Friday, December 20, 2013

Tell your Senators: No tax breaks for dirty nuclear power | NIRS

Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service

December 20, 2013

Dear Friends,

I know we're all in the midst of the busy and often-stressful holiday season, and none of us need something added to our to-do lists right now.

But this is urgent. And we need to push back right now.

On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), released a radical new proposal to revamp the nation's tax code for energy industries. That could have been a good idea, but Sen. Baucus' proposal would establish "technology-neutral" incentives for "clean energy" projects that would reduce carbon emissions.

Those are normally code words for treating dirty nuclear power as "clean energy." And that's exactly what Baucus would do: nuclear power would get the exact same tax breaks as renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Even carbon-emitting natural gas would get tax breaks; so potentially could other dirty projects like "clean coal" plants.

This is dangerous. This kind of thinking--which is aggressively encouraged by the nuclear power industry--is all too common on Capitol Hill. It essentially assumes that carbon is the only pollutant with which the nation should be concerned. Never mind the environmental devastation caused by uranium mining, milling and enrichment. Never mind the routine releases of radioactive toxins like plutonium, strontium, cesium, iodine, krypton into our air and water from nuclear reactors. Never mind the ever-growing and so-far unsolved problem of lethal radioactive waste piling up at every reactor site in the country.

Unfortunately, when it comes to tax policy, Senator Baucus is influential. That's why we need to push back as hard as we can right now, before this kind of thinking takes firm root on the Hill. Please act now and tell your Senators: No tax breaks for dirty nuclear power.

NIRS put out a press statement on this issue this morning. You can read it here.

Make no mistake: we do have a climate crisis and carbon is a major contributor. We do need to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible. But the answer isn't more dirty energy. The answer is faster deployment of the 21st century energy technologies that work, that are affordable, and that are clean and safe. That means solar and wind and geothermal where appropriate. That means energy efficiency and clean-powered vehicles. That means distributed generation and smarter grids and support for rapidly-improving energy storage technologies.

Please push back now against the concept that nuclear power is somehow clean. Our action page is here. And please help us spread the word.

Thank you to the hundreds of organizations across the world who already have signed on to the grassroots response letter to climate scientist Dr. James Hansen and three colleagues who are urging the environmental movement to support nuclear power.

We have decided to release this letter after the holidays; so we can collect signatures through January 4, 2014. You can read Hansen's letter here. You can read the response letter, with a few of the initial signatures, here. However, please note: the response letter is not a public webpage. We've noticed a few people have posted this page on Twitter. Please do not do that. Please do not post or distribute this url in public forums. 

To sign on, and we are accepting organizational sign-ons only, please send your name, title (optional), organization name, city, state and country if outside the U.S. to Please do not overload our e-mail system with individual sign-ons, we cannot add them to this letter.

To our international friends: Dr. Hansen may not be as well-known outside the U.S. as he is here. But he is influential and outspoken in his support for nuclear power--most recently earlier this week at a major UN meeting. He also downplays the effects of radiation generally, and particularly the effects on the people of Japan from Fukushima. His dream is the deployment of hundreds and hundreds of new reactors across the world--especially in developing countries. International support for this letter is welcome and appreciated.

Finally, this is my last letter to you as Executive Director of NIRS. It's been a great and long run--more than 27 years in this position. But I'm happy to be moving on--especially since moving on means staying at NIRS and continuing to build this organization and fighting for a nuclear-free, carbon-free future. And I'm happy that we have an extremely capable new leader in Tim Judson, who is more than able to fill my shoes.

And don't worry, I will still be in touch with you--heck, I will still be writing a lot of the Alerts you'll receive. And I'll soon be sending you the url to the new blog I am creating.

In the meantime, I do hope you'll support NIRS this holiday season with your contribution of any size, either now or after you send your letter to your Senators. Foundations and other large donors we seek grants from want to know how many people are supporting us--not just with their activism, but financially as well. So even small contributions: $5, $10, or whatever you can afford, matter a lot and we appreciate each one of them. If you prefer to donate by check, please send to NIRS, 6930 Carroll Avenue, #340, Takoma Park, MD 20912.

As always, thanks for all you do, and have a terrific holiday season and let's work together to build an increasingly nuclear-free and carbon-free new year.

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

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6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340, Takoma Park, MD 20912 
301-270-NIRS (301-270-6477); Fax: 301-270-4291;

For Immediate Release Contact: Michael Mariotte, 301-325-8014 (mobile) December 20, 2013 Tim Judson, 301-270-6477

New Baucus tax proposal takes an Orwellian approach: would redefine dirty energy as clean

The nation’s leading tax code writer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D- MT), Wednesday unveiled a radical proposal to revise the nation’s energy policy through the tax code.

The draft bill introduced by Sen. Baucus would end forty-two different tax incentives for the energy industry, projected to cost $150 billion. In their place, it would create “technology-neutral” incentives for energy projects that meet a narrow standard for carbon emission reductions. However, the bill would also end incentives that promote energy efficiency improvements and zero-emissions vehicles, by definition two of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases. At the same time, by focusing solely on carbon, Sen. Baucus’s proposal would continue to subsidize other toxic and polluting energy sources, such as nuclear power and natural gas.

“I think they coined the phrase ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ just for ideas like this,” said Tim Judson, NIRS’ Associate Director. “Tax breaks for the oil and coal industries are irresponsible, unnecessary and counterproductive, but so are subsidies for nuclear power and natural gas. Cutting tax breaks to help people make their homes more energy efficient and giving those dollars to companies to make radioactive waste is simply wrong-minded and counter-productive.”

“We’re getting a little tired of politicians, not to mention self-serving industries, who argue that the only pollutant of concern in the world is carbon,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of NIRS. “Nuclear power inherently brings with it plutonium, strontium, cesium and the whole alphabet soup of poisonous radionuclides that are released routinely intoour air and water; that form one of our world’s largest unsolved environmental problems— safely managing radioactive waste; and that can at any moment be unleased in a catastrophic accident.”

“Our climate condition is a crisis,” Mariotte added. “But the solution is not to subsidize dirty energy technologies, nor try to portray them as somehow clean. It’s really not hard: we need to renew the tax credits for genuinely clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar, provide greater encouragement for energy efficiency measures, incentivize distributed generation—especially rooftop solar; and support already rapidly-improving energy storage. The clean energy technologies of the 21st century that can quickly and affordably reduce carbon emissions are here: it’s time to take advantage of them.

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