Nuclear heartburn: even IEA says solar could become world’s dominant energy source

By Michael Mariotte

IEA projections for solar PV by region.

IEA projections for solar PV by region.

Sending chills down the spine of nuclear and coal utility executives across the world, the International Energy Agency (IEA) yesterday released two reports that assert solar power could become the dominant source of global electricity production by mid-century.

This is the same IEA that has consistently and dramatically underestimated the potential contribution of renewables over more than a decade. As we pointed out on July 17, 2014, since at least 2000, Greenpeace has been far more accurate when projecting renewable energy use than the IEA. As RenewEconomy, based in Australia, put it, “The forecasts from the IEA are not the most dramatic that can be found, but they are significant because the IEA is essentially a conservative organisation that was created in the 1970s to defend developed countries’ access to fossil fuels.”

Yet, in what will almost certainly prove to be another underestimation, even the IEA says that given the right policies (which is certainly not a given) solar power could account for 27% of all global electricity generation by 2050–the most of any power source. IEA says that 16% of this would come from photovoltaics (PV)–mostly rooftop solar–and 11% from utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP).

The reports drew the attention, for good reason, from publications as diverse as Fortune and Grist (which explains the reports and the underlying issues particularly well).

Reports like this scare nuclear industry execs to death because even the current solar power reality, with rooftop solar still providing less than 1% of U.S. electricity according to most estimates, gives them severe heartburn. Since rooftop solar doesn’t show up in government statistics as electricity generated, but rather as part of the overall drop in electricity demand, estimates are rather unreliable, although it remains a tiny part of current U.S. electricity by any estimate. But rooftop solar and PV generally are easily the fastest growing electricity sources in the U.S., and much of the rest of the world as well.

And when you make your living selling uneconomic nuclear power, or dirty coal-generated electricity, the skyrocketing deployment of solar power–especially when combined with rapid growth of wind and other renewables as well–is an impending omen of bad times ahead. It’s like a tornado off in the distance that you can see growing in size as it approaches the exact spot where you’re standing and you know there’s no way to escape.

Levelized cost of electricity from new-built PV systems and generation by sectors, according to IEA projections.

But the nuclear and coal industries are trying futilely to escape nonetheless, by attacking renewables at every opportunity and seeking to scale back programs that encourage their use. These programs exist because renewables are not only cleaner than nuclear and coal–good for our climate, good for our air, good for our water and thus good for ourselves–but now renewables are cheaper too.

The pushback against solar has become so strident that NPR has noticed it. So have others, like the generally pro-nuclear Vox. And it’s not just in the U.S., nuclear utilities worldwide are seeking to stem the inevitable advance of solar power because it presents a very real threat to their bottom lines. As Planet Ark reported yesterday,

“The low power prices are leaving a trail of blood in our balance sheet,” RWE Chief Financial Officer Bernhard Guenther said in May, reporting first-quarter operating profit fell by a fifth.

RWE is a major German utility that bet heavily that Germany’s Energiewende transition to a clean energy economy would fail, and the country would be forced to continue substantial nuclear and coal use. It was a bad bet.

Last week we reported that Exelon is seeking a rate increase in Illinois that would give it $580 million/year just for its promise–one it already has said it may not keep anyway–to keep five uneconomic reactors operating. So far, the response has probably not been what Exelon was looking for: while the Nuclear Energy Institute jumped in with its unqualified support for Exelon’s proposal to fleece ratepayers, from normally supportive Illinois legislators, there have been only crickets. And one of Exelon’s major competitors, the relatively-progressive NRG Energy, said it would lobby against Exelon’s proposal.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that Exelon won’t get what it wants. It will take serious campaigning to defeat their proposal. And that, from just about any objective viewpoint, solar power is preferable to dirty, dangerous and increasingly uneconomic nuclear and coal plants doesn’t necessarily mean policymakers will take the right steps to encourage solar development and rein in the greed of antiquated utilities like Exelon, Entergy, Duke and the like. That will take serious campaigning on our side as well.

Will that level of campaigning be easy? No. Is it doable? Yes. Is it critical? Absolutely. So let’s do it.

Michael Mariotte

September 30, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/30/nuclear-heartburn/

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Filed under: energy future, Renewables Tagged: Exelon, International Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Institute, solar power

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/30/nuclear-heartburn/

Still no confidence in NRC radwaste policy

By Michael Mariotte

There are 43 dry casks--neither hardened nor secure--sitting outside at the shuttered Connecticut Yankee reactor.

There are 43 dry casks–neither hardened nor secure–sitting outside at the shuttered Connecticut Yankee reactor.

On June 8, 2012, a federal court threw out the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s “waste confidence” policy, setting into motion a chain of events that still hasn’t stopped rattling the commission and the entire nuclear power industry.

The court ruled that with the shutdown of the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada, radioactive waste repository and no new repository on the horizon, the NRC had no basis to say that it had confidence that radioactive waste would always be managed safely.

Since the Atomic Energy Act requires that the NRC have such confidence in order to issue reactor licenses (and license renewals), the NRC was forced to institute a moratorium on issuance of all reactor licenses.

At the time, the NRC staff said a thorough job on a new policy to replace the “waste confidence” policy would take seven years of work. But the NRC Commissioners decided to rush the job and this summer issued a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) that it said functions as a substitute for the policy.

There are a couple (well, at least a couple) problems with this approach. First, from a legal perspective, a GEIS is a document normally prepared to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)–not the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). And on this issue, the two Acts have differing goals and requirements. Simply put, a GEIS cannot be construed as a policy-level finding that the NRC has the requisite confidence that radioactive waste will always be managed safely.

Second, from a technical perspective, the GEIS falls short: its basic argument is that the NRC already has determined that storing high-level radioactive waste in dry casks at reactor sites is safe. But the GEIS takes a giant leap in logic and assumes that means dry cask storage always will be safe–even if into eternity.

If dry casks were licensed and proven safe for millenia, perhaps that position would make sense. But they’re not and indeed always have been seen as a temporary measure to cope with the growing amount of irradiated fuel that have overfilled reactor fuel pools in recent years. Most environmentalists agree that dry cask storage–if hardened to protect against extreme weather events and potential terrorist attacks–is the best temporary measure that can be taken right now. But dry casks as a permanent solution to the radioactive waste problem? Hardly.

Yet ten days ago, on September 19, 2014, the NRC lifted its moratorium on reactor licensing and said the GEIS is sufficient to allow it to do so.

Today, in the first step of a process that almost certainly will end up back in federal court, clean energy advocates filed new contentions in licensing and license renewal cases involving 23 reactors at 14 sites (groups involved in one license renewal case, at Indian Point, intend to file a similar petition later) and a new petition to the NRC Commissioners to reinstate its licensing moratorium.

Diane Curran, the lead attorney for the groups, explained,

“NRC has long acknowledged that before licensing a reactor, the Atomic Energy Act requires it to make Waste Confidence findings that spent fuel can be safely disposed of in a geologic repository at some point in the future. The NRC even said it would not license a reactor if it could not make such a finding. Yet, the NRC has now arbitrarily dropped those findings from its regulations, claiming they are not necessary. The absence of Waste Confidence findings is a significant safety issue that should concern the public because spent fuel poses a serious public health and environmental hazard from which the public and environment can only be protected long-term with a geologic repository. Yet there is no repository in sight today.”

Dr. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for Economic Analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, added that with a real waste confidence policy in effect, the economics of radioactive waste disposal could well force the NRC not to approve new licenses or renewals:

“The costs of managing spent nuclear fuel are likely to be quite large in absolute value, running to hundreds of billions of dollars (in constant 2012 dollars) and in the range of $10 to $20 per MWH ($0.01 to $0.02 per kWh). These costs could be high enough to materially affect energy choices when the costs of new reactors or extension of the operating life of existing reactors are compared with energy efficiency and alternative energy sources. Therefore, if the NRC were to include the costs of spent fuel storage and disposal in its cost-benefit analyses for reactor licensing and re-licensing decisions, these costs easily could tip the balance of the analysis away from licensing or re-licensing the reactors and in favor of other alternatives or the no-action alternative.”

With two new Commissioners just installed, the NRC’s response is perhaps not as predictable as it would have been in the past. Still, it doesn’t seem likely that the NRC Commissioners will voluntarily choose to put the agency out of the reactor licensing business, nor that the new Commissioners will send the issue back to the staff for years more work–even if both the legal and technical arguments would justify that.

So expect to see the issue end up back in federal court, where judges will have to determine whether the NRC’s unwillingness to adopt an actual waste “confidence” policy, instead relying on an assertion that current waste practice is good enough, meets the requirements of the Atomic Energy Act.

The contention filed in each of the proceedings is available here.

The petition filed with the Commissioners is available here.

For background information and technical documents on the waste confidence issue, visit NIRS’ waste confidence page here.

Michael Mariotte

September 20, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/29/still-no-confidence-in-nrc-radwaste-policy/

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Filed under: Radioactive waste Tagged: Atomic Energy Act, dry casks, waste confidence

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/29/still-no-confidence-in-nrc-radwaste-policy/

The nuclear industry’s game plan: kill the competition and fleece the ratepayers

By Michael Mariotte

On Sunday we marched en masse, with a message of the solution to the climate crisis. The nuclear industry is fighting back.

On Sunday we marched en masse, with a message of the solution to the climate crisis. The nuclear industry is fighting back. Photo by Paule Saviano.

What was that we said just two days ago? Now that the climate march is over, the real work begins….

The past two days have demonstrated, in almost shocking fashion, the immutable truth of that statement. The nuclear industry, especially the nation’s largest nuclear utility Exelon, is laying down the gauntlet and acknowledging its game plan–which is following just about exactly the scenario a NIRS paper published last week described.

At a hearing before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) on Tuesday, Exelon finally revealed the bribe it wants the state to approve in order to keep Exelon’s unprofitable reactors running: a rate increase that would add $580 million per year to Exelon’s coffers.

That amounts to a stunning 8% rate increase for northern Illinois ratepayers just to keep five currently unprofitable reactors operating. For southern Illinois ratepayers, whose rates are lower than those upstate, the percentage increase would be even higher.

And even then Exelon admits it might not keep all those reactors operating, and that it might want even more money for certain reactors, most likely the central Illinois money pit known as the Clinton reactor.

Why would the Illinois legislature or state regulators approve such an increase, especially when the legislature has capped clean energy-related rate increases at 2 percent? Exelon is making three threats: one, of course, is jobs. Exelon’s 11 Illinois reactors employ thousands of people, and they are relatively well-paid. The potential loss of those jobs gives legislators–and unions–heartburn. Another is taxes, especially those that support the communities in which the reactors are located. The other threat is the state’s ability to meet EPA carbon reduction standards. Exelon claims that the standards cannot be met without all of its reactors operating (apparently forever). Exelon vice-president Kathleen Barron told the ICC that it is “beyond dispute” that keeping all the nuclear plants open is crucial to complying with the EPA’s rule.

Yes, if one or more of Exelon’s reactors were to close, there certainly would be some immediate job losses. However, those would be more than offset by the jobs created by installation of clean renewable sources that would rush in to replace their power (although much of that power isn’t needed anyway). Similarly, carbon reduction goals could well be met through clean energy sources without a huge bailout, although, if Illinois wanted to exceed its reduction goals, directing that $580 million/year–for a limited time, unlike Exelon’s permanent increase–to new renewables and energy efficiency would make that an easy task, and would lead to lower electricity rates in the future.

Exelon bases its $580 million figure on the EPA’s carbon reduction proposal: “EPA’s recommended $6-per-megawatt-hour payment would make a big difference for challenged plants in the U.S.,” Exelon said in a statement. “In Illinois, it would offset a good deal of the economic stress on these units, which together represent almost 30 million metric tons of avoided carbon emissions per year.”

EPA, however, denies the $6-per-megawatt-hour payment is “recommended:” An EPA spokeswoman said that number refers to studies [actually, it was one study] cited by EPA in its proposal “showing that at-risk nuclear plants were up to $6 short of what they needed to cover their costs and that was a reasonable price to pay to keep those carbon-free units operating. States have flexibility in choosing their compliance path or other compliance approach,” she wrote. “EPA does not make any specific requirements to states on their nuclear fleet, fossil generation, renewables or energy efficiency.”

Neither Exelon nor the EPA apparently want to address the matter that while nuclear reactors themselves are low-carbon, the nuclear fuel chain does account for fairly significant carbon releases. Nor does either want to acknowledge that while critical, carbon is not the only pollutant in town. Reactors and the accompanying fuel chain routinely release toxic radiation to our air and water, not to mention their generation of lethal and nearly eternal radioactive waste nor the threat of nuclear meltdown Exelon’s aging and increasingly decrepit reactors pose to the very communities legislators want to support. The taxes Exelon pays to them would hardly begin to cover the damage their reactors could cause.

But it’s not just Illinois at issue here. Exelon’s Barron also again went after the production tax credit (PTC) for new wind power (even though new nuclear power has a similar production tax credit; the problem is that few want to build new reactors). Low-cost (and clean) wind power in the Midwest is a major reason Exelon’s reactors are uneconomic–they can’t compete with that growing renewable energy source. And the gap is likely to continue to grow, not just in Illinois but across the country–which is why Exelon wants to kill the PTC everywhere, and not just for wind but solar power as well.

Meanwhile, a steady drumbeat from nuclear industry backers for still more subsidies and support for nuclear power has accelerated after the climate march, using climate as its pretext.

Writing in Forbes this week, which sometimes appears to have more pro-nuclear contributors than any other publication in the world, former Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Michael Krancer argues vociferously for including both nuclear power and coal with CCS (carbon capture and storage) in new state Clean Energy Standards that he thinks should replace current renewable energy standards in 31 states that do not include nuclear power.

“It’s hard to overstate just how important CES laws could be in all this and how easy it would be to pass them,” writes Krancer.

That’s a chilling thought. Replacing renewable energy standards with “clean energy” standards that include nuclear and coal would lock in existing reactors for decades and prevent deployment of renewable energy technologies that actually are clean.

Once again, Krancer and his ilk confuse the lack of carbon emissions from reactors as the equivalent of “clean,” as if the nuclear fuel chain didn’t exist and as if plutonium, cesium, strontium and the alphabet’s soup of other radionuclides released by reactors weren’t toxic pollutants. The kind of toxic pollutants that contaminate groundwater and drinking water; the kind of toxic pollutants that kill people.

Krancer also dredges up the argument that “Wind and solar are intermittent sources of power, and currently contribute only about 3 percent of the world’s electricity supply. They’re simply not going to bring carbon emission reductions on the scale we’re discussing in the near-term.”

As the Sun Day Campaign pointed out on July 21, 2014, “Renewable energy sources now account for 16.28% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity.” Six percent of that is solar and wind. And solar and wind are the fastest growing electricity sources in the U.S. Renewables generally accounted for 56% of all new generating capacity in the first half of 2014 (and 48% over the past 2 1/2 years).

The reality is that until a few years ago, renewables were still expensive. But for decades, advocates predicted that as the technology became better and mass production was achieved, their prices would plummet. And that’s exactly what has happened. As the graphic to the right indicates, the U.S. Department of Energy this week reported that solar power costs dropped 14% per year from 2009-2013, and continue to fall.

Those falling prices portend the rapid growth in solar (and wind is in a similar situation) that we are seeing now and that will only soar in the coming months and years. The reality is that only renewables can bring about the kind of carbon emissions reductions we need in the time frame needed. New nuclear takes too long and is too expensive besides. Existing nuclear–especially if embedded in new clean energy standards that would mean no incentive for new genuinely clean technologies–simply would stand in the way and slow down the necessary growth in renewables.

And, as we reported in GreenWorld August 1, 2014, it is precisely those utilities most heavily invested in nuclear and coal that also are the most opposed to energy efficiency programs, despite their obvious financial, climate and other societal benefits.

In short, if the nuclear/coal utilities win, the climate loses. It really comes down to being that simple.

That’s the message of NIRS new paper, written by executive director Tim Judson. Titled Killing the Competition: The Nuclear Power Agenda to block climate action, stop renewable energy, and subsidize old reactors, the paper details this industry game plan. It is essential reading for every clean energy activist as we move to the type of battles described above in every state as the nuclear industry flails about to save itself from its own shortcomings and as every state must address its carbon footprint under the EPA’s proposal, which will be finalized early next year. Download it here.

Comments on the EPA’s proposal have been extended until December 1, 2014. You can tell the EPA to take all support for nuclear power out of the proposal here. Please do, and please ask your friends, colleagues, e-mail lists, congregations and any group you are involved with to do the same.

Michael Mariotte

September 24, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/25/the-nuclear-industrys-game-plan/

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Filed under: aging reactors, energy future, Nuclear Economics, nuclear industry, nukes and climate Tagged: EPA carbon reduction proposal, Exelon, production tax credit, solar power, Sun Day Campaign, wind power

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/25/the-nuclear-industrys-game-plan/

Nuke-Free photo gallery now online

By Michael Mariotte

marching

NIRS has now posted a photo gallery of the massive Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014.

The gallery is rather randomly ordered right now–something we hope to fix if and when we get a few minutes (hours) in the near future–and we also expect to add more photos as they keep coming in. For now, there are nearly 200 photos in the gallery ranging from a couple of pics from the Saturday afternoon strategy meeting in NYC; to the early morning site preparations–stapling flags and posters to cardboard tubes and the like; to photos of most of the rally speakers and performers (not sure we have them all yet); to many photos of the Contingent and the march itself.

You can view the gallery here; just click on any photo to enlarge.

You can also access the gallery, and all follow-up information on the Contingent and March, at our ongoing Contingent website here.

Michael Mariotte

September 24, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/24/nuke-free-photo-gallery/

Please support GreenWorld with your tax-deductible contribution on our donation page here. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size–your support is what makes this publication possible.

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Filed under: energy future Tagged: Nuclear-Free Carbon-Free Contingent, People’s Climate March

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/24/nuke-free-photo-gallery/

We made history; now the real work starts

By Michael Mariotte

The Cape Cod portion of the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent preparing to march.

The Cape Cod portion (and a few South Carolinians) of the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent preparing to march.

No matter how you look at it, 400,000 is a lot of people.

It’s not the largest crowd I’ve ever been in: that was the nearly two million at President Obama’s first inauguration. Nor the largest demonstration: that was the million at the 1982 nuclear freeze march in New York City. And the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival I went to was somewhere around 800,000 (but, of course, who remembers that one? Probably not even many who were there…).

But it’s still a lot of people.

And to put it in a more appropriate perspective, it’s as many or more people than participated in some other seminal events that changed history and the trajectory of American politics and lives: the 1963 civil rights March on Washington, the 1969 Woodstock festival, the November 1969 anti-Vietnam war mobilization, the 1979 No Nukes protest in Washington after Three Mile Island.

NIRS’ Board Chair Chris Williams ended the rally with a rousing call to action.

Two days later is far too early to pronounce, or even take a legitimate guess at, the ultimate impact of Sunday’s People’s Climate March.

Perhaps the world’s governments will simply ignore the legions in the streets–and in the streets of cities and towns all across the world–and continue to do little or nothing to take the steps necessary to quite literally save our planet.

That would be a tragedy of astronomical proportions.

But perhaps September 21, 2014 will be recognized in the history books as the day the tide began to shift, just as the 1963 March on Washington is now considered the day civil rights became a mainstream issue, as the 1969 anti-Vietnam march heralded the beginning of the end of that monstrous war, as the 1979 No Nukes protest helped turn public sentiment against nuclear power and kept the nuclear industry at bay for decades.

The key will be the follow-up. If the march is seen, especially by its participants, as an end in itself, it will become just another day not noted in any history book.

But if the People’s Climate March ushers in a new era of citizen action on climate–as we hope it does–then yes, it will be likely to qualify as the historic event its backers (including ourselves) promised.

That is just as true for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent to the march.

Not only was the overall march itself historic in terms of turnout, so was the Contingent. Largest Climate March ever. Largest Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free action ever.

By the time the rally ended but well before the marching began, the entire city block was wall-to-wall people.

By the time the rally ended but well before the marching began, the entire city block was wall-to-wall people.

When I arrived at our assembly spot at 7 am to set up the stage and sound system, the block of Central Park West between 73rd and 74th looked very big and very empty. That was a lot of space to fill with people. And, by the time the Contingent’s rally kicked off with songs from Raging Grannies at 10 am, it still looked very big and largely empty–only a couple hundred people had shown up by then.

I’ll admit to being a little nervous. NIRS had brought 650 flags and 200 posters to distribute, and other people had brought their own banners and other materials. That would have been a lot of stuff for a couple hundred people to carry.

I needn’t have worried. As buses arrived, as subways disgorged tens of thousands of passengers, the block began filling. By the time the rally ended at 11:30, the flags and posters were long gone–we could have used another thousand or two. There was no room left on the block either. There were thousands of us pressed together, ready to march.

It was beautiful, it was awesome.

But what matters most, what will determine whether the Contingent’s action was just a great day or something that will matter long term, is how we follow up. Now the real work starts.

The Himalayas marching band joined the Contingent and kept the energy level high throughout the very slow 2+ mile march route.

The Himalayas marching band joined the Contingent and kept the energy level high throughout the very slow 2+ mile march route.

That’s why we built in a national strategy meeting on Saturday afternoon for everyone who could arrive a day early. It was extremely useful–and good things are going to come out of it. Better and faster communication among the grassroots, better coordination and strategizing, especially for the upcoming battles in the states against the dirty, aging and uneconomic nuclear reactors of the 20th century that threaten to hold back deployment of the clean energy technologies that will not only end the threat of nuclear meltdown and the everyday radiation releases from every reactor, but will be the exact technologies that will effectively address our climate crisis.

It’s not automatic, but a clean energy system is inevitable. The question is whether it will be deployed in time. In time to prevent the next meltdown, in time to slash the carbon and methane emissions that are smothering our home planet. That’s the job before us now, that’s the follow-up we must accomplish for September 21, 2014 to make the history books–as indeed it deserves.

Michael Mariotte

September 23, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/23/we-made-history/

Please support GreenWorld with your tax-deductible contribution on our donation page here. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size–your support is what makes this publication possible.

Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece above. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.

If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail, send your name and e-mail address to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it.

If you like GreenWorld, you can help us reach more people. Just use the icons below to “like” our posts and to share them on the various social networking sites you use. And if you don’t like GreenWorld, please let us know that too. Send an e-mail with your comments/complaints/compliments to nirsnet@nirs.org. Thank you!

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Filed under: energy future Tagged: Nuclear-Free Carbon-Free Contingent, People’s Climate March

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/23/we-made-history/

We made history; now the real work starts

By Michael Mariotte

The Cape Cod portion of the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent preparing to march.

The Cape Cod portion (and a few South Carolinians) of the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent preparing to march.

No matter how you look at it, 400,000 is a lot of people.

It’s not the largest crowd I’ve ever been in: that was the nearly two million at President Obama’s first inauguration. Nor the largest demonstration: that was the million at the 1982 nuclear freeze march in New York City. And the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival I went to was somewhere around 800,000 (but, of course, who remembers that one? Probably not even many who were there…).

But it’s still a lot of people.

And to put it in a more appropriate perspective, it’s as many or more people than participated in some other seminal events that changed history and the trajectory of American politics and lives: the 1963 civil rights March on Washington, the 1969 Woodstock festival, the November 1969 anti-Vietnam war mobilization, the 1979 No Nukes protest in Washington after Three Mile Island.

NIRS’ Board Chair Chris Williams ended the rally with a rousing call to action.

Two days later is far too early to pronounce, or even take a legitimate guess at, the ultimate impact of Sunday’s People’s Climate March.

Perhaps the world’s governments will simply ignore the legions in the streets–and in the streets of cities and towns all across the world–and continue to do little or nothing to take the steps necessary to quite literally save our planet.

That would be a tragedy of astronomical proportions.

But perhaps September 21, 2014 will be recognized in the history books as the day the tide began to shift, just as the 1963 March on Washington is now considered the day civil rights became a mainstream issue, as the 1969 anti-Vietnam march heralded the beginning of the end of that monstrous war, as the 1979 No Nukes protest helped turn public sentiment against nuclear power and kept the nuclear industry at bay for decades.

The key will be the follow-up. If the march is seen, especially by its participants, as an end in itself, it will become just another day not noted in any history book.

But if the People’s Climate March ushers in a new era of citizen action on climate–as we hope it does–then yes, it will be likely to qualify as the historic event its backers (including ourselves) promised.

That is just as true for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent to the march.

Not only was the overall march itself historic in terms of turnout, so was the Contingent. Largest Climate March ever. Largest Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free action ever.

By the time the rally ended but well before the marching began, the entire city block was wall-to-wall people.

By the time the rally ended but well before the marching began, the entire city block was wall-to-wall people.

When I arrived at our assembly spot at 7 am to set up the stage and sound system, the block of Central Park West between 73rd and 74th looked very big and very empty. That was a lot of space to fill with people. And, by the time the Contingent’s rally kicked off with songs from Raging Grannies at 10 am, it still looked very big and largely empty–only a couple hundred people had shown up by then.

I’ll admit to being a little nervous. NIRS had brought 650 flags and 200 posters to distribute, and other people had brought their own banners and other materials. That would have been a lot of stuff for a couple hundred people to carry.

I needn’t have worried. As buses arrived, as subways disgorged tens of thousands of passengers, the block began filling. By the time the rally ended at 11:30, the flags and posters were long gone–we could have used another thousand or two. There was no room left on the block either. There were thousands of us pressed together, ready to march.

It was beautiful, it was awesome.

But what matters most, what will determine whether the Contingent’s action was just a great day or something that will matter long term, is how we follow up. Now the real work starts.

The Himalayas marching band joined the Contingent and kept the energy level high throughout the very slow 2+ mile march route.

The Himalayas marching band joined the Contingent and kept the energy level high throughout the very slow 2+ mile march route.

That’s why we built in a national strategy meeting on Saturday afternoon for everyone who could arrive a day early. It was extremely useful–and good things are going to come out of it. Better and faster communication among the grassroots, better coordination and strategizing, especially for the upcoming battles in the states against the dirty, aging and uneconomic nuclear reactors of the 20th century that threaten to hold back deployment of the clean energy technologies that will not only end the threat of nuclear meltdown and the everyday radiation releases from every reactor, but will be the exact technologies that will effectively address our climate crisis.

It’s not automatic, but a clean energy system is inevitable. The question is whether it will be deployed in time. In time to prevent the next meltdown, in time to slash the carbon and methane emissions that are smothering our home planet. That’s the job before us now, that’s the follow-up we must accomplish for September 21, 2014 to make the history books–as indeed it deserves.

Michael Mariotte

September 23, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/23/we-made-history/

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Filed under: energy future Tagged: Nuclear-Free Carbon-Free Contingent, People’s Climate March

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/23/we-made-history/

SRSW in Germany

By Leslie

Projection at Juelich Nuclear Power Plant in Germany

From Sept. 21-26, Fairewinds Team member Tom Clements of Savannah River Site Watch (SRSW) is on a six-day tour in Germany, to oppose the import to Savannah River of highly radioactive fuel from Germany.

Greenpeace welcomed Tom and the tour with an illuminated message on the entrance to the Juelich nuclear research center (photo), where German commercial reactor spent fuel is stored.

The tour also will include public meetings, a news conference in Dusseldorf, an event outside the gates of the facility where 600,000 spent graphite fuel balls from a reactor are stored, and will conclude in Berlin with members of the German legislature.

The post SRSW in Germany appeared first on Fairewinds Energy Education.

Read more here:: http://www.fairewinds.org/srsw-germany/

This is going to be awesome

By Michael Mariotte

kingcongpcm

There are just four days left until the historic People’s Climate March in New York City Sunday, September 21. It will be awesome–and that’s a word I don’t use very often.

The momentum for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent is stunning; this Contingent is going to be awesome too. We’ve got 650 bright yellow with shining orange sun “Nuclear Power, No Thanks” flags (in English, Spanish and Japanese!); hundreds of posters, a giant King Cong prop, huge banners and much more. We’ve heard from people coming for this Contingent not only from New York and the Northeast, but from all over the country: North Carolina; Illinois and Ohio; Chicago; Nebraska; Tennessee; even California!

We hope you’ll join us there. Even if you haven’t made plans yet, there is still time!

ASSEMBLY POINT/RALLY
We will be assembling on Central Park West between 73rd and 74th streets, and will be holding a rally there beginning at 10 am on September 21. Confirmed speakers so far include Dr. Arjun Mahkijani (IEER and author of Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free); Jessica Azulay (AGREE); Julia Walsh (Frack Action & New Yorkers Against Fracking); Tim Judson (NIRS); Leona Morgan (ENDAUM, Clean Up the Mines); Japanese activist Yuko Tonohira; Michael Mariotte, MC (NIRS). Raging Grannies and New York singer/songwriter Joel Landy will perform. More speakers and performers will be announced soon.

Full directions to the assembly point, and loads of other information–updated at least daily–are on the Contingent website here.

VOLUNTEERS
We need volunteers on Sunday morning at the assembly site beginning at 8 am to help unload our vans, staple the flags and posters on cardboard tubes, set up stage and sound system, etc. If you can volunteer even a few minutes, please contact us at nirsnet@nirs.org or call us at 301-270-6477. Thank you!

TODAY: HELP WITH THE LAST BIG ORGANIZING PUSH
Today, Wednesday, September 17, we and all the organizations supporting the People’s Climate March are doing a final major online organizing push. You can help by sending an e-mail to your friends and colleagues about the march and the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent and post on your social media sites (you might want to post the great graphic by Gail Payne above, just right-click on it to save it to your computer). You can also change your Facebook profile picture for a few days. Some samples, where you can write in your own reason for supporting the march, are here. We recommend you write “for a nuclear-free, carbon-free future.”

NATIONAL CONFERENCE CALL FOR MARCH WEDNESDAY
We will be holding a national conference call on the march tomorrow, Wednesday, September 17, at 8 pm Eastern time. This will include an up-to-date briefing on the march and Contingent, and your opportunity to ask any final questions you may have. If you would like to be on this call, please e-mail your name, organization (if one) and location to nirsnet@nirs.org.

SIGN ON TO TOM HAYDEN’S PETITION TO KEEP NUKES OUT OF UN DOCUMENT
Long-time activist and former California state legislator Tom Hayden has begun a petition to remove nuclear power from a United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network recommendation on climate change. That’s a great idea! Please sign this petition here.

FINALLY, IF YOU CAN’T COME TO THE MARCH….
Please don’t forget to send your comments to the EPA to remove support for nuclear power from its carbon reduction proposal. It’s easy to do here. The comment period has been extended until December 1st, so let’s make sure the EPA hears all of our voices!

And please help us pay for the flags, posters, sound system and many other expenses we’ve accumulated for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent. You can make your tax-deductible contribution here. Thank you so much!

We hope to see you in New York City!

Michael Mariotte

September 17, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/17/this-is-going-to-be-awesome/

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Filed under: energy future Tagged: Nuclear-Free Carbon-Free Contingent, People’s Climate March

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/17/this-is-going-to-be-awesome/

Burns, Baran approved as NRC Commissioners over GOP objections

By Michael Mariotte

yucca102

Sen. Reid vows this passage to Yucca Mountain will never be used. Will Steve Burns and Jeff Baran ensure this door will remain closed?

President Obama’s two appointees to the NRC were confirmed by the full Senate yesterday on near-party line votes.

Jeff Baran, a former top energy aide to California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, was confirmed by a 56-44 vote; former NRC General Counsel Steve Burns was confirmed by a 60-40 vote.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member of the Senate Environment Committee, and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) were the only Republicans to vote for both nominees.

The Republicans generally seemed to oppose the nominees because they were supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Although President Obama made the nominations, there is a widespread belief that the nominations were made only with the strong support of Reid and that Reid is stacking the Commission with people who will oppose the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump.

This could be critical if Democrats lose the Senate in the upcoming election and Reid thus loses his power to control the agenda of the Senate floor–where Reid currently ensures no pro-Yucca legislation will be considered.

This was pretty much acknowledged by Republicans last week when Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) told the Hill newspaper, “that Reid was the main hurdle for Republicans to get the project moving again.

“We knew Mr. Reid being majority leader, it wasn’t going to see the light of day,” Upton told reporters.

If the Senate flips, Upton said, then Yucca is a “priority” for Republicans.”

For his part, Reid said the Republicans should give up on Yucca: “Yucca Mountain is all through,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday. “As long as I’m around there’s no Yucca Mountain. It’s been through two presidents.”

“Clinton opposed it. Obama opposed it. The place is mothballed out there. It’s all through,” he added.

Michael Mariotte

September 17, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/17/burns-baran-approved/

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Filed under: Inside Washington

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2014/09/17/burns-baran-approved/