FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America’s New Nuclear Showdown

As Fukushima continues to leak and smolder, what may be the definitive battle over new nukes in America has begun.

The critical first US House vote on a proposed $36 billion loan guarantee package for reactor construction may come as early as June 2. Green power advocates are already calling and writing the White House and Congress early and often, gearing up for a long, definitive showdown.

Germany and Japan have made their decision—the “Lethal Atom” has no future.

The coffin nail is Fukushima. Substantial radiation still leaks from three or more of its six reactors. Volatile fuel rods are dangerously exposed. Various containment and fuel pool structures are compromised. Heat and radiation still pour into our global
eco-systems, with no end in sight.

Thankfully, a global citizens movement helped lower the amount of plutonium-based MOX fuel loaded into Unit Three. Without that, Fukushima’s emissions would be far more lethal.

As it is, fallout continues to be detected across Europe and the United States. Fukushima is now rated on par with Chernobyl, by some estimates the killer of more than a million people.

For Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Japan’s energy policy must now “start from scratch,” with a sharp turn to green technologies. More than a dozen proposed reactors will not be built. Some existing ones—including at least two at Hamaoka—will join the six at
Fukushima on the shut-down list, at least for the time being. Three more are still closed from a 2006 earthquake at Kashiwazaki.

Germany’s Solartopian turn is even more radical. Long a nuclear advocate, center-right Prime Minister Angela Merkel has ordered seven old German nukes shut immediately. The country’s other ten may run until 2021.

But a top Merkel-appointed commission sees this as a global game changer. “A withdrawal from nuclear power will spur growth, offer enormous technical, economic and social opportunities to position Germany even further as an exporter of sustainable
products and services,” says a 28-page report. “Germany could show that a withdrawal from nuclear energy is the chance to create a high-powered economy.”

Both Japan and Germany—the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies—have already made substantial investments in green technology. Much of that was developed in the United States, which has paid a heavy price economically and ecologically for
its atomic addiction, and now stands to lose even more ground in what will clearly be the energy growth center of the new millennium.

Some $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new reactor construction was put in place under George W. Bush. In 2007 the nuclear lobby tried to add $50 billion. The industry has spent some $645 million—$64.5 million per year—over the last decade
twisting Congressional arms.

But a nationwide grassroots movement rose up to stop them. In every year since 2007 citizen action has beaten a variety of attempts to slip the industry more handouts. Local movements movements throughout the US focused growing demands for the shut down of old reactors. In Vermont, a March, 2012 drop dead date looms ever larger, forced by a wide range of political pressures that could start an avalanche of closures.

Yet just last year Obama dropped $8.33 billion in loan guarantees on a bitterly contested double-reactor project in Georgia. Two other reactors are scheduled for South Carolina, where ratepayers are expected to foot the bill as construction proceeds.

But $36 billion in proposed new guarantees were stripped out of the Continuing Resolution that’s funding the government for 2011. Now Obama wants them for 2012.

Ironically, the leading candidates for the money have collapsed. A Japanese-financed project for Texas and a French one in Maryland are all but dead. Financial, licensing, siting, design and political problems have decimated the remaining list. The pressures on old and new US reactors, and the collapse of the industry in Germany and Japan, appear on the brink of pushing a failed technology into the scrap heap of history.

But the budget is now headed to Congress, guarantees and all. First stop is a House Appropriations sub-committee, where a vote could come as early as June 2.

Fukushima has changed the nuclear map. Italy and Switzerland have put proposed projects on hold. China, the biggest potential future market, has said it is re-evaluating its atomic future, especially with radiation pouring into it from nearby Fukushima.

But Obama has all but ignored the accident. He gave an early national address telling the American public not to worry about Fukushima’s radiation. Despite widespread reports of contamination here, the feds have provided no systematic monitoring of fallout and no guidance on what to do about it.

Amidst a heavy budget crunch, the administration must now justify lavishing taxpayer money on an industry that can’t get private financing or meaningful liability insurance, can’t compete in the marketplace and can’t deal with its wastes.

As evidenced by the sharp green turns in Germany and Japan, renewable technologies have come of age. The Solartopian vision of a green-powered Earth has now definitively attracted two of the plant’s four largest economies.

In short, we are at the tipping point where renewables are cheaper and more attractive to national-scale investors than nukes.

Without these guarantees, America’s nuclear industry has future prospects ranging from slim to none.

The ante is being raised in Vermont, New York, California and in other states where fierce battles rage to shut existing reactors, many of which are on earthquake faults and virtually identical to those now spewing at Fukushima.

So now we are engaged in what may be the final, definitive battle over the future of atomic power in the United States.

Over the next few months, millions of dollars will pour from the industry’s lobby into the coffers of Congresspeople willing to vote them billions. The White House shows no signs of turning away from that particular tsunami.

But against all odds, a grassroots green-powered citizens movement has been holding its own. If it does so again this year, a sustainable future may finally be within reach.

YOUR reach!

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

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail