Nuclear power cannot address climate change effectively or in time. Reactors have long, unpredictable construction times are expensive - at least $12 billion or higher per reactor. Furthermore, reactors are sitting-duck targets vulnerable to attack and routinely release - as well as leak - radioactivity. There is so solution to the problem of radioactive waste.
In New York state, four people were arrested Saturday protesting the construction of Spectra Energy’s AIM pipeline. The pipeline is slated to carry fracked gas only hundreds of feet from the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant and then under the Hudson River. The arrests came as more than 100 activists rallied at a construction site in Verplanck, New York. The pipeline has faced years of resistance from residents in New York state and Rhode Island. [Also see updates and alerts re: the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, at Beyond Nuclear's Human Rights website section.]
The U.S. Department of Energy oversees U.S. nuclear weapons policies (under such divisions as National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Environmental Management (EM), etc.), as well as nuclear power promotions at its Office of Nuclear Energy (ONE). As reported by Politico, President-elect Donald J. Trump's rumored pick for Energy Secretary could include:
Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm has long been seen as a leading candidate for Energy Secretary. Hamm, an Oklahoma billionaire who has been a friend of Trump’s for years, has been the leading influence on Trump’s energy policy during the campaign. But Hamm has said he plans to stay at Continental.
If Hamm passes, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a Trump energy adviser, could be offered the job though he’s begun to douse cold water on that idea recently. Other names floating near the top of the mill include venture capitalist Robert Grady, who is also thought to be in line for Interior; James Connaughton, a former utility executive who was President George W. Bush's head of White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Kristine Svinicki, the sole Republican on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is in the running for a high-level post at the Energy Department like undersecretary — a No. 3 job — but a source close to the Trump transition said she’d be considered for secretary as well. (emphasis added)
Hamm and Cramer are leading advocates in favor of the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL; see Beyond Nuclear's Human Rights website section for updates and action alerts re: the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's resistance to DAPL.) Democracy Now! has reported that Trump is personally invested to the tune of $500,000 to a million dollars in DAPL.
Not only did Connaughton lead George W. Bush administration efforts to oppose the Kyoto Protocol on the climate crisis from his perch at White House CEQ, but in 2009, he joined the Constellation Energy Group, an Exelon company, to manage environmental and energy policy, and government relations (a.k.a. lobbying). He served as Executive Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor at Exelon, the largest nuclear power utility in the U.S., from March 2012 to March 2013.
Svinicki has been an NRC Commissioner since March 2008, where she has consistently voted and acted as a rubber-stamp for the nuclear industry. Before that, she worked for many years as a high level Capitol Hill staffer for such members as Larry Craig (Republican U.S. Senator from Idaho), as well as a Department of Energy official, where she performed much the same function.
As reported by Politico's Morning Energy:
AMERICA'S MOST MISUNDERSTOOD AGENCY: Most Americans are oblivious to what their Energy Department does, with the bulk of any Energy secretary's attention getting focused on the low-profile but high-stakes work of maintaining the U.S. nuclear stockpile and the cleanup of old Cold War weapons sites, Pro's Darius Dixon reports . DOE will not, for example, be the venue for President-elect Donald Trump to follow through on his campaign promises to unleash an oil, gas and coal boom by dialing back Obama-era environmental programs.
"I think and I pray that whoever influences the president on the selection ... looks for somebody who knows how to manage a sprawling enterprise - and has some bona fides in one or two of the areas that will cause you the most consternation," said Hazel O'Leary, President Bill Clinton's first Energy secretary. So far, no one in the Obama administration's current agency has spoken to anyone affiliated with the Trump transition.
Low-priority gig to fill: Despite the vast responsibilities sprinkled throughout a national network of facilities, presidents tend not to sweat their appointments to the top DOE position as much as other cabinet roles. Spencer Abraham, President George W. Bush's first energy secretary, said the position was one of the last ones filled because the new president considered appointing a Democrat to the job. "There's always going to be a focus on [the departments of] Defense, State, Justice and Treasury because they're the oldest agencies and they're the ones that are responsible for all of the top issues of the day," Abraham told Darius...
TRUMP TALKS: In a video message to the American people, President-elect Donald Trump vowed last night to "cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high-paying jobs." Trump also vowed to institute a policy that for every new regulation, two old ones must be eliminated.
New DOE, Interior transition leads picked: Tom Pyle, president of the libertarian-leaning American Energy Alliance, is now leading Donald Trump's transition on Energy Department issues, the transition team announced Monday. Doug Domenech, a George W. Bush administration Interior Department official, has also been tapped to lead the transition in that agency. Pyle formerly lobbied for Koch Industries, while Domench leads the Fueling Freedom Project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation with the stated goal of explaining "the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels." They take over after strict new lobbying restrictions caused many former transition team members to bail.
HERE'S AN EYEBROW RAISER: Jeff Holmstead, an energy attorney seen as a possible EPA administrator pick, deregistered himself as a lobbyist for a number of utilities Friday, Pro's Alex Guillén reports. The move comes amid strict new lobbying restrictions from the Trump transition team. Holmstead said in an interview that he hasn't done any lobbying activity for some time, even though his firm's filings continued to indicate he was a lobbyist. He previously ran the EPA's air office under President George W. Bush.
CPP attorney on Trump's transition team: Ronald Tenpas, a member of Trump's Justice Department landing team, is a former top environmental prosecutor for George W. Bush's Justice Department who is currently involved in the litigation against EPA's Clean Power Plan, Pro's Alex Guillén reports. Tenpas served as assistant attorney general in charge of the Environment and Natural Resources Division from 2007 to 2009, but now represents Minnesota Power, a subsidiary of Allete, in the consolidated legal challenge to the CPP.
One Trump transition member's green past: David Bohigian, named to Trump's Commerce Department transition team on Monday, once led the nation's international clean energy deployment efforts and advocated reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally, Pro's Esther Whieldon reports. Bohigian, now managing director of investment advisory group Pluribus Ventures, was assistant secretary of Commerce from 2005 to 2009 and said in an interview back then that clean energy programs should receive bipartisan support.
Friendly PSA: Pro's Andrew Restuccia continues to update this running list of people mentioned as potential Trump cabinet nominees. Also, we're expecting the transition to announce more details for landing teams today for various domestic policy agencies, including EPA, Interior and Energy.