Friday, December 7, 2018

No Uranium Mining On Sacred Land: Big Win For Pine Ridge Reservation

 The Oglala Sioux Tribe and activists scored a win, when federal administrative judges ruled that Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has failed to take “a hard look” at cultural resources in recommending renewal of a uranium mining license for Crow Butte Mine, near here. The decision delays permitting. 

The tribe, intervening in the license renewal application for the mine in Dawes County, Nebraska, adjacent to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, argued that the staff recommended approval in violation of its rights under the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Protection Act, or NEPA. 

Resolving in favor of the tribe’s argument, an oversight panel established by the Atomic Licensing and Safety Board ruled: “The NRC staff has not met its identification obligations” under the two laws, “nor has the NRC staff, in its environmental assessment, undertaken a hard look under NEPA at cultural resources within the license area.”

more: White Wolf : No Uranium Mining On Sacred Land: Big Win For Pine Ridge Reservation

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

More Nuclear Energy Is Not The Solution To Our Climate Crisis

Faced with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report, some environmental leaders are all too ready to toss a lifeline to aging, uneconomic nuclear power plants. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), long venerated as America’s most rigorous nuclear watchdog group, joined this chorus in early November.
The UCS report, “The Nuclear Dilemma,” proposes that we single out “safe” but financially ailing nuclear plants and subsidize their operations, so that they might remain open — thus avoiding additional carbon emissions from coal or natural gas plants that might replace them. America gets about 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, but only 17 of the 99 reactors that generate this power are unprofitable, according to UCS. Those reactors account for just 3 percent of overall U.S. power generation, though UCS says the share of unprofitable nuclear plants could grow in future years if the price of natural gas drops or the costs of maintaining older nuclear facilities rise.
What do we gain by breathing some extra life into these plants? Proponents say “zero-carbon emissions.” That’s if we choose to ignore the emissions associated with mining and processing uranium, building nuclear power stations, managing nuclear waste, and — on those rare but horrific occasions — dealing with the consequences of a major nuclear disaster.

Bailing out old, financially shaky nuclear plants is a short-sighted response to a huge challenge that requires much bigger, much more transformative thinking. Instead, we ought to invest big in our leading zero-carbon alternatives — solar and wind — which offer far cheaper electricity and, unlike nuclear, have life-cycle costs that have steadily dropped over the past several years…

more: More Nuclear Energy Is Not The Solution To Our Climate Crisis

NIRS Publishes White Paper on Reactor Shutdowns and Phaseout Plans | NIRS

NIRS published a white paper on strategies states can use to manage shutdowns of nuclear reactors responsibly and cost-effectively. Nuclear Reactor Closures: Practical, Cost-Effective Solutions for Communities and the Climate, takes lessons learned from reactor closures and state subsidy programs. It proposes proactive, cost-effective ways for states to plan for shutdowns, while protecting workers and local communities through economic transition and accelerating renewable energy growth and greenhouse gas reductions.

NIRS Publishes White Paper on Reactor Shutdowns and Phaseout Plans | NIRS

Monday, December 3, 2018

Should We Subsidize Nuclear Power to Fight Climate Change? - Scientific American Blog Network

That’s what some are advocating, but the arguments in favor of doing so are flawed

Last month, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) put out a reportentitled The Nuclear Power Dilemma: Declining Profits, Plant Closures, and the Threat of Rising Carbon Emissions that calls for offering subsidies to unprofitable nuclear power plants. Not surprisingly, it has been widely welcomed by nuclear advocates, who interpret the report as essentially saying “yes to nuclear power” in order to reduce carbon emissions.
But that interpretation misses the many important but less prominent insights in the UCS report… read more

Conclusion: "All these factors undermine the report’s central assumption that nuclear plants will be replaced by fossil fueled plants. To be fair, the UCS report does call for periodically assessing whether continued support is necessary and cost effective. But such support might already not be cost effective. All told, the economic basis for subsidies is uncertain at best; more likely, it is flawed. Either way, it may be best to get onward with the transition from fossil fuels and nuclear power to renewables."

Should We Subsidize Nuclear Power to Fight Climate Change? - Scientific American Blog Network


When nuclear power started to develop into an ever more important source of electric energy during the second half of the twentieth century, there grew widespread optimism regarding the potential of this seemingly unlimited, clean and, in the long run, economic resource. The unresolved problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste—which degrades very slowly, with a half-life of up to 15.7 million years—existed from the beginning but was widely ignored. Instead, much hope was placed in finding a solution to this problem—a solution that, up to this date, still does not exist.
Those who were skeptical of nuclear power were proven right by the accidents of Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima in 2011. The latter two incidents in particular encouraged demands for a nuclear power phase-out and led to the establishment of phase-out plans in several countries, including Germany. When the urgency of climate change, along with the necessity of rapid decarbonization, became more evident, many scientists and activists alike pleaded for the use of nuclear power as a transitional technology. They argued that the use of nuclear power could help to avoid shortages in energy supplies caused by the relative unreliability of renewables like wind and solar energy.
In this important new study, Tim Judson, Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and renowned nuclear power expert, does away with persistent myths about the importance of nuclear power. Starting not from an abstract position but by considering real-world events, the author demonstrates the very concrete challenges that the production of nuclear power poses for the environment as well as for our economy.
In addition to the long-lasting environmental impacts of nuclear power production, Judson pays attention to how it affects communities—and in particular poor communities of color—through the mining and processing of uranium as well as the disposal of nuclear waste. While mainly focusing on the production and use of nuclear power in the US, as well as possible phase-out scenarios, this study can easily be applied to other contexts around the world. Informed by global trends in climate change, this study is of utmost urgency in showing us a path toward a nuclear-free, sustainable future.
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office introduces this study as an opportunity to carefully investigate the possible potential as well as the dangers of nuclear power, and the question of its suitability as a transitional technology.