Editor’s Note: Asked publicly June 23, 2023, “Should nuclear play a role in our country’s transition…?” presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. answered with the following:
“I’m all for nuclear energy if it can be made safe and if it can be made economically competitive.
“Right now it’s not safe, and you shouldn’t take my word for it. You should take the word of the insurance industry which is the ultimate arbiter of risk in this country. The insurance companies will not insure nuclear power. And so the nuclear industry had to go to Congress, and in a sleazy legislative maneuver in the middle of the night, [it] passed the Price Anderson Act, which essentially immunizes the nuclear industry from accountability for its own accidents.
“My house in New York is 22 miles from the Indian Point Power Plant [and] I had a provision in my insurance policy that says this policy does not cover you for radiation damage from a nuclear power plant accident. All of the insurance policies in this country have something essentially like that. So you are bearing the burden of their risk and they don’t have to pay any attention to risk, because the country has immunized them.
“Is it economic? No. The last nuclear [reactor] built has a price-per gigawatt of $14 billion.
“For a solar plant, right now, the construction costs about $1.1 billion a gigawatt. A coal plant costs about $3.6 billion per-gigawatt. So, you know, a solar plant costs on
e-fourteenth (1/14) of what a nuke reactor costs.
“We can make energy by burning prime rib if we wanted, but it wouldn’t make any sense.
“And once you build a solar or wind plant, it’s free energy forever, because the electrons are hitting the Earth for free. All we’re doing is building a system to pick them [electrons] up and harvest them.
“Once you build a nuke plant you have to go do uranium mining, which is very, very expensive; you have to have regular outages [for refueling], you have to hire safety technicians that are ruinously expensive, and then you have to dispose of the waste, and take care of it for the next 30 thousand years, which is five times the length of recorded human history. So how can it possibly be economic?
“They told us when they first built these plants that nuclear energy would be “too cheap to meter.” It’s turned out to be the most prohibitively expensive way to boil a pot of water that’s ever been devised.
“And now [the industry is] saying, ‘Well don’t worry, we’ve got a new generation of nukes that solves a lot of these problems,’ and my answer to that is: ‘Show us. Show us that.’
“Number one, no nuclear [reactor] will be built anywhere in the world, no utility will build any, unless the public subsidizes essentially the entire cost of construction. That’s not competitive. Industry should pay for all of its costs, including the disposal of their waste — which is a lesson we were all supposed to have learned in kindergarten.
“I tell the public: If they can do it without public assistance, if they can be competitive in the marketplace, I’m all for them.”
— This is not an endorsement of Kennedy’s campaign as the Progressive Foundation/Nukewatch doesn’t make endorsements.