Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein marked the first anniversary of the Fukushima meltdown, and the resultant deaths and estimated $250 billion in cleanup costs, by calling for a Green New Deal to begin an immediate move to a 100% renewable energy economy. Dr. Stein said the Obama White House “has shown it has learned nothing” by promoting nuclear power plants at a time when much of the world is shifting away from them after the Japanese nuclear disaster.
“A Green president would invest in wind, solar and geothermal, emphasize efficiency and conservation, phase out nuclear power plants, and move to a carbon-free economy to deal with climate change. We would immediately end Obama’s expensive subsidies for nuclear power as well as fossil fuels, and use those funds instead to kick off a job-producing energy program based on clean, safe and renewable energy,” said Stein.
Stein said she would push for the immediate shutdown of the 23 Fukushima-style GE Mark I reactors as the first step in moving to a nuclear-free America.
“An energy system based on renewables is inevitable. Between the dangers of nuclear mining, transport, meltdown, and storage on the one hand, and catastrophic climate change on the other, we must make the transition happen now rather than wait for a calamity to force our hand. I’m campaigning for a Green New Deal that will transition the U.S. economy to become the world leader in building a green economy that puts people back to work while we create a sustainable future,” added Stein.
According to Stein, nuclear power should not be part of a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions since available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner. In 2010, the world’s installed renewable electricity capacity outstripped its nuclear capacity for the first time.
“Every dollar spent on nuclear energy creates more carbon pollution than would result from spending the same dollar on renewables,” according to Stein, “and nuclear is getting more expensive whereas renewables are getting cheaper.”
Germany, Switzerland and Italy have all committed themselves to phasing out nuclear energy, while support for new nuclear plants has dropped dramatically worldwide. From 2008 to 2010, construction work began on thirty-eight reactors around the world, but in 2011-12, there were only two construction starts. Kuwait pulled out last month of a contract to build four reactors, Venezuelan froze all nuclear development projects and Mexico dropped plans to build ten reactors.
In contrast, the Obama administration has continued to promote nuclear power plants. On February 9, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a the final license for two new reactors near Augusta, Georgia. Only the Chair of the NRC, a Bush appointee, voted no, objecting to the absence of guarantees to implement recommendations made following the Fukushima meltdown. The Obama Administration has pledged $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees for the construction. The owners of the plant have not yet invested any of their own money for the units, while Georgia ratepayers are being asked to pre-fund construction payments in their current bills.
U.S. taxpayers continue to subsidize insurance coverage for the private firms that own and operate all U.S. nuclear plants through the Price-Anderson Nuclear Indemnity Act.
Barack Obama has long been a favorite of the nuclear power industry, beginning with his sponsorship by Exelon corporation executives in 2004, and in each subsequent election. Dr. Jill Stein does not accept contributions from corporations, corporate lobbyists, or from the officers of corporations that employ lobbyists.