The title of this NYT article would make one think so, as would the title of this post on The Commons blog, but the article by Felicity Barringer paints a decisively more complex picture. Some environmentalists are willing to listen to arguments — while that’s a shift, I don’t know that it actually qualifies as softening their stance. Also, the article makes it very clear that new nuclear reactors would require heavy federal investment, and no one in the environmental community seems particularly open to that idea:
Such subsidies are still anathema to most environmental groups, which believe that the nuclear industry got far more than its fair share of government aid in the last generation, while their technologies of choice were left hungry.
“The notion out there from some of these deep thinkers is that we have to take our medicine and if only we could accept nukes, the global warming problem would be solved,” said Anna Aurilio, the legislative director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “We have a whole bunch of solutions already that are not as risky.” These include, Ms. Aurilio said, increasing national energy efficiency and investing in solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy, like ethanol.
Thomas B. Cochran, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s nuclear program said: “The issue isn’t: Do you support nuclear? The issue should be: Do you support massive subsidies to the tune of billions of dollars for nuclear power?” He said, “The answer is no.”
The more I read about this supposed shift within the environmental community, the more convinced I become that it’s really only so much spin from the nuclear energy industry and its supporters. As far as Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, the Center for Media and Democracy has a pretty thorough write-up on his recent activities in support of less-than-green policies (which is categorized under “industry-friendly experts”). I am sorry to see that the NYT choose to slant it’s headline in such a manner that suggests developments that just aren’t there. I’m still willing to listen to nuclear power supporters, but I’m not at all convinced by their arguments at this point.