Ben Buchwalter


Is Renewable Energy Headed for a Nuclear Wedgie?
February 17, 2010, 8:40 pm
Filed under: change.org, Congress, Environment | Tags: , , ,

In January, I started blogging for change.org’s environment page. In my first post, I wrote about the strain expanding our nuclear program will place on the prospects for a comprehensive renewable energy system in the US. Despite almost universal acknowledgement in the environmental community that nuclear power is dirty, obstructive, and less efficient than its proponents suggest, Congress plans to flood the industry with billions in loan guarantees in order to get a climate bill passed. We’re already starting to see the results of this renewed commitment to nuclear power:

The result? The proposal of new nuclear plant in California, once a hotbed for anti-nuclear activism. In 2006, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a global warming bill that requires the state to increase renewable energy production 30 percent by 2020 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Nuclear critics didn’t expect is that those goals could lead the state to go nuclear.

“When you look at the need to cut carbon emissions, and California is in the lead in that department, you have to consider nuclear power,” says a spokesman for Areva, the French utilities company that proposed the California plant.



CA Climate Strategy: Learn to Adapt
January 9, 2010, 3:57 pm
Filed under: Environment, Mother Jones | Tags: , , ,

August 5, 2009

Now that we have to get our asses in gear and deal with climate change, there’s some serious disagreement about how to prepare ourselves for what’s coming. When the California Natural Resources Agency released its Climate Adaptation Strategy in August 2009, I expected the debate between adapters and mitigaters to flare up. But my sources said that there’s much more agreement in the environmental community now than in past decades. Most everyone, they said, agrees that we must mitigate and adapt — essentially brace for impact. From MoJo’s Blue Marble:

California’s strategy is one of only seven adaptation-specific plans currently in the works.  But it highlights the transition from a widespread campaign to stop climate change to an effort to brace for the impacts that are nearly guaranteed within the next few decades. “It used to be that you’d get slapped in the face for talking about adaptation,” says Tony Brunello, the deputy secretary of climate change and energy for the CNRA. “It was seen as doing nothing and taking away from mitigation efforts.”

But that view changed once climate change became a hot button national issue, embraced as reality by scientists and most American politicians. Brunello notes that the adaptation strategy has not been bogged down by the usual reluctance toward adaptation becuase California has a reputation as a leader on climate change legislation. But, he says, “we are only playing with half a deck. People have to start paying attention the the effects that are already going to impact California.”