A Pandemic is the wrong time to shut down Indian Point

This brilliant and eye-opening Opinion piece was recently published in the New York Post by Robert Bryce, A Pandemic is the wrong time to shut down NYC’s top source of electricity.

Bryce makes an excellent argument for why Governor Cuomo should immediately suspend the plan to shut down Indian Point, New York City’s largest source of clean energy. In this, he is largely repeating what the Union of Concerned Scientists found back in 2018, that we cannot afford to shut down existing nuclear because we are not building enough clean energy to support our energy needs. Thus, when we shut nuclear, we are just digging a deeper hole by ramping up even more fossil fuel energy and increasing our emissions. This is not moving us in the right direction for climate, so we should at the very minimum postpone shuttering nuclear, until these large plants can be definitively replaced with clean energy only.

However, given the concurrent crisis of the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging New York and the world at this moment, I can think of quite a few other arguments, not least of which is that Indian Point generates 16 terrawatt-hours clean energy every year and, because of that, has saved many lives that would have been lost prematurely from poorer air quality, if that energy had been generated from coal, gas or diesel.

If Indian Point is shut now, New York utilities will immediately reverse the blessings of all of that clean energy by having to ramp up the use of fossil fuels, which add pollutants to the air in addition to all of their carbon dioxide emissions.  These extra pollutants will make it that much harder for those stricken with coronavirus to breath.  COVID-19 attacks our respiratory apparatus, so difficulty breathing is exactly what puts so many ICU patients onto ventillators.  We are putting more patients at risk when we close down our largest source of clean energy and start adding more polluting types of energy.

There is a campaign taking shape to try to save Indian Point by petitioning Governor Cuomo to suspend the plan to close the plant now, during the pandemic. Keith Rodan has been working on this issue for a while and launched a petition on Change.org a while ago that has garnered over 1,700 signatures.  Please sign the petition but we are also forming a group to seek to bring this campaign to a successful conclusion—by making it impossible for Cuomo to shutter Indian Point.  If you would like to join this effort, please consider joining our campaign, as we are organizing now, with just 20 days to go, and need all hands on deck!