POV: The Alliance needs your help to fight nuclear reactors in Montana

For the past 44 years, nuclear power in Montana has been banned unless approved by voters. The ban was passed by Citizen Initiative, but Republican majorities in the 2021 Montana Legislature repealed the ban, and Republican Governor Gianforte signed the bill into law.

Now those same Republicans want to build nuclear reactors in Montana to replace Colstrip’s dirty and outdated coal-fired power plants. There are similar proposals for closed coal-fired power plants in Wyoming as well as new reactors at the National Laboratory in Idaho.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies is fighting these proposals and we really need your help! So far we’ve paid to put up two billboards, one in Missoula and one in Billings, and if you’d like to help keep Montana nuclear-free, it’s quick and easy to donate through our site. GoFundMe. Any donation helps, but the more you give, the more we can fight against nuclear energy.

Many people – and unfortunately a growing number of so-called “green” organizations – consider nuclear energy to be an excellent source of carbon-free electricity. But former heads of nuclear regulators in Europe and the United States issued a statement in January expressing their opposition to nuclear power as a climate solution, writing: “The reality is that nuclear is neither clean , neither safe nor intelligent; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant damage. Nuclear is not cheap, but extremely expensive.

They also added that nuclear power is “unlikely to make a relevant contribution to the necessary climate change mitigation needed by the 2030s due to the incredibly long development and construction times of nuclear, and the the overwhelming build https://www.theverge.com/2022/01/27/22904943/nuclear-power-plant-solution-to-climate-change-gregory-jaczkoosts of the very large number of reactors that would be needed to make up the difference.

Gregory Jaczko, former Chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, confirmed this assessment by stating: “Nuclear has shown time and time again that it cannot deliver on deployment and cost promises. And that’s really the most important factor when it comes to climate. Jaczko also said that we can replace carbon-generating electricity with renewables, and he’s right. New renewable electricity sources as well as ever-improving electricity storage capacity are being built on time and on budget and producing electricity at an affordable price, unlike nuclear reactors.

A 2021 report by Wall Street firm Lazard estimated the cost of new nuclear energy at between $131 and $204 per megawatt-hour, compared to an average cost of $27/MWh for large-scale solar and $25/MWh for wind power. The lower cost of renewables more than pays for electricity storage to support renewables.

Mining uranium for nuclear reactor fuel is also dangerous because uranium mining produces tailings that are piled up in ponds near the mine. These tailings pose serious environmental and health risks due to radon emissions, windblown dust and the leaching of contaminants – including heavy metals and arsenic – into the water.

From 1944 to 1986, the United States mined 4 million tons of uranium ore from 500 mines on Navajo lands that were then abandoned. Rates of lung cancer and other illnesses affecting Navajos living near the mine have increased dramatically. The Navajos were able to stop uranium mining on their land, but these issues still exist with other uranium mines today and should not be ignored in considering the future of nuclear power. .

Since uranium is mined in other states and must be shipped to Montana, building nuclear power plants in Montana to replace older coal-fired generators will impact people and the environment far from our borders. Also, Montana does not need electricity since we already export about half of the electricity we produce to other states. It is strictly an expensive and high-risk program to replace 50-year-old, unprofitable and environmentally destructive coal-fired power plants with unprofitable and dangerous nuclear reactors.

Ultimately, building nuclear reactors at the headwaters of the nation’s largest rivers is not just a concern for Montana residents, but for all Americans. After all, we banned nuclear weapons 44 years ago until that ban was overturned last year by an arrogant, ignorant Republican-dominated legislature and the first Republican governor in 16 years.

The choice is clear: we can and must focus on fighting global warming with conservation, renewable energy generation and electricity storage – or we can go down an extremely expensive and environmentally destructive route. of nuclear energy that has failed over and over again on the way out. behind a legacy of radioactive waste that remains deadly for thousands of years.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies is working hard to stop the effort to build nuclear reactors in Montana – and we would certainly appreciate if you could find a few bucks to help us out. Thank you!

Mike Garrity is the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies

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