December 1, 2009

Repeal of Wisconsin's restrictions on new nuclear power reactors is "a gift to the dying nuclear industry that Wisconsin residents can't afford," a Carbon Free Nuclear Free coalition of 13 environmental, public interest and consumer groups said Tuesday.

At a holiday-themed State Capitol news conference, members of the coalition asked state lawmakers to "be nice, not naughty" by defeating the repeal, Assembly Bill 516, and supporting a state energy policy that would replace coal and nuclear power with renewable energy sources by 2050.

The coalition says that cost, safety, radioactive waste and environmental issues make nuclear power too expensive and too dangerous when renewable energy alternatives are now technically feasible and available.

"Clean renewables and energy efficiency are the gifts that really keep on giving -- clean air, clean water, affordable electricity and reduced carbon emissions," said Jennifer Nordstrom, national coordinator of the Carbon Free Nuclear Free campaign.

"Wisconsin's nuclear plant law is one of the most sensible laws on the books," Charlie Higley executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, said. The law requires that, before any new nuclear power plant is built in Wisconsin, a federally-licensed nuclear waste disposal site be operating, and that the cost of building, operating, and decommissioning the nuclear plant and disposing of the nuclear waste is economically advantageous to ratepayers. "Cost is a major concern," Higley said, "and removing this protection would be a mistake."

Dr. Jeffrey Patterson, national president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said that health, safety and the potential for nuclear weapons proliferation all make nuclear power a bad idea. "With safer alternatives now readily available, this is not the time to try to revive the nuclear industry," he said. "We don't want dirty coal or radioactive waste in Wisconsin's Christmas stocking, and we don't need to have either one,"

Diane Farsetta, coordinator of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice's Carbon Free Nuclear Free campaign, said. "Clean, safe, renewable energy really is a gift that keeps on giving. That's what the Legislature should give Wisconsin citizens."

The news conference highlighted a packet of material being distributed to state legislators, informing them about the dangers of nuclear and the promise of renewables.

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The Carbon Free Nuclear Free coalition includes: Physicians for Social Responsibility, Clean Wisconsin, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, League of Women Voters Education Fund, Nukewatch, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Peace Action Wisconsin, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Citizens Utility Board, Coulee Region Progressives, Wisconsin Environment, and the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG).