Climate Change

Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time. Funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions like solar, wind and geothermal energy of essential resources.



EPA's Clean Power Plan proposed rule published

On June 18, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published 40 CFR Part 60, Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units; Proposed Rule in the Federal Register. The Rule is more commonly referred to as EPA's Clean Power Plan.


EPA C02 proposed rule throws lifeline to nation’s sinking nukes

 On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out for comment the Obama Administration’s proposed rule on curbing carbon pollution emissions guidelines for the nation’s energy policy. In keeping with President Obama’s “all of the above” energy mix strategy for the climate crisis, the EPA avoids the imposition of regulations for carbon cuts and avoidance that would dearly cost the nation’s operators of 1,900 existing electricity generating plants, particularly those 600-plus coal burners. Instead, the EPA tags each state to effect a carbon and green house gas emissions reduction mandate based on power generation, efficiency and conservation. In particular, EPA gives the nuclear power industry a wink and nod to gin up their state house lobby machines; like Illinois and Ohio where established renewable energy portfolios are already legislatively targeted for gutting and replacement with a “clean” nuclear energy standard.

With the nationwide target for a 30% reduction in carbon pollution by 2030 from a 2005 base level, the states and electric power companies are being given proposed guidelines for tailoring individual state-by-state compliance levels. Some states will have to cut current emissions by more than 30%, while other states are already half way to their 2030 goal. Nevertheless, under the proposed guidelines, coal and natural gas would remain the nation’s overall leading future generators at roughly 30% each. States could meet target levels by shuttering their coal plants or running them less frequently while bringing online renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.  States can incentivize industry, businesses and homeowners to reduce their electricity demands and improve efficiency.

The proposed guidelines further provide for Increasing the amount of nuclear capacity relative to the amount that would otherwise be available to operate is therefore a technically viable approach to support reducing CO2 emissions from affected fossil fuel-fired Electric Generating Units.” However, the EPA admits that it is next to impossible for states to reliably project new reactor costs or completion dates, if ever, so that states might reliably meet carbon reduction goals and deadlines.  Additionally, EPA provides that states can figure out how to keep the existing aging, financially strapped and economically non-viable nuclear power plants operating. This includes an electric utility swapping with itself for carbon emission credits for coal plants and its nuclear power plants’ radioactive emissions and nuclear waste. But let’s be clear, no nuke is carbon free at “zero emissions” as the EPA rule spins. In fact and by studies, the nuclear fuel chain is significantly linked to carbon and green house gas emissions from uranium mining to interminably long-term nuclear waste management unlike renewable wind and solar power.

Bottom line, the EPA needs to hear from the people what experts like Amory Lovins consistently recognize; efficiency and renewables are far cheaper, they are scaling up faster, offer better service and more reliability for effective and secure climate protection. However, the proposed rule sets the stage for the nuclear industry giants like Chicago-based Exelon Corporation to attack their market based energy competitiors by dismantling federal and state policies to accelerate the deployment of clean renewable energy. Rather than perpetuate policies that throw life preservers to risky sinking nukes as EPA recommends, Lovins points out, "like an old car, some reactors are no longer worth fixing, or fixing them is too risky a bet that nothing else expensive will break for a long time."

Tell EPA: Nukes don't save the climate. Email  > < and include docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in your title.



"Is The New York Times Missing The Decade’s Most Affirmative Climate-and-Energy Story?"

Charles Komanoff, is an article posted at the Carbon Tax Center (which he directs), has set the record straight with the "paper of record."

The Carbon Tax Center is a clearinghouse for information, research and advocacy on behalf of revenue-neutral carbon taxes to address the climate crisis.

Komanoff provides ten points to keep in mind in order to critically assess the New York Times, and others', dismissive attitude toward the German energy transformation, away from nuclear power and fossil fuels, to efficiency and renewables.


RMI: "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost"

Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, RMITitiaan Palazzi, Special Aid, RMIAmory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, and Titiaan Palazzi, Special Aid (photos, left), of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, CO, presented "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost" at "Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and Future of Nuclear Energy" held at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, on 28 March 2014.

Lovins and Palazzi report that, when compared to nuclear power: (1) Efficiency and renewables are far cheaper; (2) Renewables can deliver similar or better service and reliability; (3) Renewables can scale faster;  and (4) For climate protection, efficiency and renewables are far more effective solutions than new nuclear build, which indeed is counterproductive.

Lovins and Palazzi's economic critique extends not only to proposed new atomic reactors, but even to existing, age-degraded reactors. They state "Reactors are promoted as costly to build but cheap to run. Yet as Daniel Allegretti ably described, many existing, long-paid-for U.S. reactors are now starting to be shut down because just their operating cost can no longer compete with wholesale power prices, typically depressed by gas-fired plants or windpower."

Lovins and Palazzi also discuss the financial history of nuclear power, extending back decades. They point out that U.S. nuclear power orders collapsed before Three Mile Island partially melted down on March 28, 1979, and that 40% of U.S. nuclear-unit cancellations occurred before then, due to economic challenges.

Lovins and Palazzi conclude that "efficiency is clearly cheaper than average nuclear operating costs, which exceed 4¢/kWh [4 cents per kilowatt-hour] at the busbar and 8¢ delivered. Thus overall, for saving coal plants’ carbon emissions, efficiency is about 10–50x more cost-effective than new nuclear build—or about 2–12x more cost-effective than just operating the average U.S. nuclear plant."

Regarding nuclear power's retreat, Lovins and Palazzi report:

"Nuclear power also has to run ever faster to stay in the same place as its 1970s and 1980s growth turns into a bulge  of retirements. After the next few years, retirements will exceed all planned or conceivable global nuclear additions, even with all license extensions as shown here. Power reactors’ terminal decline will be over by about 2060—and in view of both competition and aging, this projection by Mycle Schneider [Mycle Schneider et al., World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013] is more likely to overstate its longevity than its brevity."
They conclude their presentation by stating: "So whether you choose e fficiency, cogeneration, or renewables, just being nearly carbon-free does not make new nuclear build an effective climate solution. Rather, because it saves ~3–50x less carbon per dollar than its main competitors, and deploys slower, new nuclear build reduces and retards climate protection. If climate is a problem, we must invest judiciously, not indiscriminately, to get the most solution per dollar and per year. Anything less makes the problem worse. Nor do we need nuclear power to offset PVs’ and windpower’s variability, or to scale faster than renewables, or to save or make money, because, as we’ve seen, nuclear power cannot do any of these things. So there is no reason to build more nuclear plants. Capital markets, seeing big new costs and risks without offsetting benefits, long ago reached the same conclusion. Existing nuclear plants, a future idea whose time has passed, will simply retire; the only choice is how quickly and at what cost to whom. End of story." (bold added)

Beyond Nuclear/PSR speaking tour across MI a big success!

Alfred Meyer, PSR board memberAlfred Meyer (photo, left), national board member of Physicians for Responsibility (PSR), spoke throughout Michigan on a tour organized by Beyond Nuclear from Feb. 12-17. His presentations of "Nuclear Power: What You Need to Know about Price, Pollution and Proliferation" were dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jeff Patterson, PSR's Past-President.

Alfred's first stop on Feb. 12, at Grand Rapids' Fountain Street Church, drew 35 attendees, despite the wintry weather. Corinne Carey of Don't Waste MI video-recorded the talk, and will post it to cable access t.v. in the near future.

Alfred had a productive day in Kalamazoo on Feb. 13th. His presentation at Western Michigan University (WMU) was attended by over 50 people, and garnered an extended interview by Gordon Evans on WMUK Radio, as well as an article by Yvonne Zipp in the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Alfred also spoke at a press conference held at WMU's impressive solar panel array, launching a campus climate campaign to divest the university from fossil fuel investments. Climate leaders who spoke included WMU and Kalamazoo College student leaders, WMU professor and Kalamazoo chairman Mark Miller, as well as WMU professor and Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress (MI's 6th district) Paul Clements.

Alfred was also interviewed by Dr. Don Cooney, WMU Social Work professor and Kalamazoo City Commissioner, and Dr. Ron Kramer, WMU criminology prof., on "Critical Issues: Alternative Views" t.v. program. The interview will be aired on Kalamazoo cable access in the near future, as well as posted to YouTube.

The tour stop in South Haven (4 miles from Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor) on Feb. 14 drew 25 attendees, despite it being Valentine's Day. Kraig Schultz of Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter video-recorded the talk, and will post the recording to the MSEF YouTube channel in the near future.

Ferndale in Metro Detroit on Feb. 15 drew 75 attendees. Damon J. Hartley of the Peoples Tribune did a write up and took lots of photos.

Monroe's event (within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone from the GE BWR Mark I, Fermi 2, as well as the proposed Fermi 3) on Feb. 16, drew 30 attendees, and garnered coverage in the Monroe News (text, PDF). The Ann Arbor (home base for PSR's new MI chapter) event on Feb. 17 also drew an audience despite an impending winter storm.

Beyond Nuclear has been honored and privileged to work with the following groups to make this speaking tour a success: Michigan Physicians for Social Responsibility; Sierra Club; Fountain Street Church; WMU Lee Honors College; WMU Environmental Studies program; WMU Institute of Government and Politics; Michigan Safe Energy Future (both Kalamazoo and South Haven chapters); Don't Waste Michigan; Ferndale Public Library; Alliance to Halt Fermi 3; Ellis Library; Don't Waste Michigan; Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes; and the Ecology Center.

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