By Michael Mariotte

Michael Mariotte and daughter Zoryana receive lifetime achievement award from Ralph Nader, November 10, 2014.

Michael Mariotte and daughter Zoryana receive lifetime achievement award from Ralph Nader, November 10, 2014. In the background to the left is a poster signed by all the musicians involved in the 2011 No Nukes concert in Mountain View, California. Wow! What a gift!

I haven’t posted anything on GreenWorld in a week. I feel bad about that, but I’m not going to apologize. I’ve been a little bit busy….

You see, some little while ago, I don’t actually know when, someone (I’m assuming the NIRS staff and board, but I don’t really know that either) decided I should receive a lifetime achievement award for my work at NIRS. And these crafty organizers got 14 organizations to join in the fun and sign on to this award without me hearing even a whisper about it, which made feel out of the loop I’ll tell you.

As is their way, Union of Concerned Scientists didn’t join in with the 14 groups*, but separately sent me a too-kind letter with similar sentiment.

Anyway, we had a great awards ceremony on Monday night at the Carnegie Institution for Science in downtown DC. Ralph Nader spoke and presented me with the award and a whole bunch of other people spoke too. It was really a who’s who of the anti-nuclear/clean energy movement in attendance (sort of made one nervous, it was like thinking of the State of the Union–is there anyone who isn’t here, like the Secretary of the Interior or something, who will carry on if the roof collapses?). It was an amazing honor.

Ralph Nader and Paxus Calta

Just for fun, here’s a piece by my good friend and former NIRS board chair Paxus Calta titled Dinner with Ralph about Nader’s continuing ability to speak both from the heart as well as with facts and win over just about any crowd. And, while I’m promoting myself, here’s another fun piece where Paxus explains why he’s apparently giving me his first Hero of the Revolution award.

The whole event was videotaped, of course, and will be posted sometime soon; we’ll let you know when.

But–that meant family coming to town, and a lot of diversions; add in the Veterans Day holiday and suddenly a week went by. And I still have a ton of thank you’s to write and deliver to all kinds of people.

So, I’ve been busy.

The world, however, has continued revolving and there is a lot to catch up with which I will try to do this week.

When I posted last, it was an initial take on the impact of the elections on nuclear and other energy issues. Since then, a lot more has been written on the topic, most of it a useless waste of digital ink and none of it changing our first assessment.

We can sum up the discussion this way:

Dirty energy interests are salivating at the possibility of speedy Congressional approval of the Keystone Pipeline and the expediting of natural gas exports. They’re also hoping (with some good reason) that the Republicans will go after the EPA and its Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions. For that matter, some of those interests and a lot of Republicans would seem to want action to declare the entire notion of climate change illegal or something. Not that the climate itself is going to care what Congress thinks.

Oh, and, as we pointed out last week: Yucca Mountain and Mobile Chernobyl–those do appear to be the top nuclear issues on the new Congressional agenda.

The dirty energy interests also want to make sure tax credits for renewable energy are not extended, although that may be a harder sell for them, since even red states like solar and wind power and the jobs and clean, affordable energy they bring.

If that’s not enough analysis for you, here are a few items you can check out:

GOP-Controlled Senate expected to oppose Obama energy policies (who would have guessed that? good thing we have the Wall Street Journal to tell us).

Without Reid, Yucca Mountain looms. Roll Call.

Nuclear Energy And The 2014 Mid-Term Elections. James Conca in Forbes. In which Conca whiningly repeats his absurd and self-defeating claim that nuclear power has no constituency. See our post Why Nuclear Matters doesn’t matter that deconstructs this plaintive position that he first articulated in October.

For those who don’t believe we have a real fight on our hands, that there are people out there determined to destroy renewable energy in favor of nuclear power and fossil fuels, and that how this battle (us against them essentially) plays out over the next couple of years may well determine our nation’s energy policy for decades, here’s a letter from something called the American Energy Alliance, signed by 66 right-wing groups, calling for an end to renewable tax credits because they’re “designed to drive nuclear, coal, and natural gas generators out of business.” I’m not kidding.

Here’s a guy (a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas)
saying similar things but in slightly less idiotic (and thus more dangerous) language.

And, finally, a somewhat more optimistic perspective from Ken Kimmell of Union of Concerned Scientists.

Tying together these two seemingly disparate threads–awards and elections–is actually easy. We do have our work cut out of us.

My personal belief is that we will see President Obama pull out his veto pen more often these next two years, especially on energy and climate issues. I believe him when he says he wants a big part of his legacy to be action on climate. That doesn’t mean I think he’ll suddenly turn into an anti-nuclear warrior. Far from it. And his all-of-the-above energy policy makes no sense from either a financial, energy, or climate perspective. But it may–hopefully–mean that he won’t let himself be steamrolled by climate change deniers and those who would dismantle the still-much-too-small renewable energy industry.

And that means our battles over the future of nuclear power will be primarily in two places: at the federal level on familiar ground over high-level radioactive waste as well as where we’ve been saying all year: in the states, as each state begins the process to implement the EPA’s carbon plan and as the nuclear power industry seizes on those processes to attempt to save itself at the expense of clean energy.

The people who crowded the Carnegie Institution for my award ceremony Monday night–most of whom are just as deserving of such an award as myself and probably more so–are ready for those battles. We’re not facing the apocalypse. Republicans have controlled the Congress before; they’ve controlled the presidency too. So have Democrats. And let’s face it, neither has done much to articulate or build the nuclear-free, carbon-free future we’re working for. It’s the people who have done that and continue to do that every day, and we’re not going anywhere. Every one of the battles we face is winnable. So let’s go out and win them.

Michael Mariotte

November 12, 2014

*Here’s the list of the 14 organizations: Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Beyond Nuclear, Center for Study of Responsive Law, Clean Water Action, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, The Guacamole Fund, Greenpeace, Independent Council for Safe Energy Fund, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Sierra Club and World Information Service on Energy.


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Filed under: energy future, Inside Washington, Radioactive waste Tagged: elections and nuclear power, James Conca, Keystone Pipeline, Mobile Chernobyl, Yucca Mountain

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