Renewable Nuclear?

Nuclear boosters disguise their product behind green verbiage

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Boosters of nuclear power plants usually depend on the fact that the facilities emit no greenhouse gases for their rationale, and a powerful one it is. They generally ignore problems of proliferation, terrorist vulnerability, the need to isolate and store waste products essentially forever, the expense of building the plants (once they’re built they’re relatively cheap to operate, but building them is very expensive), and the lack of capacity to enrich and manufacture their fuel.

But now proponents, led by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, are trying a new ploy to call nuclear "renewable," which would make it eligible for subsidies and tax credits like solar and wind projects.Renewable means perpetual or inexhaustible—like the sun and the wind. There may be plenty of uranium in the ground, but it’s no more infinite than oil or gas. It may (or may not) be worth considering in a national strategy, but please don’t try to pass it off as renewable.

And it’s about time nuclear proponents came clean about cost. For this sort of information, I turn to the Rocky Mountain Institute and its head man, Amory Lovins. He reports, among other revelations, that, "In 2006, distributed renewable power sources worldwide got $56 billion of private risk capital; nuclear projects got zero… Recent industry efforts to entice the U.S. Treasury to give it $50 billion are a desperate response to private capitalists’ unwillingness to finance plants they consider too costly and too risky." There’s lots more in that vein at RMI’s website.

Tom Turner literally wrote the books about Earthjustice during his more-than-25 years with the organization. A lifelong resident of Berkeley, CA, he is most passionate about Earthjustice's maiden issue: wilderness preservation.