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There's nothing "Green" about Nuclear Power
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." -Benito Mussolini (father of fascism)
My husband has been obsessed with Japan. He has been there, lived there, loves Japan, has told me countless times he wants to take me there. So, each morning he reads me the latest dreadful news. I used to be the Pandora in the family, so his sheer determination to know everything awful and share it has taken some pressure off me.
He is, however, still more of an optimist, as he also says every morning, "well, maybe this will be a wake up call..." or "maybe this will force people to look at change," or "maybe this awful thing will get our country to reevaluate nuclear energy."
I look at his sweet face, so filled of hope and belief in mankind.
I nod and breathe. I don't want to speak, but I can't help myself.
"Hmmm." I say. "I don't think so, honey."
I then go on to explain a theory of change that was introduced to me by my father, Rod Napier. It is that people, even if told they will die, will likely not change their behavior. In fact, there is a 9 to 1 chance that they will not change. They change, basically, when they have a group of regular support who change with them, invoke change, support change.
My husband is almost affirmed by my speculation. "Yes," he says. "Right, we are the group, and we need to mobilize a group..."
He nods, seemingly pleased with hope.
I, however, realize that I am still the Pandora. I now believe everything is bigger, and more evil, even, than the peoples' contentment – which is at the stem of denial.
According to Marvin Weisbord's Four Apartment Model for Change, change is only after people have gotten past their own contentment . Then denial. Then confusion. Finally comes the renewal, or change.
On January 27th, 2010, in Obama's State of the Union, he said:
"But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. (Applause) It means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. (Applause)
I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. (Applause) And this year I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate." (Applause)
It's bad for the environment.
It's mutated into all sorts of representations presented as good for us.
It is both the cause and the power behind the evil and the product that perpetuates the evil.
It's the Oh Mighty Dollar.
There is a huge industry, meaning revolving capitol of plenty, around nuclear energy. This might be no surprise to you, but do you know that we the taxpayers subsidize and pay for the guaranteed loans in the tens of billions to build more nuclear plants? Not only that - but our Man of Change increased the amount of available monies for these guaranteed loans.
For nuclear power facilities, the Dept. of Energy budget for fiscal year 2011 adds $36 billion in new guaranteed loans. The total available, including the previous $18.5 billion, is $54.5 billion. Alongside the $36 billion for nuclear power plants in the budget is a mere $2 billion to loan guarantees for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy projects – like wind and solar etc., even though wind energy is much more efficient in terms of cost / benefit.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the construction duration of Nuclear Power Plants lasts 6-8 years, so the return on investment can't even begin until then.
Coupled with this, the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office estimated defaults on such loans to be fifty percent, so the estimated debt left on the taxpayers - between new loans and past loans - is over $100 billion, minimum.
Why are we the taxpayers paying?
"GE provides technology-based products and services that help owners of Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) nuclear power plants safely operate their plants with greater efficiency and output. We also offer the proven Advanced BWR (ABWR) design."
General Electric made 23 sister reactors in the US like those that broke down in Japan, and has designed 91 nuclear power plants around the world. Each with the same fatal flaw, they have a 90 percent chance that radiation would be released directly into the atmosphere in the case of a meltdown.
GE was one of Obama's top campaign donors in 2008; they also donated heavily to his Senatorial campaign. One of the directors of GE since 1997, Sam Nunn, had twenty-seven years experience as a Senator to Georgia - he knows how to get government involved. One of the ex vice presidents of GE, Benjamin Heineman was previously part of the U.S. governments Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
Of course, Jeffrey Immelt, GE's CEO is now Obama's head of Jobs Council on the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. How does our country recoverwhenthe world's second largest corporation did not pay taxes? I have rallied against Immelt's appointment, but recently came across some quotes by Immelt that are no less than proof in his vision of corporatism.
Days after Obama promised in his inauguration to "remake America," Immelt wrote to shareholders:
"The interaction between government and business will change forever. In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner."
Immelt is also quoted as saying "Germany is the model" economically because they believe in "government and business working as a pack." Immelt also showed some China envy, reported by the Washington Examiner in July, 2010:
And Immelt flashed an envious smile when he said, "China pays all the bills." "What you see in China," Immelt added, "is an incredible unanimity of purpose from top to bottom."
Nuclear reactors provide 13 – 14% of the world's electricity and 6 % of the total energy. In fact, they are not quite cost effective as they do not yield much energy in relation to their energy costs. Comparing Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI), wind is the best at 20 units output per unit invested. A non-breeder nuclear reactor's EROEI is 4.
For nuclear energy, there are also many hidden costs, such as security, police, and storage facilities for thousands of years, given the toxicity of radioactive waste.
How can this be kept from we the taxpayers who are paying to build these cost prohibitive, dangerous facilities?
In the recent months the "industry" has spent tens of millions in dollars in the U.S. on lobbying for their cause. Trade groups and backers spent another $54 million hiring lobbyists - MANY of whom are former members of congress. If people who were at one time supposed to be elected by and for the people are selling out to the industry- and the people who are now supposed to be by and for the people are selling out to the industry (i.e. campaign contributions)- then WHO on earth is looking out for the people who are not participating in being bought and sold to those in Power, or profiting from this system, which has become Corporatism?
What I most wonder about Obama's State of the Union statement is, when did nuclear energy become CLEAN? Likely around the time it became green for Mr. Obama.
I think it was in seventh grade science that we learned about what "half life" is. We learned that certain properties have a half life, so their life span is constantly cut in half, but it never quite dissipates. Like a repeating decimal...it goes on and on.
We also learned about the half-life of radioactive waste. One radioactive by-product of nuclear power, plutonium, remains dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. In addition, the breakdown of plutonium causes an alpha particle – a relatively large particle – to be released. Alan Lockwood, a professor of Neurology and Nuclear Medicine at the University at Buffalo and a member of the board of directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility warns that "an alpha particle which hits body tissue can damage the DNA and cause a cancer-causing mutation. If inhaled, the alpha particle never leaves."
In Japan, radiation has been found in raw milk, water, and vegetables – even ninety miles from the reactors. In addition, Plutonium has now been found in Japan's soil.
Along with the host of other forms of radiation released and being released from the reactor in Japan during their crisis, the discovery of the danger of the spent fuel rods, which release plutonium when they are heated to extremes, should be a new alarm for all of us.
The U.S. has 104 operating nuclear reactors, situated on 65 sites in 31 states. There are another 15 permanently shut reactors that also house spent fuel.
The U.S. has 71,862 tons of nuclear waste. The amount of waste is growing by about 2,200 tons a year.
Three-quarters of the waste sits in water-filled cooling pools like those at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Japan, outside the thick concrete-and-steel barriers meant to guard against a radioactive release from a nuclear reactor. Experts say some pools have four times the amount of spent rods than they were built for.
The rest of the spent fuel from commercial U.S. reactors has been put into dry cask storage, but regulators only envision those as a solution for about a century.
And who pays for the storage? Not the companies profiting from nuclear power. We, the taxpayers, pay.
A 1982 law gave the federal government responsibility for the long-term storage of nuclear waste and promised to start accepting waste in 1998.
Then there is the problem of an accident, like what happened in Japan. The tragic ruining of an entire area, the dangers and the diagnoses still unknown...and, of course, the cost. It is now estimated that it will take up to nine months to seal the leaking reactor and ten to thirty years to totally decommission the plant. What this fiasco will cost the Japanese government has only been estimated at billions and billions of dollars.
Let's look at Three Mile Island in 1979. This was only a partial meltdown and did not rupture the chamber holding the fuel rods. Still, it took 14 years and approximately a billion dollars to clean up.
The Chernobyl accident in Ukraine in 1986 still renders the area uninhabitable. Not to mention what would be the measure of danger in the event of a terrorist attack to a nuclear facility?
None of this looks very green or clean to me, Mr. President
It seems we are very confused.
Corporations are deeply embedded with the president. Remember, this is the president who won the Nobel peace prize. He was the Man of Change. The Hope of the new generation.
For the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) budget for nuclear weapons for fiscal year 2011, President Obama proposed a 9.8% budget increase - to $7.01 billion.
Guess one major corporation which profits from building nuclear weapons?
I hadn't shared all this information yet with my husband – I think it best in doses. At least I try to be a compassionate Pandora. Then one morning my husband returns to me with a solemn look and then an acknowledging smile – though not a smile spawned in happiness, but more a smile of loving earnestness.
"You were right," he says.
"Hmm," I say. I still don't know to what he is referring – there could be so many things:)
"They aren't going to change a thing. They're still saying the precautions are in place."
Ah, then I get it. The Nuclear Power.
"I'm sorry," I say. In this case I AM sorry. I don't want to be right. I want to slaughter Pandora and be wrong and have the Powers with power be altruistic and care about the small earth. And if not the earth then the people. But we do come together, the earth and its people.
I wish someone would inform our peace prize winning President that Nuclear is not green or clean or safe, and if he doesn't care about THAT, please tell him it is not even cost effective.
Except for GE.
And some other corporate sponsors to our Show.
Even universal health care won't help us in a nuclear disaster.
But don't expect to hear this on the news. Don't expect to see the true horrors in Japan on the telly. GE is part owner or owner of:
NBC, MS-NBC, CNBC, CNBC Asia, CNBC Europe, CNBC World, Telemundo Communications Group, 13th Street, Bravo, Focus Features, GE, GE Monogram, GE Profile, MSNBC, mun2, NBC, NBC News, NBC Sports, Paxson, SciFi Channel, ShopNBC, Studio Universal, Telemundo, TRIO, Universal Channel, Universal HD, Universal Parks & Resorts, Universal Pictures, Universal Studio Home Video, USA Network.
Corporatism also controls media distribution. I am sure even Mussolini would agree that the Founding Brothers of Fascism are Monetary and Media distribution.
As you can see, it's all very complicated – but also extremely clear.
It's time to re-evaluate the two party system and the present campaign finance rules, and why neither is working. We need other points of view. We need courage. We need elected officials who are not bought by corporations, who really believe that the people of the United States still deserve a government by and for the PEOPLE.
It is we the people who are in charge of our Change.
**For the medical facts on radiation damage, check out Helen Caldicott's article "Unsafe at Any Dose."
** note - the Republican's Tea Partiers want to go farther – undoing all environmental regulations, Medicare and cutting corporate taxes. The Tea Party says "less government," but what they don't say they are fighting for is "more corporations." If Tea Partiers get to power, we will be at the hands of corporations – completely.