By Michael Mariotte

Artwork by Margaret Matson.

Artwork by Margaret Matson.

There will be a lot of post-election analysis from every possible angle over the next several days. We might supply some more too, but here is our first take as stated in a letter to our members sent today.
November 5, 2014

Dear Friends,

The election is over and yes, things have changed–and not for the better. Elections do matter.

Consider this little diatribe from Sen. James Inhofe, released on Monday:

“The idea that our advanced industrialized economy would ever have zero carbon emissions is beyond extreme and further proof that the IPCC is nothing more than a front for the environmental left….At a time of economic instability and increased threats to American interests, the IPCC’s report is little more than high hopes from the environmental left.”

The IPCC is of course, the international panel of climate change scientists. The scientists who know what they’re talking about. Sen. Inhofe is not a scientist, nor an expert in any environmental matters. Nonetheless, in January Sen. Inhofe is set to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer as chair of the Senate Environment Committee. What did we say about elections mattering?

With a large cadre of climate change deniers like Sen. Inhofe now in control of the U.S. Congress, we can expect to see new efforts to block the Obama Administration’s plans–modest though they may be–to reduce carbon emissions.

Those plans, embodied in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan proposal, contain unacceptable support for nuclear power. And we need to change that. But we also need to say clearly that we support the proposal’s attempt to reduce carbon emissions. After all, what we all want is a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system.

So we have rewritten our sample comment letter to the EPA to make clear that we support the carbon reductions–and believe they should actually be increased–but vigorously oppose any support for nuclear power.

The December 2 comment deadline is drawing near. About 5,000 of you have sent in comments to the EPA so far on this issue. We can–and must–do better than that. Whether or not you already have sent in comments, please act now–with our new letter necessitated by yesterday’s election. It’s critical. And please help us spread the word–if we’re going to win this battle, we need thousands more comments in.

But that’s not all. Here’s a headline from Bloomberg News today: “Nuclear Power, Banks Seen Gaining in Republican Congress.”

Yep, nuclear power and bank bailouts are right at the top of the Republican agenda. We all have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, with your activism and support, we’re up for the task.

With Nevada Sen. Harry Reid deposed as Majority Leader, one thing we will certainly see next year is an effort to resusitate Yucca Mountain as a permanent nuclear waste dump–despite its litany of documented flaws. More immediately, expect a revival of the old plan for “consolidated interim storage” of high-level radioactive waste. That’s the one that would send tens of thousands of radioactive waste casks on trucks and trains across the country to a temporary storage site–basically a glorified parking lot–just because nuclear utilities want to get that waste off their sites. It’s not a solution to our radioactive waste problem; it’s an effort to sweep it under the rug.

But we’ve successfully beat back this concept before, in the 1990s–also with a Democratic President and Republican Congress. We coined the phrase “Mobile Chernobyl” and it stuck. Because at its essence, it’s accurate. A serious accident involving one or more high-level waste casks would be a disaster. And the odds of a serious accident when that many casks are on our roads and railways are frighteningly high.

That Congress passed “interim storage” legislation. Following one of the largest public organizing and mobilization campaigns we’ve ever undertaken, President Bill Clinton vetoed it. And his veto was sustained by one vote.

With your support, we can win this again.

The players on Capitol Hill may have changed, but our resolve hasn’t. We intend to win these battles, and the others we’ll face in the future. It’s what we’ve been doing since 1978, and we’re not stopping now.

Michael Mariotte

November 5, 2014


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Filed under: nukes and climate, Radioactive waste

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