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Anti-nuke greens petition FERC with 10,000 comments against DOE's "bailout"

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Anti-nuclear activists protest the DOE proposal outside of FERC.

Source: Andrew Coffman Smith

Anti-nuclear activists weighed in on the Trump administration's controversial proposal to ensure full cost recovery of certain coal and nuclear power plants by delivering more than 10,000 comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission protesting that proposal.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service, or NIRS, led a small but vocal protest outside FERC's Washington, D.C., headquarters on Oct. 11 before dropping off their petition requesting that the agency reject the U.S. Department of Energy's unusual resilience directive.

The DOE proposal seeks to place more value on the fuel security, reliability and resilience attributes of power generators having 90 days or more of fuel on-site by requiring independent system operators and regional transmission organizations with organized markets to ensure that those plants can recover all their costs plus a return on investment.

NIRS claimed the proposal would amount to a more-than $100 billion "bailout" of coal and nuclear plants and urged a federal commitment to a nationwide 100% renewable energy transition instead.

After handing over the box of comments, Tim Judson, executive director for NIRS, said the DOE proposal makes good on promises uttered by U.S. President Donald Trump during his election bid to support coal and nuclear in an era of lower electricity prices. "The energy sector in this country is in a fundamental transition right now," said Judson. "It is going to cost [a lot] to keep these plants going and only a radical change in the economics of energy is going to be able to save coal and nuclear from essentially phasing out." That radical change came in the form of the DOE's Sept. 28 proposal, he explained.

Diane D'Arrigo, radioactive waste project director at NIRS, condemned any attempt to help "the dirtiest dinosaurs in the energy field" and said the DOE proposal would amount to a ratepayer-funded subsidy of uneconomic merchant-owned nuclear power plants. D'Arrigo also took with issue with nuclear power being described as "emissions-free," asserting that dangerous radioactivity is emitted at every step of its fuel cycle, from extraction to waste disposal.

Flying an anti-nuclear "Smiling Sun" flag and holding a banner outside 888 First St. NE, Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, likewise questioned the sanity behind shoring up the finances of nuclear power for resilience and reliability reasons.

"This round of subsidies, on top of a half-century of previous ones, ... [is] especially dangerous," said Kamps. "This is radioactive Russian roulette because of the age-related degradation of reactors in the country. So we're playing with fire to keep these things running." (FERC docket RM18-1)