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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Report: Nuclear power will set back race against climate change

From a news release issued by Wisconsin Environment:

Madison, WI - Far from a solution to global warming, nuclear power will actually set America back in the race to reduce pollution, according to a new report by Wisconsin Environment. Leading environmental organizations, consumer groups and energy experts gathered today to release the report and call on state and federal leaders to focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy instead of nuclear power as the solution to global warming. . . .

Wisconsin Environment’s new report, Generating Failure: How Building Nuclear Power Plants Would Set America Back in the Race Against Global Warming, analyzes the role, under a best-case scenario, that nuclear power could play in reducing global warming pollution. Some key findings of the report include:

• To avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, America must cut power plant emissions roughly in half over the next 10 years.
• Nuclear power is too slow to contribute to this effort. No new reactors are now under construction in the United States. Building a single reactor could take 10 years or longer. As a result, it is quite possible that nuclear power could deliver no progress in the critical next decade, despite spending billions on reactor construction.
• Even if the nuclear industry somehow managed to build 100 new nuclear reactors by 2030, nuclear power could reduce total U.S. emissions of global warming pollution over the next 20 years by only 12 percent -- far too little, too late.
• In contrast, energy efficiency and renewable energy can immediately reduce global warming pollution. Energy efficiency programs are already cutting electricity consumption by 1-2 percent annually in leading states, and the U.S. wind industry is already building the equivalent of three nuclear reactors per year in wind farms. America has vast potential to do more.
• Building 100 new reactors would require an up-front investment on the order of $600 billion dollars – money which could cut at least twice as much carbon pollution by 2030 if invested in clean energy. Taking into account the ongoing costs of running the nuclear plants, clean energy could deliver 5 times more pollution-cutting progress per dollar.
• Nuclear power is not necessary to provide clean, carbon-free electricity for the long haul. The need for base-load power is exaggerated and small-scale clean energy solutions can actually enhance the reliability of the electric grid.

To address global warming, state and federal policy makers should focus on improving energy efficiency and generating electricity from clean sources that never run out – such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal power, according to Wisconsin Environment and the coalition groups that attended today’s event.

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