We fought hard, and won big. Now we must press our advantage

We fought hard, and won big. Now we must press our advantage

EP’s work saving nuclear in Illinois, New York, Connecticut, France and South Korea will reduce carbon pollution the equivalent of keeping 22 million cars off the road by 2025

The work of saving nuclear by Environmental Progress will prevent $25 billion in economic damages from climate change damage by 2025, based on the US EPA's social cost of carbon.

If EP were to take just 10 percent of the credit for those victories, every dollar donated to EP resulted in a nearly 2,000-fold impact.

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Saving New Jersey's nuclear plants will save lives and jobs. President Michael Shellenberger's testimony

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Testimony by Michael Shellenberger, Founder and President, Environmental Progress.

December 4, 2017

Mr. Chairperson and members of the committee: thank you for accepting my testimony.

As background, I am a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” Green Book Award-winner, and president of Environmental Progress, an independent nonprofit organization funded entirely by individuals and philanthropic foundations.

I am here today because I am very concerned by the threat that nuclear plant closures pose to the environment, public health, and jobs. 

I was against nuclear energy for most of my life and only changed my mind after confronting key facts about the limitations of renewables. 

New Jersey gets electricity from three nuclear plants. If they close, emissions in New Jersey will rise the equivalent of adding 2.7 million cars to the road. Children, the sick, and the elderly suffering from asthma or respiratory diseases will pay the highest price.

The New York-Newark region is already among the 25th most polluted cities in America in ozone and particulate matter. The American Lung Association this year gave 11 New Jersey counties an “F” grade for ozone pollution.

If you allow your nuclear plants to close, electricity prices will rise and high-skill, high-paying jobs will be lost.

My home state of California stands as a stark warning. Our electricity prices have risen from 13 cents to 18 cents per kilowatt hour since 2011. By contrast, electricity rates nationally rose from just 10 to 11 cents during the same period. 

High electricity prices have driven manufacturers out of California and we today have the highest poverty rate in the country, according to the US Census Bureau.

What happened to California? It’s simple: we closed one of our two nuclear plants, which generate power at a cost of about 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, and increased the amount of electricity we receive from natural gas, solar, and wind.

The best available peer-reviewed economic research finds that the value of wind drops 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity and the value of solar drops by half when it gets to just 15 percent.

What about the battery revolution we’ve heard so much about? There isn’t one. As a result, Californians have to pay Arizona to take our unneeded solar electricity so it doesn’t blow-out our grid.

What about carbon emissions? They rose in California by 11 million metric tonnes while they declined 174 million metric tonnes in the U.S. as a whole.

The share of New Jersey’s electricity from natural gas already doubled since 2010, and last year provided 56 percent of your electricity last year. Nuclear provided 39 percent of your electricity last year and is the critical bulwark against over-dependence on natural gas. 

Natural gas is cheap now, but if it becomes 90 percent of your electricity you can expect prices to spike. Once a nuclear plant is closed it’s closed forever. You can’t just go start it up again once natural gas prices rise.

I encourage you to join New York and Illinois in taking sensible measures to safeguard public health, jobs, and consumers by ensuring the continued operation of your nuclear plants.  Thank you.

Why I changed my mind about nuclear power: Transcript of Michael Shellenberger's TEDx Berlin 2017

Why I changed my mind about nuclear power: Transcript of Michael Shellenberger's TEDx Berlin 2017

Like a lot of kids born in the early 1970s, I had the good fortune to be raised by hippies. One of my childhood heroes was Stewart Brand. Stewart is not only one of the original hippies, he’s also one of the first modern environmentalists of the 1960s and 70s. As a young boy, one of my favorite memories is playing cooperative games that Stewart Brand invented as an antidote to the Vietnam War.

I started my environmental career as an anti-nuclear activist and I quickly got involved in advocating for renewable energy. In the early part of this century I helped to start a labor union and environmentalist alliance called the Apollo Alliance and we pushed for a big investment in clean energy: solar, wind, electric cars.

Then, Stewart Brand came out in 2005 and said we should rethink nuclear power. 

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Why is California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Seeking to Kill Our Largest Source of Clean Energy?

Why is California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom Seeking to Kill Our Largest Source of Clean Energy?

When the utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced last summer that it would close California’s last nuclear power plant, the mainstream news media mostly applauded.

The New York Times gave a loud endorsement of the decision. “Good news from Diablo Canyon,” wrote the paper’s Editorial Board. Diablo’s closure would, “serve as a positive example for other states and nations that may in time need to replace aging nuclear plants without increasing carbon emissions.”
 

But it's now clear that PG&E will take no action to ensure California’s carbon emissions don’t spike when Diablo closes, and they’re telling us loud and clear. The utility’s position is simple: all of Diablo’s emissions-free energy will be replaced by fossil.

It will be all of us who lose if PG&E closes Diablo. But the truth will find a way, and so will Environmental Progress, Mothers for Nuclear, and Californians for Green Nuclear Power as we fight this injustice and drag the government and PG&E’s dirty hands into the light.

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The Power to Decarbonize

The Power to Decarbonize

This report was born from an ongoing effort by the staff and research fellows of Environmental Progress and other researchers to understand the fastest way to decarbonize national economies (i.e., reduce emissions per unit of gross domestic product) in order to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.

We publish it to fill a gap in the scientific literature and the regularly issued reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which are overwhelmingly focused on modeling future scenarios with little regard for real-world historical trends.

We are more than ever of the view that a future-facing climate policy must be informed by backward-facing energy analysis. The attention given by energy analysts, policymakers, and the IPCC to scenarios ungrounded from history is wildly disproportionate to the attention given to the real world experience of deploying clean energy technologies and their impact, or lack thereof, on carbon intensity and emissions.

Given what’s at stake, this constitutes a grave error. Those who insist on ignoring the past, to modify Santayana, should not be allowed to force the rest of us to repeat it.

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Stanford University Professor Mark Z. Jacobson Sues Prestigious Team of Scientists for Debunking 100% Renewables

Stanford University Professor Mark Z. Jacobson Sues Prestigious Team of Scientists for Debunking 100% Renewables

Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson has filed a lawsuit, demanding $10 million in damages, against the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and a group of eminent scientists (Clack et al.) for their study showing that Jacobson made improper assumptions in order to claim that he had demonstrated U.S. energy could be provided exclusively by renewable energy, primarily wind, water, and solar.

Jacobson’s lawsuit is an appalling attack on free speech and scientific inquiry and we urge the courts to reject it as grossly unethical and without legal merit.

Further, we urge all environmentalists — including those that support the 100 percent renewables framework, such as Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) — to join us in denouncing Jaconbson’s legal action.

What Jacobson has done is unprecedented. Scientific disagreements must be decided not in court but rather through the scientific process. We urge Stanford University, Stanford Alumni, and everyone who loves science and free speech to denounce this lawsuit.

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Another Pro-Nuclear Victory!! This time in Connecticut, USA! Here's what it means

Another Pro-Nuclear Victory!! This time in Connecticut, USA! Here's what it means

In another big victory for pro-nuclear forces, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has just signed legislation to prevent that state's sole nuclear plant from closing.

The victory comes just a week and a half after the upset pro-nuclear victory over anti-nuclear forces in South Korea, whose citizen jury voted 60 percent to 40 percent to continue that nation's nuclear build-out.

Environmental Progress was intensively involved in advocating to save the plant, publishing an open letter signed by the world's leading climate scientists and environmentalists — as well as Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Rhodes and Harvard's Stephen Pinker — and publishing an in-depth analysis of the environmental consequences that would result from its closure.

This is the fourth big victory for Environmental Progress and our pro-nuclear allies saving nuclear plants. Last year we won in New York and Illinois. This year we've won in South Korea and Connecticut.

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Saving Power in Danger: Michael Shellenberger Keynote Address to IAEA

Saving Power in Danger: Michael Shellenberger Keynote Address to IAEA

Nuclear power is the only energy source that can lift all humans out of poverty while protecting the natural environment. Why, then, is it in danger of going away? 

In my keynote address yesterday to the IAEA’s quadrennial ministerial meeting in the United Arab Emirates, I trace the anti-nuclear movement’s roots to a famous essay by the German philosopher (and, yes, Nazi) Martin Heidegger.

Intermittent renewable energies like wind, Heidegger and his anti-humanist, anti-nuclear followers argued, were the key to restraining human ambition.

Should we thus be surprised that the big increases in solar and wind over the last decade still weren’t enough to make up for even the decline of nuclear over the last decade?

Sting said it best last year: “If we’re going to tackle global warming, nuclear is the only way you can create massive amounts of power.”

Nuclear power’s important for something else, I argue: averting thermonuclear war between the US and North Korea.  

Atomic humanists must take a page from South Korea — whose “citizen jury” decided to continue that country’s nuclear expansion — and seek our saving power precisely where the danger lies. 

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“James Hansen Courage Award” to Be Given to South Korean Labor, Student, and Academic Leaders in Recognition of Pro-nuclear “Citizens Jury” Victory

“James Hansen Courage Award” to Be Given to South Korean Labor, Student, and Academic Leaders in Recognition of Pro-nuclear “Citizens Jury” Victory

Ten South Korean labor, student, and academic leaders will receive the James Hansen Courage Award for their successful defense of nuclear power on Thursday, October 26 in two separate ceremonies in Ulsan and in Gyeongju.

The distinction will be awarded to the 10 South Korean pro-nuclear leaders by Environmental Progress (EP) President and Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment” Michael Shellenberger.

The award is “For courageous leadership in fighting climate change with  nuclear energy and preserving the Earth for future generations.”

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Victory! Pro-Nuclear Win in South Korea Gives Momentum to Atomic Humanists Everywhere

Victory! Pro-Nuclear Win in South Korea Gives Momentum to Atomic Humanists Everywhere

In a stunning come-from-behind victory, South Korean citizens on a special jury voted 60 percent to 40 percent to re-start construction of two halted nuclear reactors.

Environmental Progress applauds the citizens jury for choosing wisdom over ideology, and praises South Korean President Moon Jae-in for honoring their decision.

EP especially applauds the university students, professors, and workers who protested and fought for a re-start to construction.

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Energy Secretary Perry’s Electric Resiliency Rule Could Be a Big Win for Nuclear and the Climate. Here’s Why

Energy Secretary Perry’s Electric Resiliency Rule Could Be a Big Win for Nuclear and the Climate. Here’s Why

This morning Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issue a rule requiring payments to nuclear and coal power plants to maintain a resilient electrical grid.

The Trump administration can’t say it, but Environmental Progress can: the rule could be a huge win for the climate.

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South Korea's High Cost of Nuclear Fear

South Korea's High Cost of Nuclear Fear

“The High Cost of Fear,” a new in-depth Environmental Progress report, uses publicly available data, the best-available peer-reviewed scientific research and simple methods to calculate economic and environmental impacts of a nuclear phase-out in South Korea. 

We find a nuclear phase-out would:

  • Cost at least $10 billion per year for additional natural gas purchases alone, the equivalent of 343,000 salaries of jobs paying South Korea’s per capita annual average salary of $29,125;
  • Almost all of the cost would be in the form of payments for fuel, thereby reducing South Korea’s trade surplus;
  • Require a significant increase in fossil fuel use given South Korea’s lack of renewable energy resources;
  • Increase premature deaths from air pollution by replacing nuclear plants instead of coal plants with natural gas;
  • Damage and perhaps destroy South Korea’s lucrative nuclear export business;
  • If measured against the average U.S. car mileage, it would increase carbon emissions the equivalent of adding 15 - 27 million cars to the road, an amount that would prevent South Korea from achieving its Paris climate commitments.
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Renewables Can't Save the Planet. Only Nuclear Can

Renewables Can't Save the Planet. Only Nuclear Can

The lesson Vaclav Smil's Energy and Civilization does not draw, but that flows inevitably from his work, is that for modern societies to do less environmental damage, every country must move toward more reliable and denser energy sources. In recent decades, governments have spent billions of dollars subsidizing renewables, with predictably underwhelming results. It’s high time for countries to turn to the safer, cheaper, and cleaner alternative.

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Are we really going to allow global nuclear domination by Russia?

Are we really going to allow global nuclear domination by Russia?

Sometime this fall, a U.S. federal bankruptcy judge in New York will decide the fate of Westinghouse, the venerable nuclear power company that failed financially earlier this year.

When the decision is made, it will determine something far more important: whether the West will play an active role in mitigating the twin threats of nuclear proliferation and climate change, or instead cede the global market for nuclear energy to Russia.

To succeed, a reorganized Westinghouse will need a management team capable of breaking from the past and adopting a different, well-tested nuclear plant design; as well as the long-term, low-interest financing required to compete with the Russians.

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New South Carolina Nuclear Plant Would Cut Coal Use by 86%, New Analysis Finds

New South Carolina Nuclear Plant Would Cut Coal Use by 86%, New Analysis Finds

In 2016, the president of the Sierra Club stated publicly that he opposed replacing nuclear plants with fossil fuels generating attention that green groups had softened their strident anti-nuclear position.

But just a few weeks later, Sierra Club loudly endorsed closing Indian Point and Diablo Canyon nuclear plants in New York and California respectively.

Now, Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth (FOE) are celebrating the temporary halting of construction on a new nuclear plant in South Carolina — V.C. Summer — which they had lobbied strenuously to kill.

A new Environmental Progress analysis finds that if Summer were completed, the share of electricity South Carolina generates from coal would decline by 86 percent — the equivalent of 3.8 million cars.

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