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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.

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Wednesday
Dec032014

Beyond Nuclear warns about C-14, urges EPA remove nuclear power from "Clean Power Plan"

By the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) December 1st deadline, Beyond Nuclear submitted comments, written by its Radiation and Health Specialist, Cindy Folkers, to the "Clean Power Plan" (CCP) docket. The comments focused on the very significant, but largely overlooked, health hazards of radioactive Carbon-14 (C-14), generated by atomic reactors. EPA had not considered this is in its "Clean Power Plan" proposal, which supports expansion of nuclear power at public expense.

C-14 has a 5,700 year half-life, meaning its significant biological hazard will persist for 57,000 to 114,000 years after it is generated in an operating reactor core. Radioactive C-14 can go anywhere in the body, or food chain, that carbon goes, which is pretty much everywhere. It can cause cancer, birth defects, and genetic damage. Children, pregnant women, and the fetus in the womb, are the must vulnerable to C-14's hazards.

C-14 is released from the nuclear power industry in the form of radioactive green house gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. It is released as part of "routine radiation releases" from atomic reactors (not to mention nuclear catastrophes like Fukushima), leaking radioactive wastes, and at an especially large-scale due to radioactive waste reprocessing, as is done in France.

In addition to its own comments, Beyond Nuclear joined with 31 allied environmental groups to endorsed comments prepared by the coalition's legal counsel, Diane Curran of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg LLP, submitted to EPA's regarding the CCP.

The coalition's comments have the expert witness support of a report filed by Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and Dr. M.V. Ramana of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security (and a member of Beyond Nuclear's advisory board), as well as a report filed by Dr. Mark Cooper, Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis at the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and Environment. Chris Shuey, MPH, of Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) provided a literature summary, entitled "Uranium Exposure and Public Health in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation," documenting uranium mining and milling's devastating impact on indigenous peoples communities and lands in the Four Corners region.

In addition, Beyond Nuclear endorsed an environmental coalition effort led by NIRS; these comments garnered the signatures of 148 groups.

And Beyond Nuclear also signed onto the Climate Reality Check Network's (125 groups) comments to EPA, as well as the Energy Justice Network's "NO Fracking, Nukes & Incinerators in the Clean Power Plan!" (over 100 groups) comments regarding the CCP.

Sunday
Sep212014

Beyond Nuclear at People's Climate March

Fairewinds Energy Education board of directors member Chiho Kaneko, Physicians for Social Responsibility national board of directors member Alfred Meyer, and Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps (wearing yellow "Nuclear Power? No Thanks!" flag) preparing to march in the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent at the People's Climate March. Photo by Leslie Sullivan Sachs.Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, was honored and privileged to join with many friends and colleagues, and to take part in the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent at the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21st. The contingent comprised many hundreds, even thousands, of people, representing a large number of groups and coalitions, carrying 650 "Nuclear Power? No Thanks!" flags, 200 "Don't Nuke the Climate" placards, and countless other signs and banners from anti-nuclear campaigns across the country.

Spearheaded by Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), which provided the flags and placards, the contingent kicked off with inspiring speakers, including: Chris Williams (NIRS board chair, with Vermont Citizens Action Network and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance); Dr. Arjun Makhijani (President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, and author of the 2007 book Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy); Leona Morgan (Dine No Nukes), New York City-based Japanese anti-nuke artist and activist Yuko Tonohira; Gary Shaw of Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC); and Jessica Azulay, Program Director, Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE).

Mary Olson of NIRS read new poems by Marge Piercy written especially for the occasion. On-stage performers included: Raging Grannies; Joel Landy; Chiho Kaneko; and Mel & Vinnie.

The People's Climate March was so huge -- around 400,000 people -- that the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent had to wait two hours before even beginning to march! But the contingent was lucky enough to have "The Himalayas," one of about a dozen energetic activist marching bands, in its midst, which helped to keep spirits up throughout the long day.

In addition, folks like Joe DeMare with the Green Party of Ohio helped lead No Nukes chants. Joe organized a vanload of folks from northwest Ohio to attend the Climate March's anti-nuke contingent. The Green Party of Ohio, along with Beyond Nuclear, is part of the environmental coalition that has been challenging the 20-year license extension at the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo for several long years now. (See local media coverage of Joe's participation in the march here.)

Visual art added to the colorful display. Jean Shaw of IPSEC created an amazing King C.O.N.G. (Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Gas) diorama, with the same theme as Gail Payne's march poster, included with an essay by Harvey Wasserman.

New York City-based Japanese anti-nuclear activists created giant, beautiful origami peace cranes.

NIRS' President, Michael Mariotte, has offered his reflections on the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Continent at the People's Climate March in a GreenWorld blog post.

Harvey Wasserman, author of Solartopia, filed this report about the march. Harvey has invited Kevin onto his radio show, "Green Power and Wellness," next Tuesday, Sept. 30th at 5 P.M. Eastern, to talk about the march, as well as to give an update on the Davis-Besse intervention -- which they talked about while marching alongside one another in New York City.

There was extensive media coverage about the People's Climate March, including by EcoWatch, as well as on the front page of the New York Times.

The day before the march, Kevin also took part in an anti-nuke strategy meeting convened by NIRS. The main subject matter of discussion was the "nuclear war against renewables" -- both at the federal as well as the state level -- as Dave Kraft of Nuclear Energy Information Service in Chicago has put it. Tim Judson, NIRS' executive director, published a report this month about this dangerous threat, entitled "Killing the Competition: The Nuclear Power Agenda to Block Climate Action, Stop Renewable Energy, and Subsidize Old Reactors."

Thursday
Jun052014

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  > A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov < and include docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in your title.

 

Wednesday
Apr162014

"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.

Friday
Mar282014

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)