Why was pro-nuclear nonsense published on these pages?

PUTNEY — If I didn't know better, I would think that The Commons has been given a large donation by the NEI, one of the nuclear industry's prime lobbying organizations.

How else to understand the the front page of the Voices section from Oct. 8, with two letters and one lengthy diatribe about the grave error we have committed in closing the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor?

All written by people living outside of our community, full of faulty assumptions and some outright lies. The headline “On climate change and Vermont Yankee” would lead a reader to believe that any of these writers actually had any constructive words about how we will fight to change our energy structure to avoid the worst ravages of climate disruption.

In fact, I can't find solar energy mentioned once in these three pieces.

Those of us who actually are working for change know that the true green solution includes a robust program of increasing use of renewable sources of electricity, much greater efficiency, and design changes in our buildings and communities.

We have an amazing opportunity to convert our electric supply to a system of solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other carbon-free, nuclear-free technologies. Solar, in particular, has decreased greatly in price and become ubiquitous in many parts of the country, saving money for tens of thousands of homeowners and cutting huge amounts of carbon from polluting our atmosphere.

Barack Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to create a program to reduce carbon emissions on a state-by-state basis. The president began his political career in Illinois, the most heavily nuclear state in the country. The nuclear corporation Exelon has much influence in the state, and with the current president's energy advisors.

Each state, except our own (due to a lack of large carbon sources in Vermont), will need to reduce its carbon output, with a specific plan.

Here's where the nuclear industry is engaged in a well-funded, strategic, and centrally orchestrated national campaign to make nuclear power the linchpin of this carbon reduction plan.

Thus, the letter from a man in Virginia in our local weekly, as well as letters and editorial columns in newspapers, online, and in any other media where the nuclear industry can find an opening for the falsehood that nuclear is the answer to climate change.

Pro-nuclear James Conca, in The Commons, states that he wants nuclear to be reassigned to the “clean” category - the only “clean” energy needing evacuation plans and creating poisonous waste.

The truth is that the nuclear industry in the United States is on well-deserved life support. All the reactors are old, all are expensive to maintain, and there have been no new ones opened in close to 30 years.

The only reason any reactors continue to operate is a tremendous amount of federal largesse: for example, the Price-Anderson Act, which essentially strips any responsibility for liability insurance for a nuclear accident, and payment by us, the taxpayers, for caring (for the next 10,000 years) for the highly toxic waste produced by reactors.

The current corporate welfare is not enough to keep the atomic industry's electricity costs competitive, so their lobbyists are working, with some success, to grab most of the subsidies and research and development money from renewable energy sources and steer that cash to these nuclear owners. This is a true last-ditch ploy from an industry in trouble.

The nuclear corporations know that there are few if any locations where they can site new plants. While the industry closes its eyes, the disaster at Fukushima continues, poisoning people in Japan and polluting the Pacific Ocean. Nuclear power is not even close to carbon-free, when the mining, refining, enriching, transport, and waste cycle of uranium is taken into account.

If we want a true, safe, clean-energy solution to climate change, it will not come from the nuclear industry. We need to speak out, to tell the EPA that we want our new-era energy mix to be comprised of renewables.

If we want a healthy future for our children and grandchildren, nuclear is not the way to go!

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