A Lack of Consensus for Nuclear Energy

The Campus Coalition for Peace at Parkside hands out information pertaining to activism, the environment, and the current state of our nation. One of the pamphlets they graciously give away for free at their own expense is entitled “Don’t Nuke Wisconsin’s Climate.” This pamphlet deals with the debate about and the dangers of expanding Wisconsin’s nuclear energy program and the possible effects of building new nuclear facilities. The pamphlet is written with a bias that disfavors the idea of building new nuclear plants for several reasons, and it examines Wisconsin’s laws pertaining to the issue as well as the attempt of the proponents of the plant to weaken those laws.

According to the pamphlet, which was authored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Wisconsin prohibits the construction of new nuclear reactors unless certain conditions are met. There must be a federally-licensed facility to dispose of high-level waste from the reactors, and the Public Service Commission must determine that the plants make economic sense. According to the pamphlet the nuclear power industry intends to weaken this law through exploiting the concerns over ‘climate change.’ The industry claims that they are a clean alternative to coal plants. Jim Doyle’s Task Force on Global Warming proposed that the laws be relaxed as to eliminate the requirement of the new means of waste disposal before building new plants. This means that the nuclear plants would be licensed, but they would have no means to dispose of their ultra-toxic and radioactive waste.

The pamphlet warns that opening the doors for more nuclear plants in Wisconsin would increase the probability that our state would be pressured by the federal government become the next repository for radioactive waste from around the nation. In the 1980’s, the feds thought that granite formations in central and northern Wisconsin might make a good waste dump. Wisconsin voters opposed this in a referendum in 1983. The vote was won with an eight to one margin. Now that Yucca Mountain is being considered for elimination as a dump, it is likely that Wisconsin could be again considered; this is especially true if there are new nuclear plants built in Wisconsin. It also goes on to say that the new plants and the waste they provide could be terrorist targets.

Wisconsin has had numerous problems with the plants in Point Beach and Kewaunee. Proof of this is the fact that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued only five “red findings” in its entire history and three of them have gone to the Point Beach, Wisconsin plant. The reactors would cost ten billion dollars each and each takes a decade or more to build. If the waste from these reactors was released into the climate or Lake Michigan due to a meltdown or terrorist act, it would take up to a million years to clean everything back up.

Proponents of Nuclear from the Nuclear Energy Institute have now hired four lobbyists in Wisconsin. There are only three other states with lobbyists for nuclear power, which are Kentucky, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

One of these lobbyists has changed his stance on the issue from being against it initially when he wrote an article in 2000 opposing it. His name is Frank Jablonski, and he is an attorney in Madison. He considers himself an “. . . environmentalist who changed his position on nuclear,” according to an article from counterpunch.org. He also stated that, “I now favor the use of nuclear energy, its expansion and its further development.” The debate is still hot about this issue and it is not going anywhere soon.

Story by Jake Halverson

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