Decline of Nuclear Power, Carter at fault

Hayeon Kim


With the election of Jimmy Carter as President in 1976, anti-nuclear, pro-environmental policy was brought right into the White House. In preparation for the new Democratic Administration, the New York Council on Foreign Relations, a spinoff of the London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, produced its Project 1980s report, which called specifically for the “controlled disintegration” of the U.S. economy.

The Rockefeller-funded Trilateral Commission, whose membership dominated the Carter Administration, adopted this Project 1980s perspective as its own. Central to their theme of controlled disintegration was the halt of new energy technologies on the horizon, such as advanced nuclear fission and fusion energy. In their place, they promoted the institutionalization of “conservation,” and small-is-beautiful “alternative” energy, based on inefficient and expensive wind, solar, and biomass—technologies which had virtually disappeared after the Industrial Revolution. Billions of dollars in federal subsidies were poured into these 19th century throwbacks, to try to make them economically palatable to an otherwise highly skeptical public.

The new Department of Energy, which replaced the Atomic Energy Commission—an act that in itself demonstrated the shift in policy—again came under the control of James Schlesinger. While Schlesinger was making speeches about how nuclear energy was not “cost effective,” the Department of Energy showed its anti-technology stripes by actively promoting and participating in “Sun Day” festivities.

The first step toward deregulating the electric utilities took place, under the Carter Administration, through a 1978 Act that gave small, “renewable” energy producers access to the electric grid, and forced utility companies to buy their outrageously priced power.

A march on Washington of 65,000 anti-nuclear demonstrators on May 6, 1979, used the March 1979 incident at Three Mile Island to call for the shutdown of the nation’s then-operating 68 nuclear reactors. This Jacobin mob was the street-level creature spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and Wall Street’s largest non-profit foundations, in the name of “protecting the environment.” The demonstration further fueled the efforts in the White House and Congress to enact rules and regulations to sabotage the completion of nuclear plants.

The machinations of the anti-nukes also increased the pressure on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to institute irrational new rules and regulations, which, on one occasion, resulted in 13 power plants being shut down at the same time, for “safety” inspections. Billions of dollars were spent by nuclear utilities to retrofit plants for increased safety, much of which retrofitting was known by many in the industry to be unnecessary. At the same time, the nuclear utilities were bending over backwards to “listen” to and answer the “concerns” of the anti-nukes, in the hope that this process would instill some rationality into the situation.


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