Obama’s Excellent Atomic Omission

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

Two lethal words went thankfully unspoken in President Obama’s address to the nation this week—atomic energy.

Unfortunately, two others—“clean coal”—were included.

An increasingly desperate reactor industry just tried to sneak a $50 billion loan guarantee package into the stimulus bill. But for the third time since 2007, it got beat by a powerful national grassroots movement and key Congressional leaders.

Nuke pushers now want reactors painted “green” in a renewable standard Congress may soon set.

Hordes of radioactive lobbyists will swarm around that and new energy and global warming legislation. Every obscure sentence in those bills will be targeted for hidden handouts. Unfortunately, some money may already have slipped through from previous Bush-Cheney maneuvering.

EDF, the French national utility, wants to force its nukes into the American market. With Wall Street unwilling, Areva—the EDF front company—would use French tax money here as in Finland, where a new reactor project is already years behind schedule and billions over budget.

In Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Maryland, Texas, Missouri, Wisconsin and elsewhere, the industry wants to tax ratepayers for reactor construction in advance. In Florida and Georgia, rates are already soaring. A Missouri utility is trying to overturn a 1976 public referendum banning such scams.

Obama’s position has been largely opaque. Close to pro-nuke Illinois utilities in his early days, he has never renounced the technology. But he’s firmly opposed Nevada’s Yucca Mountain high level repository, whose failure—after fifty years—leaves the industry with no solution to its waste problem.

Energy Secretary Stephen Chu has made pro-nuke rumblings. But the critical component—massive federal funding—has not materialized. So we green energy advocates held our collective breath when Obama promised to “invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.”

In his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination, Obama included nuke power. Now the reference is gone. Let’s hope that signals an end to all taxpayer funding for this catastrophic failed technology.

Unfortunately, Obama did mention “clean coal,” which—like “safe nukes”— does not exist. On March 2, there will be non-violent civil disobedience against a coal burner in the nation’s capital. This welcome action follows in the tradition of mass occupations at the Seabrook (NH) and other reactor construction sites since 1976.

Back then, grassroots organizations like the Clamshell Alliance developed a Solartopian vision of a world totally free of fossil fuels and atomic power. The plan was born in part at a “Toward Tomorrow” energy fair in Amherst, Massachusetts that featured wind power pioneer William Heronemus and efficiency guru Amory Lovins.

A green-powered Earth means ending both fossil and nuke power, to run totally on solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, non-food-based biofuels and other true renewables, with increased efficiency and restored mass transit.

Like stashing nuke waste in an earthquake zone surrounded by dormant volcanoes, as at Yucca Mountain, carbon sequestration for coal is unworkable, unacceptable—and unnecessary.

The upcoming march against that coal burner will be ushered along by three decades of anti-nuke activism. Let’s hope it prompts Obama to omit that clean coal oxymoron from his next speech—and from all proposed government funding.

HARVEY WASSERMAN, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com

 

 

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Off-Shore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?