Wednesday, June 1, 2016

news | Activists rally for nuclear-free statewide clean energy plan

A rally held after a public hearing of the renewable energy proposal in lower Manhattan. Credit: Author

Some want nuclear power gone with the wind.

NEW YORK – Local environmental groups met at the corner of Church and Vesey streets on Tuesday to call for a clearer vision of New York State’s renewable energy proposal. The rally, held shortly after a public hearing, attracted about fifty people including citizen activists and members of environmental groups.

Although many of the activists supported the proposal’s goals, some felt the government’s plans did not go far enough. Several took umbrage at the possible inclusion of nuclear power subsidies as part of the proposal.

“We want them to not include nuclear energy because we don’t believe it’s clean, it’s not carbon-free and it’s certainly not renewable, so shouldn’t be receiving subsidies intended for real renewable energy,” said Dan Sherrell of the Sierra Club.

“They’ve taken some steps in the right direction and some steps in the wrong direction,” said Susan Spieler, a clinical psychologist and environmental activist. “Nuclear power is filthy dirty so it should not be in the clean energy policy that’s being proposed now.”

In February, a state commission suggested nuclear power plants receive financial support to help New York move towards long-term clean energy sources, official documents show. “Ideally,” wrote the commission, “these facilities would be maintained as viable until they can be replaced with new, long-term clean energy generation facilities or supplanted by energy efficiency achievements.”

The state’s proposal, called “Reforming the Energy Vision (REV),” sets ambitious energy goals with the aim of turning the state of New York into a model for environmental sustainability. It includes research into renewable power sources and investments in conservation, modernization, and “green” transportation throughout the state. Tuesday’s public hearing was one of several held throughout the state to discuss the proposal, and attracted members of environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The state proposal came on the heels of a rising sentiment of environmentalism worldwide, most notably in December’s Paris Agreement, when 195 nations agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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