Pro-Nuclear Victory in New Jersey! But at the Cost of a Hefty Subsidy for Solar

Pro-Nuclear Victory in New Jersey! But at the Cost of a Hefty Subsidy for Solar

New Jersey’s passage today of legislation to prevent the premature closure of the state’s nuclear plants is another crucial victory to save America’s largest source of clean energy.

Climate and environmental scientists organized by Environmental Progress urged New Jersey’s Governor Philip Murphy to pass the legislation, and I testified in support of the legislation last December.

But the legislation’s passage came at a hefty price: 18 to 28 times more in subsidies for solar energy than will be received by nuclear plants.

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New Jersey votes to subsidize solar at rate 18 to 28 times greater than subsidy for nuclear

New Jersey votes to subsidize solar at rate 18 to 28 times greater than subsidy for nuclear

New Jersey’s state legislature today passed legislation that will subsidize solar at a rate 18 to 28 times greater than a state subsidy for nuclear, a new Environmental Progress analysis finds.

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Billionaire Energy Speculator Tom Steyer Bankrolls Arizona Initiative That Would Close America's Single Largest Source of Clean Energy

Billionaire Energy Speculator Tom Steyer Bankrolls Arizona Initiative That Would Close America's Single Largest Source of Clean Energy

Tom Steyer, a billionaire energy speculator, is bank-rolling an Arizona ballot initiative that would prematurely close the state’s sole nuclear plant — which is also America’s largest single source of clean energy — and replace it with fossil fuels.

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Elon Musk's Tesla Calls for Killing California's Largest Source of Clean Energy, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant

Elon Musk's Tesla Calls for Killing California's Largest Source of Clean Energy, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant

Over the last two years, Elon Musk has been lionized as a climate hero for creating a high-performance electric car (Tesla) and a fast-growing solar panel company (Solar City).

Now, Tesla, which absorbed Solar City last year, has come out in favor of *closing* Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, California's largest source of clean energy.

Imagine the outcry if a nuclear energy company tried not just to kill solar subsidies but actually *remove* Solar City panels from rooftops in order to build more nuclear plants.

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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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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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