No Stimulus Money for Nuclear Power - Indigenous Peoples Demand Good Green Jobs
By Tom Goldtooth
Feb 6, 2009, 11:26am
February 6, 2009
From the Indigenous Environmental Network to our Friends:
Please ask your friends, colleagues, community organizations and (for Native Nations), ask your Tribal leadership, to take action, and contact their Senators to stop $50 BILLION in new taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for construction of new nuclear reactors!
Last Wednesday, January 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase nuclear loan guarantees by $50 billion in the economic recovery package (S. 336). This staggering sum would more than double the current loan guarantee cap of $38 billion for "clean energy" technology. Unlike renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, investments in the nuclear industry generate few jobs or economic growth. Such a massive expenditure of nuclear pork has no place in the economic recovery bill. Now is not the time for another bailout boondoggle. Nuclear power is the most expensive form of energy there is. It takes 10 years or more to build a reactor, so it is impossible to claim with a straight face that this preemptive bailout has anything to do with creating jobs. If the full Senate gets its way to include such wasteful spending in the stimulus package it would be an example of Washington at its worst.
These loan guarantees would mean more nuclear reactors and more radioactive waste piling up in communities across our country. Please be reminded that It has been the plan of the U.S. government and the nuclear power and utility industry to permanently store its high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Yucca Mountain is within the traditional lands of the Western Shoshone Nation. Spiritual leaders and elders of the Western Shoshone have consistently opposed using the sacred lands of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump. Approval of this $50 billion loan package within the Obama economic stimulus plans would have devastating affect on the treaty rights of the Western Shoshone Nation to protect their sacred lands and provide a safe and secure homeland for their future generations.
These loan guarantees would also mean less money for safer, cheaper and cleaner energy alternatives like solar and wind power.
These loan guarantees would further stimulate an unsustainable and dangerous push by the mining industry to expand uranium mining in the homeland of Native and non-Native rural communities from Arizona, New Mexco, Nebraska, South and North Dakota and First Nation lands of Canada. Any expansion of nuclear power will need uranium to fuel these reactors. Uranium mining within Native Nation territories has already left a legacy of environmental and human health degradadtion and injustice.
The provision is vaguely worded. It would authorize $50 Billion in new loan guarantees for "eligible technologies." These technologies include nuclear, "clean coal," renewable energy sources and electric transmission. But the stimulus package is intended to create new jobs and economic activity over the next two years. Not only should new nuclear reactors and the false concept of "clean coal" be excluded from taxpayer support, but the reality is that neither technology is ready to produce any jobs within the next two years.
The Department of Energy apparently would have to decide how to allocate this $50 Billion. If it all went to safe, cost-effective renewable energy sources, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, the provision's backers, like Sens. Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) are clear that their intent is that it would go for new nuclear reactor construction. Yet the Congressional Budget Office predicts a 50% default rate by nuclear utilities using this program! This is simply a nuclear bailout waiting to happen, and we can't afford it.
But it's not too late. You can help stop this nonsense. The original plan was for the Senate to vote on the stimulus package during this week of February 2. However, the full Senate and the House are still in debate on the stimulus package. There is still time to contact you Senator!
Please CALL your Senators now (Senate Switchboard: 202-224-3121) and tell them to stop all loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors. AND, please send an e-mail to your Senators with the same message using the form link below. (Note: We encourage you to edit the wording to personalize your e-mail and reflect your own concerns.
IEN networks with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) who manages this email campaign.
Click Here to send an email to your Senators with their automated form.
Indigenous Peoples Demand Good and Green Jobs, Careers, and Communities
Washington, DC – Native American leaders in the emerging green economy traveled to our Nation's capitol to lobby representatives, network, and work together to demand good and green jobs, careers, and communities for Indian Country. Representatives from the Navajo, Acoma, Oglala Sioux, Ojibwe, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations participated in the Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference in Washington DC this week.
"We are here to ensure that Indigenous communities and Nations will be a part of the emerging green economy," says Jihan Gearon, Native Energy Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network and member of the Navajo Nation. "More so than mere participation and tokenization, we are here to ensure that in this emerging economy, our communities truly benefit and lead. There are numerous opportunities in Indian Country to do so."
The Navajo Green Economy Plan is one such example. The Plan would generate hundreds of green jobs across the Navajo Nation and support local, community led, owned and operated initiatives such as small and large scale renewable energy development, green manufacturing textile mills, weatherization projects, weavers coops, traditional and organic agricultural markets, and green jobs training programs.
"With millions of federal dollars ready to be distributed across the country to support green jobs, we are prepared to support our local community and in doing so lead the Nation in creating sustainable and just societies, says Kelvin Long, member of the Navajo Green Economy Coalition and the Navajo Nation.
Native American lands, as well as Indigenous territories worldwide, have been historically and systematically targeted for fossil fuel – coal, oil and gas – development, which has resulted in the contamination and depletion of water, land and community health. Solutions to energy independence and climate change in the U.S., such as nuclear power and clean coal, pose the threat of exacerbating these negative affects.
"Green jobs must not include jobs for industries that will drag out the use of dirty and unsustainable energy," says Petuuche Gilbert of Acoma pueblo in New Mexico, a community affected by uranium mining. "In this new economy, we must break the cycle of being marginalized people and forced to choose between economic development and preservation of our culture and lands. We are against renewed uranium mining. Nuclear is not green."
Tribal lands have an estimated 535 Billion kWh/year of wind power generation potential, about 14% of U.S. annual generation. Tribal lands also hold an estimated 17,000 Billion kWh/year of solar electricity generation potential – 4.5 times total U.S. annual generation. As Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth and member of the Ojibwe Nation points out, "The reality is that the most efficient, green economy will need the vast wind and solar resources that lie on Native American lands. And we are prepared to lead."
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