push for the abolition of nuclear weapons,   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1370/   Kita Yusuke
NHK World Correspondent, Yoshida Mayu, NHK World Correspondent, 13 Nov 20,
Today is a big, memorable day for us.”

Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Abe Shizuko was reacting to the October 24 ratification of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The accord will take effect in January – although none of the world’s nuclear powers are members.

Nevertheless, hibakusha, which is what the atomic bomb survivors are called in Japan, see the treaty as a victory for their cause. “I take pride in the fact that the decision is a result of the united little voices of individual hibakusha,” says 93-year-old Abe.

On August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb for the first time in human history. Its target was Hiroshima, where 18-year-old Abe was helping to dismantle buildings to prevent the spread of fires caused by air raids during World War Two. Abe was working just 1.5 kilometers away from ground zero. She suffered severe burns on the right side of her body and face, and has been through 18 surgeries.

“The operations were very painful and difficult. There wasn’t enough anesthetic back in those days, so doctors could not give me supplemental relief even if I started feeling pain. I tolerated the pain through a strong hope to restore my body,” Abe recalls.

The bomb left keloid scars on her face and the right side of her body. In photographs from when she was younger, Abe always looks down, or shows only her left side.

A-bomb survivors call the 10-year period following the world’s first atomic bombing “the blank decade.” That is because people who were injured had little to no medical or financial support. At the same time, they were exposed to severe prejudice and discrimination.

Abe says she was once nicknamed “Red Ogre” because of her scars. “My wound did not heal. My body weakened. I was in poverty. Many people stared at me only just to satisfy their curiosity, because they wanted to know what a hibakusha looked like. They did not feel sympathy for me. They bullied me. The suffering that I went through, and the emotional wound, will never go away.”

In 1956, Abe joined other atomic bomb survivors to form a delegation. They traveled to Tokyo to appeal to the then prime minister and government officials to offer relief for victims, and support their call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Those efforts led to the establishment of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization.

As the Cold War progressed, the hibakusha became disheartened. Even though they were speaking out about the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, the world was not listening. Nuclear experiments were being carried out repeatedly, and the arms race took off.

“It was really a difficult time for our campaign,” Abe remembers. “We felt as if we were yelling out while trying to survive in rough waves on a dark night.”

Abe carried a grudge against the US, but started to feel a change of heart almost 20 years after the bombing. In 1964, she went to the US and Europe for what was known as the Peace Pilgrimage. It was an opportunity for A-bomb survivors to speak about their personal experiences in front of audiences. Abe stayed at a private home with local hosts in the US, and she was deeply touched by their tender-heartedness.

“They listened attentively to my stories and said to me, ‘It must have been very hard for you. You’ve been through a lot. We’re so sorry for you,'” Abe recalls. “I realized we should never let anyone fall victim to nuclear weapons, regardless of what nationality you are. Americans or anybody.”

The voices of the hibakusha spread to all corners of the world, slowly but steadily.

These days, the average age of hibakusha is more than 83 years old, and there are fewer chances to hear their direct accounts. Some of them, like Taniguchi Sumiteru, played a direct role in the recent ratification of the UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons.

Taniguchi died three years ago, but he put the wheels in motion with a campaign that collected signatures to demand an international convention to ban nuclear weapons. He worked on that until the last moment of his life.

Taniguchi was 16 when he was exposed to the second atomic bomb that the US dropped on Japan. He was working as a postman in Nagasaki. A picture that shows the red burned flesh on his back shocked the world.

He delivered an impassioned speech at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN’s New York headquarters: “Please don’t turn your eyes away from me. Please look at me again. I have survived miraculously, but for me, to ‘live’ was to ‘endure the agony’. Bearing the cursed scars of the atomic bomb all over our bodies, we the hibakusha continue to live in pain.”

“For humans to live as humans, not even one nuclear weapon should be allowed to exist on earth. I cannot die in peace until I witness the last nuclear warhead eliminated from this world,” said Taniguchi.

Hibakusha and their supporters gathered at Nagasaki Peace Park shortly after last month’s treaty ratification to share their joy. Among them was Okuma Yuka, a member of an activist group that calls itself “Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Messengers”.

Okuma took part in the signature-collecting campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons after being deeply shocked by the image of a young Taniguchi in the aftermath of the atomic bombing. Her great-grandmother was a hibakusha but didn’t talk much about her experience. The photograph of Taniguchi brought it home to Okuma that suffering had occurred in her own family.

“I believe the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is definitely an important step forward,” Okuma says. “I expect that this will become a good opportunity for us to move toward a world that is completely free of nuclear weapons.”

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Japan, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden Transition Announcements largely skirt nuclear power, waste issues

November 14, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Predicting Biden’s attitude and actions on the big nuclear weapons issues

November 14, 2020 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kings Bay Plowshares peace activists get lighter sentences than expected

Martha Hennessy Sentenced to 10 Months

November 13, 2020

Martha Hennessy, the sixth of the Kings Bay Plowshares defendants to be sentenced, was ordered to serve 10 months incarceration as well as three years supervised probation and restitution. This was a downward departure from the guidelines of 18 to 24 months recommended by the probation department. Conducting the sentencing virtually from the Brunswick, GA… Read More

 Carmen and Clare Sentenced Lighter Than Expected

November 13, 2020

Today two more of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 were sentenced by video conferencing with Judge Wood in the court in Brunswick, GA. They both received less time than was expected according to the sentencing guidelines prepared by the probation department. Carmen Trotta was sentenced to 14 months in the morning session. This was a… more https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/?link_id=0&can_id=195a0feb9877cdd62aa2d9960e728695&source=email-carmen-and-clare-sentenced-lighter-than-expected-2&email_referrer=email_995104&email_subject=martha-hennessy-sentenced-to-ten-months

November 14, 2020 Posted by | legal, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Japanese govt rules out new nuclear reactors for 10 years

Here the Asahi Shimbun, generally a neutral and independent news source, appears to buy the myth of nuclear as a climate change cure, and of small nuclear reactors 

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

New European Court of Auditors report has concerns about the EU’s nuclear fusion project.

November 14, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE | Leave a comment

Over one million tons of radioactive water will be discharged into the sea from the Fukushima nuclear power plant

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Japan | Leave a comment

Governor of Miyagi Prefecture approves plan to restart Onagawa nuclear reactor.

Here’s another article that quietly accepts the myth that nuclear power combats climate change.

Japan Could Restart Nuclear Reactor Damaged In 2011 Disaster, Oil Price By Tsvetana Paraskova – Nov 12, 2020,  A local governor in Japan has approved plans from utility Tohoku Electric Power to restart one of its nuclear reactors that was damaged in the 2011 earthquake and the following tsunami, the same that caused the reactor meltdown at Fukushima.

Tohoku Electric Power received approval from the governor of Miyagi Prefecture, Yoshihiro Murai, to restart unit 2 at the Onagawa nuclear power plant, a spokesman for the company told Reuters.

In its strategy for the medium and long term, the company said in February this year that “On the premise of secured safety, we will aim for the prompt restart of Onagawa Nuclear Power Unit 2 with the local community’s understanding.”

Last month, Japan pledged to become a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, joining the UK and the European Union (EU) in those commitments. Due to the closure of nuclear reactors after Fukushima, Japan relies on coal for around a third of its electricity generation.

 

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Long-delayed remediation of a nuclear waste site near Pittsburgh

Timeline set for nuclear waste cleanup in Armstrong County, DON HOPEY, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, dhopey@post-gazette.com   13 Nov 20, The long-delayed remediation of a contaminated Armstrong County site…….
Known as the “Shallow Land Disposal Area,” the 44-acre property, along the Kiskiminetas River in Apollo and Parks
 Township, about 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, contains an estimated 36,000 tons of uranium and plutonium waste buried in 10 trenches.

Residents of the area have expressed concern about potential cancer and other health problems caused by exposure  to radioactivity on the site, though no one asked questions or expressed those concerns during the meeting.

The site initially was owned by Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., which operated the nuclear fuel plants.

 It was later sold to Babcock and Wilcox Co., which closed the facility in 1983. The corps is maintaining the site,

November 14, 2020 Posted by | wastes | Leave a comment

Ohio Attorney General takes legal action to stop nuclear bailout

Attorney general sues to block nuclear bailout cash, JIM PROVANCE Toledo Blade, 13 Nov 20,    COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost on Friday filed suit to block the owner of two nuclear plants on Lake Erie  from collecting $150 million a year in surcharges from customers that were set in motion by a law at the heart of a $61 million
Statehouse bribery scandal.

“The people of Ohio are about to be shaken down for money they should not pay and will never be able to get back,” reads the lawsuit filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Beginning in January, the state will begin collecting surcharges on the monthly electricity bills of customers to subsidize the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Oak Harbor and the Perry plant east of Cleveland that have struggled to compete economically with cheaper
and abundant natural gas.

“The corrupt enterprise and its billion-dollar payout is no longer a theory, but an admitted fact,” the suit contends. “Recently, two members of the corrupt enterprise entered guilty pleas in federal court. Those actors were Energy Harbor’s H.B. 6 lobbyist,

 and the former speaker’s consigliere. These two guilty pleas connected the utility and the speaker.”

According to the plea deals, the scheme was to conceal cash received from Energy Harbor’s former parent company,

FirstEnergy Corp., that was used to help elect state representatives deemed loyal to Mr. Householder. They later supported
his election as speaker.

The scheme then continued to push House Bill 6 over the finish line and subsequently kill a petition effort to convince voters to

repeal the law………

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

November 13 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Hitting Net Zero Is Not Enough – We Must Restore The Climate” • The climate crisis is here now. No matter how quickly we reach zero emissions, the terrible impacts of the climate crisis will not just go away. They will continue to cause millions to suffer for centuries to come. Just cutting […]

November 13 Energy News — geoharvey

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

German Court rules that government must review compensation for exit from nuclear power

German Court Demands Gov’t Review Compensation for Nuclear Exit, Courthouse News, November 12, 2020 FRANKFURT , Germany (AFP) — Germany’s highest court said Thursday the government must  revise the terms of compensation paid to energy companies forced to switch out of nuclear power, calling current arrangements “unreasonable.”

Ruling on a case brought by Swedish group Vattenfall, the constitutional court took aim at a payout condition set by Berlin in 2018 that would essentially require energy companies to make the change first before knowing how much compensation they would receive.

Judges in Karlsruhe urged the government to “revise the regulation as soon as possible”, saying the 2018 amendment to nuclear energy legislation, which is still not in force, was tainted by irregularities.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, which had earlier championed atomic power, decided after the Fukushima disaster to immediately close eight of Germany’s oldest nuclear plants and to shutter the other nine by 2022.
 “What is unreasonable here is that the plaintiffs cannot know at the point

 of negotiations what kind of conditions they must accept, and the regulation
 therefore requires them to either accept potentially unreasonable conditions
 or risk leaving empty handed,” said the court.While the ruling would not disrupt the timetable for the end to atomic power, it could complicate the exit due to complete in 2022……

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said the government respects the decision, and that it will “thoroughly analyse the ruling and swiftly initiate a legal regulation that meets the requirements of the court.”  https://www.courthousenews.com/german-court-demands-govt-review-compensation-for-nuclear-exit/

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

Guardians of UK’s precious habitat in Suffolk are fearful of government decision on Sizewell nuclear plan.

East Anglian Daily Times 12th Nov 2020, Guardians of one of Britain’s most precious habitats are waiting to see
how Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for the environment will
affect their Suffolk site.

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/rspb-minsmere-sizewell-c-damage-1-6926669

November 14, 2020 Posted by | environment, politics, UK | Leave a comment