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ARTICLE ARCHIVE

Nuclear Power

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.

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Monday
Jul262010

Safety fears about French Areva EPR raised in Europe and U.S.

The New York Times has reported allegations of safety significant design flaws with nuclear fuel rod cladding, as well as the danger of control rod ejection accidents, at the French Areva "European Pressurized Reactor" targeted at Flammanville on the Normandy Coast. Meanwhile, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has continued to question the safety of interconnections between safety and non-safety "Instrumentation and Control" systems at the Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" targeted to be built at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland, Nine Mile Point on the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York State, and elsewhere. See the NRC press release here.

Saturday
Jul242010

"Energy Dept. ignores Obama's openness pledge," by Peter Bradford

Former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Peter Bradford has slammed the U.S. Department of Energy in a recent op-ed in the Madison, Wisconsin Cap Times for its secrecy surrounding federal loan guarantees for new atomic reactors. Bradford argues that such secrecy harms taxpayers, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, and public service commissions' ability to protect ratepayers. He should know, he used to chair the utility regulatory commissions for the States of New York and Maine. A year ago, a coalition of national environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, wrote the Energy Secretary, urging that the nuclear loan guarantee program be made open and transparent, in accord with President Obama's calls for such on his very fist day in office.

Saturday
Jul242010

Kevin Kamps receives 2010 Josephine Butler Nuclear-Free Future Award

The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capitol Area has given its 2010 Josephine Butler Nuclear-Free Future Award to Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps. The award reads: "Through his work with Beyond Nuclear, Kevin tirelessly opposes nuclear power and nuclear weapons. His community work for Justice and Peace carries on the priceless legacy of Josephine Butler." The award was presented by John Steinbach and Everett Foy of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee at the Josephine Butler Parks Center of Washington, D.C. on July 16th -- the anniversary of the Trinity atomic bomb blast at Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1945. Past award recipients have included Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, atomic veteran AC Byrd, and Downdwinders Dennis and Denise Nelson.

The Committee plans its annual Hiroshima Commemoration and Memorial Candle Lantern Float on Thursday, August 5, 6:30pm, at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool: a moment of silence at 7:15pm will be followed by the candle lantern float at 8:30pm at Constitution Gardens. The Committee plans its annual Nagasaki Candlelight Vigil on Sunday, August 8, 9:45pm on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of White House, with a moment of silence at 10:02pm. For more information, contact John Steinbach at 703-822-3485 or johnsteinbach1@verizon.net. A flyer about the commemorations is here.

Saturday
Jul242010

Kerry-Lieberman bill averted for now, but "energy-only bill" nuclear threats persist in U.S. Senate

Democratic Party leaders have indefinitely postponed the Kerry-Lieberman “American Power Act” climate-energy bill, due to lock-step Republican opposition to carbon cap “energy taxation,” but nuclear power subsidies must still be vigilantly guarded against in other legislation.

The Kerry-Lieberman "American Power Act" would have subsidized new atomic reactors in various ways, including raising nuclear power loan guarantee funding levels to $54.5 billion, as called for by the Obama administration. In addition, Kerry-Lieberman would have introduced a number of significant rollbacks on nuclear safety regulations. Analyses by NRDC, PSR, FOE, and UCS have highlighted numerous environmental and taxpayer concerns with the bill. NIRS has reported on how the nuclear loan guarantees would actually benefit foreign firms and workers, not American firms and workers, despite the financial risks being borne by American taxpayers. Despite Kerry-Lieberman's postponement, attachment of such provisions to other bills that are moving must still be guarded against.

However, the Senate has not recessed for its annual summer getaway from Washington D.C.'s blistering heat and humidity yet, and won't till August 7th. Thus, we must remain vigilant against any attempts by the politically savvy and powerful nuclear power industry to attach its mile-long-wish-list to another package of energy legislation that might reach the Senate floor, including by amendments offered by pro-nuclear Senators.

One bill to continue to watch out for is Sen. Bingaman's "American Clean Energy Leadership Act" (ACELA), which passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June 2009. It contains unlimited nuclear power loan guarantees, without congressional appropriations oversight.

Appropriations bills in both houses of Congress must also be watched out for. The House of Representatives passed $9 billion in nuclear loan guarantees on the emergency supplemental war and disaster relief funding bill on July 1st. The House Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee also recently passed $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees on its Fiscal Year 2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. If ultimately enacted into law, this would add up to the $34 billion in expanded nuclear loan guarantees called for by the Obama administration for FY2011.

Although final Senate action on such provisions is still pending, the Senate Appropriations Committee today did approve another $10 billion in nuclear loan guarantees.

It's ironic that the House and Senate continue to lard radioactive pork, in the form of nuclear loan guarantees, onto appropriations, climate and energy bills, given the U.S. Government Accountability Office's scathing report on the failing state of the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program. This includes the finding that DOE has given significant and undue advantage to nuclear power applicants, over other applicants.  Nuclear power subsidies even seem to be given priority over such basic societal needs as teachers' salaries, as pointed out by FOE.

As these appropriations bills continue to make their way through each house of Congress, and eventually merge in conference committee, we must continue to express our opposition to nuclear power subsidies at every turn.

Call both your U.S. Senators and Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. At the Library of Congress website, you can also look up your Members' fax numbers and postal addresses for submitting hand written letters, as well as their webform for submitting electronic mail: click on "Senate" and "House of Representatives" on the left hand side, to look up your own Members of Congress.

Urge them to block any nuclear power subsidies, or nuclear safety regulation rollbacks, from being added to any energy or appropriations legislation. Gather together a group of concerned citizens, or representatives of environmental and taxpayer groups in your area, and request a meeting with both of your Senators, as well as your U.S. Representative, during their visit home during the August congressional recess. If your Members of Congress say they are too busy to meet with you, request to meet with their staff instead. Contact Kevin Kamps at Beyond Nuclear, (301) 270-2209 ext. 1 or kevin@beyondnuclear.org, if you have any questions about how to set up a meeting with congressional home-district offices.

Saturday
Jul242010

Environmental coalition letter to U.S. Senate Appropriators opposing additional dirty energy loan guarantees 

 

On July 21st, a coalition of ten national environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, wrote the Members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, urging that no additional dirty energy loan guarantees for the fossil fuels and nuclear power industries be included in the Fiscal Year 2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. Unfortunately, $10 billion in nuclear loan guarantees and $7 billion in fossil fuels loan guarantees were included in the bill, approved in committee on a party line vote on July 22nd.  By contrast, renewables and efficiency loan guarantees were capped at a maximum of $3.8 billion -- meaning the actual level could be lowered. It seems that not only is the U.S. Dept. of Energy favoring nuclear projects over others, but so are U.S. Senate Appropriators. However, our pressure may have headed off an amendment in committee that would have larded even more radioactive and dirty fossil fuels pork onto these loan guarantee figures.

Last February, the Obama administration requested $34 billion in additional nuclear power loan guarantees, to add to the $20.5 billion already approved in 2007.

Thus far, the full House has approved $9 billion of additional nuclear loan guarantees -- approved on the House floor on July 1st as a rider on the Fiscal Year 2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, a bill intended to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as disaster relief. However, on July 22nd, by a 51 to 46 vote, the Senate rejected this House language. $10 billion to keep teachers on the job, rather than nuclear loan guarantees, was the primary issue of difference between the two houses, however. But, this means that the $9 billion in nuclear loan guarantees will likely be dropped, as the House must either agree with already passed Senate language, or else the war funding and disaster relief appropriations bill will not pass at all.

Also, last week, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee approved $25 billion in new nuclear loan guarantees, matched by $25 billion for renewables/efficiency. The full House Appropriations Committee has yet to act on the bill. This $25 billion nuclear loan guarantee figure from the House would have to be reconciled with the $10 billion nuclear loan guarantee figure from the Senate.

The fight would normally now go to a conference committee between House and Senate Appropriators for the FY2011 Appropriations bill. However, a more likely scenario is that a "continuing resolution" (a CR) will be passed by both houses of Congress, freezing spending levels at FY2010 levels (meaning no additional nuclear loan guarantees, yet). Then, after November's mid-term elections, an Omnibus Appropriations bill would be proposed on both house floors, which would then go to conference committee, if necessary due to any differences, this December for final approval, to set funding levels for the remainder of FY11.

This will be a very dangerous time to guard against additions of large amounts of nuclear loan guarantees. It was on just such an Omnibus Appropriations bill, on Dec. 23, 2007 -- when most Americans were more concerned about holiday celebrations than Capitol Hill shenanigans -- that the current $20.5 billion in nuclear loan guarantees were approved.

Thank you to all who contacted their U.S. Senators and Representative during the latest flurry of attempted nuclear power industry money grabs in the U.S. Congress. We will need to remain vigilant for the foreseeable future.