Some of the earliest documented instances of opposition to the development of commercial nuclear power in the United States originated from designated representatives of the coal industry. They were the first people to mount sustained opposition to the use of taxpayer money to support the development of nuclear power stations.
They testified against the implied subsidy associated with nuclear fuel leasing and complained about the value credited to commercial plant operators for the plutonium produced during operation, even though that material was locked up inside used fuel rods. They were the first people to label the Price-Anderson nuclear liability limitations as a subsidy.
The coal industry, frequently referred to as “King Coal” in the era up to the end of World War II, had legitimate commercial reasons for striving to convince the Government to stop pushing atomic power into the electricity market. The industry had experienced a 30% slide in sales by weight during the fifteen year period between the end of the war and 1960. It nearly completely lost both the home heating market and the railroad locomotive market to diesel fuel and natural gas. The utility power market was the coal industry’s only real growth area.
However, by the early 1970s, the coal industry quietly backed away from the political struggle against atomic energy, apparently recognizing that more effective recruits had arrived to continue the fight.
After 1971, it appears that the coal industry decided to focus its internal efforts on continuing to improve mine productivity and reduce transportation costs while allowing others to take the visible lead on the political part of their battle to maintain sales growth by slowing the atomic competition.
After that introduction, it is incumbent on me to provide evidence that support the claims. First, however, I’d like to let you know how I happened to come across a new, rather rich seam of material that backs up a theory I have been developing for many years.
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