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In Promoting New Nuclear Power, Biden-Harris Back Fiction Over Science via Counter Punch

BY LINDA PENTZ GUNTER


Although possibly a sad comment on his predecessors, incoming U.S. president, Joe Biden, is offering the most progressive climate policy so far of any who have previously held his position.

As Paul Gipe points out in his recent blog, the Biden-Harris climate plan uses the word “revolution” right in the headline — a bit of a departure from the usual cautious rhetoric of the centrist-controlled Democratic Party.

But ‘revolution’ is proceeded by two words which let us know we are still lingering in conservative ‘safe’ territory. They call it a “clean energy revolution”, which Gipe rightly refers to as “focus-group shopped terminology.” He goes on:

[…]

The Biden-Harris energy plan hits all the right notes in its opening paragraphs, focusing on a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and emphasizing infrastructure, international collaboration and the protection of poor communities of color, who suffer the most harm from unfettered polluters.

[…]

Still on the right track, the Biden-Harris climate plan looks to the rights and wellbeing of workers and jobs creation. It will adhere to “science, not fiction” and recognizes that energy efficiency has an essential role to play.

And then it goes very badly — if predictably — wrong.

In the section entitled “Biden’s Year One Legislative Agenda on Climate Change,” the document proclaims “We have to get rid of the old way of thinking,” then reverts precisely to that, clinging on to nuclear power as a necessary component of its plan.

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The good news is that nuclear power does not play much of a role in the Biden-Harris plan. But the bad news is that, when it comes to nuclear power, the Biden camp has indeed chosen fiction over science.

A bullet point called “Identify the future of nuclear energy” reverts right back to the failed Obama “all of the above” approach to “look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies”, instead of recognizing that nuclear power, a failed 20th century technology, does not have a future.

As Amory Lovins points out, this “low-carbon” approach is a perpetual mistake made by politicians and seized on and influenced by the nuclear industry — to look only at carbon savings, and not at cost and time as well.

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This last is an important point for the Biden-Harris energy team to note. By including so-called new nuclear, they are dooming themselves to wasting both time and money better spent focused on renewables. Small modular reactors will not, as their plan asserts, come in at “half the construction cost of today’s reactors.” They will be far more expensive in relation to the electricity they would eventually produce. And of course they would arrive too late, and in too small a quantity and generate too little — and very expensive — electricity to make any difference to climate change at all.

Biden-Harris must look at empirical data, not listen to spin doctors and establishment cronies who will keep them anchored to the status quo, thus deferring the very energy revolution they claim they will lead. If Biden-Harris remain in favor of action on climate AND for nuclear power, then they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the editor and curator of BeyondNuclearInternational.org and the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear. She can be contacted at linda@beyondnuclear.org.

Read more at In Promoting New Nuclear Power, Biden-Harris Back Fiction Over Science

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