WASHINGTON, April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Two organizations that inexplicably are getting a pass from most news media outlets in the United States – Nuclear Matters and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) – are, in fact, de facto nuclear industry front groups that have failed entirely to be transparent about their financing, according to the independent watchdog group the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS).
NIRS, which relies on donations for its operations and has a total budget smaller than the salary paid to the CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, is objecting to the fact that in a recent barrage of news releases, op-eds, full-page New York Times ads, and its Web site, the group "Nuclear Matters" nowhere reveals that its primary or currently sole source of funding is Exelon, which maintains the largest U.S. nuclear fleet: 23 reactors at locations in Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Nuclear Matters is represented by Sloane & Company PR, the same firm that works for Exelon itself. Sloane PR has indicated that Exelon is not just "among the funders" of Nuclear Matters. It is currently the primary funder of the front group and funds from other interests are now being sought, according to Sloane. Nowhere is this information being disclosed by Exelon or Nuclear Matters to the public … and there is little evidence that is being demanded and then reported on by the news media. Additionally, no information has been provided to date about the fees and/or other considerations being paid by Exelon's front group to a growing list of former public officials, including Carol M. Browner, Bill Daley, Spencer Abraham, Evan Bayh, and Judd Gregg.
Also failing to be transparent about its funding is The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, which is holding a National Press Club briefing today on nuclear power and "climate solutions." However, the news advisory for the C2ES event (featuring Nuclear Matter's Carol M. Browner) nowhere discloses that the organization is bankrolled in large part by utilities with nuclear reactors.
In fact, Entergy is a founding sponsor and "strategic partner" of C2ES (http://www.c2es.org/about/strategic-partners). Other nuclear-oriented utilities listed on the "Business Environmental Leadership Council" of C2ES include Areva, Dominion, Duke Energy, Exelon, and NRG. (See http://www.c2es.org/about/strategic-partners.) At the time of the 2011 launch of C2ES, Think Progress referred to it as "an explicitly corporate-managed organization." (See http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/11/10/366887/pew-center-for-climate-changes-name-now-sponsored-by-energy-companies/.)
Two and a half years later, C2ES misleadingly refers to itself in the news advisory for its April 28th nuclear power briefing as "independent," which would not appear at all to be accurate in the nuclear power context. Making matters worse, the promotional material for the news event (as noted above) completely omits any reference to C2ES's heavy reliance on nuclear industry funding and the industry's active involvement in the "leadership" of the Center.
NIRS Executive Director Tim Judson said: "Exelon is spearheading an aggressive, multi-front campaign today to rewrite the rules of the energy marketplace to protect the nuclear power industry, which is dying in the face of a number of factors, including safety concerns, out-of-control costs, and cheap renewable energy alternatives. Exelon, Entergy and the rest of the industry have every right to make their case. All we are asking them to do is to come clean about the funding of their front groups. Enlisting formerly high visibility government officials to act as shills for nuclear power is completely acceptable as long as the industry does not try to hide the ball about where the money is coming from."
In addition to calling for more transparency, Judson emphasized that any notion that C2ES is a major environmental group that suddenly is "coming out for nuclear" is completely mistaken. There is a long track record that shows that the Center and its predecessor (Pew) have long defended and even openly touted nuclear power:
- C2ES fact sheet on nuclear, 2014 Web site content. "Unlike conventional fossil fueled electricity generation, nuclear power can provide electricity without direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and with very low lifecycle emissions … Many analyses that look at the lowest-cost options for decarbonizing the electric power sector (e.g., via a GHG emissions pricing policy) project a substantial role for new nuclear power plants in meeting demand for non-emitting electricity generation." http://www.c2es.org/technology/factsheet/nuclear
- Power Options blog, December 3, 2013. "Increasingly some leaders in the environmental community are extolling the benefits of nuclear power to address the challenge of reducing greenhouse gases and the effects on climate change. Just last week at the WADE conference (World Alliance for Decentralized Energy), the head of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a national climate organization, lamented the closing of Vermont Yankee. This line of thinking is particularly bizarre – and that's coming from someone like me who started her career challenging the prudence of the utility industry's investment in nuclear energy and then defended such investments." http://www.poweroptions.org/blog/view/47-nukes-no-panacea-for-global-warming.html
- Testimony of Judy Greenwald, VP for Technology and Innovation, C2ES, before Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate, May 17, 2012, Hearing on The Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012. Encourages the U.S. Department of Energy to grant more loan guarantees and other financial assistance for nuclear. http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=f857ed4a-3f54-4f9f-9b30-582eb1236174
- "Can nuclear be part of our clean energy future?" This April 4, 2012 blog post states nuclear is reliable, carbon-free energy source but has challenges. It then goes on to downplay the three major challenges that it highlights: cost, reactor safety, and waste disposal. http://www.c2es.org/blog/aaronsk/can-nuclear-be-part-our-clean-energy-future
- "Michigan Energy Futures Conference Speaker Says Big Businesses Are on Board to Fight Climate Change," Ann Arbor News, June 26, 2013. "Janet Peace, the center's vice president for markets and business strategy, is a keynote speaker at the first annual Michigan Energy Futures Conference hosted by the Erb Institute at the Ross Business School Wednesday. She said the companies involved with the center do not fit into the "climate change denier" mold at all. … 'We need nuclear energy, you can't solve climate issues without nuclear, and you can't do it without renewable energy. Natural gas will also play a large roll and is very complimentary to renewable energy. Production of electricity with natural gas can be ramped up or down very quickly which can help deal with the intermittent quality of some renewable energy sources.'" http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/michigan-energy-futures-conference-speaker-says-big-businesses-are-on-board-to-fight-climate-change/
- "Japan to switch off last nuclear reactor," CBS News, May 2012. "'The big open question is whether and when the nuclear plants will come back on line, and what that implies for Japan's long-term emissions trajectory,' said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, in Arlington, Virginia. 'If nuclear will no longer be a part of the energy mix, Japan is going to have a much tougher time reducing emissions,' he said." http://www.cbsnews.com/news/japan-to-switch-off-last-nuclear-reactor/
- "All Energy Sources Entail Risk, Efficiency a No-Brainer," March 2011. "At the moment, our attention is riveted by the events unfolding at a nuclear power plant in Japan. Over the past year or so, major accidents have befallen just about all of our major sources of energy: from the Gulf oil spill, to the natural gas explosion in California, to the accidents in coal mines in Chile and West Virginia, and now to the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactor. We have been reminded that harnessing energy to meet human needs is essential, but that it entails risks. The risks of different energy sources differ in size and kind, but none of them are risk-free." http://www.c2es.org/blog/greenwaldj/all-energy-sources-entail-risk-efficiency-no-brainer
- "Providing a Nuclear Boost," November 2009. "One can also look at the historical pace of nuclear power deployment in the United States for a sense of what might be reasonable once the nuclear industry ramps up. More than a third of the 100 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear generating capacity that provides a fifth of U.S. electricity came online in 1971-75, and more than 90 GW of U.S. nuclear power came online in the 1970s and 1980s. One can see that putting a price on carbon, via cap and trade, will likely spur a significant expansion in U.S. nuclear power over the coming decades (as part of a portfolio of low-carbon technologies) facilitated by loan guarantees to support a few first-mover projects." http://www.c2es.org/blog/caldwells/providing-nuclear-boost
- "Some Daylight for Nuclear Power," October 2009. "As the electricity sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) – accounting for over a third of total U.S. emissions – it would be logical to look there for significant emissions reductions. Within the electricity sector, nuclear energy stands out. Currently, it not only produces a fifth of domestic electricity, but it also accounts for 70 percent of emissions-free electricity generation. That is a significant amount of emissions-free electricity, especially considering that no new U.S. nuclear power plants have been ordered since 1973." http://www.c2es.org/blog/amodiom/some-daylight-nuclear-power
- Speech from the President of the Pew Global Center on Climate Change, November 2007. "And so, as we look at these wedges, and as we scan the horizon for opportunities to reduce emissions of these gases in a substantial way, we have to consider how this industry, nuclear power, can be a part of the solution. We would be foolish not to. Nuclear is one of the few options on the table for producing electricity with no carbon emissions. And, it is already delivering 20 percent or more of U.S. electricity, and more in other countries: 78 percent in France, 54 percent in Belgium, 39 percent in South Korea, and 30 percent in Japan. The IAEA says nuclear accounts for 15 percent of electricity generation worldwide. Some environmental groups feel that this industry poses as serious a threat to the world as climate change itself and should therefore be opposed at all costs. At the Pew Center, we don't feel this way. What we have always said is that climate change is such a serious problem that we cannot afford to take any option off the table. We simply cannot ignore the fact that nuclear power could make a substantial contribution to our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases." http://www.c2es.org/newsroom/speeches/reality-renaissance-making-nuclear-power-part-climate-solution
- Congressional testimony of Eileen Claussen, November 2007. "In the medium and longer term, steeper reductions will be made possible through deployment of more advanced technologies, such as highly efficient vehicles, improved nuclear power plants, renewable energy combined with enhanced electricity storage capacity, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). An economy wide trading program will draw these technologies into the marketplace when they are ready, reducing the burden on any one sector, reducing the cost to the economy as a whole, and providing the broadest incentive possible for early emission reductions and technology innovation." http://www.c2es.org/newsroom/congressional-testimony/reducing-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-cost-effectively
- Pew Agenda for Climate Action, February 2006. "11. Nuclear Power: Provide opportunities for nuclear power to play a continuing role in a future low-carbon electricity sector." http://www.c2es.org/publications/agenda-climate-action
- "Keeping the Nuclear Power Option Open," May 2005. "Nuclear power potentially offers a virtual greenhouse gas (GHG)-free source of energy for the electric sector. In addition, nuclear power could enable a future decarbonization of the transport sector – either through electric vehicles or through the use of electrolytic hydrogen in hydrogen internal combustion or fuel cell vehicles. Despite nuclear power's potential to contribute to a low-carbon future, its further development is hampered by many problems, and further deployment of nuclear power is essentially "on hold" in many developed countries - a situation well illustrated in the United States." http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/Oxford%20Energy%20Forum.pdf
2013 marked the 35th anniversary of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which was founded to be the national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues. For more information, go to http://www.nirs.org.
SOURCE Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Washington, DC