Project Report:
Saving nuclear power plants from premature closure
Purpose
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates the effect of the global financial system and/or the monetary system in fostering a sustainable economy.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.

Summary

Environmental Progress, a project of Policy Impact, a 501c3 tax exempt organization, has emerged as the world’s leading environmental organization taking action to protect nuclear plants. EP was founded to address the two most serious threats to environmental progress: continued dependence on wood & dung in poor countries, and climate change. EP’s approach emphasizes educating the public on why nuclear power is important to both lifting everyone out of poverty and saving the natural environment.

One of two nuclear reactor vessels ready for installation at Plant Vogtle, near the Savannah River in Georgia.
One of two nuclear reactor vessels ready for installation at Plant Vogtle units 3 & 4, in Georgia. At the time of our visit, this was the only new nuclear power installation under construction in the United States. Work has fallen behind schedule and analysts appointed by the GA Public Service Commission recommended the project should be be canceled. As a foundation trustee, Barrett Walker visited the plant and concluded that construction should continue. In Dec. 2017 the PSC voted unanimously to allow construction to continue.

Description

Nuclear energy is in crisis and thus so too is progress on clean air and climate mitigation. Half of all US nuclear plants could be lost by 2030. The world could lose twice as many nuclear plants as it adds over the same period. When nuclear plants are canceled, or closed, they are replaced almost entirely with fossil fuels.

In a very short period of time, Environmental Progress has emerged as the world’s leading environmental organization acting to protect and expand nuclear power. EP has been instrumental in saving nuclear plants in Illinois, New York, Connecticut, South Korea, and France. The work EP has done in its two years of operation will eliminate an estimated 1 gigaton of carbon through 2030, a value of over $50 billion dollars.

Even so, the same threats faced in 2016 remain: cheap natural gas; subsidized renewables; and public fears of nuclear. Progress will require doing more of what’s worked to save nuclear plants while implementing new tactics to have a larger impact.

In the U.S. currently, the action is in New Jersey. A nuclear-only bill didn’t pass before Gov. Christie left office, and is now larded up with subsidies for renewables and efficiency. However, the bill remains better than nothing. EP, alongside prominent climate scientists and environmental advocates, sent an open letter to the governor urging him to support this legislation. President Michael Shellenberger wrote an op-ed with James Hansen that is under consideration at the main newspaper.

In California, EP continues to argue against the premature closure of Diablo Canyon and advocate to restart San Onofre. The research and communications the organization has been conducting show how closing nuclear plants not only increases pollution, but also makes electricity more expensive, exacerbating the relative decline of manufacturing in the state. The resulting report, “California in Danger,” has garnered significant attention, including a long segment on nuclear on “The Rubin Report."

Recently, EP has provided support to nuclear-owning utilities in Canada seeking help against the anti-nuclear Trudeau government. Michael visited twice, delivering the keynote at the Canadian Nuclear Association annual meeting on one of the trips. Canada is working with Japan and the US governments to propose a framework that puts nuclear more centrally back into climate negotiations, and EP has been advising them on how to do that, in addition to providing access to the US media.

Taiwan has showed significant movement in the past year. In the wake of its blackouts, in conjunction with the media attention given to Michael’s visits and continuing grassroots pressure from within the country, the state-owned utility is re-starting a reactor that had been closed for nearly two years. And now pro-nuclear forces are seeking a voter referendum on the future of nuclear.

In addition to targeting at-risk nuclear, EP was able to advise CBS on a special “Madam Secretary” (7 million viewers) episode that will air on April 29 and be strongly pro-nuclear. Given that it skews toward an older, more female audience, it could be another important watershed for changing attitudes.

EP has also made significant progress in creating and building consensus among a new vision for nuclear. It has championed the incorporation of “accident tolerant fuels” into existing reactors as a pathway toward incremental advancement of the existing fleet, a compelling alternative to the first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs.

In 2018, EP will expand its advocacy efforts to Spain, Indonesia, and Argentina, including Michael visiting these countries to deliver his Tedx talk, “Why I changed my mind about nuclear.”

Purpose

EP researches energy transitions and their social and economic implications for U.S. states and other nations, from analyzing the feasibility of nations meeting their Paris agreements, to studying the risks associated with an increasing reliance on natural gas, among other topics.


EP looks at the role that the World Bank, national ex-im banks, and other financial institutions play in shaping the global energy mix and their potential to promote clean energy development.


EP will continue to pursue the most up-to-date data on discriminatory energy subsidies and investigate the causes tending to destroy or impair free-enterprise.


EP research and work helped pass legislation that adequately values carbon-free electricity in NY and IL. And EP continues to improve its understanding of accident tolerant fuel development and its potential role in reducing regulatory burden, which may reduce construction delays, and thereby costs, on new builds.

Scope

EP works in the United States and other nations where clean energy progress is at risk. Our work always begins with seeking to understand. Every situation is unique, and we tailor our approach accordingly. First, we do quantitative energy and environmental analysis of every state and nation with nuclear reactors at risk. Second, we read the relevant scholarly research, policy documents and news coverage. Finally, we travel to the states and nations in question to do research where we interview key decision-makers, nuclear proponents, opponents and ordinary citizens.


Please see the attached "Outline of current programs and activities" for more detail on our work by geographic location.

Information Dissemination

EP employs both broad and local communication strategies to ensure our messages reach policymakers and the public alike.

All reports, open letters, analyses, and presentations are published on our website and promoted through our social media accounts.

Focused publications aimed at particular states or countries are sent to local news organizations, policymakers, and allies; op-eds are pitched to larger media outlets; short, easily-digestible videos are published on Twitter and Facebook.

President Michael Shellenberger also gives presentations internationally at meetings, events, and press conferences.

This “all of the above” strategy allows us to take pointed action to keep existing nuclear plants online while simultaneously demonstrating the many advantages of clean, abundant nuclear power to the public.

Amounts Approved
$20,000.00 on 10/16/2017 (Check sent: 10/27/2017)
$10,000.00 on 12/20/2017 (Check sent: 12/22/2017)


Barrett & Peggy Walker on Foundation site visit to Plant Vogtle's existing nuclear plant.  Reactors 1 & 2 were completed in 1987 & 1989.
Barrett & Peggy Walker on a Foundation site visit to Plant Vogtle. Nuclear reactors 1 & 2 were completed in 1987 & 1989. Two additional reactors are now under construction. The combined output of the four reactors will power over a million homes.



One of two General Electric power turbines at Plant Vogtle Units 1 & 2.
One of two General Electric power turbines at Plant Vogtle Units 1 & 2.

Dry cask spent fuel storage at Plant Vogtle Reactors 1 & 2.
Dry cask spent fuel storage at Plant Vogtle Reactors 1 & 2.

 
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