Biden’s $6 billion nuclear boondoggle


A statement from Beyond Nuclear

The misguided but predictable decision by the Biden administration to waste $6 billion in taxpayer dollars propping up US reactors that were scheduled to close, further detours from and delays urgently needed action on the climate crisis.

Just as predictably, conservative Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin, wrongfully claimed that the funding for nuclear power would help in “preserving American jobs, reducing emissions, and bolstering our energy security.”

Renewable energy is the fastest growing job sector in the US and would quickly provide a greater number of longer term, well-paying and obviously safer jobs for Americans. Equally, applying the $6 billion to the renewable energy growth sector instead of the financially failing nuclear power industry, would reduce more carbon faster for the same price.

As Stanford physicist, Amory Lovins, has repeatedly pointed out: “Most US nuclear reactors now cost more just to run – including big repairs that trend upward with age – than their output can earn. They also cost more just to run than providing the same services by building and operating new renewables, or by using electricity more efficiently.”

And conditions in Ukraine, with nuclear reactors in a war zone, have served as an alarming reminder of the inherent dangers of nuclear power, which can release vast amounts of long-lived and dangerous radioactivity in the event of a disaster, whether accidental or deliberate, potentially contaminating people and the environment indefinitely.

As a 2020 UK study has shown, for every 1 gigawatt hour, renewables generate 4.7 short-term and 3.5 long-term jobs, while nuclear equivalents are 0.8 and 0.5. And jobs in renewables are better suited to the semi-skilled workforce that needs them rather than the more elite, high-skilled jobs offered in the nuclear sector. This would serve Mr. Manchin’s West Virginia constituents far better as coal continues to be phased out.

Furthermore, as Germany — whose renewable energy sector employment dwarfs all other energy areas — has shown, a focus on renewables stimulates jobs throughout the supply chain of supporting industries across the country, including distressed ports and the once declining steel industry. This is a model the US would do well to follow if it is serious about addressing the climate crisis, at the same time delivering good jobs and shoring up energy security. (Headline photo: Jiří Bubeníček, CC)

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