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
July 30, 2015
Bill Blunden
The NSA’s 9/11 Cover-Up: General Hayden Told a Lie, and It’s a Whopper
Richard Ward
Sandra Bland, Rebel
Jeffrey St. Clair
How One Safari Nut, the CIA and Neoliberal Environmentalists Plotted to Destroy Mozambique
Martha Rosenberg
Tracking the Lion Killers Back to the Old Oval Office
Binoy Kampmark
Dead Again: the Latest Demise of Mullah Omar
Kathy Kelly – Buddy Bell
No Warlords Need Apply: a Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
Darker Horizons Ahead: Rethinking the War on ‘IS’
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
John Grant
The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015
Karl Grossman
The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press
Cesar Chelala
Cultural Treasures Are Also Victims of War
Jeff Taylor
Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: a New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz