Florence Reveals The Flawed Logic Of The Trumpadministration

September 21, 2018

As Hurricane Florence has savaged the Carolinas, it also has exposed the truth about the Trump administration’s attempt to pose emergencies as a reason to save the coal and nuclear power industries at public expense. The administration continues to press a plan to require power consumers to subsidize power plants that keep at least 90 days worth of fuel on site. That describes only nuclear and coal plants, since gas-fueled plants receive their fuel continuously from pipelines, and solar and wind production rely on current conditions. According to the administration, the rule is necessary to ensure the security of the power grid during natural disasters, cyberattacks or other security threats. As Hurricane Florence roared ashore last week, it quickly demonstrated the administration’s flawed logic. It quickly took out power to more than 1 million residents, but not because of any problem with power generation. Rather, it destroyed many miles of power lines and other distribution infrastructure. And, as noted by The Washington Post’s Energy 202 blog, hurricane-force winds forced Duke Energy to shut down the two reactors at its Brunswick nuclear power plant near Wilmington, N.C. Even after the storm passed, Duke Energy did not restart the reactors. The plant was not damaged, but because of flooding that heavily damaged surrounding communities and roads, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared a “hazardous event” because of the trouble that workers might have getting to the reactors during an emergency. And, the flooding would impede the ability of people to evacuate the area during an emergency at the plant. As of Tuesday, more than 200,000 Duke customers did not have power. The administration’s proposed policy is an attempt to use national security as a cover for propping up coal and nuclear plants that no longer can compete in the power marketplace. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission already has said that the nation faces no power generation shortfall, and that the grid’s infrastructure problems are related to distribution rather than generation. Florence demonstrated that point. The administration should abandon the plan to prop up coal and nukes on a false premise.

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