Elizabeth Warren Shifts On Nuclear Power — No Longer Totally Against It, Apparently

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/12/21/elizabeth-warren-shifts-on-nuclear-power-no-longer-totally-against-it-apparently/

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was against nuclear energy in September.

Two and a half months later, she’s for it. Sort of.

In the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by PBS and Politico on Thursday night, Warren shifted her position on energy policy.

The response came after Tim Alberta of Politico asked this question:

“Many of our Western allies rely heavily on nuclear energy because it’s efficient, affordable, and virtually carbon-free. And many climate experts believe that it’s impossible to realize your goal of net zero emissions by the year 2050 without utilizing nuclear energy. So can you have it both ways on this issue?”

Warren’s answer didn’t mirror her past statements on the issue.

“We’ve got to stop putting more carbon into the air,” she said. “We got to get the carbon out of the air and out of the water. And that means that we need to keep some of our nuclear in place,” Warren said. “I will not build more nuclear.”

However, at CNN’s Town Hall in September, Warren had a different approach.

“In my administration, we won’t be building new nuclear plants,” she said, according to the Washington Examiner. “We will start weaning ourselves off nuclear and replace it with renewables.”

Warren also stated at the town hall that in addition to making the United States carbon-neutral by 2030, she wanted to phase out nuclear energy by 2035 — the year she wanted the entire country to be powered by renewable energy sources.

Nuclear power generates about 20 percent of the United States’ total energy, according to the US Department of Energy. However, it also represented 60 percent of the country’s carbon-free energy as of 2017, according to The New York Times.

Currently, 17 percent of the energy in the United States comes from renewable sources:  7 percent from hydropower (meaning electricity produced by flowing water), 6.5 percent from wind, 1.5 percent from solar, and 2 percent from other sources. However, the most widely-used renewable energy source in the United States, hydropower, does emit carbon dioxide because organic materials in some reservoirs decompose and let off gases, according to the International Hydropower Association.

On Friday morning, Reuters reported that Warren would plan to spend $10.7 trillion on a 10-year decarbonization plan in hopes of making the United States carbon-neutral by 2030.

Warren’s apparent new stance now puts her in disagreement with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue, with whom she used to mostly agree, as USA Today points out.

In addition to switching to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2030, Sanders has proposed phasing out current nuclear power plants by not allowing them to renew their licenses, as FactCheck.org points out

Regardless of whether or not there is nuclear energy in them, proposals to phase out fossil fuels in the United States by 2030 have faced sharp criticism from organized labor, including the AFL-CIO. That’s because oil, gas, and coal extraction alone in the United States employs 187,000 workers, according to The Heartland Institute

“Simply demanding that plants, industries, and projects be stopped or shut down, with no plan for the people who are put out of work, no call for shared sacrifice, and no dialogue or solidarity with those whose lives and communities are dependent on carbon-based fuels, that poisons the well politically,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said back in April, according to the Washington Examiner.

Warren was one of seven candidates who participated in the Democratic presidential debate on Thursday, December 19.