PRESS RELEASE — Groups oppose top climate scientists’ call to embrace nuclear power

CHICAGO– Wednesday, January 8, 2014

As a courtesy to our hundreds of colleague organizations nationally, we forward this press release to you.

Sun over nuke
“Solar eclipse” of the D.C. Cook nuke, at 1999 Nuclear Free Great Lakes Action Camp

NEIS is one of the signatory groups on this letter.

Much ado was made several months back of Dr. James Hanson’s joint letter, calling on environmental groups to embrace new nuclear reactors.  While a brilliant climate scientist, his credentials in energy analysis leave something to be desired.  Just as one would not go to a dentist for an oil change (no matter how painless s/he promised the treatment), one has to be more than skeptical of a climate scientist promoting nuclear power.

What FAILED to get reported over and over were the many equally credible organizations and international bodies — including the IPCC (May 9, 2011) — that have calculated that nuclear is NOT necessary to reach climate stabilization goals; and that EXISTING renewable energy resources, coupled with intelligent energy efficiency,  could meet the overwhelming proportion of anticipated demand by the mid-century.

In short — the call for more nuclear power is nothing more than the “methadone approach” to dealing with our energy addiction and climate disruption.  ♦


300+ Environmental and Clean Organizations tell climate scientists:

We love your work on climate, but stop promoting dangerous, dirty, expensive, and counterproductive nuclear power!

January 8, 2014

Dear Friends,

Today NIRS and the Civil Society Institute released the text of a grassroots response to renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen and three colleagues, urging them to reconsider their support for nuclear power as a climate solution. In a press release announcing the letter, the groups challenged Dr. Hansen to a debate on the issue. Today’s letter was in response to an open letter to environmental groups, urging support for new nuclear reactors across the world, that the four scientists published in November.

The NIRS/CSI letter was signed by more than 300 organizations worldwide–including many of your groups! Thank you so much for your support–this is an unprecedented number of groups for a letter and outreach campaign lasting only three weeks and including the holiday season.

You can read the press release about the letter here. We encourage you–especially if your group signed the letter–to put your own organizational information on the release and send it to your local media. Just send a quick note to if you would like a copy of the press release in Word format, for easier editing. We also encourage individuals to write letters to the editor of your local newspapers and other media outlets in support of this overwhelming grassroots response to Hansen’s missive.

You can read the letter itself, with all signers, here.

The original letter from the four climate scientists is here.

The November letter from the climate scientists is considerably toned down from some of Dr. Hansen’s other statements over the past couple years, which increasingly sound like they were taken from a nuclear industry briefing paper. And Dr. Hansen himself has continued to take a more aggressive pro-nuclear stance, most recently in an appearance before a UN briefing in December attended by a NIRS board member. In contradiction to the stunning growth and prospects for clean renewable energy–which can and already are being deployed much more quickly and cheaply than new nuclear reactors–Hansen and his colleagues consistently downplay the ability of clean energy sources and energy efficiency to play a major role in our energy future.

On December 20, for example, the international firm Credit Suisse predicted that 85% of all new U.S. energy demand through 2025 will be met by renewable energy sources. The clean energy future is here: all that stands in the way are political decisions and statements from scientists such as these–expert on climate but not so much on energy, but who should know better–that serve only to support the increasingly obsolete nuclear power industry.

Said the letter signed by 311 organizations from 46 states and 22 nations, “Instead of embracing nuclear power, we request that you join us in supporting an electric grid dominated by energy efficiency, renewable, distributed power and storage technologies.  We ask you to join us in supporting the phase-out of nuclear power as Germany and other countries are pursuing.  It is simply not feasible for nuclear power to be a part of a sustainable, safe and affordable future for humankind. We would be pleased to meet with you directly to further discuss these issues, to bring the relevant research on renewable energy and grid integration to a dialog with you.”



Groups oppose top climate scientists’ call to embrace nuclear power

Hannah Northey, E&E reporter

Greenwire: Wednesday, January 8, 2014

More than 300 groups are rejecting calls from top climate scientists to embrace nuclear power to fight climate change since renewables cannot be deployed fast enough.

Environmental and anti-nuclear groups from the United States and 22 other countries told former NASA scientist and activist James Hansen and three other scientists who have alerted the public to the dangers of climate change in recent years that nuclear power is too dangerous and relies too heavily on federal subsidies.

The groups, spearheaded by the Civil Society Institute and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, also called for a global phasing out of nuclear power and said wind and solar deployment, in the United States in particular, is far outpacing the development and construction of new reactors. The Civil Society Institute is an advocacy group focused on clean energy issues and climate change, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service is a Maryland-based anti-nuclear activist group.

“Instead of embracing nuclear power, we request that you join us in supporting an electric grid dominated by energy efficiency, renewable, distributed power and storage technologies,” the groups wrote in the letter Monday. “We ask you to join us in supporting the phase-out of nuclear power as Germany and other countries are pursuing.”

The letter was signed by a number of groups opposed to fossil fuels and uranium mining, including the Coal River Mountain Watch and Utah-based Uranium Watch, as well as pro-renewables, social and religious organizations.

Signatories also included anti-nuclear and pro-renewables groups in Japan, a country still reeling from a 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Hansen joined Ken Caldeira, a senior scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kerry Emanuel, a prominent hurricane researcher; and Tom Wigley, a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, last year in calling on “those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power” to embrace nuclear power (E&ENews PM, Nov. 4, 2013).

The scientists said renewables cannot scale up fast enough to “deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires” and that there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power.

But the groups dismissed those claims and said “advanced” nuclear designs endorsed by the scientists “are mere blueprints without realistic hope, in the near term, if ever, to be commercialized.” The United States, on the other hand, has deployed tens of thousands of megawatts of wind and solar with only minimal new construction in the nuclear sector, according to the letter.

Other science-based groups that did not sign the letter have also questioned nuclear’s near-term role in tackling climate change, but without suggesting a global phaseout.

Steve Clemmer, director of energy research and analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists, noted in ablog post last year that the cost of nuclear power continues to be high while the prices of wind and solar systems drop.

Whereas nuclear additions are limited, the United States broke records in 2012 after installing more than 13 gigawatts of wind and 3.2 GW of solar photovoltaic, Clemmer wrote.


One thought on “PRESS RELEASE — Groups oppose top climate scientists’ call to embrace nuclear power”

  1. Colorado is among the most aggressive states on renewable energy standards requiring 30% renewables for retail electricity by 2020 for investor owned utilities. Cooperative electric associations and municipally owned utilities requirement is 20% renewables by 2020.

    The problem is Colorado’s largest utility, Xcel Energy’s Public Service Co of Colorado (PSCo), currently generates 80.5% of its electricity from fossil fuels (Coal 57.7% and NG 22.8%), 16.6% from Wind and 1.1% from Solar.

    Other regions of the country have much smaller carbon footprints due to higher percentages of renewables and sizable nuclear capacity (zero-carbon). Colorado has no nuclear plants.

    So Colorado is stuck somewhere between 70 and 80% electricity from fossil fuels for years (decades?) to come while other regions will enjoy much smaller carbon footprints. Republicans in the Legislature are vowing to cancel, postpone or water down the rural 20% mandate.

    NOTE: Colorado’s carbon footprint is exacerbated by methane leakage from the explosive growth of oil and gas drilling. Colorado exports more than 75% of the NG it produces. Colorado’s environmental community is consumed by the fracking controversy at the moment.

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