By Ted Skerpon and Richard Lipsitz
In his Aug. 22 Another Voice, Charley Bowman uses scare tactics and alternative facts to dissuade readers from supporting already existing economic and clean-energy engines in upstate New York. Nothing can be further from the truth with respect to his claims regarding Lake Ontario flooding as a threat to nuclear safety.
The fact is that New York’s upstate nuclear power plants are well protected from flooding, and this spring’s high water level only proved these facilities are well designed and well protected, and their operators well prepared. All U.S. nuclear facilities are designed to withstand the most severe flood on record plus additional margin. Watertight doors, elevated platforms and engineered drainage strategies protect the equipment needed to automatically shut down these facilities. Numerous backup systems exist, providing layer upon layer of protection to ensure our safety.
Further, he would rather have you believe that solar and wind power, combined with efficiency – all important to climate efforts – could replace the massive amount of electricity generated by upstate energy facilities, which equates to 19 percent of all energy produced in New York in 2016. New York’s installed renewable capacity took over a decade to build, and provides 5 percent of our current energy needs in New York. At that rate, it would take almost four decades to replace the zero carbon energy that upstate nuclear provides without major emission backsliding.
Bowman’s rant is nothing more than a call for an expansion of fossil fuel use to replace upstate nuclear generators – contrary to what our environment and climate needs. The solution set is clear – maintain existing clean, zero carbon resources, and add new efficiency and clean energy technologies. In 2016, New York generation emitted approximately 30 million tons of CO2; without upstate nuclear that figure will balloon to 46 million tons or a whopping 53 percent increase.
We cannot let scare tactics influence policy – not when it comes to something as serious as global warming. Our New York leaders should be commended for taking the lead on protecting the cleanest, most reliable energy sources in New York and taking a stand against climate change.
New York’s model Clean Energy Standard (CES) policy was enacted after extensive fact-based studies, public hearings and comment periods. What makes Bowman’s tactics most dangerous are those that may mindlessly follow inaccurate direction simply due to genuine climate concerns, efforts that could prove devastating. Credible environmental groups support the CES and do not behave in this reckless manner.
Bowman and highly trained and educated energy professionals agree on one thing: the threat of climate change is real. Where we differ is how to solve the problem – we choose to believe facts, not scare tactics, and we support maintaining our current portfolio of clean assets and adding new resources as the best way to protect our planet.
Ted Skerpon is business manager of IBEW Local 97. Richard Lipsitz is president of the Western New York Area Labor Federation.