Sierra Club member asks Executive Director Brune to support nuclear energy
A few days ago, a friend from Californians for Green Nuclear Power shared a letter he had written to Michael Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club. He gave me permission to share his letter with Atomic Insights readers.
My friend is a Sierra Club member because he agrees with many of its goals and campaigns, but he believes the organization has been wrong about nuclear energy since the early 1970s. In his letter he mentions two key issues, uranium mining and the importance of the continued operation of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power station.
He recognizes that increasing the use of nuclear energy would increase the need to mine uranium, but also understands that uranium mining in the US is at least as safe and kind to the environment per unit of material moved as any other form of mining. Since the amount of material required is so limited, the overall impact is far lower.
Diablo Canyon needs to be relicensed expeditiously. It is safe and well-maintained. An extended battle over the logical decision to allow it to continue operating would simply add cost, increase investor reluctance to put resources into nuclear energy, and make it more difficult to achieve any meaningful impact on the CO2 production caused by fossil fuel consumption.
Here is Bill’s letter seeking a new ally in the fight by converting an organization whose founding principles should make it favor atomic energy instead of being one of its leading opponents.
July 27, 2015
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
San Francisco, CA
Dear Director Brune,
I received your information about potential harms to the Grand Canyon area from development.
As a Sierra Club member, I’m opposed to logging of ancient trees and high density roads in the Grand Canyon area.
But I am in favor of regulated Uranium mining. Why? Because Uranium is the fuel for the power source that offers the best potential for us to get off earth-killing fossil fuel – clean, safe nuclear power.
I’ve studied nuclear power closely for years and looked into dangers described by environmental groups like the Sierra Club.
But studies by people like leading climate scientist James Hansen and James Lovelock of the UK have shown nuclear – a power source not emitting CO2 – is our best bet.
It harms and kills far, far fewer humans then all other energy generating sources, very much including natural gas.
Global warming is the most critical threat to wildlife and all life on earth ever. CO2 and release of methane and other substances by man are rapidly worsening earth warming, polar melting, sea rise and the threat to our food supply.
To me the anti nuclear stance of environmentalists is NOT based on actual facts. At Fukushima, for example, the UN reports no one died from the reactor accident, and injury from radiation release will not harm humans. The UN wrote, “…if there is injury from radiation release, it will be too small to detect.”
We can’t base our Sierra Club policies on traditional fears. We are in a “do or die” race to get off fossil fuel and no credible scientists see any path except nuclear.
We need uranium mines (regulated) for current nuclear reactors. We need more reactors for desalination of sea water in California as well. (Diablo Canyon nuclear plant will start CO2-free desalination to ease the California drought soon.)
I’ve toured Diablo Canyon four times. As a downwind resident of many years I and my family are comfortable with this extremely well run plant and we appreciate the bright, clear skies it gives us along with air we can breathe without fear.
Santa Maria, CA
PS – It’s worth following up on Bill’s statement that “no credible scientists see any path except nuclear.”
For example, on July 29th, the Guardian published an article about Clinton’s climate plan titled Hillary Clinton’s climate change plan ‘just plain silly’, says leading expert that contains the following quote.
It’s not enough, according to Hansen. Renewables are a part of how the US will wean itself off fossil fuels, but the market has to be allowed to determine which combination of renewable fuels – not just solar – makes the most sense in each region. “You can’t just legislate that,” said Hansen. Clinton’s plan “is going to make energy more expensive. You need to let energy efficiency and renewables and nuclear power and anything else that comes up compete.”
“For example, on July 29th, the Guardian published an article about Clinton’s climate plan titled…….”
Of course, I did a search on the the author of this article, Caty Enders. Although no fan of Hillary, I was curious if this was simply a partisan hit piece written by yet another media mouthpiece spouting garbge during a campaign season.
Apparently not, as evidenced by this piece she wrote……
Funny, the quotes contained in the article reminded me of some of the commenters here. Seems they get their info from the same sources too, and share media heroes.
“Funny, the quotes contained in the article reminded me of some of the commenters here.”
Really? Who cares. That was totally pointless as you didn’t even discus her position:
Hillary Clinton on nuclear power ( https://youtu.be/kvd8u-LccDU )
She makes several questionable if not totally incorrect statements. I dont think she has any concept of reality or safety in energy. Lets not even go into the stupidity of her “plan” when it comes to land use, habitat ad infrastructure. Not to mention cost and reliability.
John…..my post was about Caty Enders, not Hillary Clinton. I was amused at the quotes Caty offered in her article I linked to. It gives you a window into what kind of audience is required by Sean Hannity and his ilk in order keep a position behind the podium. I’m glad I gave you an opportunity to share the podium with him.
You’re way off topic here.
This post is about a plea from a Sierra Club member to the ED of that organization, which has many excellent campaigns and a long-standing position opposed to nuclear energy that is inconsistent with its stated goals. The article I introduced into the discussion was published by the Guardian, which is known as a left leaning publication. It quoted world renowned climate scientists about the fact that a “plan” focused on increasing the market share of wind and solar without even mentioning nuclear energy is doomed to fail.
Why have you introduced a comment about some fringe group of anti-government loonies that is being promoted by an entertainment source that I rarely waste time on? I’ve already deleted one even more off-topic follow-up, but am leaving your original distraction intact in order to provide some gentle guidance.
Chuckling here, Rod. Appreciate the “gentle guidance”. Honest.
Its truly a shame that all the participants here are not as picky as you are as to from what “entertainment” source they acquire their accumulation of “facts”.
As for Hillary, what can I say? She is simply a bastion of the status quo. What she says or proposes is irrelevent, as is what comes out of Jeb’s mouth. The course of the nation is predetermined by the huge money interests that will spend countless billions to put one or the other in the Oval Office. There will be little difference in what either one of them does as POTUS. As far as climate goes, Hillary, and Jeb, will simply say what is required by their constituency. Jeb will dance around the issue of global warming, and Hillary will feign concern. But it is the deep pockets that will determine policy, no matter which marionette soils the White House rugs. When the nuclear energy crowd have the funds to participate in the 3 ring political circus that Washington DC has become, then, and only then, will it be gifted with positive media attention and political clout. I wonder if it will EVER achieve this, being as how this house of cards our politicians have assembled must surely fall probably sooner than later.
And make no mistake. It will be Hillary or Jeb. Thats Trump’s mission.
IMO, it’s way too early to assume victory or dismiss any particular candidate. Your cynicism, however, is rather motivating. I believe this election will show some surprising results with involvement from people – like Jim Webb and Bernie Sanders – who are not run by money.
The issues are still worth discussing, as are particular plans promoted by one faction or another.
…..”like Jim Webb and Bernie Sanders – who are not run by money.”
They aren’t run by money, so they will be marginalized by it.
I’ll spring for the popcorn, Rod, if you’ll get the soft drinks.
I like Jim Webb. I voted for him and I was disappointed when he decided not to run for reelection for his Senate seat. I assumed at the time that he was simply fed up with all of the political nonsense in Washington and wanted to retire.
I don’t know what to make of his presidential run. Maybe he’s bored? Maybe he’s working on another book?
Sanders, on the other hand, is the Trump of the left. Enjoy the side show while it lasts.
Webb does a good job of explaining his career choices in “I Hear My Country Calling.” His departure from Senate wasn’t motivated by boredom so much as a sense of relative lack of power to change those things that need to be changed.
Sanders is not who will be placed in the Oval Office. For once I agree with Billy Bob..shoot me….but he is right, Sanders is the Trump on the left side of the aisle. Not in respect of his stated ideals as to how to lead this nation, but rather as his insertion into the process as a diversion. It is obvious that this carefully choreographed dog and pony show will result in a final act starring Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. They both serve the same masters while reading from opposing scripts.
This isn’t cynicism, Rod. Its simply acceptance.
Interesting that you aren’t allowing comments on your most recent posting. Obviously you are afraid the conversation will be ON TOPIC if it strays to a debate about Iran and this current “deal” that Israel seeks to derail. I see that the United States just derailed.another attempt by Egypt to set the wheels in motion at the UN to achieve a nuclear weapons free middle east. Burying your head in the sand won’t work, Rod. That the nuclear energy sector here is too cowardly to address this issue head on with frank talk is truly disheartening. It is a debate you need to wiegh in on, or all your efforts to separate the weapon from the energy source is just feckless nattering.
I would hope that you know me well enough by now to realize that “cowardly” is a poor descriptor. Forgetful is a better one when it comes to whether or not comments on a new post are open or not. There is a check box that I have to tick; sometimes that action is overlooked in the early morning hours.
Feel free to comment. You are correct, a frank discussion about “non-proliferation” is on topic for the specific post and timely this week as we approach the 70th anniversaries of the only attacks on human populations with atomic weapons.
For the record, evidence tells me that deterrence works and that “one” is the most dangerous number when it comes to nations with nuclear capabilities. Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine have all been successfully weathered without another bombing event. I’m pretty confident that we can also weather 10, 20, 30, or even 70.
Rulers might willingly use suicidal people as weapons, but it is exceedingly rare for a person who is willing to put himself and his family at risk of immediate death to be in a position of decision-making authority in a nation sophisticated enough to build nuclear weapons.
Rod……perhaps I was vague in my finger pointing. I was applying the term “cowardice” collectively towards your industry, rather than towrds you as an individual.
Frankly, it disgusts me that american nuclear scientists stood mute while Israel asassinated scientists in Iran, some who could only be accused of being on the outer edges of an alleged nuclear weapons program. One duch scientist was an electrical engineeting student who supposedly was involved in the design of an electrical switch that has a myriad of industrial applications, one such application being the detonation of a nuclear device. Assuming that metal and plastics are also part of the components of a nuclear bomb, maybe we oughta off anyone in those two industries as well, eh?
That the NE sector here has not expressed outrage at the murder of these scientists is a black mark you may never erase. It is despicable.
Also, Rod, if I may. I’d like to offer an opinion on “topics”. Delete the comment if so inclined, of course.
If our debates and discussions did not travel off rail occassionally, it would be very hard to form an opinion about the motives, mindsets, body of knowledge, and credibility of individual participants.
Being a lay person, much of the science here is beyond my understanding. And time constraints, and I admit, a bit of intellectual laziness, pretty well murder my desire to immerse myself in studying the science. It is by observing the full range of a commenter’s contributions that I determine how much stock I put in their opinions and assertions about the actual “topic” of NE.
If an individual seems to simply rattle off, by rote, the partisan nonsense d’jour in a discussion involving politics, culture, policy, religion, etc, than I have been gifted with a fairly trustworthy indication of how much credibility I should assign to that individual. And surely, its a fair manner of asessment.
Frankly, I wish more of the participants here would occassionally stray beyond the caution tape. Many here are a question mark, and have offered very little in the way of offering us a complete picture of who they are, and what their interest here is. A few of the commenters here single out people like me, who choose to use a monicker rather than my actual name. Yet I have revealed more about myself here than the majority of the participants here have, both by disclosure, and stated opinions. A name is worthless if you don’t know the person. So to is an opinion.
Anti govt loonies? Would you support the govt if Romney instead of Barack Hussein Obama had won?
Yeah Bernie Sanders! Anti nuke socialist – commie by any other name. And Webb a hypocritical Catholic who supports positions contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I don’t care what Sierra Club or any other liberal progressive Democrat or hypocritical RINO group does so long as they are defeated and the powers of Caesar Augustus – your govt – are limited.
Want nuke power to succeed? Level the regulatory playing field. No govt funding of anything. Treat all energy sources in the same way. No dumping of waste into the environment. In a truly free market with govt limited by a strict interpretation of the Constitution, nukes will win hands down. But you in your liberalism and progressivism and environmentalism are your own worst enemy.
Bernie Sanders! Ha! What a freaking commie!
Gosh, Paul, its always so enlightening when you share.
Though the Soviet version gave communism a bad name, there are many tenants of the philosophy that align with the gospels I read as a child and younger man.
To be more accurate, Sanders is a self proclaimed democratic socialist who admires the policies of Finalnd, Sweden, and Switzerland. His stance on nuclear energy is inconsistent with his stated values. My current assumption is that he has been misinformed and has the potential to be converted.
Admires the policies of Switzerland?
Which policies would that be? Not granting women the right to vote until 1971? Or perhaps the Swiss policies on citizenship that would make Donald Trump look like a one-man sanctuary city?
I was wrong. Switzerland isn’t on Sanders’s list of countries he admires. Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are.
“Not granting women the right to vote until 1971?”
Yeah, well, at least they’re allowed a choice what to do with their bodies.
I’ll be sure to remind my daughters how much more important the right to whore themselves (legal in Switzerland since 1942) is than the right to vote (legal in Switzerland since 1971).
It’s been known for quite some time that the Sierra Club’s position on immigration (a non-position, compared to its original ZPG stance) has been effectively purchased by David Gelbaum.
Can there be any doubt that the SC’s position on nuclear has been secured the same way?
Any environmental or “ecology” organization with a ~ $100 Million annual budget is tied to the hip to the elite of the current state of affairs. What’s closer to the truth: A million $100 contributions, or 100 $Million contributions?
It seems all working stiff climate scientists whom don’t have a hand out get the picture.
Sorry for reiterating the obvious that you clearly expressed.
How do we stop this?
Or perhaps they moderated their stance on immigration to make themselves more attractive to left-wing anti-capitalists who would have dismissed a strongly anti-immigration group as racist or fascist?
Open borders don’t hurt the elite. Unfortunately, excepting the small portion of the plutocracy that generate and maintain their wealth on the creativity and actualization of their workforce, the slow and inexorable decline of the middle class don’t hurt them either… But then, there are the H1B Visas….
Given the benefactors and donors of Sierra Club ( with their $100 Million annual budget), we should expect they’d be for Zero Population Growth (ZPG) and yet, allow open borders.
As AGW begins to bite more folks, think lawyers for people who have been dammaged by very real conseqence. Who should lawyers go after. Think deep pockets. Turn louse the Pack of hounds.
But we already know who the lawyers go after. They go after companies like GPU.
Why do you think unleashing rabid, money-hungry lawyers is going to improve anything, especially for nuclear power?
Money hungry lawyers aren’t ideological. Like the infamous Willie Sutton, they dress nicely and file suits against deep pockets because that is where the money is. GPU and all other nuclear operating companies are shallow pockets compared to the fossil fuel industry.
Yes, exactly my point. Just like any other predator, they go after the slow, the weak, and the infirmed.
That’s not the oil/gas companies. Deep moats often protect deep pockets. Why bother with that when there are plenty of other (shallower) pockets that are much easier to pick?
Be careful what you ask for.
“…they go after the slow, the weak, and the infirmed (sic). That’s not the oil/gas companies.”
Some oil/gas companies currently qualify as slow and weak. After a year of low oil prices, some even qualify as infirm. They often have boatloads of cash, but they’re able to purchase a shrinking number of friends. They’re even engaging in heavy rounds of layoffs to protect their finances, earning them even more animosity.
Ah … so your preferred strategy is to cripple or destroy the smaller companies so that the really big companies (Exxon-Mobil is number 7 on Forbe’s list of “The World’s Biggest Public Companies”) have less competition to worry about?
Wonderful plan … for the Board of Exxon-Mobil. That’s how Standard Oil got its start — destroying the competition.
You misunderstand. Some of the slow and weak companies are the largest ones of all. Many of the smaller companies are nimble, energetic and innovative.
Once again, we see uninformed nattering from one of the participants here. These smaller companies are weathering low barrel prices far better than Exxon or Shell are.
“Why do you think unleashing rabid, money-hungry lawyers is going to improve anything, especially for nuclear power?”
Be interesting to see Rick’s opinion on this. Isn’t he an attorney, if I remember right? Therefore he must be rabid and money-hungry, I guess.
I wear laceless loafers fairly regularly, and have discovered that paste wax works wonders on my shoehorn. I wonder if it works just as well on prejudices.
This is the weirdest collection of comments I’ve seen here in a while.
“This is the weirdest collection of comments I’ve seen here in a while.”
Rod keeps deleting (rightfully so) the really weird comment threads before most people read them, so it’s not surprising if you missed them. Moderation is part of the job of maintaining a blog that opens itself up for user comments.
The POA and Brian battle goes on and on. You do have to admit that POA does come up with some interesting stuff at times. It helps keep the blog interesting. Back to the main topic – Don’t you think Mr. Gloege is entitled to a response from Mr. Brune that is something other than a form letter? Will he be simply ignored? This is one that is worth watching to see whether Michael Brune responds.
I agree with those who feel that the Sierra Club should reexamine the position of the Sierra Club on nuclear energy. Their position was developed a long time ago and well before climate change became an issue.
Susanne, If they change their stance on Nuclear Energy, Their benefactors will head for the exit and their financial support will dry up. It’d end up a handful of dedicated die hard thoughtful environmentalists, rather than a high powered albeit scrupleless organization that it is today. Is there an Environmental organization with a substantial budget that *does* support Nuclear Energy? I can’t think of any.
Things are changing though. I realize that it is only a periodical, but I’m dumbfounded that Mother Jones came out in favor of Nuclear Power. Wow!
How cool is that? I like it!
This may be happing. In the last month I read an article that gave a projection of the decline in coal and nuclear generation based upon the number of permits presently applied for the assumed retirement of those with no permits and the lead time for construction of replacement units. It looked very much like the inverse of the graph of the increase in “unreliable” energy in your link, with coal and nuclear disappearing in 30 – 40 years.
At their recent national convention, the Izaak Walton League of America adopted
a resolution supporting “research ” on 4th Gen nuclear
After getting past the staff (who insisted on deleting “and development”
from “research and development”) and two committees, the floor vote
was 10:1 in favor.
Of course, IWLA is not exactly Greenpeace. It’s a bunch of fishermen
and hunters (gak!) who actually like to be outdoors and want to preserve
that tradition for their kids.. Still this is a big change for a major conservancy
“President Obama will impose even steeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants than previously expected, White House officials said early Sunday, in what the president called the most significant step the country has ever taken to fight global warming.” Even MIT considers reliance on 100% renewables is unwise – http://mitei.mit.edu/news/environmentalist-case-against-100-renewable-energy-plans
As I have said before “The fact that there is no new nuclear power generation is the smoking gun that proves that CO2 AGW is a SCAM.” (Or at least used to make a lot of rich people filthy rich.) And YES the globe is getting warmer! But it seems like monthly another study indicates the amount attributed to CO2 is less than previously reported and that the increase from a doubling of CO2 is less than previously reported. The science is NOT settled.
There is a BIG difference between the globe getting warmer and that 90%, 50%, or only 10% is caused by the increase in CO2. What is that percent? The UK could have built 100 nuclear power plants for what they have spent on Renewables and subsidies for Renewables. So far they have no decrease in CO2 and a Trillion Euros spent, gone, wasted, dumped into the Green Plague that has infected every politician in the US and EU. And we are following the EU into that Green Plague.
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