A bipartisan coalition of U.S. senators put forward a “framework” for climate legislation this week that aims to dramatically increase off-shore oil drilling, ensure a “future for coal” and, above all, ramp up subsidies for the nuclear power industry.
It is Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joseph Lieberman pushing an industry-friendly package that protects the industries, not the earth, as the U.S. government continues its relentless effort to place obstacles in the way of real Copenhagen progress and heads instead toward even more profound environmental catastrophes.
Critics of nuclear power argue that a rush to nuclear power could lead to potentially trillions in U.S.-backed bailouts for a default-prone, financially troubled industry; draw away resources needed to promote genuine renewable energy resources and conservation and still pollute the air with carbon-based and other greenhouse gases through the entire production chain.
It is clearly very tempting for greedy industry titans to lure politicians into the nuclear power camp with smooth rhetoric, faulty science and of course, campaign funds. And, the American public has been susceptible to the very, very attractive marketing of nuclear power as the relatively easy-seeming answer to many environmental problems, without the necessity of changing the U.S. lifestyles that we all cling to.
But, the titans, politicians and a sometimes gullible, complacent public forget some basic facts:
1. Nuclear energy can create genetic mutations and deadly cancers.
2. Nuclear power plants are obvious targets for terrorists. Subsequent meltdowns after attack could induce the death of hundreds of thousands of people in heavily populated areas, like New York and the nearby Indian Point Reactor.
3. Adding to the danger, nuclear power plants are essentially atomic bomb factories. A 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor manufactures 500 pounds of plutonium a year; normally 10 pounds of plutonium is fuel for an atomic bomb.
A crude atomic bomb sufficient to devastate a city could certainly be crafted from reactor-grade plutonium. Therefore any non-nuclear weapons country that acquires a nuclear power plant will be provided with the ability to make atomic bombs (this is the issue the world confronts with Iran today).
As the global nuclear industry pushes its nefarious wares upon developing countries with the lie about “preventing global warming,” consequences will include the proliferation of nuclear weapons, a situation that will further destabilize an already unstable world.
“Don’t Nuke the Planet!” Tell Sen. Mark Udall, “No!”
Judith Mohling is a member of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.