Rep. Upton Fails in Bid to Define Nuclear Energy as "Renewable"

By Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear

Washington, DC ñ Michigan grassroots anti-nuclear watchdog groups Donít Waste Michigan, Citizens Resistance at Fermi 2, and Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, joined by national watchdog group Beyond Nuclear, have objected to U.S. Congressman Fred Uptonís (Republican from Michiganís 6th District) attempt to define atomic power as a renewable energy source. Rep. Uptonís amendment, proposed as part of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committeeís debate on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), was narrowly defeated by a slim three vote margin.

An examination of the congressional record of Rep. Upton reveals a consistent championing of the nuclear industryís legislative wish list regardless of safety and security issues that could threaten the wellbeing of Michiganders. Beyond Nuclear last year published a report
-- Fred Upton, One of the Nuclear Power Industryís Best Friends in
Congress-- in direct response to Congressman Uptonís promotion of nuclear power at a press conference held at Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman, MI. On June 30, 2008 Upton unveiled the Clean and Safe Energy (CASEnergy) Coalitionís national initiative to construct at least 30 new atomic reactors across the nation. CASEnergy is a nuclear front group, created and funded by the industryís Washington, D.C.
lobby and public relations arm, the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The report - Fred Upton, One of the Nuclear Power Industryís Best Friends in Congress ñ found that during the Bush administration years, Upton marched in lockstep with nuclear power expansion plans, championing such nuclear power industry priorities as the Yucca Mountain dumpsite for high-level radioactive wastes; massive subsidies and tax breaks for the construction of new atomic reactors; and a revival of reprocessing that would risk nuclear weapons proliferation overseas, environmental devastation wherever it is conducted, and an astronomically large price tag for taxpayers costing hundreds of billions of dollars. In addition, Upton has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from electric utilities, the energy/natural resources sector, and the nuclear power industry. A summary of the report, and supporting documentation, can be viewed at at the bottom of the page. The full report, complete with references, is available upon request.
Kevin Kamps, author of the report, a Kalamazoo native, a board member of Donít Waste Michigan, and a member of the Great Lakes United Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force said of his findings and Rep.
Uptonís attempt to define nuclear power as ìrenewableî:
ìItís hard to understand how Congressman Upton can consider nuclear power ìrenewableî when its risks -- of radioactive catastrophe due to accidents or attacks, the environmental devastation caused throughout the nuclear fuel chain, and the unsolved radioactive waste dilemma -- make it about as diametrically opposed to renewable energy as you can get. Hard to understand, that is, until you realize the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions Congressman Upton has pocketed, compliments of the nuclear power industry.
"It's high time for Congressman Upton to work on behalf of the health, safety, and pocketbooks of southwest Michigan's residents and taxpayers, rather than the nuclear power industry's bottomless greed.
ìThe atomic power subsidies that Upton supports would transfer the huge financial risks from the nuclear power industry onto the backs of hard-working American taxpayers. These multi-billion dollar giveaways would go to an industry that has already enjoyed lavish subsidies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and ratepayers for the past 50 years.
The tally to date is at least $500 billion in research and development support, liability coverage in the event of catastrophic radiation releases, high-level radioactive waste management costs, and much more.
ìGiven the hefty corporate campaign contributions Upton receives from the nuclear power industry, itís natural to question whether his loyalties lie with Michigan residents or with those lining his campaign pockets.
ìUpton has failed to protect public safety and security against failures at Palisades and Cook nuclear power plants. Now he wants to give away billions of taxpayer dollars to help the nuclear industry build yet more radioactive bull's-eyes, reactors that are vulnerable to accidents and attacks.
ìItís ironic that Upton is calling for new atomic reactors, when states from Nevada to South Carolina have closed their doors to Michiganís radioactive refuse. Those wastes are now dangerously piling up at reactors across Michigan, on the Great Lakes shoreline, with nowhere to go.
ìWe urge Congressman Upton to stop promoting the dead end that is nuclear power, and instead secure federal funding for genuinely safe, secure, reliable, and clean renewable sources of electricity, such as solar and wind power. Michigan has an abundance of such renewable energy resources, which, along with energy efficiency measures, would create many thousands of well-paid jobs in the state, while protecting public health, the environment, and the climate.î The Michigan State University Land Use Institute reported last October that Michigan has access to over 320,000 megawatts of off-shore wind power potential in the Great Lakes. The U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Lab has reported Michigan has 16,000 megawatts of land-based wind power potential. The new atomic reactor proposed by Detroit Edison at Fermi nuclear power plant in Monroe, Michigan would provide only 1,560 megawatts of electricity.
Beyond Nuclear and Donít Waste Michigan, along with the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, have challenged the Fermi 3 reactor proposal in an intervention proceeding before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissionís Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The Licensing Boardís decision on whether or not to admit the environmental coalitionís contentions for a hearing will be announced before the end of June.