Nuking the climate:
atomic advocates hijacked climate movement

Democratic politicians promote nuclear powered green growth

pro-nuclear Democratic politicians - on this page:

non-governmental auxiliaries:

related page: three perspectives: climate change is real
1. nuclear powered green growth
2. solar and wind
3. recognize limits to growth


President Barack Obama: helped get new nukes (and fracking)

In 2007, when the media introduced the idea that Senator Obama would be the next President, the first thing I learned about him was he was backed by Exelon, the utility in Chicago that operates nuclear reactors. I decided then that fact said everything about him and haven't changed my views about him since. (I was not disappointed by his administration, but then, I voted for former Democratic Representative Cynthia McKinney, who ran as the Green Party nominee in 2008.)

Later, I learned that

During Obama's two terms, conventional oil and gas continued to drop sharply (due to depletion) but fracking for oil and gas went from the mostly experimental stage to full scale development. Fracking rescued the US economy from energy shortages, fueling economic boom after the "Great Recession" of 2008. There has been no discussion in the media that fracking postponed rationing. Fracking under Trump accelerated even further, fueling the illusion "the economy is doing well." The early fracking regions have peaked -- and when the rest of them also peak the energy crisis is likely to return like winds after passage of the eye of a category five hurricane.

Several new reactor projects broke ground during the Obama administration, although some canceled construction before completion. Others were suggested but ultimately failed to get beyond the drawing boards.

Watts Bar 2, the reactor with the record longest construction (1973-2015), opened in Tennessee. It was plagued with scandals about shoddy work and cost overruns. When Watts Bar 1 was completed two decades earlier it cannibalized parts from Unit 2 and it seemed that Unit 2 would never be completed. But construction resumed at the end of the Bush Cheney administration and finished under Obama. The $12 billion cost for Watts Bar 1 and 2 could have covered homes between Chattanooga and Knoxville with solar panels. (The Knoxville metropolitan area has 857,585 people and the Chattanooga metro area has 336,463. Dividing $12 billion into 1,194,021 people is about $10,000 per person.)


beyond nuclear / nirs accounts (calvert cliffs 3 and others, watts bar 2, vogtle 3/4, south carolina failures)

NuScale's proposals for Small Nuclear Reactors went from a concept to a well funded effort. NuScale is seeking sites to build demonstration reactors, including the Department of Energy's Hanford site in Washington State and the Idaho National Engineering Lab. Utilities in Utah are interested. The Pentagon would like mini nukes to power remote military bases not connected to reliable electric grids. If these plans become reality, it would accelerate the problems of nuclear waste that cannot be detoxified. In the US, about a hundred large utility reactors were built [###number of sites?] plus factories for the nuclear fuel cycle. Many reactors were collated together, but having multiple reactors at the same site doesn't significantly make it easier to figure out how future generations will cope with the wastes.


2020 Presidential candidates: more are pro-nuke than anti-nuke

pro-nuclear anti-nuclear non-committal newcomers

Joe Biden (Obama's VP, presided over fracking boom and new nukes)

Cory Booker

Pete Buttigieg

John Delaney

Kamala Harris

John Hickenlooper

Jay Inslee
(wants new nukes, false solution for climate change)

Amy Klobuchar

Elizabeth Warren
(keep existing nukes, don't add new ones, ban fracking but no mention of how to heat Massachusetts in the winter)

Andrew Yang


Tulsi Gabbard

Bernie Sanders
(no nukes, no fracking, no awareness of limits to growth and what it takes to heat Vermont cities in the winter)

Marianne Williamson (calls for ending all fossil fuels but no mention that fossil fuels are depleting and living without them will power a much smaller economy)

Michael Bennett

Steve Bullock

Julian Castro

Bill de Blasio

Kirsten Gillibrand

Wayne Messam

Seth Moulton

Beto O'Rourke

Tim Ryan

Joe Sestak

Tom Steyer

Eric Swalwell

Michael Bloomberg

Deval Patrick

italic names: still running as of February 11, 2020

2020 Candidates Views on Nuclear Power: A Voters' Guide - Politico (Updated: June 24, 2019)
pro-nuclear article denying dangers of reactor operation, mine tailings, waste storage, but comprehensive survey of the candidates
Buttigieg absorbs a pummeling, and there's more where that came from
The mayor has been discovered. Can he withstand the scrutiny?
12/20/2019 01:47 AM EST

.... A lively discussion about whether the existential threat of climate change meant that Democrats should embrace the expanded use of nuclear power, as is common among our European allies, revealed some telling divides. Elizabeth Warren, despite proposing aggressive carbon reduction targets that some scientists do not believe are possible without a full range of alternative energy options, said she wouldn't shutter currently operating nuclear plants but that she doesn't favor expansion. Andrew Yang, who wore, as he often does, a pin that said "MATH", argued that nuclear expansion was essential to solving the climate crisis.


Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA):
the "climate candidate" for President wants nukes

climate candidate, pushing new nukes

Hanford - most toxic place on this side of the planet, no way to turn it off, chemical contamination, too

Ice Age flood the only thing that could "clean" it


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:
Green New Deal should consider nukes

Green New Deal: great slogan, ignores limits to growth


green growth will pay for this

world war two mobilization model (Manhattan Project is the wrong paradigm)

Say It Ain't So, #Ocasio! #AOC - Green New Deal #GND
June 15, 2019
Written by Arnie Gundersen


former nuclear engineer, now renewable energy advocate

Ocasio-Cortez: Green New Deal 'Leaves the Door Open' on Nuclear
Freshman lawmaker clarifies that the resolution 'leaves open both clean and renewable energy'
May 6, 2019 at 5:12 pm ET

Green New Deal sponsor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still has an "open mind" on nuclear energy and differentiates between the decades-old plants in the United States and more advanced technologies under development, but she also backs the upcoming shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear reactors in New York in 2020-21.

"I don't take a strong anti- or pro-position on it," the New York Democrat said about nuclear energy in an interview late last week. Her Green New Deal resolution, which calls for "clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy" to meet 100 percent of U.S. power needs in the next 10 years, "leaves the door open on nuclear so that we can have that conversation," she said. ....

Ocasio-Cortez said she supports the closure of Entergy Corp.'s Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y., because it is "way past its usefulness," and health and environmental concerns remain. Entergy said in mid-April that a subsidiary of Holtec International Inc. will take over decommissioning work at the reactors, two of which are to shut down in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

But the first-term congresswoman acknowledged that "one plant built decades ago is not emblematic of the technology that we have today."

The lawmaker also cleared up any remaining uncertainty over whether "clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy" — as called for in the resolution — is inclusive of non-renewable technologies such as hydropower, nuclear or certain biomass resources, which are still considered "clean" compared to fossil fuels.

"The resolution leaves open both clean and renewable energy," she said.


I originally suspected it would be a front for new nukes

plausible deniability (CIA term) - doesn't like Indian Point but thinks newer models should be considered instead

"new nukes" would be the same old waste

would be interesting to know who persuaded her that there's a difference, it is a popular meme - sad there not much support in the 21st century Democratic Party to discuss the dangers - hope it won't take a domestic meltdown to sober up about nuclear legacies

I've used solar PV since she was under a year old, and concerned about nukes since I was in middle school during the Carter administration, before Three Mile Island's partial meltdown


Oregon Congressional delegation:
praised subsidy for nukes made in Oregon

When NuScale became a public topic about a decade ago, it seemed possible that the idea of their mini-nukes was not a serious proposal. This dismissal faded a few years later when NuScale announced they had joined up with Fluor corporation, a Fortune 100 engineering company.

In 2013, the Obama administration gave NuScale almost a quarter billion dollars as a subsidy toward building an experimental reactor. The entire Oregon Congressional delegation cheered this decision: two Democratic Senators, four Democratic Representatives and one Republican Representative.


Blumenauer in Portland -
honored for being against nuclear weapons,
I asked about nuclear power and his tone completely changed -
in a district with almost no Republicans, so he couldn't care about the reaction


A few years ago I asked Rep. DeFazio about his promotion of NuScale at a town hall meeting at the University of Oregon. He replied that if I don't like this I should vote for Art Robinson, his Republican perennial challenger. (Robinson boasts about his support for nuclear power, unlike DeFazio, who is quieter about it.)

DeFazio clearly knows that his Congressional district has more Democrats than Republicans. He outpolls national Democrats in the district so he probably is not worried about losing his seat.
DeFazio's district included Corvallis and Oregon State University, where NuScale originated.


letter from Oregon Congressional delegation praising subsidy for NuScale


Senator Jeff Merkley:
January 2020 statement supporting new nukes

Dear -----,

Thank you for contacting me to share your views on nuclear energy. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

In order to tackle the urgent threat that climate chaos presents, we must rapidly decarbonize our energy system and transition to 100% clean and renewable energy. That is why I introduced the 100 by '50 Act, which would transition our energy economy completely away from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy sources by 2050.

Nuclear energy currently provides over 50 percent of carbon-free electricity in the United States. As the world works to rapidly decarbonize, we must look carefully before we decommission existing carbon-free power assets.

Despite the carbon benefits, construction of new nuclear energy facilities will continue to face challenges. Nuclear energy is more expensive than many other clean energy technologies, and still poses significant challenges regarding the safety and storage of nuclear waste. 

We should continue to encourage research and development to innovate safer and more efficient nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors (SMRs). SMRs are smaller than conventional nuclear reactors and would be fully assembled in factories, thereby reducing the need for on-site construction while providing increased containment efficiency and heightened nuclear materials security.

As a member of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, please know I will keep your views in mind should legislation regarding the use of nuclear power come before the Senate.

Thank you, again, for contacting me. Please continue to send your thoughts and observations my way.

All my best,

Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator


Oregon State Senate:
voted to repeal initiative that bans new nukes

2017 legislative effort to overturn 1980 ban, passed in State Senate, stalled in State House

Eugene Weakly ignored NuScale for years, then ran article praising it without bothering to interview any opponents - link, summary


James Hansen:
from climatology to nuclear zealotry

jumping from the frying pan into the nuclear fire: James Hansen wants more nukes

Climatologist James Hansen claims small amounts of radioactivity might be beneficial, biologically, which is a lie. Only time can make nuclear wastes harmless and non-radioactive.
“Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid” by James Hansen (article advocating increased use of nuclear power)
excerpt: The National Academy of Sciences estimates that the Pennsylvania population exposed to radiation by the Three Mile Island accident may experience one or two resulting cancer deaths; that population will experience about 40,000 cancer deaths due to other causes. However, the estimate of 1 - 2 deaths is from the "linear no threshold" (LNT) approximation, i.e., an assumption that known radiation effects for large doses continue proportionally for small doses. That assumption is uncertain – there is at least as much anecdotal evidence suggesting that small radiation doses are beneficial to health (some mentioned here: as the contrary. However, no adequate scientific study with proper controls has been made. [not true!!!]

The "Human Events" article Hansen cites as justification for the hoax of “hormesis” (small amounts of radioactivity are supposedly good for you) is an article by Ann Coulter a few days after the meltdowns at Fukushima.  Ms. Coulter has written many nasty articles about Mr. Hansen yet he cited her to justify the claim that radioactivity has minimal or even beneficial health impacts, and therefore new nuclear reactors are acceptable. The link to Human Events no longer works, but it's at Coulter's site:

Many studies of radiation victims show health effects are supra linear — small amounts are more toxic per unit of dose than large amounts.  

An excellent compilation of nuclear radiation impacts is at

One resource there is the work of Dr. John Gofman, MD PhD, a veteran of the Manhattan Project and founder of the biomedical division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He was forced out of Livermore for concluding the rush to build nuclear power reactors would be dangerous.

It's fascinating that Hansen was courageous in warning about the impacts of climate chaos yet echoes the nuclear industry’s lies that new reactor designs are supposedly safe and can run on their own waste (they cannot reuse fission products). All reactors make nuclear wastes that cause genetic damage. Nukes are the worst way to boil water.



Three Mile Island Alert
summary of health impacts from the TMI accident


Killing Our Own: People Died at Three Mile Island
Incident at Three Mile Island

(infant mortality in downwind communities)

the need to believe that peaceful applications of the atom were possible played into the hands of those in the military who wanted to use nuclear weapons in limited wars, since both required the assumption that low-level radiation from distant, worldwide fallout or from nuclear plants was essentially harmless. Thus, the most concerned and idealistic scientists who had worked on the bomb and who later dedicated themselves to the realization of the peaceful benefits of the atom, because they were willing to believe the harmlessness of very small amounts of radiation and the negligible magnitude of the doses from nuclear reactor operations, were in effect contributing to the increased likelihood of nuclear war.


Hansen in 1988

James Hansen became world famous in 1988, when he testified to a Congressional committee warning that man-made global warming was already underway and predicting calamity if civilization did not shift course. I remember listening to excerpts on the radio and being very impressed.

I lived in the DC area then and remember it was a hot day when he spoke. I am not supporting the view that global warming only matters on hot days and recognize how long term climate chaos is different than the day to day weather. But it was an appropriate circumstance. The official high temperature at what was then called National Airport in Arlington was 98 F, a new record for that day.

There are no shortage of profiles of Hansen's efforts to get the world to take climate change seriously. (A representative example is at He withstood attacks from conservative pro-polluter partisans who sought to have him fired from NASA.


Hansen in 2006: saw him speak at "Beyond Peak" conference, excellent presentation, no nuclear advocacy

In 2006, I attended "Beyond Peak," a conference on Peak Energy at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Hansen was one of the speakers and gave an excellent summary of climatology science. There was no discussion of nuclear power in his presentation. founder Bill McKibben was also a speaker, sharing a podium with Roger Bezdek, co-author of the Hirsch Report. This report, formally known as "Peaking Of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management," was commissioned for the US Department of Energy on the economic consequences of Peak Oil. It warned that a large scale effort to mitigate energy depletion would need to happen two decades before peak to prevent economic shocks. The DOE tried to suppress it, but made it public after it was leaked online.

A few years later, I heard Robert Hirsch, its lead author, at the ASPO USA conference (Association for the Study of Peak Oil). I asked him afterward if the "two decades to prepare" conclusion was a way to say we blew it as a society when we collectively ignored President Carter's warning about the energy crisis. He just smiled in response.


Hansen's conversion to nuclear advocacy in 2008

nuclear opponents biggest danger to the planet, supposedly (quote from letters to Obama)


Nuclear Information and Resource Service

January 6, 2014 letter from 300+ groups to Hansen asking him to stop promoting nuclear power


Hansen at University of Oregon law school in 2010: unable to answer question about role of growth in climate crisis

In 2010, about a half year before the Fukushima meltdowns started, Hansen gave a speech at the University of Oregon law school. It was mostly focused on climatology but he also included strong support for nuclear power.

Legendary Oregon environmentalist Lloyd Marbet, who helped shut down the Trojan nuclear power station downstream of Portland, was in the audience. During the question time he praised Hansen's warnings about climate but added that the attacks he withstood from climate deniers was similar to his critiques of anti-nuclear advocates.

A student (unknown to this writer) asked Hansen during the question time about the role that "growth" had in contributing to the climate crisis. He looked stunned and was unable to provide a coherent response. I was more disappointed by this than his advocacy for boiling water via atomic fission. I already knew he had become a nuclear advocate, but to be unaware of how growth factored into these problems was even more troubling.

A personal consequence: I was vocal in the community, and at the event, about nuclear dangers and how they could not solve the climate crisis. I found myself "deplatformed" (to use a newer term) for daring to say these heresies, Previous to this event, I had had several panels approved for the Public Interest Environmental Conference (organized by U of O law students). My submissions focused on ecological approachs to Peak Energy, from 2004 to 2010. But after saying that Hansen was right on climatology but wrong on nukes, I found my panels no longer acceptable.


Hansen keynote speech at U of O Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in 2014

Hansen at PIELC - see attached flyer

Before his keynote presentation, I went up to Hansen and asked him how he could publish anything that included a source from an article by Ann Coulter. His response was to deny this.

His article citing Coulter (as mentioned above, but here it is again):
"Baby Lauren and the Kool-Aid" by James Hansen (article advocating increased use of nuclear power)

excerpt: The National Academy of Sciences estimates that the Pennsylvania population exposed to radiation by the Three Mile Island accident may experience one or two resulting cancer deaths; that population will experience about 40,000 cancer deaths due to other causes. However, the estimate of 1 - 2 deaths is from the "linear no threshold" (LNT) approximation, i.e., an assumption that known radiation effects for large doses continue proportionally for small doses. That assumption is uncertain – there is at least as much anecdotal evidence suggesting that small radiation doses are beneficial to health (some mentioned here: as the contrary. However, no adequate scientific study with proper controls has been made. [not true!!!]

The “Human Events” article Hansen cites as justification for the hoax of “hormesis” (small amounts of radioactivity are supposedly good for you) is an article by Ann Coulter a few days after the meltdowns at Fukushima.  Ms. Coulter has written many nasty articles about Mr. Hansen yet he cited her to justify the claim that radioactivity has minimal or even beneficial health impacts, and therefore new nuclear reactors are acceptable. The link to Human Events no longer works, but the article is at Coulter's site:

Chuck Johnson, then with Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, was listening to our conversation. He was also incredulous that Hansen didn't notice what was in his paper and quipped that perhaps a grad student wrote if for him. Hopefully his climatology papers had better fact checking of the details.

During the official question time after Hansen's lecture, Chuck and I were the first two at the microphones. We got a mix of "thank you" and snarls from the audience.


Michael Donnelly's article for Counterpunch


Oregon environmental groups:
mostly ignore NuScale new nukes plan

Oregon's fabled environmental movement mostly chose to ignore NuScale. As far as I know, the only environmental group in the state with paid staff who objected was Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. Oregon PSR then employed long-time anti-nuclear environmentalist Chuck Johnson to campaign to close the Columbia Generating Station (BPA's nuclear reactor) at Hanford, Washington, and monitor efforts to start a new nuclear industry via NuScale.

Perhaps if Oregon's politicians were majority Republican the environmental groups might object to new nukes. For years no environmental groups opposed NuScale other than PSR.

The national Sierra Club is perhaps the most prominent of the national environmental groups for being anti-nuclear, but that policy has not trickled down much to the Oregon Sierra Club and their local chapters. After some pressure, the Corvallis chapter of the Sierra Club ("Mary's Peak") took a stand against NuScale. Perhaps the Eugene chapter is also opposed, but if they are, they are quiet about it.

Occasionally individual environmentalists say to me that reviving nuclear reactor construction would be a bad idea, but as groups they do not mention NuScale nor request that elected officials rescind their support.


Public Interest Environmental Law Conference:
nuclear shill invited as a 2019 keynote speaker, environmental racism of uranium on Native lands ignored

2019 - Norris McDonald

nuclear reprocessing, industry propagandist as keynote speaker

presumably based on identity politics

PIELC has a substantial indigenous component but they have not focused on plans for nuclear dumps on native lands. Corbin Harney used to be a keynote speaker but he is deceased.

David Brower was also an annual speaker but he is also dead.

Brower's final appearance in 2000 - at our best, we are slowing down the rate things get worse.

His final act - deathbed absentee vote for Ralph Nader for President, didn't live to see the political chaos of the 2000 outcome, Bush v. Gore at the Supreme Court, Congress ratifying the coup.

PIELC is a smaller event than it was in the 1990s.


David Brower: "Is the minor convenience of allowing the present generation the luxury of doubling its energy consumption every 10 years worth the major hazard of exposing the next 20,000 generations to this lethal waste?"

Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Brower was also instrumental in leading environmentalists to rethink their early support of nuclear power.


Our Children's Trust:
promotes pro-nuclear plan, Hansen is their science advisor

political choice to use fossil fuels - Julia Olson lecture

he is the science advisor to Our Children's Trust, headquartered at University of Oregon law school

100% fossil free but no mention of EROEI, logistics, relocalization, depletion, food

asked a couple parents, none liked the nukes but not willing to say anything in public

one is concerned about forest fires, but at least those can be extinguished. only time ends the threat of nuclear waste

privately they know about peak / climate interconnections but only in private
, the code of climate "omerta" , also the desire to remain employable in the "sustainability" industrial complex, disagreements not tolerated - not disagreements about whether climate change is real or not, but whether climate needs to be considered in conjuction with depletion, limits to growth, etc.

plaintiff's father - concerned about forest fires, not pro-nuclear, but won't say anything in public about the call for new nukes. Forest fires can be extinguished (usually by rain) but nuclear waste is a fire that cannot be put out. Radiation also kills trees at similar doses as it kills people. AEC experiment. Chernobyl forest.


Bill McKibben,
environmentalists need to tolerate nukes

How the World Would Look in 2050 If We Solved Climate Change | Time.html

Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different
By Bill McKibben
September 12, 2019

... Environmentalists learned they needed to make some compromises, and so most of America's aging nuclear reactors were left online past their decommissioning dates: that lower-carbon power supplemented the surging renewable industry in the early years, even as researchers continued work to see if fusion power, thorium reactors or some other advanced design could work.


wikipedia page - not trustworthy by itself, but has long promoted Hansen and to my knowledge, has never challenged his nuclear advocacy

"new reactors don't make nuke waste," would be nice if it was true!

fusion - 100 million degree plasma (C) in case you think global warming is happening too slowly

thorium - same toxic problems as current reactors

350 activists have shared all of these claims with me, along with climate activists from other groups - when asked where they get these claims from they get vague, hostile or quiet

when Hansen was to speak in Eugene, I asked several of the Eugene 350 activists what they thought. Personally, they said they didn't like this but they also refused to challenge it.

May Boeve, - we don't discuss peak because it is not popular


Data for Progress:
working with and Sunrise Movement, nukes are "clean"

Data for Progress, a think tank working with and Sunrise Movement, says "clean" nuclear power should be part of the Green New Deal ["New Green Deal Policy Report,", Sept., 2018, p. 5].

Their report does not mention limits to growth, a topic that does not poll well in Democratic Party focus groups.

They push the meme of zero "net" emissions by mid-century, a sly way to hint that non-renewable energy will be mostly depleted by then.

"Net" zero is also not the same as actual zero. It includes the possibility of carbon credits / offsets to neutralize the political impact of burning fossil fuels.

It would be interesting to know who crafted the "by 2050" slogan. My guess is was in the community of philanthropic foundations who fund much of the environmental movement.