Pre-Debate Facts on Coal, Nuclear, and Clean Energy

For Immediate Release

Greenpeace
Contact: 

Mike Crocker, Greenpeace USA, 202-215-8989

Pre-Debate Facts on Coal, Nuclear, and Clean Energy

WASHINGTON - In advance of tonight's presidential debate on
energy and the economy, Greenpeace released a new backgrounder
comparing different energy sources. The release comes after Vice
Presidential candidate Sarah Palin unveiled a new slogan at a rally in
Ohio: "Drill, baby, drill and mine, baby, mine!" to promote more oil
drilling and more coal mining.

"Conservation,
wind, and solar are where jobs are sprouting in America," said John
Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. "If Sarah Palin
really wants to help get America's economy going, she should be
screaming ‘Blow, baby, blow' and ‘shine, baby, shine.'"

Further information comparing coal, oil and nuclear power with the
green economy is below. The full backgrounder is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/assets/binaries/debate-backgrounder

.

THE FACTS ON COAL

Coal Kills Jobs

  • The coal industry is one of the least job-intensive
    industries in America. According to the University of Massachusetts's
    Political Economy Research Institute, investing in wind and solar power
    would create 2.8 times as many jobs as the same investment in coal;
    mass transit and conservation would create 3.8 times as many jobs as
    coal. (http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/assets/binaries/green-job-creation-table)

    "Every dollar we invest in dirty
    energy like coal and oil is a dollar we can't spend investing in
    creating jobs in the clean energy economy," Passacantando said. "Just
    about the only way you could generate fewer jobs than the coal industry
    is by investing in more oil drilling."

    • Green investment would create
      approximately triple the number of high-paying jobs (at least $16
      dollars an hour) as spending the same amount of money within the oil
      industry. (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/06/green_jobs.html)
      • Coal is one of the biggest
        contributors to global warming, which is conservatively projected to
        cause a $3.8 trillion annual drag on the U.S. economy by 2100 through
        increased extreme weather, drought, disease, insect infestation and
        other impacts (http://www.nrdc.org/media/2008/080522.asp)
      • Green investment is projected to
        reduce the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent from 5.7 percent (based on
        U.S. labor market conditions in July 2008).

      Source data and further information:
      Pollin, Robert (University of Massachusetts) et. al. ""Green Recovery:
      A Program to Create Good Jobs & Start Building a Low-Carbon
      Economy." September, 2008 (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/09/green_recovery.html)

       

      Coal Kills People

      • Pollution from coal-fired power
        plants causes 23,600 premature deaths, 21,850 hospital admissions,
        554,000 asthma attacks, and 38,200 heart attacks every year. That
        translates into 3,186,000 lost work days nationwide every single year
        and $167.3 billion a year in additional health care costs, much of it
        borne by taxpayers. Source: http://www.catf.us/publications/reports/Dirty_Air_Dirty_Power.pdf
  • Citizens of a growing number of other states are wise to
    coal's dangers and are taking action. California, Kansas, Florida, and
    Idaho have effectively outlawed the construction of new coal-fired
    power plants; nationally, at least 59 proposed coal projects have been
    cancelled due to public opposition, failure to meet permitting
    requirements, or lack of funding.. Source: http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2014

 

The Myth of "Clean Coal"

 

  • "Clean coal" technology has, until recently, referred to the
    scrubbers used to sweep nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and other
    regulated pollutants from coal-fired power plants. But today the coal
    industry, and now the presidential campaigns, use the term as shorthand
    for carbon capture and sequestration (or CCS), a largely-theoretical
    technology that would separate carbon dioxide from smokestacks and bury
    it in the ground to limit its global warming impact.
  • The first attempt to demonstrate the feasibility of CCS was a
    project in Illinois called FutureGen. But the government was forced to
    abandon the trial in January after years of technical failures and
    budget overruns. Nationwide, approximately $5.2 billion in taxpayer and
    ratepayer money has been invested in the technology, however a recent
    government report found that of 13 projects examined, eight had serious
    delays or financial problems, six were years behind schedule, and two
    were bankrupt. (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081080.pdf)

More information: "False Hope," May, 2008 Greenpeace Report on Problems with CCS: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/climate-change/coal/carbon-capture-and-storage

 

Coal Destroys Mountains and Forests and Pollutes America's Water Supply

OIL FACTS

 

Greenpeace has released a new video about America's addiction to oil, available at http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/break-the-addiction.

 

Oil drilling causes oil spilling

  • As global warming worsens,
    supercharged storms like Katrina and Rita will continue to pummel
    coastal areas and oil infrastructure, meaning more oil spills are
    inevitable.

 

Oil drilling won't lower gas prices

  • The United States burns 24 percent of the world's oil, yet it
    only has 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. Even if the country
    drilled every drop of oil the U.S. has on shore or off its coasts, it
    will never be able to drill its way to lower oil prices or energy
    security. The country simply burns more than it could ever drill.

 

  • Offshore oil drilling is
    not a short-term fix. It will take at least a decade to bring new
    leases into production. It will be years before exploration will begin
    and years after that before production will start. If any effect were
    to be felt on gas prices (most likely only a few pennies per gallon),
    that effect is decades away.
  • Offering up more of the
    coastline for drilling won't lower gas prices. There is no correlation
    between increased drilling and lower gas prices. The number of drilling
    permits increased by 361 percent from 1999 to 2007, yet prices continue
    to spike.
  • Oil prices are set on the
    global oil market, which means that all oil produced around the world
    is all sold at the same price. There is no guarantee that the country
    would even be using the oil that was drilled in the U.S.--it would pay
    the same rate as the rest of the world.

 

NUCLEAR FACTS

Nuclear plants remain highly vulnerable to terrorist attack.

  • Although seven years have passed since the attacks of 9/11,
    America's nuclear power plants remain highly vulnerable to terrorist
    attack even thought U.S. officials acknowledge that the architect of
    the attacks - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - originally planned to fly the
    planes into nuclear facilities in the U.S. Moreover, according to the
    Congressional Research Service, nuclear power plants are not designed
    to withstand airliner attack. (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/crs/rs21131.pdf)

     

    Nuclear power can't compete with clean energy as a solution to global warming.



    • In
      2003, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) under the directorship of
      McCain's own economic advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, indicated that loan
      guarantees for nuclear plants had a 50 percent chance of defaulting.

    •  

      CBO considers the risk of default on such a loan guarantee to be very
      high-well above 50 percent. The key factor accounting for this risk is
      that we expect that the plant would be uneconomic to operate because of
      its high construction costs, relative to other electricity generation
      sources. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/42xx/doc4206/s14.pdf

 

Nuclear power requires massive taxpayer subsidies.

  • Last July, six major U.S. banking institutions including
    Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch
    & Morgan Stanley sent a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE).
    In it, the bankers told DOE that unless the U.S. taxpayer backed 100
    percent of the debt incurred by nuclear corporations that they would
    have difficulty "accessing capital markets. "We believe these risks,
    combined with the higher capital costs and longer construction
    schedules of nuclear plants as compared to other generation facilities,
    will make lenders unwilling at present to extend long-term credit to
    such projects in a form that would be commercially viable," their
    letter said. http://www.lgprogram.energy.gov/nopr-comments/comment29.pdf

 

The French Model? France's Nuclear Industry Has Been Plagued by Delays, Cost Overruns, and Leaks

  • While politicians point to France as an model for new nuclear
    plants in the United States, France's new Evolutionary Power Reactor
    (EPR) has had tremendous cost overruns and is now estimated to cost
    $6.5 billion dollars per plant.
  • One French-designed plant in
    Finland has experienced "flawed welds for the reactor's steel liner,
    unusable water-coolant pipes and suspect concrete in the foundation
    already have pushed back the delivery date of the Olkiluoto 3 unit by
    at least two years." (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aFh1ySJ.lYQc&refer=home)

 

CLEAN ENERGY FACTS

 

The clean energy economy is creating jobs and prosperity

  • Colorado's recent investment in wind power technology
    demonstrates the viability of large-scale clean energy solutions. Two
    years ago, when Colorado voters were considering a measure to require
    10 percent of their electricity to come from clean sources, Xcel
    Energy, the state's biggest electric utility fought the initiative
    tooth and nail. However, after the ballot initiative passed, Xcel
    installed thousands of megawatts of clean energy, met the requirement
    eight years ahead of schedule, and quickly agreed to double its goal to
    20 percent. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/17/AR2008081702193.html)

  • The same program could
    easily be duplicated across the country. Enough wind power blows
    through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US
    electricity demand. Similarly, geothermal energy is capable of
    providing tremendous electricity supplies for America.
  • Scientists have shown that
    enough solar energy hits the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent
    of the entire world's energy needs for a year. A report released by the
    energy consulting firm Clean Edge in June showed that solar energy
    could meet 10 percent of the of the country's electricity needs by 2025.

Clean Energy Can Provide the Equivalent of $1 / gallon gas

SOURCES:

State-by-state analysis of green investment:

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/06/green_jobs.html

"Renewable Power's Growth in Colorado Presages National Debate":

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/17/AR2008081702193.html

New data on how investing in green economy solutions like wind and
solar would create about twice the jobs as the Wall Street bailout: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081013/hurowitz

More details on taxpayer giveaways to energy companies in the bailout bill: http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/enviro-tax-letter.pdf

 

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