Now that the nuclear “renaissance” has sputtered, with only 5 of some 35 reactor proposals currently being pursued, the industry is turning its attention— and money--toward preventing the shutdown of many aging reactors unable to compete economical- ly with wind and solar power.
One of the industry’s primary goals has been to convince federal and state legislators, regulatory officials, and the media that nuclear power is some- how “clean” energy, because nuclear reactors emit little carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But this disregards the alphabet soup of other cancer- causing pollutants spewed into our air and water by nuclear facilities. Unfortunately, lobbying cam- paigns backed by so much money often attain some success.
Thus, there are increasing calls from nuclear indus- try backers, inside and outside of government, to include nuclear power in Renewable Energy Stand- ards (or new “Clean Energy Standards”) intended to boost use of clean renewables, or to permit nuclear to trade emissions credits in regional cap-and-trade emissions programs. This is occurring at both the federal and state levels to encourage use of nuclear power (and for some proponents, coal and natural gas as well) to the detriment of genuinely clean and affordable technologies like wind, solar, energy efficiency and others.2
This trend is likely to accelerate as states prepare plans to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon reduction rules over the next two years.
Proposals to include nuclear power as part of a Clean or Renewable Energy Standard suffer from three fundamental misconceptions: 1) that carbon dioxide is the only pollutant that matters when de- fining “clean energy;” 2) that because radiation is invisible and odorless, it is not a toxic pollutant; 3) that nuclear power is carbon-free. None of these is true.
Only one of the many technologies that can produce electricity is capable of a catastrophic accident that can kill tens or even hundreds of thousands of peo- ple, presents a security threat of unprecedented pro- portions because of this vulnerability, and creates a lethal byproduct that will be toxic for hundreds of thousands of years: nuclear power. To call nuclear power “clean” is an affront to science and common sense...
more: Briefing Paper: ￼NUCLEAR ENERGY IS DIRTY ENERGY (and does not fit into a “clean energy standard”) [PDF] | NIRS