Lobbyists leave Trump transition team after new ethics rule

As reported by Politico:

At least three lobbyists have left President-elect Donald Trump's presidential transition operation after the team imposed a new ethics policy that would have required them to drop all their clients.

CGCN's Michael Catanzaro, who was responsible for energy independence; Michael Torrey, who was running the handoff at the Department of Agriculture; and Michael McKenna of MWR Strategies, who was focused on the Energy Department, are no longer part of the transition, POLITICO has learned.

Lobbyists who piled into the transition when it was being run by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were caught off-guard Wednesday by a new ethics policy requiring them to terminate their clients...

Mike McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist, told POLITICO that he "couldn't in good conscience deregister. I understand why transition did what they did. I'm not angry or annoyed or outraged."

He said he was reluctant to step down, but added, “at the end of the day, I needed to make sure that my clients, my business and my family were taken care of. I anticipate helping out as much as they will let me.”

McKenna focused on the Energy Department, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the transition. A former lobbyist for Koch Cos. Public Sector, McKenna now lobbies for Engie (formerly GDF Suez), Southern Co. and Dow Chemical.

Southern Co. is a major U.S. nuclear power utility, owning and operating Plants Farley (two reactors in AL), Hatch (two reactors in GA), and Vogtle (four reactors in GA -- including Units 3 & 4, currently under construction; if they ever actually operate someday, Vogtle would then become the largest nuclear power plant in the U.S.). 

Engie is also a major nuclear utility in Europe, with international expansion plans.


Steve Wing (1952-2016), beloved teacher, committed scientist

I first "met" Steve about 20 years ago, when he had published his research on the previously unrecognized health impacts of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster. One of my early forays into radioactivity's impact on human health was helping to write a press statement on that study. I shared the text with him to make sure we had characterized the results properly and he confided to me over the phone that he thought our release better represented the study than others he had seen, including the official one. Through his approval I realized, as activists, we had the ability to grasp this very complicated subject and act on this understanding. I have never looked back and I have never been intimidated.

Steve was the scientific descendant of a line of "radiation realists", if you will. These are scientists who are experts in their disciplines and who, like all true scientists let actual health impacts, not stale models and predetermined conclusions, tell them how radioactivity affects human health, especially at low, protracted doses. Counted among their numbers, although this list is incomplete: John Gofman, Alice Stewart, Rosalie Bertell, Edward Radford, Karl Morgan. Their personal and professional lives suffered for their honesty, as has Dr. Wing's.

As Steve passes from us, we realize he is the ancestor of those who prize scientific rigor over obfuscation. Many of them have also suffered retribution. Quiet, humble and courageous, despite having his resources pulled, despite being told by his funder to "go home to North Carolina and get the right answer", Steve did not back down. And neither will we.

And no matter what comes our way, from nuclear weapons worker studies to public health studies around nuclear power reactors, we will always press for rigorous, unbiased health investigations.

Thank you, Steve, for generously sharing your expertise and the expertise of others. Thank you for not bending to pressure, and for presenting us with a legacy of intellect, integrity and knowledge that we can build on to help victims of radiation exposure remain visible rather than vanish in intentional indifference.

We will miss you.

Cindy Folkers and Beyond Nuclear


Jessica Azulay, AGREE, bestowed 2016 Judi and Lou Friedman Legacy Award

A collaborative effort of Beyond Nuclear and the People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) in Hartford, CT honors our organizations two beloved colleagues with the creation of the Judi and Lou Friedman Legacy Award. The award supports the work of young people dedicated to building a sustainable renewable energy future and hastening the end of nuclear power.

This year’s award goes to Jessica Azulay, program director for The Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) New York headquartered Syracuse. Jessica was presented with a plaque and the $3000 monetary award for her inspiring leadership and coalition building to transition the state to a carbon-free and nuclear-free energy supply for a sustainable economic future. Jessica has tirelessly worked in the tough ongoing fight to close New York reactors with a particular focus on the FitzPatrick and Indian Point nuclear power stations. As importantly, Jessica’s work is balanced by her knowledgeable advocacy and promotion of renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation for sustainable economic growth.  

More about the Judi and Lou Friedman Legacy Award 

Judi and Lou Friedman of Canton, CT were teachers, advocates for peace and worked tirelessly for a safe and sustainable world. As such, they very much believed in the importance of bringing young people into the environmental and anti-nuclear movement.  Judi was passionate about introducing children to nature and nurturing that interest and knowledge and she took this to a global level through Jelly Jam. She was the executive director of the People's Action for Clean Energy. Lou was instrumental in spreading a message of peace around the world, especially during the Cold War . Lou was a co-founder and the Board Chair of Beyond Nuclear. .

In their honor, the Lou and Judi Friedman Legacy Award, accompanied by a modest monetary stipend, is created to honor, encourage and support the work of a young person who is relatively new to the anti-nuclear cause and renewable energy revolution but whose support we feel he/she deserves.

The event is presented in partnership with PACE as a part of the annual PACE environmental and sustainable energy awards.  Given the global reach of Judi and Lou’s work, candidates for this award may come from outside of the United States. The definition of “young” and “relatively new” as relates to the candidates and eventual winners will be kept flexible. Future candidates will be nominated and agreed upon by the members of the Beyond Nuclear and PACE staff and boards.

Thank you again, Lou and Judi for all the good that you have given our future.


Massive Illinois energy bill divides clean energy groups

POLICY: A six-hour hearing Wednesday over a proposed massive energy bill in Illinois leaves clean energy groups divided due to the complex and vast mosaic of interests at play. (As reported by Kari Lydersen at Midwest Energy News).

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Chicago has issued action alerts opposing massive nuclear power subsidies intended by Exelon to prop up age-degraded, financially failing atomic reactors that would otherwise permanently close. More.


Bloomberg News: "Trump Advisers Eye Reviving Nevada Yucca Nuclear Waste Dump"

Political cartoon by Tom EngelhardtThe President-Elect Donald J. Trump parade of bad nuclear ideas has already begun. Bloomberg News reports that "Trump advisors eye reviving Nevada nuclear waste dump."

Over the past 30 years, since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987 was initially rammed through Congress, more than a thousand environmental, environmental justice, and public interest groups, representing every state in the union, have successfully staved off the proposal to open a national high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, located on Western Shoshone Indian land.

In 2009-2010, President Obama declared the Yucca dump "unworkable" -- although scientifically unsuitable and environmentally unjust would have been better -- and wisely cancelled the project. U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), long-serving U.S. Senate Democratic Leader, devoted his career to de-funding and blocking the Yucca dump.

But both Obama and Reid are leaving office in January. The likes of U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and John Shimkus (R-IL), on the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, have long sought to revive the Yucca dump, on behalf of the lobbyists from the nuclear power industry. Now the President-Elect Trump administration seems amenable to "screwing Nevada," all over again, despite the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future's clear recommendation that radioactive waste dump siting must be "consent-based."

More, including what you can do.