WP (Re)inventing a Green Nuclear Renaissance

How many times does nuclear power get to have a “comeback”?

At least one more, the Washington Post Anthony Faiola reports today (11/24/09), under the headline “Nuclear Power Regains Support,” and the subheads “Tool Against Climate Change” and “Even Green Groups See It as ‘Part of the Answer.'” The “greening of nuclear power” story is a perennial corporate media favorite (Extra!, 1-2/08), and no example of the genre would be complete without the environmentalist-turned-nuclear-lobbyist whose financial ties to the nuclear industry go politely unmentioned.

In this case, it’s Stephen Tindale, described as the former head of Greenpeace’s British office and not described as former head of communications and public affairs for npower renewables, a subsidiary of the energy company RWE, whose website declares: “Building new nuclear power stations is a key part of our commitment to meet the UK’s energy needs and to reduce carbon dioxide intensity. We have formed a joint venture with E.ON UK to develop at least 6GW of new nuclear capacity in the U.K.”

So, aside from people who have been paid by the nuclear power industry, who are the “green groups” that the subhead promises see nuclear power as “part of the answer”? The article cites two groups who support the climate change bill currently before Congress, which includes nuclear subsidies–the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund. But both groups are still opposed to nuclear power–the Sierra Club’s official position is still the one it passed in 1974, declaring that “The Sierra Club opposes the licensing, construction and operation of new nuclear reactors utilizing the fission process” until safety, waste and proliferation issues are addressed; the group’s magazine (1-2/07), addressing the climate change issue, concludes that “virtually every other form of power is cheaper and less risky.”

The Environmental Defense Fund, meanwhile, declares in a 2005 statement that “serious questions of safety, security, waste and proliferation surround the issue of nuclear power. Until these questions are resolved satisfactorily, Environmental Defense cannot support an expansion of nuclear generating capacity.”

So it doesn’t sound like either of the green groups cited by Faiolo actually view nuclear power as “part of the answer.” It’s safe to say that reporting like the Washington Post‘s, which always looks for the corporate-friendliest solution to any environmental issue, is part of the problem.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.