Letter to Governor Cuomo from 112 Groups Opposing Nuclear Subsidies in NY

 

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

 

June 30, 2016

Dear Governor Cuomo:

All over the country, people are paying attention to New York’s energy policy reforms as your administration works to make our state a leader in advancing renewable energy and efficiency. New York is gaining national recognition for the way our clean energy economy is growing rapidly with tens of thousands of new clean energy jobs. In alignment with the Reforming the Energy Vision, the Clean Energy Fund, and Community Solar policies, the proposed Clean Energy Standard (CES) should help this clean energy economy grow exponentially. But we, the undersigned 112 organizations, are disappointed that the proposed CES policy also includes an estimated $3.5 billion subsidy for unprofitable nuclear reactors. As ratepayers and representatives of ratepayers, we do not support the uncompetitive bailout of nuclear owners at the expense of the environment and public health and safety.

The proposed nuclear bailout in the CES contradicts your leadership on issues ranging from climate change, energy affordability, and the closure of Indian Point. New York should not take the nationally unprecedented step of including nuclear energy in its clean energy portfolio. Nuclear energy is dangerous, costly, and dirty. Additionally, the unprofitable upstate nuclear reactors are not needed to maintain the reliability of the grid, they are not needed to achieve our climate goals, and they are not the best way to support jobs in upstate New York.  

In a report from this year titled “Generator Deactivation Assessment James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Generating Facility,” the New York State Independent System Operator (NYISO) found that both FitzPatrick and Ginna nuclear reactors can close, even while coal and gas plants also close in New York, with no threat to the reliability of the electricity system. Thus, it makes sense to take money that would have gone to propping up nuclear plants and to instead invest in accelerating the transition to renewables.

Subsidizing old nuclear plants is not the best use of our resources to combat climate change. Nuclear power is responsible for plenty of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the mining and enrichment stages for nuclear fuel. Furthermore, most of the upstate nuclear reactors will be closing before 2030, so they will have to be replaced to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. Again, it makes sense to invest in renewable energy and efficiency now to replace those reactors, instead of wasting consumer money on temporary bailouts.

Last year the Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) published a report on a transition plan for FitzPatrick. It showed how we could transition FitzPatrick’s workforce and local economy for less cost than subsidizing the nuclear power plant. The report complements the extensive comments that AGREE and NIRS have submitted in the CES case showing how New York can meet and even exceed its greenhouse gas emissions targets without nuclear power. All of this is consistent with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s determination that it is not the best use of resources for states to subsidize unprofitable nuclear plants to meet the Clean Power Plan goals.

We understand that your administration is concerned about job losses in upstate New York if nuclear reactors close. Instead of supporting nuclear subsidies, we respectfully request a nuclear decommissioning and just transition process that will protect the environment, retrain workers, and provide a smooth path for nuclear-reliant communities to benefit from the clean energy economy. We urge your administration to fight for a decommissioning process that begins immediately to clean up and isolate the dangerous radioactive materials at New York’s nuclear sites. Doing so could preserve at least half of the nuclear workforce, and would ensure that the billions of dollars already set aside for decommissioning in New York starts getting pumped into local economies. Workers not employed for decommissioning should be supported through retraining programs and transitional wage support. We are eager to work with your administration on these efforts.

We know we can revitalize upstate NY with clean energy jobs. Your administration is proving it. In addition to the 8,000 solar installation jobs in New York, green manufacturing is coming online. For example, the planned Solar City factory in Buffalo, the 1366 Technologies factory near Rochester, and the Soraa LED lightbulb factory in Syracuse will collectively create approximately 6,420 long-term jobs. The state investment in these facilities will be approximately $937 million. By comparison, the nuclear subsidies in the CES could cost over $3.5 billion to preserve fewer than 2,500 nuclear jobs.

Municipalities and school districts that currently rely on nuclear tax revenues will also need help. Your administration has already shown leadership on this front by signing a State Budget that includes $30 million to replace tax revenue for municipalities and school districts going through plant closures.

We are counting on you to protect our public health and the health of vulnerable communities throughout the nuclear fuel chain. The Public Service Commission has referred to nuclear energy as “clean,” as “zero-emissions,” and as “carbon-free” – none of which are true. The uranium mining and enrichment for nuclear fuel creates 1 billion pounds of radioactive mining waste per reactor per year, and is an industrial process responsible for large amounts of carbon emissions. Each nuclear reactor is allowed to emit a “legal” level of radiation that would cause 1 death per every 286 people exposed. Nuclear plants also create tons of nuclear waste, a problem that your own administration has challenged the federal government about because there is no long-term storage solution in sight.

Meanwhile, the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident continues at all nuclear reactors, including those in upstate New York. All of the plants in Oswego lack a viable containment to fully protect the public in the case of a meltdown, a fact that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s post-Fukushima Japan Lessons Learned Near-Term Task Force acknowledges, but has failed to fully fix.

For all of the reasons stated above, we oppose subsidies for unprofitable nuclear power plants. We appreciate your efforts to make New York a leader in renewable energy and green economic development. We ask that you extend this leadership to include opposing the proposed nuclear subsidies so that New York demonstrates to the nation how we can close all dirty and dangerous energy sources.

Sincerely,

350 Brooklyn 
Molly Ornati, Coordinator     
Brooklyn, NY

350 Waldo County       
Jim Freeman, Facilitator        
Belfast, ME

Airtight Services        
W Bill LaBine, Sr. Energy Consultant          
Avon, NY

All Our Energy          
George Povall, Director         
Point Lookout, NY

Alliance for a Green Economy          
Jessica Azulay, Program Director     
Syracuse, NY

ArtRage Gallery         
Rose Viviano, Director          
Syracuse, NY

Beacon Climate Action          
Amanda Means, Organizer    
Beacon, NY

Beyond Nuclear         
Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist and Watchdog       
Takoma Park, MD

Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition         
Adam Flint, Southern Tier Solar Works Program Manager         
Binghamton, NY

Binghamton University College Democrats  
Conor Stillwell, President      
Binghamton, NY

Brooklyn For Peace   
Charlotte Phillips, M.D., Chairperson           
Brooklyn, NY

Broome County Peace Action
Jim Clune, President  
Binghamton, NY

Bruce Peninsula Environment Group (BPEG)          
S. (Ziggy) Kleinau, Co-founder, Outreach Director 
Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada

Campaign for Renewable Energy      
Brian Eden                 
Ithaca, NY

Capital District Against Fracking      
Siobhan Burke, Founding Member   
Troy, NY

Catskill Mountainkeeper        
Ramsay Adams, Executive Director  
Livingston Manor, NY

Chhaya Community Development Organization      
Annetta Seecharran, Interim Executive Director      
Jackson Heights, NY

Citizen Action of New York  
Kristina Andreotta, Deputy Organizing Director      
Albany, NY

Citizens Campaign for the Environment       
Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director   
Buffalo, NY

Citizens' Environmental Coalition     
Barbara Warren, Executive Director 
Cuddebackville, NY

Citizens for Local Power       
Jen Metzger, Co-Director      
Ulster County, NY

CNY Veterans for Peace        
Dave Kashmer           
Syracuse, NY

Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines-NY       
Iris Marie Bloom, Organizer 
High Falls, NY

Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline     
Judith Canepa, Coordinator   
New York, NY

Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy           
Michel Lee, Chair      
Scarsdale, NY

County Custom Builders
Estate of Milton B. Shapiro               
Nanuet, NY

Diné No Nukes          
Tommy Rock, Co-founder    
Albuquerque, NM

Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition         
Marie McRae             
Dryden, NY

DynoRaxx      
Nathan Rizzo             
Buffalo, NY

Eco-Logic, WBAI-FM          
Ken Gale, Producer   
New York, NY

Environmental Justice Committee, SUNY Cortland 
Sheila Cohen, Committee Chair        
Cortland, NY

Environmental Justice Task Force of the WNY Peace Center, Inc.    
Charley Bowman, Co-Chair  
Buffalo, NY

ETM Solar Works     
Gay Canough, President        
Endicott, NY

Finger Lakes Move On          
Pamela Gueldner, Lead Organizer     
Ithaca, NY

Food & Water Watch 
Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director
Brooklyn, NY

Frack Action  
Julia Walsh, Campaign Director        
Kingston, NY

Freedom Solar Alliances, LLC
Azriel Alleyne, President
Kingston, NY

Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County
Sheila Cohen, Outreach Coordinator 
Cortland, NY

Gas Free Seneca         
Yvonne Taylor, Vice President         
Watkins Glen, NY

Green Education and Legal Fund      
Mark Dunlea, Chairperson    
Brooklyn, NY

Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace    
Arnold Matlin, M.D., Founding Member      
Geneseo, New York

Goshen Green Farms 
Susan Hito, Owner     
Goshen, NY

Green Party of New York State         
Howie Hawkins, 2014 Green Party candidate for NY Governor        
Buffalo, NY

Green Party of Onondaga      
Ursula Rozum            
Syracuse, NY

GreeningUSA, Inc.    
John Przepiora, President      
Syracuse, NY

Greenpeace    
Jim Riccio, Senior Nuclear Analyst  
Washington, DC

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater        
Manna Jo Greene       
Beacon, NY

IDEAS (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions) at Binghamton
Jon Mermelstein, Binghamton University Student   
Binghamton, NY

Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition   
Michel Lee, Leadership Council        
Ossining, NY

Long Island Progressive Coalition    
Lisa Tyson, Director  
Massapequa, NY

Mid-Hudson Sierra Club       
Joanne Steele, Chair  
Poughkeepsie, NY

MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence           
Kit Miller, Director    
Rochester, NY

More Sound Recording Studio          
Jason "Jocko" Randall, Owner          
Syracuse, NY

New York City Friends of Clearwater           
Edie Kantrowitz, President    
New York, NY

New York Climate Action Group      
Judith Canepa, Co-Founder   
New York, NY

New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)           
Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel      
Albany, NY

New York State Sustainable Business Council         
Laura Ornstein, Coordinator  
Bronx, NY

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson 
Jonathan Bix              
Poughkeepsie, New York

North Country 350     
Ginger Storey-Welch, Local leader for 350.org        
Colton, NY

North Fork Environmental Council   
William Toedter, President    
Mattituck, NY

Nuclear Free World   
Diane Swords, Chair  
Syracuse, NY

Nuclear Information and Resource Service   
Timothy Judson, Executive Director 
Takoma Park, MD

NYC Safe Energy Campaign 
Ken Gale, Founder
New York, NY

Occupy Bergen County         
Sally Jane Gellert, Member   
Teaneck, NJ

One World Life Systems       
Pastor Michael-Vincent Crea, Pastor
New York, NY

Ontario Clean Air Alliance    
Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director  
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Partnership for the Public good         
Sam Magavern, Co-director  
Buffalo, NY

Peace Action New York State
Kate Alexander, Director of Policy and Outreach     
New York, NY

Peace Action of Staten Island
Ilya Geller, Co-Chair 
Staten Island, New York

People for Animal Rights      
Linda A. DeStefano, President
Syracuse, NY

People of Albany United for Safe Energy - PAUSE 
Diana Wright, Facilitator       
Albany, NY

Physicians for Social Responsibility/New York       
Shannon Gearhart, MD, MPH                       
New York, NY

Pilgrim-St. Luke's United Church of Christ  
Reverend Justo González, II              
Buffalo, NY

Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE)
Susan Hito Shapiro, President           
Nanuet, NY

Protect Orange County.org    
Randolph Hurst, LMSW        
Slate Hill, NY

Protecting Our Waters           
Iris Marie Bloom, Director    
Hudson Valley, NY

Psychologists for Social Responsibility -- Environmental Action Group
Dr. Susan Spieler, Clinical Psychologist       
New York, NY

Public Citizen
Tyson Slocum
Director, Public Citizen's Energy Program   
Washington, DC

PUSH Buffalo
Clarke Gocker, Director of Policy and Strategy        
Buffalo, NY

Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP)
Joseph Mangano, President   
Ocean City, NJ

Renewable Energy Long Island         
Gordian Raacke, Executive Director 
East Hampton, NY

Rochester People's Climate Coalition
Linda Isaacson Fedele, Leadership Team      
Rochester, NY

ROCSPOT     
Susan Spencer, PhD, President and CEO      
Rochester, NY

RUPCO          
Guy Thomas Kempe, VP Community Development
Kingston, NY

Safe Energy Rights Group (SEnRG) 
Nancy Vann, President          
Peekskill, NY

Sane Energy Project  
Patrick Robbins, Co-Director
Brooklyn, NY

ShaleshockCNY         
Linda A. DeStefano, Member of Executive Committee           
Syracuse, NY

Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter 
Erin Riddle, Chair      
Owego, NY

Sierra Club Niagara Group    
Pamela Hughes, Chair
Williamsville, NY

Sierra Club NYC Group        
Allison Tupper, Chair, NYC Group ExCom 
New York, NY

Sierra Club, Iroquois Group  
Linda A. DeStefano, Conservation Chair
Syracuse, NY

Solar Liberty  
Carter Powell             
Buffalo, New York

Stony Point Conference Center         
Rick Ufford-Chase, Co-Director       
Stony Point, NY

Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE)      
Suzannah Glidden, Co-founder         
North Salem, NY

SUN DAY Campaign
Ken Bossong, Executive Director
Takoma Park, MD

Sustainable Cortland  
Beth Klein, Board President  
Cortland, NY

Sustainable McDonough        
Steve Ellsworth                      
Oxford, NY

Sustainable Otsego    
Adrian Kuzminski, Moderator           
Fly Creek, NY

Sustainable Tompkins
Gay Nicholson, President      
Ithaca, NY

Syracuse Community Choir  
Karen Mihalyi, Director        
Syracuse, NY

Syracuse Cultural Workers
Dik Cool, Publisher   
Syracuse, NY

Syracuse Peace Council         
Carol Baum                
Syracuse, NY

Syracuse United Neighbors, Inc        
Richard Puchalski, Executive Director          
Syracuse, NY

The Green Resource Hub of the Finger Lakes          
Maribeth Rubenstein, Board President          
Ithaca, NY

The Partnership for Onondaga Creek
Dhiki Drury, Program Director         
Syracuse, NY

The Point CDC 
Angela Tovar, Director of Community Development            
Bronx, NY

United for Action       
Ling Tsou, Co-founder          
New York, NY

Upstate New York for Bernie Sanders          
Scott Noren                
Ithaca, NY 

Uranium Watch         
Sarah Fields, Director
Moab, Utah

Water Equality           
Daniel Morrissey, Founder    
Albany, NY

Women's Healthy Environments Network    
Carlisle Kent, Board Director
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Workers' Center of Central New York          
Rebecca Fuentes                    
Syracuse, NY

 

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