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 50 years -- leaves the industry with no solution to its waste
Energy Secretary Steven 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
15 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
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
Harvey Wasserman�s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED
EARTH is at www.solartopia.org. He helped found
Musicians United for Safe Energy, and edits the nukefree.org web site. He was arrested at the Diablo Canyon (CA) nuke in 1984, and Seabrook in
1989. This article was originally published by freepress.org.