MassDEP is holding a series of hearings this February regarding proposed new regulations and revisions to existing regulations that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — as required by the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act.

Two of these regulations (the Clean Energy Standard and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Generating Facilities) are designed to work together to provide incentives for clean energy and set enforceable emissions limits on power plants. This is all to ensure we meet certain emission reductions by 2020 and 2050: a reduction to at least 25% below the 1990 level by 2020; and a reduction to at least 80% below the 1990 level by 2050.

This is all seemingly great news, but there is one aspect that is highly concerning. MassDEP has questioned whether nuclear power should be labeled as “clean energy.” If it is, nuclear plants could earn something called clean energy credits. This would result in “windfall profits” for nuclear plants (i.e., existing facilities would profit from the state’s Clean Energy Standard at the ratepayers’ expense, without any changes in generation), which would only prevent renewables from growing. While, so far, the state has not allowed existing nuclear power generators to receive these credits — it’s important that we encourage the state to maintain this exclusion in final and future plans.

Of course we fully support a plan that phases out the dirtiest energy sources (e.g., fossil fuels) and supports the growth of renewable sources (e.g., solar, wind), but we strongly believe MassDEP should NOT label nuclear as “clean” energy.

First, nuclear power is NOT emission free as the industry would like us to believe. Unlike coal and oil burning plants, nuclear fission does not produce carbon emissions; however, there are substantial emissions associated with the life-cycle of nuclear power. For example, there are emissions associated with uranium mining/processing, construction of plants and decommissioning processes, and general daily plant operations.

MassDEP should also consider the total environmental impact caused by nuclear technology. For example, nuclear power production is fraught with problems related to pollution, water usage, destruction of  aquatic life, generation of highly toxic nuclear waste that currently has no repository, and more.

Nuclear power cannot be considered a “clean” source of energy. It has tremendous uncalculated costs and poses enormous health consequences to the environment and nearby populations as  witnessed in Fukushima and other nuclear disasters.

Read our comments submitted to MassDEP in 2014 on this issue >>

MassDEP is still accepting public comments on its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Please consider attending one of the upcoming hearings and let regulators know that nuclear should NOT be classified as clean energy. See below for the list of public hearings, or see the public notice.

Comments may be presented to MassDEP orally or in writing at the public hearings. The agency is also accepting written comments until 5:00 PM on February 24, 2017, and may be submitted by email to climate.strategies@state.ma.us.

Public Hearings:

Monday, February 6, 2017 (three hearings)
9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m.& 6:00 p.m.
MassDEP Headquarters
One Winter Street
Boston, MA

Monday, February 6, 2017
9:00 a.m.
MassDEP Southeast Regional Office
20 Riverside Drive
Lakeville, MA

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 (two hearings)
9:00 a.m. & 6:00 p.m.
MassDEP Central Regional Office
8 New Bond Street
Worcester, MA

Wednesday, February 8, 2017
2:00 p.m.
Springfield Central Library
220 State Street
Springfield, MA

If one or more of the scheduled public hearings above is cancelled due to inclement weather, additional public hearings will be held on:

Friday, February 10, 2017
9:00 a.m.
MassDEP Headquarters
One Winter Street
Boston, MA

Friday, February 10, 2017
9:00 a.m.
MassDEP Central Regional Office
8 New Bond Street
Worcester, MA

Public Comment Period:
Ends February 24, 2017, at 5:00 p.m.

For more information, contact us at info@capecodbaywatch.org.