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.”