Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Open Letter to Obama

President-elect Obama and VP-elect Joe Biden have a website up that allows for the "common man and woman" to write their ideas of solving some of the problems the U.S. faces in the coming months and years. I wrote a letter regarding my views on alternative energy, climate change, and oil dependence, summarized from Co-Op America's article "Ten Strikes Against Nuclear Power"

Date:   11/18/2008 9:20:05 PM   ( 9 y ) ... viewed 1644 times

"Congratulations on your election win!

RE: Climate change, oil dependence, and the environment.

Dear President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden:

I am heartened to know that you support alternative energies as ways to reduce our dependence on oil and reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming. However, I am very dismayed by your campaign promises to look into the expansion of the use of nuclear power.

Nuclear power is NOT an "alternative energy" and causes more problems for the environment and for national security.

Solar power, wind power, geothermal power, hybrid and electric cars, tidal energy, and aggressive energy efficiency are climate solutions that are safer, cheaper, faster, more secure, and less wasteful than nuclear power. Our country needs a massive influx of investment in these solutions if we are to reduce our dependence on oil and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

1. Nuclear waste -- Nuclear proponents hope that the next generation of nuclear plants will generate much less waste, but this technology is not yet fully developed or proven. Even if new technology eventually can successfully reduce the waste involved, the waste that remains will still be toxic for 100,000 years.

No community should have to accept nuclear waste site, or even accept the risks of nuclear waste being transported through on route to its final destination. The waste problem alone should take nuclear power off the table.

2. Nuclear proliferation – The United States has been putting pressure on Iran and North Korea to curb their nuclear power plant programs as a means of safeguarding nuclear by-products from being used to feed a nuclear weapons program. The United States is the ONLY country in the world that has used nuclear weapons as an act of war. We would be beyond hypocritical to demand that other countries curb their nuclear power plant programs in order to control weapons proliferation while we continue to develop an expanded domestic nuclear energy program here.

If we want to be serious about stopping proliferation in the rest of the world, we need to get serious here at home, and not push the next generation of nuclear proliferation forward as an answer to climate change and oil dependence. There is simply no way to guarantee that nuclear materials will not fall into the wrong hands.

3. National Security – Nuclear reactors represent a clear national security risk, and an attractive target for terrorists. Our nuclear power plants remain unsecured, without adequate evacuation plans in the case of an emergency.

4. Accidents - Aside from the threat of terrorist attacks, no one wants to have to face another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island-type disaster. Whether by human error or natural disaster, the risk of nuclear power plant accidents are ever-present. Building more nuclear power plants than we have now increases the risks of accident.

5. Cancer -- There are growing concerns that living near nuclear plants increases the risk for childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer – even when a plant has an accident-free track record. According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, a nuclear energy expert, nuclear power plants produce numerous dangerous, carcinogenic elements. Alternative power sources like solar and wind exist now, and are safe.

6. Site Selection - Nuclear plants need to be located near a source of water for cooling, and selected sites need to be safe from droughts, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other potential disasters that could trigger a nuclear accident. Climate change is causing stronger storms and coastal flooding, which in turn reduces the number of feasible sites for nuclear power plants. Additionally, due to all of the other strikes against nuclear power, many communities will actively fight against nuclear plants coming into their town.

7. Not enough uranium – Even if we could find enough feasible sites for a new generation of nuclear plants, we’re running out of the uranium necessary to power them. As uranium supplies dwindle, nuclear plants will actually begin to use up more energy to mine and mill the uranium than can be recovered through the nuclear reactor process. What’s more, dwindling supplies will trigger the use of ever lower grades of uranium, which produce ever more climate-change-producing emissions.

8. Costs – When more solar panels are produced, the costs per panel come down. Nuclear power, however, will experience increasing costs to scale. Due to dwindling sites and uranium resources, each successive new nuclear power plant will only see its costs rise, with taxpayers and consumers ultimately paying the price.

Additionally, a nuclear power plant brings few jobs to its local economy. In contrast, accelerating solar and energy efficiency solutions creates good-paying, green collar jobs in every community. The US government’s current energy policy providing more than $11 billion in subsidies to the nuclear energy industry could be much better spent providing safe and clean energy that would give a boost to local communities, like solar and wind power do.

9. Private sector unwilling to finance – Wall Street refuses to invest in nuclear power because the plants are assumed to have a 50 percent default rate. The only way that Wall Street will put their money behind these plants is if American taxpayers underwrite the risks. If the private sector has deemed nuclear power too risky, it makes no sense to force taxpayers to bear the burden.

10. No time – Even if nuclear waste, national security, accidents, cancer and other dangers of uranium mining and transport, lack of sites, increasing costs, and a private sector unwilling to insure and finance the projects weren’t enough to put an end to the idea of building more nuclear plants, there is no time to build them. We have the next ten years to mount a global effort against climate change and a reduction of our dependence on oil. It simply isn’t possible to build enough nuclear power plants in the next 10 years to significantly impact our energy needs or global warming.

With so many strikes against nuclear power, it should be off the table as a climate solution or a way to reduce our dependence on oil. We need to turn our energies toward the technologies and strategies that can truly make a difference: solar power, wind power, geothermal power, hybrid and electric cars, tidal energy, and energy conservation.


What Co-op America wrote:

Write to President Elect Obama/Vice-President Elect Biden on other topics of your choice:
go to Obama/Biden's website

Click on any of the agenda items; takes you to a page giving Obama/Biden policies/ideas. On each page is a blue box labeled "Of the People/By the People--Submit your ideas"--just click on it and submit your own ideas!

Related Blog:

Change American Agriculture!

Agriculture in the U.S. contributes to greenhouse gasses--second only to transportation in this country. Read Michael Pollan's great article on this and other ills of American agriculture/food industry and his solutions of how to change it! Write to Obama/Biden and let them know YOUR ideas of how to change agricultural/food industry practices in the U.S.!

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