Press Release: Environmental Coalition to Energy Secretary Granholm: Again Reject Massive Bailout Scheme at Palisades “Zombie” Atomic Reactor
NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR
For immediate release
Michael Keegan, Co-Chair, Don’t Waste Michigan, [email protected], (734) 770-1441;
Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, [email protected], (301) 270-6477 ext. 3.
Environmental Coalition to Energy Secretary Granholm:
Again Reject Massive Bailout Scheme at Palisades “Zombie” Atomic Reactor
Restarting Dangerously Age-Degraded Nuke Would Risk Health, Safety, Security, and Environment, Watch-Dogs Warn
|COVERT TWP., MI & WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2023–
A coalition of 115 organizations, including 31 based in the Great Lakes State of Michigan, and 179 individuals, including 49 Michiganders, have sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.* The letter was submitted Monday by attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio, long-serving legal counsel for environmental opponents of Palisades’ operation. The coalition urges Energy Secretary Granholm to again, for the second time, reject Holtec International’s requested billion dollar, or larger, federal bailout, to restart the closed-for-good Palisades atomic reactor on the shore of Lake Michigan.
A similar coalition letter was sent to Energy Secretary Granholm, a former Michigan governor as well as attorney general, on September 23, 2022. It also expressed opposition to Holtec’s first bailout application, filed secretly on July 5. Holtec, as well as Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, announced their bailout and restart scheme on September 9.** However, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) rejected Holtec’s Palisades bailout bid on November 18, 2022, as announced by Holtec.
But, on December 19, 2022, Holtec announced it would again seek the DOE bailout, applying by January 23, 2023 for the second round of taxpayer-funded grants, established by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program.
Of the $6 billion in this old reactor bailout federal funding, $4.9 billion currently remains. Just days after DOE rejected Holtec’s application for Palisades last November, the agency awarded a $1.1 billion bailout to Pacific Gas & Electric, in order to operate Diablo Canyon Units 1 and 2 in California past their current 2024 and 2025 license expirations, despite a 2016 agreement with labor unions, environmental groups, and host municipalities not to do so. In addition, several months ago the governor and state legislature in California controversially granted PG&E another $1.3 billion in state-level bailouts for the extended operations. Similarly, Holtec has demanded state-level bailouts from Michigan for Palisades’ restart, for an amount rumored to be more than a billion dollars.
The bailout and restart scheme ignores Palisades’ severe, high-risk, age-related degradation, including multiple worsening pathways to catastrophic reactor core meltdown: the worst pressure vessel embrittlement in the country, and among the worst in the world; severely degraded steam generators and reactor lid, decades overdue for replacement; a half-century worth of problem-plagued control rod drive mechanism seal failures, etc.
“We’ve long known Palisades was a radioactive monster, but we never imagined in our wildest nightmare it turning into a zombie reactor,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear based in Takoma Park, MD. “If restarted for at least another nine years of ever more high-risk operations, Palisades would not only pose an increasing threat to the public’s health, safety, security, and environment, but would also massively pick their federal taxpayer, and likely also Michigander state ratepayer, pockets to do so,” Kamps, who also serves on Don’t Waste Michigan’s board of directors, added.
“Market manipulation is detrimental to the entire energy sector,” said Michael Keegan, co-chair of Don’t Waste Michigan. “Yet, the Entergy-Consumers Energy Power Purchase Agreement, from 2007 to 2022, gouged the region’s ratepayers, forcing them to pay 57% above market rates on their electricity bills,” Keegan added.
“Our analysis indicates that Palisades does not even qualify for such a bailout under the U.S. Department of Energy’s own rules, nor the letter of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project director at Nuclear Information and Resource Service based in Takoma Park, MD. “For starters, the Civil Nuclear Credit Program is intended to bail out still-operating reactors, but Palisades closed for good more than eight months ago,” D’Arrigo added.
“The Indigenous Environmental Network and our coalition allies commented to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission nearly two decades ago, regarding Palisades’ operations after its initial 40-year license expired in 2007, stating our concern that Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Governments should have been meaningfully consulted, on a government-to-government basis, but this was not done,” said Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director of IEN. “Restored operations at this atomic reactor would further impact and put at risk ecological and human health, impact to culturally significant sites in the vicinity, including potential burial sites. The rights of Indigenous Peoples and treaties must be honored, and federal laws, such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act to name but one, must be enforced,” Goldtooth added.
In addition to Indigenous Environmental Network, other Indigenous, or Indigenous-led, organizations which also endorsed the coalition letter to DOE include: Citizens’ Resistance At Fermi Two (CRAFT) based in Redford, MI; Native Community Action Council based in Las Vegas, NV; and Native Justice Coalition based in Manistee, MI.
Environmental Justice (EJ) and youth-led organizations endorsing the letter include: Benton Harbor (MI) Community Water Council; Black Autonomy Network Community Organization, Benton Harbor; Breathe Free Detroit; Earth Care, New Mexico, based in Oghá P’o’oge, unceded Tewa Territory (Santa Fe); Energia Mia, in San Antonio, TX; Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice in San Francisco, CA; Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition based in Detroit; Michigan Student Power Alliance based in Detroit; and Original United Citizens of Southwest Detroit.
*The letter, in PDF format, can also be emailed to you — please simply send a request to [email protected]g.
**Gov. Whitmer’s advocacy for Palisades’ bailout and restart has continued since April 2022, despite widespread opposition communicated to her in June 2022, as well as in October 2022.
|Beyond Nuclear is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear. Beyond Nuclear: 7304 Carroll Avenue, #182, Takoma Park, MD 20912. [email protected]. www.beyondnuclear.org.|
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