FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

What are you trying to accomplish and why?

At EHJ we are trying to keep nuclear power plants open and uphold our values of environmental justice. We want to reduce smog pollution and mitigate global warming, and in doing so our ultimate goal is to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable populations that are most affected by smog and global warming.

What is environmental justice?

EHJ defines environmental justice as the equal treatment of all people regarding environmental issues. Environmental justice recognizes that historically disadvantaged populations, especially the poor and people of color, suffer from a disproportionate amount of negative effects associated with environmental problems such as pollution.

How is nuclear power an environmental justice issue?

Vulnerable communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution sites.  After factoring in all cumulative effects on populations (behavior, etc.), these communities are still disproportionately affected because of the high number and nature of pollution sites in their areas of residence compared to that of other wealthier areas.  The emission free nature of nuclear power plants makes them a net plus in terms of air justice as they do not contribute to harmful air pollution.

How will you save nuclear power plants?

EHJ will directly challenge agencies, companies, and NGOs planning to shut down plants.

Do nuclear power plants produce greenhouse gases?

No, the "smoke" that we see coming out of nuclear power plants is actually steam. 

Why did the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy and the African American Environmentalist Association form Environmental Hope & Justice to help save nuclear power?

We spent the last 32 years at the Center and AAEA working on a wide variety of environmental issues.  We concluded that it was time to focus on the most important environmental issue facing us today: global warming and climate change.  The single best mitigator of climate change is the utilization of emission free nuclear power.  We concluded long ago, and before any other environmental group, that a combination of nuclear power plants and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles would make a significant shield against rising temperatures.

Who are you funded by?

We have received some start up funding from Environmental Progress, an important partner in our mission to save nuclear.

Do you accept contributions from nuclear power companies?

No, EHJ does not accept funding from any corporate energy interests, and does not invest its resources in energy companies. 

Do you think nuclear power company money is 'dirty' money?

No, but the media disregards pro-nuclear environmentalists if they accept money from the nuclear industry.

Why did you create EHJ?

We created EHJ in order to focus on keeping our current fleet of nuclear power plants open because they are environmental justice tools.  This technology prevents air-related environmental injustice by not emitting smog-forming gases while producing an incredible amount of electricity.

Hasn't uranium mining and milling been an environmental injustice to Indian Nations?

Early uranium mining and milling to produce nuclear weapons was a haphazard activity that contaminated some Indian nation mining and milling areas as it did at the national laboratories and bomb-making facilities.  We are still working on addressing this legacy today.  Any contamination from uranium used for commercial nuclear power plants could be compared to the smog produced by using gasoline: just as the benefits of gasoline far outweigh the detriment of smog, so too does the emission free nature of nuclear power plants far outweigh the contamination from mining and milling. Contamination should not preclude the use of nuclear power, but environmental justice solutions should also be found for Indian Nations such as government-sanctioned cleanups of contaminated sites.

What is EHJ's position on fossil fuel use?

We acknowledge that fossil fuels contribute to the formation of smog and smog is a health issue for many people who suffer from respiratory and cardiopulmonary issues. In addition to this environmental justice aspect of fossil fuel use, we also recognize that fossil fuels are a major contributor to global warming and climate change. Given these problems associated with fossil fuel use, we do not believe a disproportionate dependence on fossil fuels is a sustainable energy solution.

Do you think nuclear power plants should be subsidized?

Due to the unique nature of nuclear power plants (emission free production of electricity), we do believe they should be subsidized to keep them operating.  They provide a public benefit that other fuels cannot.

Should the public support nuclear power plants that are in danger of closure because they cannot compete in the marketplace?

Yes, the public should support nuclear power plants that are in economic trouble because of the public benefit they provide by not producing smog-forming gases and greenhouse gases.  Furthermore, if nuclear were subsidized at the same levels as solar and wind energy, or allowed to contribute to state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), nuclear would continue to be highly economical.

What about the potential for a serious accident at a nuclear power plant?

Not one person has died from a nuclear radiation accident at a nuclear power plant in over six decades of operation in the U.S.  This track record gives us great confidence in this technology.  The U.S. nuclear industry is second to none in terms of safety.

Don't behaviors such as smoking and drinking prevent us from drawing clear conclusions about environmental injustice claims?

No.  Affluent white populations drink, smoke, overeat and engage in the same harmful personal behavioral abuses as other non-white populations.  Using data across all ethnicities and social classes, we can account for these personal behaviors as confounding variables, and we still observe the disproportionate negative effects of air, water and toxic polluting sites in minority communities on residents' health.  

Can a nuclear power plant blow up like a nuclear bomb?

No.  Absolutely not. It is impossible.  Commercial power plant fuel is enriched to about 3%-4% purity of the uranium 235 fuel.  Nuclear weapons require a purity of 95%.  The Fukushima explosions were hydrogen explosions that only destroyed the buildings surrounding the reactors.

Why did San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) close?

Faulty steam generators.

Isn't there a lot of controversy involved in the approved $4.7 billion bailout to not operate SONGS?

Yes, criminal investigations are ongoing involving the principals involved in the decision to approve this funding.

Isn't there a lot of controversy involved in PG&E's announced closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant?

Yes, the same controversial issues that faced SONGS are facing Diablo.

What is your relationship with Michael Shellenberger?

Michael has been an inspiration to us and we had followed his work since the early 2000s.  His decision to focus on saving nuclear helped resurrect our own work on the issue.

What is your relationship with Environmental Progress?

Environmental Progress provided some of our initial funding and we will continue to work with Environmental Progress to save America's struggling nuclear power plants.

Can renewables reliably provide baseload electrical power?

No, renewables are intermittent and have to be backed up by fossil fuels.  They are great sources of supplemental power but cannot provide reliable 24/7 baseload power the way nuclear power plants easily do.

Are global warming and climate change serious issues?

Global warming and climate change are the most important environmental issues facing the planet today, and it must be aggressively addressed by those who understand the importance of this threat.

Are there other pro-nuclear groups out there that you admire?

Environmental Progress, Mothers For Nuclear, and the Clean Power Coalition.

What percentage of nuclear power production in America would make you happy?

70%. Currently fossil fuels make up about 70% and we'd like to see this reversed and maximize reductions in harmful emissions and pollutions from fossil fuel by replacing it with nuclear.

Would you ever go inside of a containment dome at a nuclear power plant operating at full power?

Absolutely.  EHJ President Norris McDonald did just that at the Clinton nuclear power plant in Illinois.

Should California be building new nuclear power plants?  And if so, how many?

Yes.  Ten new nuclear plants.  One 1,000 megawatt (MW) nuclear plant provides enough power for one million homes.

Is carbon dioxide (CO2) a poison?

No. We exhale CO2. But too much of it in the atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect that will have incredibly negative consequences for our climate and weather patterns. Most climate scientists agree with this assessment.

What is the Clean Power Coalition?

EHJ is a member of the Clean Power Coalition (CPC), a coalition of nonprofit organizations that includes environmentalists independent of the nuclear industry, scientists and professionals, and people who work in nuclear energy. CPC works on joint campaigns that are agreed upon by consensus voting but they also work independently of each other. The Clean Power Coalition was formed at a pro-nuclear conference in Chicago, Illinois that was sponsored by Environmental Progress.