An article titled “US sweetens pot to study siting for spent nuke fuel storage” was published in the January 26, 2023 edition of the Washington Post. The article included a paragraph that credited “environmentalists” as being the main source of opposition to construction of consolidated interim spent fuel (CISF) storage facilities that are either licensed or in the final stages of the approval process.
“Despite opposition from environmentalists, Biden and his top energy officials have pointed to nuclear power as essential to achieving their goals of producing carbon-free electricity over the next decade.” (Emphasis added)
The Post’s article didn’t mention that the oil and gas industry is a major participant in the fight against construction of CISFs in the Permian Basin. It acknowledged that oil and gas dominate the local economy (and presumably the local politics.)
Southeastern New Mexico officials testified that building the complex would bring jobs and diversify the region’s economy, which is fueled now by oil and gas development that spans the Permian Basin.
Washington Post “US sweetens pot to study siting for spent nuke fuel storage” Jan 26, 2023
The article didn’t remind readers that oil and gas have strong economic motives to fight facilities that help nuclear energy to address “the waste issue.” That topic comes up in almost every conversation about nuclear energy; it is often used to discourage new nuclear power plant projects. Oil and [particularly] gas compete with nuclear energy for shares of the lucrative electricity and heat markets.
Here is a headline from the Carlsbad Argus:
“Companies representing New Mexico’s nation-leading oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin became the latest opponents of nuclear waste storage in the region as two private companies proposed to do so.”
There is a growing public record of communications between oil and gas interests and the Nuclear Regulator Commission on the topic of CISF licensing.
On April 1, 2021 a spokesperson for NRC Chair Chris Hanson responded to an email from a representative of an oil and gas production company. That email included a clear statement about concerns of “fossil fuel folks” regarding spent fuel storage in the Permian Basin.
It’s probably kind of odd – having a meeting with all fossil fuel folks – but they have their concerns. I look forward to hearing from you! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can get you any additional information.
To its credit, the NRC denied the request for special access and attention.
Fasken Oil and Ranch’s opposition to Permian Basin CISFs is nothing new. They formally registered their opposition in a July 30, 2018 letter to the NRC Office of Spent Fuel Management.
There is a slowly growing pile of evidence showing that openly antinuclear groups meet with oil and gas interests to plot strategies and coordinate political activities. There is some irony in having “environmentalists” openly align with oil and gas interests.
Two activists have met with Midland leaders, including representatives from Fasken Oil and Ranch, County Commissioner Randy Prude and U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, to discuss what they see as the solution to Texas’ nuclear waste problem.
All too often, publications like the Washington Post repeat incorrect, but conventional wisdom statements indicating that “environmentalists” are the sole source of organized nuclear opposition. Whenever appropriate, people that support nuclear energy and favor fair competition among energy sources should seek to correct the error of omission.
“Environmental” NGOs are often loud and visible opponents of nuclear energy, but oil and gas interests know that nuclear energy poses a far greater economic threat to their wealth and power than do other alternative energy sources.