Learn the Facts
The agreement to close Indian Point, announced in January 2017, capped decades of controversy over its safety and was seen as a victory for environmental groups and Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had long opposed the downstate plant, despite supporting New York’s upstate plants. Nevertheless, the closure will immediately reduce New York City’s clean energy by 80 percent and increase the city’s dependence upon imported fracked gas. Losing Indian Point almost certainly guarantees that New York will not achieve the goals of the landmark legislation The New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, since the state has been unable to construct sufficient alternative renewable energy sources to meet the city’s enormous capacity. Although this bill has been touted as a nation-leading framework for achieving a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and a 100% reduction in emissions by 2050, in reality, it is a phyric victory for groups like Riverkeeper and NRDC, as closing Indian Point will require that New York ramp up generation from burning natural gas, from three new gas plants, themselves having been bitterly fought by residents opposing new pollution in their regions. In this case, the fossil fuel industry and the environmentalists both seem to be celebrating the fact that Governor Cuomo cut a political compromise to appease two very different constituents that replaces Indian Point’s clean, carbon-free energy with dirty energy and a huge increase in emissions. [If you have any information about Governor Cuomo’s dealings in pressuring Entergy to prematurely close Indian Point, please contact us to share it.]
The Future for Clean Energy in New York State is Not Bright
This graph shows what happens if Governor Cuomo allows Indian Point to close. The state’s carbon intensity and percentage of energy from fossil fuels will grow. The alternative, “A Brighter Future,” is possible if Indian Point is allowed to continue providing clean energy through to the end of its full license period, 2025.
Why closing Indian Point during a pandemic threatens the lives of New Yorkers
On April 6, 2020, journalist and author Robert Bryce published A Pandemic is the wrong time to shut down NYC’s top source of electricity. In it, by Bryce, who has written extensively on energy and politics in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Counterpunch, and National Review, explains the risks to New Yorkers of Governor Cuomo’s deal to replace Indian Point’s 2-Gigawatts of clean power with burning fracked gas at a time when 10s of thousands of residents in and around the city are struggling for breath with Covid-19. Bryce is the author of the recently published book, A Question of Power, which explains the importance of electricity in our lives. He also created the documentary film, Juice: How electricity explains the world, a look at how access to energy impacts life around the world, in a film that will be released in June 2020.
Examining just how good an energy source Indian Point really is by the numbers
On April 12, 2020, Robert Bryce published yet another article, this time in Forbes, entitled New York has 1,300 Reasons Not to Close Indian Point. Bryce explains in very clear detail how to understand the issue of “energy density” and why a nuclear power plant like Indian Point, which takes up the space of about 1/3 of the acreage of New York’s Central Park, can actually have a substantially lower ecologic footprint than any other type of clean energy. The reason why Cuomo is obliged to replace Indian Point’s power by burning natural gas, taking New York back two steps, is because in order to replace the enormous amount of clean energy generated by Indian Point, Cuomo would have to figure out where to site a wind farm that covers 1,300 times that same acreage. One possibility, of course, is that Cuomo could exercise eminent domain and re-dedicate New Rochelle, Scarsdale, Mamaroneck and Yonkers for building these wind towers. Nobody will mind, right?
Does anyone really actually care about clean energy?
Yes, Nuclear New York does. Nuclear New York is a project of Community Studies of New York, Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan, advocacy organization devoted to supporting clean nuclear energy in New York State. They have taken the time and energy to provide a lot of important information to the New York City and Westchester County communities, which are at serious risk of losing 80% of thier carbon-free electricity generation. They are alarmed at the alacrity by which area environmentalists accept the significant increase in NY State’s reliance on natural gas, a fracked and leaked fossil fuel contributor to climate change. Through a Change.org petition the Nuclear New York group and thousands of others are calling on Governor Cuomo to extend the operation of Indian Point’s reactors under his authority to act on the climate change emergency posed by the state’s failure to replace that generation with other clean energy sources.
Why is it bad to close Indian Point during a pandemic?
Harvard University recently published COVID-19 PM2.5 a report on a new nationwide study conducted on the long-term exposure to air pollution for COVID-19 mortality in the United States. This study looked at long-term exposure to air pollution and its relationship to COVID-19 mortality and found that Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country. This study provides the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and Covid-19 death rates.
In an article published in the New York Times on April 7, 2020 entitled New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates, Lisa Friedman reports that researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed 3,080 counties in the United States, and found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease. This means that in adding dirty energy generation that emits particulate matter in the New York area, Cuomo could be contributing to higher mortality rates for people who subsequently contract a virulent case of the coronavirus.
Do we even need nuclear anyway? Well, yes, actually!
That is what a team of experts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology found. The most critical challenge of the 21st century may be the challenge of drastically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases while simultaneously expanding access to energy and economic opportunity for billions of people. In a recent MIT study led by Jacopo Buongiorno, an interdisciplinary team of nearly 50 scientists examined this challenge for the electricity sector. In order to produce projected electricity load in 2050 while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a mix of clean electrical generation assets employed in various combinations will be required. The analysis shows that excluding nuclear energy as an option will significantly increase the cost of achieving deep decarbonization targets. The least-cost portfolios in our analysis include an important share for nuclear, and the magnitude of this share grows substantially as the cost of nuclear energy drops.
How badly led astray are New Yorkers?
Here is what New Yorkers were led to believe would happen with the passage of the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, described by Heather McGhee and Robert Reich in The Nation as “the most progressive climate-equity policy we’ve seen.” New Yorkers and everyone else was led to believe that the legislation sets a path to the highest standard nationwide for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as much as 100% of human-caused climate pollution eliminated by 2050 from all sectors. Unfortunately, as of April 30th, Cuomo is back-tracking and reducing New York’s clean energy by an estimated 18 terrawatt/hrs of power, with the closure of Indian Point, which will be replaced by a comparable amount of dirty energy from three new fossil fuel gas plants. Quite the disparity between the reality and what New Yorkers were led to believe by this coalition of groups: 32BJ SEIU, ALIGN – Alliance for a Greater New York, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Center For Working Families, Citizen Action of New York, Communications Workers of America District 1, Demos, Environmental Advocates of NY, GreenFaith, Long Island Progressive Coalition, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Our Climate, People’s Climate Movement NY, PUSH Buffalo, Sierra Club, Teamsters Joint Council 16, UPROSE, and more.
Here’s the proof from the NY Renews website:
Articles about Other States Keeping their Nuclear Going to control Fossil Fuel Emissions
PA Governor Tom Wolf is working to save nuclear
According to an NPR State Impact report, the owners of Beaver Valley, a nuclear power station in Shippingport, Pennsylvania reversed a decision to shut down the plant because of the climate policy pushed by Gov. Tom Wolf. Energy Harbor Corp. rescinded its 2018 deactivation notices for the two power generating units at the plant, and will save 1,000 jobs that were scheduled to end with the shut down. The company reversed its plan because Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s moved to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program intended to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, thereby supporting their clean sources of energy, making power from Beaver Valley critical to PA’s power grid. In addition to Pennsylvania, other states looking to protect their clean energy sources and limit future emission include: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey, with Virginia in the process of joining.
Proposed bill would include large hydro, nuclear in California’s portfolio standard
In a report in UtilityDive, Kavya Balaraman reported that California legislators introduced a bill to temporarily halt the requirements of the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program and redirect funds to ensure utilities improve their infrastructure and vegetation management programs. The proposed bill would also, if and when the program is reinstated, include nuclear generation and all hydroelectric facilities operating as of January 1, 2021 in the program’s definition of an “eligible renewable energy resource.” This is another approach to enabling nuclear energy to be credited for its contributions to clean energy needs and level the uneven playing field, tipped in two ways that disadvantage nuclear power: 1) Because fossil fuel generation such as natural gas, coal and oil are not obligated to pay to clean up the costs of the toxic pollution or carbon emissions that wreak havoc in the environment and on health, whereas nuclear power does not cause those problems; and 2) Because the RPS requires state utilities to purchase a set percentage of energy coming from “renewables” yet what constitutes “renewables” has nothing to do with the actual amount of carbon emissions associated with that energy. Hence, biofuel, biowaste and biomass are considered “renewable,” yet the amount of emissions they release are effectively as bad as that of fossil fuels.