Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Take Action: Restrict First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 – Coalition Against Nukes

It’s time to call your representatives and insist they co-sponsor bills H.R. 669 and S. 200, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, introduced by Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts). Their press release follows.
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January 24, 2017
Press Release
Washington – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) introduced H.R. 669 and S. 200, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation would prohibit the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. The crucial issue of nuclear “first use” is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment’s notice.
Upon introduction of this legislation, Mr. Lieu issued the following statement:
“It is a frightening reality that the U.S. now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be ‘unpredictable’ with nuclear weapons, and as President-elect was making sweeping statements about U.S. nuclear policy over Twitter. Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the U.S. would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon. Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war. I am proud to introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 with Sen. Markey to realign our nation’s nuclear weapons launch policy with the Constitution and work towards a safer world.”
Upon introduction of this legislation, Senator Markey issued the following statement:
“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival. Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy provides him with that power. In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation. Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack. By restricting the first use of nuclear weapons, this legislation enshrines that simple principle into law. I thank Rep. Lieu for his partnership on this common-sense bill during this critical time in our nation’s history.”
Support for the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017:
William J. Perry, Former Secretary of Defense – “During my period as Secretary of Defense, I never confronted a situation, or could even imagine a situation, in which I would recommend that the President make a first strike with nuclear weapons—understanding that such an action, whatever the provocation, would likely bring about the end of civilization. I believe that the legislation proposed by Congressman Lieu and Senator Markey recognizes that terrible reality. Certainly a decision that momentous for all of civilization should have the kind of checks and balances on Executive powers called for by our Constitution.”
Tom Z. Collina, Policy Director of Ploughshares Fund – “President Trump now has the keys to the nuclear arsenal, the most deadly killing machine ever created. Within minutes, President Trump could unleash up to 1,000 nuclear weapons, each one many times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Yet Congress has no voice in the most important decision the United States government can make. As it stands now, Congress has a larger role in deciding on the number of military bands than in preventing nuclear catastrophe.”
Derek Johnson, Executive Director of Global Zero – “One modern nuclear weapon is more destructive than all of the bombs detonated in World War II combined. Yet there is no check on a president’s ability to launch the thousands of nuclear weapons at his command. In the wake of the election, the American people are more concerned than ever about the terrible prospect of nuclear war — and what the next commander-in-chief will do with the proverbial ‘red button.’ That such devastating power is concentrated in one person is an affront to our democracy’s founding principles. The proposed legislation is an important first step to reining in this autocratic system and making the world safer from a nuclear catastrophe.”
Megan Amundson, Executive Director of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) – “Rep. Lieu and Sen. Markey have rightly called out the dangers of only one person having his or her finger on the nuclear button. The potential misuse of this power in the current global climate has only magnified this concern. It is time to make real progress toward lowering the risk that nuclear weapons are ever used again, and this legislation is a good start.”
Jeff Carter, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility – “Nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk to our national security. Even a “limited” use of nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic climate disruption around the world, including here in the United States. They are simply too profoundly dangerous for one person to be trusted with the power to introduce them into a conflict. Grounded in the fundamental constitutional provision that only Congress has the power to declare war, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 is a wise and necessary step to lessen the chance these weapons will ever be used.”
Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) – “Restricting first-use of nuclear weapons is an urgent priority. Congress should support the Markey-Lieu legislation.”
The Arms Control Association – “The Arms Control Association applauds Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) for reintroducing legislation to highlight the unconstrained and undemocratic ability of the president to initiate the first-use of U.S. nuclear weapons.… The inauguration of President Donald Trump has heightened fears about the sole authority of the commander in chief to use nuclear weapons. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed deep concern about his erratic behavior and loose talk on nuclear weapons. Now is the time to put responsible checks on the use of nuclear weapons in place. Such a decision is far too important to be left in the hands of one person.”

Take Action: Restrict First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 – Coalition Against Nukes

Monday, September 18, 2017


Jasmine Bright photo

The solutions to the climate crisis are clear: A rapid, just transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system. The only sure way to stop the global warming impacts of energy use is to transition as quickly as possible from antiquated energy models of the 20th Century and their polluting nuclear power and fossil fuel technologies … to the safe, clean, affordable and sustainable renewable, efficient, and smart technologies of the 21st Century.

Nuclear power in particular cannot solve the climate crisis. Indeed, its continued use exacerbates global warming by preventing the deployment of clean energy systems.

Among a myriad of other problems, nuclear power is:

Rooted in human rights violations and environmental racism: First Nations, people of color and low-income communities are targeted for uranium mining and radioactive waste. Radiation harms women and girls at twice the rate as their male counterparts. And radioactive pollution indiscriminately harms future generations, poisoning the environment for hundreds to thousands of years.

Too Dirty: Nuclear reactors and the nuclear fuel chain produce vast amounts of lethal radioactive waste, which grow whenever nuclear power is used. The nuclear fuel chain is responsible for far more carbon emissions than renewable energy generation and improved energy efficiency. All reactors routinely emit radiation and radioactive waste. Scientific bodies agree have confirmed that there is no “safe” level of radiation exposure.

Too Dangerous: Continued use of nuclear power will inevitably lead to more Fukushimas, Church Rocks, and Chernobyls. The technology and materials needed to generate nuclear energy can be diverted to nuclear weapons programs.

Too Expensive: Nuclear power is the costliest means possible of reducing carbon and methane emissions; its use crowds out investment in clean energy sources.

Too Slow: Use of nuclear power to reduce fossil fuel emissions would require an unprecedented nuclear construction program, beyond the capability of the world’s manufacturers within an acceptable time frame.

Clean energy, including solar, wind, geothermal, energy efficiency, distributed generation, electricity storage and other advanced technologies can meet the world’s energy needs without carbon and methane emissions, radioactive waste, and other pollutants.

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COP23 / Nov. 2017 / BONN (GERMANY)

Please Join Us in Supporting the Don't Nuke the Climate Campaign! | Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Beware nuclear industry’s fake news on being emissions free | Letters | Environment | The Guardian

David Blackburn says we need decentralised energy sources; David Lowry on nuclear not being zero-carbon technology; plus letters from David Hayes and Fred Starr

…Your incisive editorial makes many strong points, not least highlighting the exigencies of potential security compromises and terrorism vulnerabilities of the planned new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. But there is a fatal flaw in the argument you set out. The editorial asserts: “Nuclear power has a trump card: it is a zero-carbon technology which delivers a continuous, uninterrupted supply.”

This is demonstrably untrue. On the latter point, you only have to consult the published operating record of reactors to see this is an unsustainable claim. All reactors have lengthy planned outages (shutdowns) for operational reasons; some have significant unplanned outages due to operational failures; and in the extreme case of post-accident safety prudence, such as in Japan, their 54 reactors were all closed for years after the 2011 Fukushima disaster – and became hugely expensive “stranded assets.”

On alleged zero-carbon status of nuclear plants, you repeat a similarly erroneous assertion made in your editorial of 1 October 2005 (Pre-empting debate), where you wrote: “The big advantage of nuclear generation is that it does not produce environmentally degrading emissions in the way that fossil fuel generation does.”

You printed my response to this assertion (There is nothing green about Blair’s nuclear dream, 20 October 2005) in which I set out the various ways the carbon footprint of nuclear power is substantial, if the whole “cradle-to-grave” nuclear fuel chain (uranium mining, milling, enrichment, fuel production, in-reactor fuel irradiation, storage and final long-term management) is properly calculated. I pointed out that the nuclear industry’s proponents, such as those gathered at last week’s World Nuclear Association jamboree in London, are fond of spreading fake news such as describing nuclear energy as “non-carbon emitting”. It is about time this dangerous falsehood was confined to the dustbin of history…

read: Beware nuclear industry’s fake news on being emissions free | Letters | Environment | The Guardian

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The end of Cassini | Karl Grossman

by Karl Grossman –

The crashing of the nuclear power-energized Cassini space probe into Saturn – a process that began on April 22, Earth Day – will culminate this Friday, September 15. The probe – containing more deadly plutonium than has ever been used on a space device­ – will then reach Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrate as it plummets to Saturn.
The Cassini space probe was launched 20 years ago despite protests around the world. The $3.27 billion mission constituted a huge risk. Cassini with its 72.3 pounds of Plutonium-238 fuel was launched on a Titan IV rocket on October 17, 1997 despite several Titan IV rockets having earlier blown up on launch…
more: The end of Cassini - NationofChange