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TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA:
NUCLEAR ENERGY IS NOT CLEAN ENERGY
DON'T COMPROMISE OUR HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT
November 30, 2010
If the toxic radiation released routinely from nuclear reactors and every other stop along the nuclear fuel chain were the color and texture of oil, or smelled like natural gas, no one would ever again confuse nuclear power with clean energy.
But there is a growing danger that in the next Congress, President Obama will compromise and support including nuclear power (and coal!) in a new "Clean Energy Standard" that would set our energy policy in the wrong direction for decades.
Please tell President Obama that nuclear power is not clean energy, and there must be no compromise when it comes to protecting our health, safety and environment. Send a letter to the President here.
And please support our Holiday fundraising drive. Your tax-deductible contributions are essential if we're to have the same kind of impact in the next Congress as we have had in the one soon ending. Please make your most generous contribution here. Or you can contribute after sending your letter to the President.
Read on for more background on this issue.
Politics and Policy
President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both recently have said that nuclear power is one area where the Administration could compromise with Republicans in the next Congress.
For example, here's Obama after the November election, "There's been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases. Is that an area where we can move forward?"
Never mind for the moment that there is no relation between nuclear power and foreign oil; in practical terms, what might such compromise mean?
One idea being discussed in Washington is to change the concept of a Renewable Energy Standard to a "clean" energy standard. A Renewable Energy Standard (or RES) which many states already have, would set a minimum goal of how much of our electricity should be provided from safe, clean renewable energy--wind, solar, geothermal, etc) by a certain date. The Senate Energy Committee last year passed a weak RES bill, and is likely to try again next Congress. A stronger but still achievable RES (for example, 25% or more of US electricity from renewable sources by 2020) could go a long ways toward ushering in the kind of clean, safe and affordable energy future our nation and planet need.
A "clean" energy standard, however, would set a new low in the use of greenwashing language. Because a "clean" energy standard--the kind of compromise being discussed in Washington these days--would add dirty fuels, including nuclear power and "clean" coal, to a Renewable Energy Standard and thus make a mockery of the concept.
Not only would genuinely clean energy sources like solar and wind get pushed aside in favor of much larger and more expensive nuclear and coal plants, but the reality is, nuclear power is not clean.
Nuclear Energy is Not Clean Energy
The reality is that toxic radiation is emitted at every step of the nuclear fuel chain, which begins with uranium mining, moves on to milling and processing of the uranium, then to enrichment, then to fuel fabrication--all before the uranium enters the nuclear reactor itself. There, of course, the uranium is fissioned, producing tons of lethal radioactive waste.
Even without an accident, and accidents do occur at every step of the fuel chain, radiation is released into our air and water on a routine basis. Accidents just make the problem worse.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences set up a committee about 60 years ago to study the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR). The committee has released seven reports since its inception. Each report lowered the "safe" level of radiation exposure until the most recent report, in 2005, which finally concluded that there is no such thing as a "safe" level of radiation exposure. (You can find more background on this BEIR VII report, and on radiation generally, by clicking on the links).
The only reason claims can be made that nuclear power is "clean" is because you can't see, smell or taste its toxic pollution. But it's there, and nuclear power has no place in a genuinely clean energy future.
Nuclear power is not even clean when it comes to carbon emissions. While it emits less carbon than fossil fuels, the reality is that every fuel source that is mined causes environmental damage and carbon releases. In the case of nuclear power, the most authoritative report we've found--which reviewed more than 100 studies on the issue--concludes that nuclear power is responsible for six times the carbon emissions per kilowatt of wind power and two to three times more than solar power.
Please help make sure that President Obama understands that nuclear power is not clean energy, and that our nation and planet deserve a genuinely clean, safe and affordable energy policy. A nuclear-free carbon-free energy future is attainable, if we take the right steps now. Whether you're in the U.S., or any other country in the world, your action now will help. Send your letter to President Obama today.
And again, please support NIRS in our holiday fundraising drive. We rely on the donations of thousands of people like you to pay our bills and expand our organizing and mobilizing efforts. Our work simply can't happen without your support. Please donate here, or after you send your letter to President Obama, or just send a tax-deductible donation to NIRS, 6930 Carroll Avenue, #340, Takoma Park, MD 20912. Thank you so much!
It would also help if you could post the action page on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you have an account--it's easy to do! Just click on the symbol on the action page. Here's a suggested line to add: Tell President Obama: Nuclear Energy is NOT Clean Energy! Let's be sure President Obama gets the message from as many of us as possible and stop this "compromise" before it gets started.
Thanks for all you do,
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
p.s. and, if you're on Facebook, be sure to "Like" NIRS on our new main page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuclear-Information-and-Resource-Service/26490791479?v=wall&filter=1
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