Ancient Rockers Try to Recharge Anti-Nuclear Movement

     The year was 1979 – the height of the Cold War, and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident had just occurred. The “No Nukes” movement was born.


      Back then musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, and Jackson Browne were called “the energy source everyone had been looking for” to fight against nuclear power. The result of their support was termed a “chain reaction.” Nearly 30 years later, the group has returned with a new music video on YouTube, but to the same alarmist tune.


     Critics say they “masquerade as environmentalists.” One former member, John Hall of the band Orleans, is now a Democratic representative in Congress for the state of New York.


     The group’s new video, featured on their Web site, shows Raitt asking “Why should the American people be subsidizing something that hasn’t worked for 50 years?” and Browne claiming “Solar and wind have really blossomed in the last 30 years.”


     On November 7, The Baltimore Sun published an op-ed by Raitt and Harvey Wasserman, co-founders of Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE).


     “The industry has lately made much of the idea that atomic reactors might help solve global warming. But in fact they can do little, if anything, to help” claimed Raitt and Wasserman.


     But they did not explain why nuclear power could do little to help the situation, instead merely suggesting an increase in renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.


     A quick look at some facts, however, refutes the outrageous claims of the video and the op-ed.


     “They confuse nuclear weapons with nuclear energy, claim non-existent dangers, and misrepresent nuclear power's economics,” explained Jack Spencer, the Research Fellow in Nuclear Energy at The Heritage Foundation.

     First of all, Raitt’s claim that nuclear power “hasn’t worked for 50 years” is ridiculous.


     The United States already derives 19 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released in late October 2007 showed France receiving 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear power and Belgium at 54 percent, as well as percentages of power in South Korea, Switzerland and Japan that were higher than the United States.


     Browne’s claim that “Solar and wind have really blossomed” ignores the fossil-fuel-based costs of building those energy sources as well.


    “Carbon-free fairies do not magically drop windmills onto moutaintops,” said Heritage’s Spencer in an Oct. 29, 2007, commentary. “For example, 2 million tons of concrete, about double what a nuclear plant requires, must be produced and delivered to anchor enough windmills to match one nuclear plant's energy production. Just producing this concrete emits the CO2 equivalent of flying a Boeing 747 from New York to London 450 times.”


     In a separate article on nuclear energy published Sept. 19, 2007, Spencer further supported nuclear power, asserting that it is the best way to meet environmental activists’ objectives for CO2 emissions, “because nuclear energy emits no atmospheric pollutants.”


     That irony wasn't lost on a once-skeptical Patrick Moore – a founder of Greenpeace – who wrote an op-ed in support of nuclear energy that appeared in The Washington Post April 16, 2006. He stated that while he originally likened nuclear energy to a nuclear holocaust, “thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.”


     Celebrities like Robert Redford, Sheryl Crow, and Jane Fonda have already signed the anti-nuclear petition on the Web site. This isn’t the first time Hollywood, including Fonda, has crusaded against nuclear power.


     Only 12 days prior to the March 28, 1979, accident at Three Mile Island (TMI), the movie “The China Syndrome” was released. The movie illustrated a Hollywood-scripted nuclear meltdown.


     Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, co-authors of the book “Freakonomics,”  reminded New York Times readers of the movie in September and mentioned something they call the “Jane Fonda Effect.” They argued the movie, starring Fonda, was a major contributor to the “widespread panic” that followed the TMI accident.


     The accident, however, resulted in no deaths or injuries to humans – only to the nuclear power industry.


     “And so, instead of becoming a nation with clean and cheap nuclear energy, as once seemed inevitable, the United States kept building power plants that burned coal and other fossil fuels,” asserted Dubner and Levitt, calling these the “unintended consequences of Jane Fonda.”


     Complaints about security ignore nearly 30 years of secure facilities at the 103 nuclear power plants in the United States, the most plants of any country in the world. The plants have not fallen prey to terrorist attacks. Demonstrating that security, on November 2, a nuclear plant employee in Arizona was detained and the plant locked down when an explosive, so small it could not have even destroyed the car it was carried in, was discovered.