WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to an industry campaign touting new nuclear reactors as a solution to global warming, nearly 300 international, national, regional and local environmental, consumer, and safe energy groups reiterated their substantial concerns today over nuclear energy and rejected the argument that nuclear power can solve global warming. Rather, the groups urged a focus on clean and renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency and conservation.
With votes on global warming amendments anticipated in the next week during Senate consideration of the energy bill, representatives of several of the groups called on Congress to reject legislation that subsidized nuclear power plants as part of reducing global warming pollution.
“Global warming is the most serious environmental problem facing us today and we should aggressively increase energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce carbon dioxide pollution,” said Anna Aurilio, Legislative Director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “We’re now one of nearly 300 public interest groups that say nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive and should not be part of a global warming solution,” she added.
Nuclear power has long been viewed as uneconomical and unsafe, especially after the Chernobyl disaster abroad and the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania . As a result no new reactors have been ordered in the United States for 30 years.
In an environmental statement on nuclear energy and global warming, the groups outlined five key reasons why nuclear energy should not be part of a solution to global warming stating that nuclear energy is unnecessary, too expensive, too dangerous, too polluting and that using nuclear power to address global warming would exacerbate the problems posed by the technology. “We can meet our future electricity needs and reduce global warming pollution without increasing our reliance on nuclear energy,” the groups wrote. The groups noted that 19 states have passed renewable electricity standards requiring an increasing percentage of energy to be generated by renewable energy sources, and that several studies have shown that clean energy solutions can dramatically reduce global warming pollution.
“Nuclear power creates far more problems than it solves, and is not the answer to global warming. It is too dangerous and too expensive,” said David Hamilton, Director of the Sierra Club’s Global Warming and Energy Program. “Clean energy, like renewable energy and energy efficiency, is a cheaper and safer solution. Using clean energy, we can reduce seven times the greenhouse gas emissions for the same price as a new generation of power plants. Americans should resist the attempt by the nuclear industry to force a nuclear energy revival on us.”
Recently, nuclear energy proponents have championed nuclear power as a means to tempering climate change. But the groups today dispelled the argument that nuclear power could be used as a solution to reduce global warming. In fact, a recent MIT study noted that using nuclear power to have any significant effect on climate change would require building at least 1,000 new reactors worldwide.
“Addressing climate change is too important to leave to the failed nuclear industry,” said Michael Mariotte, Executive Director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Throwing a few billion dollars of taxpayer money at the nuclear industry might make some utility executives happy, but would do virtually nothing to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, by diverting limited resources that should be used for sustainable technologies, subsidizing nuclear power would be counterproductive.”
“This would exacerbate all of the problems of the technology: more terrorist targets, more cost (potentially trillions of dollars), less safety, need for a new Yucca Mountain-sized waste site every 4 or 5 years, more proliferation of nuclear materials and technologies, dozens of new uranium enrichment plants, and even then, a severe shortage of uranium even within this century while displacing the resources needed to ensure a real solution to the climate change issue,” the groups said.
So far, Congress has been leaning toward supporting a revived nuclear future. The pending Senate energy bill is likely to include many nuclear-friendly provisions designed to encourage energy companies to build new reactors. Already, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of energy legislation in April, including $6.1 billion in taxpayer subsidies and tax breaks, as well as other incentives. The Senate version of the energy bill includes $4.3 billion in subsidies; the tax provisions, which are likely to include billions in tax breaks for the nuclear industry, have not been completed yet.
“Instead of relapsing back into our failed nuclear experiment, let’s embrace a trend towards actual clean and safe energy,” said Wenonah Hauter, Director of Public Citizen’s energy program. “Nuclear power is fatally flawed and we cannot overcome all of its obstacles. It’s time to support renewable energy technologies because they already exist and have great potential and provide a real opportunity to keep our planet healthy for future generations.”
“Nuclear power is not the answer to our nation’s energy needs, nor to global warming,” stated Erich Pica, Campaign Director at Friends of the Earth. “Only through a dramatic commitment to renewable energies and energy efficiency can we decrease our global warming emissions as well as reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”
To read the letter to Congress, go to /camps/leg/energy/statementonnuclear.pdf.
For more information on the downsides and dangers of nuclear power, go to www.citizen.org/cmep/fatalflaws. For more on the energy bill, go to www.stopenergybill.org.