240 organizations ask Congress to eliminate nuclear subsidies from the budget
Note: Beyond Nuclear was among 240 organizations who have signed a letter sent to the House and Senate Majority and Minority leaders urging them to omit nuclear bailouts from the federal budget and instead direct funds toward investment in carbon-free, nuclear-free clean energy.
This moment is our opportunity to launch a wholesale transformation of our economy and our energy systems to save our country and the world from the rapidly advancing climate crisis. Yet, legislation now before Congress would provide billions of dollars in subsidies to aging and uneconomical nuclear power plants, an effort that will cause us to miss the narrow window of opportunity we have left to act effectively on climate.
If the events of the last year have taught us anything, it is that we must marshal our national resources to address structural inequities and injustices that undermine our safety, health, economic security, and sustainability. We can achieve the goals of racial, economic, environmental, and climate justice upon which the Biden administration and Congressional leaders have promised to deliver—but not if we continue to invest billions of dollars in nuclear power and other false solutions.
As a July 2021 report by Dr. Mark Cooper finds, the best investments to phase out greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector are the same in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term: renewable energy, efficiency, storage, and grid modernization. Money slated for nuclear bailouts would be much better spent on these resources instead.
Nuclear power is part of the climate problem, not the solution
Nuclear power is too dirty, too dangerous, too expensive, and too slow to solve the climate crisis, and the industry is rooted in environmental injustice and human rights violations. Bailing out nuclear power plants misdirects resources while perpetuating climate injustice. A whole suite of energy sources that will be the backbone of a 100% renewable, zero-emissions energy system–wind, solar, demand response, and energy efficiency–are already less expensive than currently operating nuclear reactors, and will only become more so over the next decade. Many more technologies that will enable the transition to a reliable and resilient, renewable energy economy–battery storage, smart- and micro-grids, offshore wind, and more–are on the same downward cost trajectory.
This is already happening in real time, even in conservative states. In 2020, Iowa’s only nuclear power plant closed, but the state brought more new wind generation online than the nuclear plant ever generated. Similarly, wind power plants in Texas already generate more than twice as much electricity as the state’s four large nuclear reactors; in each of the last four years, new wind generation has equaled the output of one of those reactors.
Within three years after California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant unexpectedly retired in 2013, new solar power in the state exceeded what the nuclear plant produced. California has also shown that phasing out nuclear power is an integral part of the transition to a zero-emissions electricity system. The state’s largest utility is in the process of phasing out the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by 2025, through a comprehensive community and energy transition that includes expanding energy efficiency and solar to exceed California’s targets for emissions reductions and renewable energy growth.