Sep 20, 2019

Three Mile Island nuclear plant closes on day of mass climate rally

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

NEW YORK — Climate activists are rallying in the streets here and around the world today calling for urgent action curbing carbon emissions, while a controversial but carbon-free nuclear power plant 180 miles away quietly goes offline.

The big picture: It’s an ironic moment in history. Nuclear power provides America — and the world — with one of the largest sources of carbon-free electricity. Many environmentalists nonetheless don’t support it because of fears about safety and radioactivity. Plants are shutting down under economic duress, and in some states and countries carbon emissions are rising as a result.

Driving the news: The protests and the plant.

  • As the social movement to tackle climate change intensifies, the protests today are expected to be among the largest in history
  • The plant shutting down — Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island — was the site of America’s worst nuclear energy accident after a partial core meltdown in 1979. One reactor shut down because of the disaster, which has since created extra financial hurdles for the remaining reactor.

By the numbers:

  • Nuclear power provides more than half of America’s carbon-free electricity. In Pennsylvania, that share is nearly 94%.
  • It could take Pennsylvania nearly 13 years to replace the lost carbon-free electricity from Three Mile Island, according to a March report by Andrew Place, a commissioner on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Go deeper: As climate change worsens, America faces nuclear closures

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The IMF wants major carbon taxes to fight climate change

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund is calling on major greenhouse gas-emitting countries to implement carbon taxes that reach $75-per-ton by 2030 to bolster today's "inadequate" responses to climate change.

Why it matters: Their new report says the window for keeping temperature rise to manageable levels is "closing rapidly" and that "limiting global warming to 2°C or less requires policy measures on an ambitious scale."

Go deeperArrowOct 11, 2019

Massive companies' green commitments can't save the planet

Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. Photo: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon unveiled sweeping new energy and climate plans yesterday, and hours later, Google announced its biggest renewable power buys ever.

Why it matters: While the announcements by 2 of the world's biggest companies are stark signs that corporate giants are getting more aggressive about climate change, corporate commitments won't change the underlying trend of global carbon emissions on track to bring warming that blows past the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019

Cory Booker takes a swing at Democrats over nuclear power

Sen. Cory Booker. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Cory Booker took a dig at Democrats in an interview with HuffPost Thursday, saying his party's opposition to nuclear energy is just as a bad as Republicans who deny climate science.

Why it matters: As reporter Alexander Kaufman notes, the New Jersey senator's statement is one of the sharpest criticisms of anti-nuclear stances in the primary battle, and "grazes a particularly sensitive nerve in the climate policy debate."

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019