Expand renewables, not nukes, coalition urges

Fifteen environmental and other public interest groups, including WNPJ, have asked the legislature and governor to focus on expanding renewable energy in the state instead of relaxing or repealing state laws to make it easier to build new nuclear power plants.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy “are cheaper, safer, and will quickly create more jobs,” the organizations said in a letter to lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker.

Current state law provides reasonable cost and waste safeguards for nuclear power, they said, including a requirement that before a new nuclear power reactor can be built, a federal repository must be available to handle the high-level radioactive waste the plant would produce.

“Those who want to repeal the current law argue that nuclear energy should be considered along with other energy sources- that everything should be ‘on the table,’” the groups said. “But there is a legitimate reason nuclear energy is treated differently. Nuclear power is the only energy source that produces high-level radioactive waste that is so dangerous it must be isolated from humans and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. No current technology exists to do that.”

In addition to the waste problem, cost, supply and demand and job creation prospects are other reasons to pursue renewable over nuclear power, the groups said.

Nuclear power requires huge taxpayer subsidies to be competitive, and would result in higher taxes and higher rates for customers, they said.

“Because Wisconsin has an excess supply of baseload power, no new baseload power plants will likely be built in Wisconsin during the next 10 years. Therefore, repeal of the nuclear power law will not create any jobs for at least a decade. In comparison, investments in energy efficiency have created numerous jobs,” the letter said.

Signers include: Citizens Utility Board, Clean Wisconsin, Sierra Club John Muir Chapter, Wisconsin Environment, Midwest Environmental Advocates, WISPIRG, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Nukewatch, Coulee Progressives, One Wisconsin Now, and Town and Country Resource Conservation and Development.

Many of the groups are members of a Carbon Free Nuclear Free Wisconsin coalition, which says Wisconsin can combat climate change without relying on nuclear power. “Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power,” the letter said.