Senator McNuke & Climate Change

by Kate Smolski

June 19, 2008

Senator McCain, once lauded by environmentalists for breaking with the Bush Administration and the republican establishment by acknowledging the need to address climate change, has once again failed to offer realistic solutions to the climate conundrum.

In 2005, McCain larded up his climate legislation with billions of dollars in nuclear subsidies and lost support for his bill. His blind and unquestioning support for the nuclear industry cost him and this country the opportunity to pass climate change legislation.

(See David Corn’s article in Mother Jones, McCain’s Nuclear waste

Yesterday Senator McCain called for 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030. 

The Senator obviously hasn’t learned from his mistakes….

To address climate change, we need solutions that are fast and affordable and nuclear is neither. According to NASA’s climate change guru James Hansen, we have approximately 7 years to address  the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.  Senator McCain’s call for 45 reactors by 2030 ignores this reality.  Even if the Senator becomes President, it will be another decade before any new nuclear reactor in the US generates electricity.  Nuclear power will be too late to abate climate change.  

In addition, new nuclear plants are so prohibitively expensive they may never be built.
In December, nuclear corporations told Florida regulators that a new Westinghouse designed nuclear plant would cost between $12 and $18 billion dollars – more than double earlier estimates for the very same reactors.  [A new Areva designed nuclear plant could cost as much as $24 billion.]  That same month MidAmerican, a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, became the first corporation to postpone a new reactor.  After performing their due diligence review MidAmerican found that building a new reactor did not make economic sense.  

Energy experts ranging from MIT to the Rocky Mountain Institute recognize that energy efficiency and renewable energy are a much more effective hedge against global warming than nuclear power.

Estimates vary, but every dollar spent on efficiency and renewable energy goes 5 to 10 times further in displacing CO2 than a dollar spent on nuclear power.  Wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on nuclear power would put America and the world even further behind the climate curve ball. Its time for Senator McCain to get back on the “straight talk express” and provide real solutions to climate change that America can afford and implement before its too late.

— Jim Riccio 

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