AOC Leaves the Door Open to Dirty Nuclear Power

The nuclear power industry and its promoters are using Congresswoman Alexandria Ocacio-Cortez (D-New York) open door policy to push their agenda in the media and into the halls of Congress.

Earlier this year, Newsweek used AOC as a cornerstone in an article titled – The Left’s Changing Position on Nuclear Energy.

“On February 21, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman representing New York, visited Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the site of a triple meltdown and arguably one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters,” Newsweek reported.

“During the visit, she documented the trip to her 8.6 million Instagram followers, explaining in calm detail what she had experienced and answering their questions.”

“After the explosion, Japan’s energy sources went from 30-40 percent nuclear to almost none,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The flipside to that is the major drop in nuclear energy production has been made up in increased use of coal and fossil fuels, whose carbon emissions accelerate climate change.”

“While she said her intention was to ‘neither fear monger nor sugarcoat’ what happened, noting that nuclear energy is ‘a very complex, nuanced, and often controversial topic in certain circumstances,’ her appraisal of the fuel that provides 19 percent of Americans’ electricity seemed almost warm,” Newsweek reported.

“I think she’s for nuclear,” one nuclear power booster told Newsweek. “I’m not trying to say she expressed that fully in those Instagram posts.” 

And just this week, the New York Times published an op-ed titled Nuclear Waste is Misunderstood by Madison Hilly, founder of a group calling itself the Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal.

“On a visit in February to the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York did something refreshing,” Hilly wrote. “She discussed radiation exposure and nuclear waste without fanning fear. The radiation she got from her visit — about two chest X-rays’ worth — was worth the education she received on the tour, she told her 8.6 million Instagram followers. She then spoke admiringly of France, which, she said, ‘recycles their waste, increasing the efficiency of their system and reducing the overall amount of radioactive waste to deal with.’”

The current issue of the Capitol Hill Citizen ran an article titled AOC Leaves Door Open to Dirty Nuclear Power by Linda Pentz Gunter of Beyond Nuclear.

“For reasons that remain unclear. . . AOC used her trip to Japan to launch what sounded unmistakably like praise for the end phase of nuclear power production – reprocessing,” Gunter wrote. “Only she called it ‘recycling,’ a deliberately misleading industry term that masks the highly polluting operations involved in reprocessing, which takes irradiated reactor fuel and separates the plutonium from uranium in a chemical bath.”

“She then made a series of points, all of which were either factually or scientifically inaccurate, or both,” Gunter wrote. “These missteps begged the question as to the source of the congresswoman’s information. Her use of the term ‘recycling’ suggests that she, like most of her colleagues on the Hill, defers to the nuclear industry itself to sell her a highly sanitized version of its activities. This is particularly frustrating coming from an elected official whose raison d’être is to serve as the people’s champion.” 

“Had her staff instead opened the door to eminently qualified academics on the subject, such as Princeton physicist Frank von Hippel, never mind independent experts from the NGO world, they could have saved their boss considerable embarrassment.” 

“Instead, AOC posted that ‘France recycles their nuclear waste,’ even embedding the recycling logo in her text. But reprocessing does nothing of the kind.” 

“Of that irradiated reactor fuel reprocessed at the La Hague nuclear center on France’s Normandy coast, 95% of it contains uranium products too contaminated for further use. This is trucked south for conversion and storage at the Pierrelatte/Tricastin enrichment facility, although for a time, some was shipped to Siberia. Of the remaining 5%, 4% of it is vitrified into glass logs and stored at La Hague. Almost all of the separated plutonium, 1% of what’s left, is also stored, now amounting to more than 80 tons.”

In the same issue, the Capitol Hill Citizen published an article by Amory Lovins titled Nuclear is Not a Silver Bullet for Climate Disaster and one by John Abbotts titled More Subsidies for Nuclear Power? No Thank You.

In the Democratic Presidential primary, President Biden President Joe Biden is pro-nuclear power and his climate team believes nuclear power to be “a crucial source of virtually carbon-free electricity needed to be maintained and expanded to reach his pledge of what he calls 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.”

His two declared Democratic Party primary challengers, Marianne Williamson and Robert Kennedy Jr. are opposed.

Appearing on the UnHerd podcast this week, Kennedy was asked about nuclear power.

“I’m all for nuclear, if they can make it safe and if they can make it inexpensive,” Kennedy said. “Right now it is literally the most expensive way to boil a pot of water. We were told that nuclear energy would be too cheap to meter. And actually it is so expensive that no utility in the world will build a nuclear power plant without vast public subsidies by the taxpayer. In our country, we had to pass the Price Anderson Act. Nuclear power is just too dangerous for humanity.” 

“Look at Fukushima. Look at what is happening there now. There is so much contaminated water pouring out and contaminating the entire Pacific Ocean. Their only solution is to pump the water into these huge tanks and store it forever. There are these giant vast tanks that go on for as far as the eye can see.”

“Look at Chernobyl. You may say – there are new forms of nuclear power that are safer. I would say that’s not true. But don’t listen to me. Listen to the insurance industry. Listen to AIG and Lloyd’s of London. Ask them – would you ever insure one of these plants? And they won’t. Until they can find an insurance policy, they shouldn’t be saying it’s safe.”

“In our country, they had to go into a sleazy legislative maneuver in the middle of the night and pass the Price Anderson Act, which shifts the burden of their accidents onto the public,” Kennedy said. “And so it’s not hippies in tie dyed t-shirts who are saying nuclear is dangerous. It’s guys on Wall Street with suits and ties who are saying – this is so dangerous that they can’t get an insurance policy. And then they have to store the stuff at taxpayers’ expense for the next 30,000 years, which is five times the length of recorded human history. How can that ever be economical? If they had to internalize the costs, nobody would ever build one of these plants.”

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