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Joe Biden’s pro nuclear plan ignores the nuclear waste question

August 4, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

America’s choice – environmental and climate catastrophe under Trump, or some hope under Democratic rule

July 23, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, environment | Leave a comment

If he wins election, Joe Biden would restore Iran nuclear deal

Biden would restore nuclear deal if he wins elections: George Washington University professor,  By Javad Heirannia Tehran Times, June 7, 2020 

“Biden would restore, or rejoin, the nuclear agreement with Iran. But now he would want an extension of the time that Iran could resume for nuclear research and have breakout capabilities,” Professor Askari tells the Tehran Times.

Professor Askari, who served as special advisor to Saudi finance minister, also says a Democratic president “would set about undoing Trump’s foreign policy errors.”

Following is the text of the interview:…………………..

Q: If Joe Biden is elected the next president of the United States, will he change his approach toward China? Also, what would be his approach to Iran and the nuclear deal in general?

A: I think a Biden, or for that matter any Democratic President, would set about undoing Trump’s foreign policy errors. Yes, he would try to chart a new course with China. Tough but with a plan that is step by step to restore workable relations. Not a series of disjointed reactions to the moment in time. He would restore, or rejoin, the nuclear agreement with Iran. But now he would want an extension of the time that Iran could resume for nuclear research and have breakout capabilities. In this way, he would appear as tough but at the same time reduce tensions in the Persian Gulf and America’s military exposure around the world.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, on climate and nuclear power

Georgia’s Presidential Primary: Biden And Sanders On Climate WABE


Sanders and Biden agree that the U.S. should re-commit to the Paris Climate Agreement, the international accord that President Donald Trump is pulling the country out of. They also say the U.S. should be a world leader on climate change. And they have pledged to reject donations from the fossil fuel industry.

Both say that we need to make sure workers from, say, the coal industry, and their communities, aren’t left behind in a transition to cleaner energy sources.

They want to make big investments in infrastructure and in research and technology; they want to help get more electric vehicles on the roads, and improve railroads and public transit.

And they both say they embrace the Green New Deal, the proposal in Congress that lays out climate legislation. Sanders’s climate plan is actually called the Green New Deal, and he was endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, an advocacy group that’s pushing for the Green New Deal to be adopted.

Timeline and Spending

Biden says he’d spend $1.7 trillion over the next ten years. Sanders proposes to spend almost ten times that amount, $16.3 trillion.

On the schedule side, Biden’s goal is net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Sanders has a 2050 goal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, but he also has an ambitious 2030 goal: to have all electricity and transportation powered by renewable energy sources by then.

Different Tactics

Both candidates have extensive plans, and we’re not getting all the details in here. But here are some of the tactics where they begin to diverge.

Part of what Biden wants to invest in is carbon capture technology, to basically suck carbon dioxide out of the air and store it to help counteract emissions.

Biden wants to regulate natural gas much more strictly, and to ban new oil and gas leases on federal lands. And he’d encourage renewable energy development in those places.

Sanders wants to basically remake the country’s electric system.

He wants to expand government-run power authorities and have them generate electricity from renewable sources, to eventually drive coal- and gas-fired power plants out of business.

Beyond the regulations Biden is calling for on natural gas, Sanders wants to flat out ban fracking. He also wants to ban imports and exports of fossil fuels.

And Sanders calls carbon capture technology, which Biden supports, a false solution.

Approaches To Nuclear
Sanders is also opposed to nuclear power. He says he wants to stop nuclear power plants from getting their licenses renewed and not allow any news ones to be built……..

While Sanders is against all of it, Biden supports research on a new generation of smaller, cheaper nuclear reactors. And he doesn’t rule out continuing to use the existing ones.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | 3 Comments

Joe Biden to encourage nuclear power, and Bernie Sanders is not all that anti nuclear

March 12, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | 1 Comment


Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist Briefing Audience Told: “We Are Living in a World Where the Next President Will Decide if the Number of Nuclear Weapons Go Up or Down.”

CHICAGO, IL///March 2, 2020///Two leading experts raised serious concerns today about the lack of substantive discussion among U.S. presidential candidates about their plans for U.S. nuclear weapons and related threats around the globe. They noted that arms control agreements resulted in the number of nuclear weapons in the world being slashed from 70,000 to 14,000, with that progress now in danger of being reversed.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists briefing held one day before Super Tuesday included an appeal to both candidates and the news media to move nuclear weapons to the forefront of the 2020 elections.

Former Obama science adviser John P. Holdren said: “We live in a soundbite and Twitter culture. It’s difficult to express nuclear weapons threats in 240 words or an eight-second quote … We should be talking about embracing a no-first-use policy. We have much cheaper and safer ways to deal with conventional and biological attacks than using nuclear weapons and therefore launching a much wider nuclear war. That threat is not worth it. Candidates should be talking about their views on ‘no first use.’”

Holdren now is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Co-Director of the School’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy program, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Affiliated Professor in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science. Holdren also is Visiting Distinguished Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, and Senior Advisor to the President at the Woods Hole Research Center, a pre-eminent scientific think tank focused on global climate change. From January 2009 to January 2017, he was President Obama’s Science Advisor and Senate-confirmed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Alexandra Bell, the senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation, said: “There are well over 4,000 nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile. Anyone running for President is asking the public to trust them … The next President is going to decide if we live in a world when the number of nuclear weapons is going up or going down. If we lose the (arms control) agreements, we are definitely headed to a world where that number is going up. That is why this should be a major issue in the 2020 election cycle.”

Previously, Bell served as a senior adviser in the Office of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. She has also worked on nuclear policy issues at the Ploughshares Fund.

Holdren said that the issue of “no first use” was considered at length during the Obama Administration and that a decision was deferred in the President’s second term “on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would win” the 2016 election.

Bell noted that President Trump is the first U.S. president since John F. Kennedy to fail to initiate a major arms control agreement in their first term in office. She said: “Whoever the next person is to sit behind that Resolute Desk is going to having to deal with a number of issues that have been left behind to them.”

Both Holdren and Bell agreed that the news media (except for a handful of key outlets) are not paying enough attention to nuclear weapons issues. But they also agreed that it is incumbent on experts to find a way to talk about nuclear weapons that engages presidential candidates, elected officials, the media, and the public.

John Mecklin, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, moderated the expert panel discussion.

For more background information, see Nuclear Weapons Policy and the U.S. Presidential Electionan edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists available free online until March 31, 2020.


December 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the first edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, initially a six-page, black-and-white bulletin and later a magazine, created in anticipation that the atom bomb would be “only the first of many dangerous presents from the Pandora’s Box of modern science.”  The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ iconic Doomsday Clock was reset on January 23, 2020 to 100 seconds to midnight.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Max Karlin, (703) 276-3255 and

EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming recording of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ briefing will be available at as of 5 p.m. CST/6 p.m. EST/2300 GMT on March 2, 2020.



March 3, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Big climate change policy unlikely no matter who wins the White House

Big climate change policy unlikely no matter who wins the White House

Amy Harder Don’t hold your breath for big climate policy changes — even if a Democrat wins the White House.

Why it matters: Congress is likely to remain gridlocked on the matter, leading to either more of the same with President Trump’s re-election or a regulatory swing back to the left no matter which Democrat wins — but far short of a legislative overhaul.

The big picture: Climate change is reaching a new high-water mark as a political concern for American voters, and Democratic presidential nominees are promising aggressive policies.

  • That in and of itself is a sea change from prior elections. Even still, these worries and pledges are unlikely to translate into any major new laws in the next few years (at least).

Here’s why, with potential scenarios mapped out.

Trump wins re-election

While Trump is uniquely unpredictable in presidential history, he’s made it clear since moving into the White House that he’s not interested in pursuing any sort of actual climate legislation on Capitol Hill.

More of the same is most likely, in two important ways:

  1. More curtailing of environmental regulations — and defending them in court.
  2. More pressure on other actors — like companies, states and other countries — to take bigger action on their own as the void of U.S. presidential leadership grows.

Any Democrat wins

All Democrats have aggressive climate plans, but it’s an open question whether any would first push climate legislation over other priorities — especially health care………

Regardless of congressional priority, any Democratic president would swing Washington’s executive-action pendulum far back in the other direction. …..

A progressive Democrat wins

… like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. ……This type of all-encompassing and hyper-aggressive legislation is unlikely to get universal support among Democrats (to say nothing of universal Republican opposition) — which makes them extremely unlikely to get through the Senate.

  • This is because Democrats with more moderate ideologies or those representing energy-intensive states are unlikely to support the broader socioeconomic measures and such aggressive moves away from fossil fuels, partly because many of those jobs are represented by unions……..

A more moderate Democrat wins

… like Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar or Michael Bloomberg.

I anticipate these politicians would be (relatively) more open to trying to work with Republicans on climate change than their progressive counterparts……

As Congress talks climate policy, carbon price gets no love

New lobbying urging Congress to support a price on carbon emissions is not convincing lawmakers to warm up to the policy.

Why it matters: A carbon price is widely considered one of the most economically efficient ways to tackle climate change. But, economics be damned, its politics remain deeply unpopular.

March 3, 2020 Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020, politics | Leave a comment

Trump is using Yucca Mountain to drum up Republican votes

February 27, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | 2 Comments

President Trump, eyeing the election campaign contradicts his administration on Nevada nuclear waste dump

One Side of a Nuclear Waste Fight: Trump. The Other: His Administration.

The president, eyeing the battleground state of Nevada, has made clear he opposes a nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain, reversing a policy that was made in his name.

In a tweet earlier this month, Donald Trump appeared to have reversed his position to now oppose creating a national nuclear waste dump at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, NYT, By Maggie Haberman,, Feb. 23, 2020

    Mr. Trump, who in recent weeks seemed to end his administration’s support for moving nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, a proposal that had been embraced by his appointees for three years despite his own lack of interest

  • “Why should you have nuclear waste in your backyard?” Mr. Trump asked the crowd at a rally in Las Vegas on Friday, to applause, noting that his recently released budget proposal did not include funding to license the site, as previous ones had.  applause, noting that his recently released budget proposal did not include funding to license the site, as previous ones had.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Trump jumping into Nevada’s nuclear waste dilemma

February 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Democratic presidential candidates not well informed on nuclear weapons

2020 Dems Need To Get Up To Speed on Nuclear Weapons. Fast.    Last week, U.S. voters had two opportunities to inspect the leading Democratic presidential candidate’s national security credentials. In both the Democratic debate in Iowa and the New York Times editorial board’s interview series, candidates were asked to explain their views on key aspects of nuclear weapons policy. Unfortunately, all three of the leading candidates flubbed some of their responses. For the existential sake of the country, the candidates need to get up to speed on nuclear weapons policy. Fast.

  • Despite being a leader on a number of nuclear weapons issues, including a promise to commit the United States to a No First Use doctrine, Sen. Elizabeth Warren seemed unaware of the controversial existence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey. Even though the issue made headlines as recently as October.
  • Despite giving an answer that spoke eloquently of his long abhorrence of nuclear weapons, Sen. Bernie Sanders did not seem to know how many countries have nuclear weapons. The number is nine, not the eleven or twelve the senator claimed.
  • Despite his compelling recent defense of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal he helped obtain, Vice President Joe Biden seemed to mischaracterize President Trump’s North Korea policy. Speaking of the North Koreans at the Democratic debate, he said the President “weakened the sanctions we have against them.” CNN’s fact-checkers soon rebuked the Vice President. As they put it, “Trump has not weakened the sanctions his administration has placed on North Korea to date, and has in fact ratcheted them up from the Obama administration.”No one is perfect, but these mistakes matter for several reasons. Nuclear weapons are the most acute national security threat we face. From Iran to North Korea, South Asia to Russia, they are still drivers of major international dangers. Any lack of clarity on such a grave topic should be alarming. But there are also more specific implications of each of the candidate’s misstatements. With tensions between the U.S. and Turkey increasing on a number of fronts, the question of whether to keep basing U.S. nuclear weapons at Incirlik is a serious one, especially when one considers that Turkey might attempt to steal them.
  • With the 2020 Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference looming, the question of how many countries have nuclear weapons is a crucial barometer for judging the success of that agreement. And by criticizing nonexistent sanctions relief, Vice President Biden ignores the real failure of the Trump administration’s North Korea policy, which has been its inability to translate summitry into productive diplomacy.Clearly, the country should expect better on this important issue from the leading Democratic candidates. Moreover, it is also to the candidates’ electoral benefit to get up to speed on nuclear weapons policy.
  • First, the candidates should remember that the emerging consensus within the Democratic Party on nuclear weapons issues is politically popular. All three aforementioned candidates support a No First Use policy, as do 57 percent of voters in Iowa and 73 percent of voters in New Hampshire. All three support extending key arms control agreements with Russia, like New START. They are in the company of eight in ten registered voters, including over 75 percent of Republicans. And all three prefer the diplomacy of the Iran nuclear deal to starting another endless war in the Middle East – as do the American people.
  • Second, nuclear policy issues are frequently used as ‘gotcha’ questions by the media. The media will keep asking questions on nuclear policy and it’s important for candidates to be ready. For instance, during the 2016 primaries the media infamously tripped candidate Trump up with a ‘gotcha’ question on the nuclear triad. Trump took the hit but recovered in the general election, by which time he had learned his way to a more coherent responseThird, nuclear issues simply aren’t going away. With tensions high from South Asia to the Korean Peninsula and Iran, the candidates will likely need to address a nuclear-related foreign policy crisis soon. Such moments can be politically decisive – there’s no faster way to solidify support than by handling a crisis well; it was only in the heat of the financial collapse of 2008 that Sen. Obama’s lead over Sen. McCain solidified. Candidates should do their homework in advance of such a moment.The three front-runners have each made important contributions to preventing the use and spread of nuclear weapons, although voters could use more policy specifics. Unlike some of their competitors, they have also had the courage to answer pressing questions about nuclear weapons. But with the Iowa caucus just days away, they need to do more.

    Akshai Vikram is the Roger L. Hale Fellow at the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. Before coming to Ploughshares, he worked as an opposition researcher for the Democratic National Committee and a campaign staffer for the Kentucky Democratic Party

January 27, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Ask presidential candidates about nuclear and climate issues, says former energy secretary Moniz

January 27, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Fact check: Amy Klobuchar falsely claims Iran is ‘announcing’ it will develop a nuclear weapon

By Daniel Dale January 7, 2020 Washington (CNN)  Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar made a significant false claim about Iran in a Monday appearance on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.”
While criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to order the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, Klobuchar said of Iran: “They are now announcing that they’re going to start developing a nuclear weapon and move toward busting through the cap on uranium enrichment.”
Facts First: Iran continues to say that it has no plans to create a nuclear weapon. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told NPR in an interview published Tuesday: “Iran does not want a nuclear bomb, does not believe that nuclear bombs create security for anybody. And we believe it’s time for everybody to disarm rather than to arm.” Iran has consistently claimed that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
After we notified Klobuchar’s campaign that we planned to call her claim about “a nuclear weapon” false, the campaign implicitly acknowledged that she had been inaccurate.
“She meant that Iran announced that it was going to bust through the uranium enrichment caps, which were in place to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This is the better way to say it and how she has said it in the past,” said national press secretary Carlie Waibel. Waibel passed along examples of Klobuchar speaking accurately about Iran and enrichment caps without making the inaccurate claim about “a nuclear weapon.”
The second part of Klobuchar’s statement, about Iran announcing that it will breach “the cap on nuclear enrichment,” was indeed correct. The Iranian government said Sunday that it will no longer honor any of the limits on uranium enrichment that were imposed by its 2015 nuclear agreement with the United States and other countries.
(Iran began announcing it would exceed the limits in the agreement after Trump announced in 2018 that he was withdrawing the US from the agreement.)
But Iran announcing it will abandon enrichment caps is far from the same thing as Iran announcing it will pursue a nuclear weapon. Uranium can be enriched for peaceful purposes, like to fuel reactors in power plants. Zarif said this week that Iran will continue its co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which conducts inspections of its nuclear activities.
“Iran has set aside the limitations on its nuclear program, because the US withdrawal has turned the (nuclear agreement) into an empty shell. But it’s not dashing toward a nuclear weapon and its program is still under the most rigorous inspection regime anywhere in the world,” said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization that works to prevent conflicts.
Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also said Klobuchar’s claim was incorrect. “Iran announced the resumption of some of its nuclear activities but not the pursuit of a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Before Trump announced the US withdrawal from the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency had repeatedly certified that Iran was complying with its obligations. Iran’s latest move, which it described Sunday as its fifth and final step in reducing its commitments to the agreement, was to abandon limits on the “number of centrifuges.”

January 9, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Warren caves in to the nuclear lobby. Bernie Sanders stands firmly anti nuclear

‘We need to keep some’: Warren backtracks on nuclear power plants, Washington Examiner, by Josh Siegel, December 19, 2019   Elizabeth Warren would keep existing nuclear plants online to combat climate change, she said at Thursday night’s presidential primary debate, marking a shift in her position on an issue that has divided the Democratic field……..

The Democratic field has split on how to handle nuclear power, ….

Warren’s liberal rival Bernie Sanders is perhaps the most skeptical of nuclear, citing concerns about storing nuclear waste, and the high cost of building new plants, in opposing it.

Sanders wants to impose a moratorium on license renewals for existing power plants, along with stopping the building of new plants.

Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist, seemed to echo that position at Thursday night’s debate, saying nuclear costs too much and presents too many risks.

“We have the technology we need: It’s called wind and solar and batteries,” Steyer said…..

December 21, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Magical thinking of the nuclear lobby as it jumps on the Green New Deal bandwagon

Unfortunately, the case for nuclear as a green technology is not so simple—the technology faces a spate of environmental and economic challenges, while its track record as a bridge fuel shows it may be more rivalrous than concomitant with renewables. In fact, it may be the nuclear industry that needs the Green New Deal, not the other way around.

For as long as it’s existed, nuclear has been an aspirational technology as much as an extant one

the magical thinking of the nuclear industry has taken different forms. Over decades, breeder reactors, salt reactors, large-scale fusion have all been the nuclear future just over the horizon. “The industry that people talk about is a theoretical industry,” says Jaczko. “The actual industry is not that.”

So the enthusiasm for the public investment of the Green New Deal is primarily a tactical one, with the promise of a massive outlay of public funds enticing an industry in need of a lifeline.

The Tantalizing Nuclear Mirage, Many see nuclear power as a necessary part of any carbon-neutral mix. The reality isn’t so simple. The American Prospect, BY ALEXANDER SAMMON DECEMBER 5, 2019  

It took seven months on the campaign trail for Cory Booker to emerge as the Democratic Party’s foremost champion of nuclear power. In September, after he unveiled a signature climate plan replete with “$20 billion dedicated to research, development and demonstration of next-generation advanced nuclear energy,” he embraced the technology with unprecedented ardor. “I didn’t come to the United States Senate as a big nuclear guy,” Booker told Grist in an interview. “But when I started looking at the urgency of climate change … nuclear has to be a part of the blend.”

To hear Booker tell it, his evolution on the subject was the product of scientific rigor and anti-ideological clarity on decarbonization. He related this narrative during a media blitz, comparing anti-nuclear Democrats to Republican climate deniers over their rejection of an incontrovertible science, while pledging to usher in a nuclear future that no right-minded person could deny. “Where the science is going, to me, at first sounded like science fiction … new nuclear actually portends of exciting things where you have no risk of the kinds of meltdowns we’re seeing,” he proclaimed at CNN’s climate town hall.

Grandiosity aside, Booker isn’t alone in his nuclear embrace. He’s part of an unlikely pro-nuclear political alliance, an emergent accord that spans the centrist think tank Third Way, Andrew Yang, Jay Inslee, environmental activists, and progressive commentators alike. “The left should stop worrying and learn to love existing nuclear power plants,” wrote New York’s Eric Levitz in a subsequent send-up of Bernie Sanders’s and Elizabeth Warren’s twin commitments to phase out the technology.

In a world where the rapid deployment of zero-carbon energy production is urgent, nuclear power, the argument goes, represents the only proven bet.

……..With 11 years, per the U.N.’s 2018 IPCC report, to overhaul our energy system, to be serious about decarbonization is to find a place at the table for nuclear.

It’s an alluring idea. Already, this logic has been embraced in states like Ohio and Booker’s New Jersey, which have been allocating green tax subsidies to nuclear projects. And while it’s largely played out in the background, the question of what to do about nuclear has vexed Green New Dealers since the rollout of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s framework in February. While plane travel and hamburgers raised hackles in the press, one of the first clauses to be deleted from the initial proposal pledged to phase out the technology altogether.

So does the Green New Deal need nuclear to achieve its lofty goals? Does zero-carbon energy infrastructure necessitate a nuclear buildout, or at least an embrace of already-existing nuclear as a bridge fuel, as countries like Sweden have done? Unfortunately, the case for nuclear as a green technology is not so simple—the technology faces a spate of environmental and economic challenges, while its track record as a bridge fuel shows it may be more rivalrous than concomitant with renewables. In fact, it may be the nuclear industry that needs the Green New Deal, not the other way around.

DESPITE THE NEWFOUND exigency of overhauling the country’s energy mix, this is not the first time America’s energy system has arrived at a crossroads in the last ten years, nor is it the first time nuclear has been trotted out as its last, best hope. In the late aughts, with oil prices soaring and production stagnant, policymakers made a commitment to expanding American nuclear generation. An era of so-called “nuclear renaissance” began, with four next-generation reactors commissioned at two plants, one in Georgia and the other in South Carolina.

Now, over a decade later, that project managed to bankrupt its construction company, Westinghouse, nearly taking down the entire Toshiba conglomerate, Westinghouse’s parent company, with it. The two reactors in South Carolina were abandoned, while the Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power utility companies assumed control of the remaining two reactors in Georgia, the Vogtle 3 and 4. But even a cash infusion from Georgia ratepayers, who began subsidizing the completion of the project in 2011, was not enough to keep the project close to its budget or timeline. Initially expected to come online in 2016-2017, the Vogtle plant has run some $14 billion over budget. Its completion dates have been deferred to 2021-2022. There’s currently no other active nuclear development in the United States.

That timeline should be particularly alarming for nuclear enthusiasts………

WHEN DID NUCLEAR get this environmental rebrand? Until very recently, the industry hadn’t led with its environmental chops. In fact, for years, nuclear buddied up with the coal industry, courting the Trump administration for subsidies, while the Nuclear Energy Institute supported the Department of Energy’s failed coal and nuclear bailout, and lauded Ohio’s controversial coal and nuclear subsidy package earlier this year.

For as long as it’s existed, nuclear has been an aspirational technology as much as an extant one. Since Eisenhower first announced nuclear energy generation as a civilian project in 1953, its promises of worldwide abundance have far outpaced its production. Twenty years later, in 1973, Richard Nixon pledged to have 1,000 nuclear plants online by 1980, a goal that never approached realization. Since then, the magical thinking of the nuclear industry has taken different forms. Over decades, breeder reactors, salt reactors, large-scale fusion have all been the nuclear future just over the horizon. “The industry that people talk about is a theoretical industry,” says Jaczko. “The actual industry is not that.” Since the development of nuclear weapons, the non-military nuclear energy program has always been a PR charge as much as it was a serious proposal. “Historians have determined that the rollout of civilian nuclear power in the 1960s had as much to do with Cold War PR as the need for electricity,” says Brown.

Nuclear’s pivot to unlikely environmental champion and running mate of the Green New Deal is far from a happy accident. It’s a deliberate posture, informed as much by shrewd marketing as Booker’s data-driven rationale. With the rapid development of solar and wind, nuclear is now far more expensive to produce in terms of dollars per kilowatt hour. With the rapid growth of renewables, nuclear now finds itself on the wrong side of free-market forces, in dire need of public subsidy to stay afloat.

So the enthusiasm for the public investment of the Green New Deal is primarily a tactical one, with the promise of a massive outlay of public funds enticing an industry in need of a lifeline. “Of course the nuclear industry is trying new alliances; they are desperate.” says Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. Cutting them in would be an unforced error for GND legislation—the money that would be spent making nuclear viable, shielding it from an array of climate disasters, and figuring out what to do with its waste would be much better spent figuring out battery storage or something else to stitch in the gaps in renewable generation.

Looking closer at Booker’s proposal, it’s not clear even he believes the sales pitch he’s making. Despite his lofty pronouncements, the climate plan, which sums to $3 trillion, allocates just two-thirds of 1 percent to nuclear development. The $20 billion is barely enough to cover the cost overruns of the two reactors at Georgia’s Vogtle plant. The notion that such a paltry sum would finally put the industry over the top after decades of malaise, indeed, sounds like science fiction.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment