Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore is promoting the expanded use of nuclear energy, joining an unlikely coalition with a Republican former Environmental Protection Agency chief, one of America's most-storied unions and one of the nation's largest pro-business lobbies.
The CASEnergy Coalition, which also includes former EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, the Teamsters and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says nuclear energy use will reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil while cutting carbon dioxide emissions that are suspected of contributing to global climate change.
"Times have changed and I have changed with them," said Mr. Moore, a former opponent of nuclear energy.
He led a discussion yesterday at the National Press Club about the benefits of nuclear power, which he calls "a clean and safe source of energy."
Polling data show that 70 percent of Americans are open to expanded use of nuclear energy and 80 percent of residents living within 10 miles of a plant think nuclear energy is safe, Mr. Moore said.
He has no current affiliation with Greenpeace, one of the world's largest environmental lobbies. The group officially opposes the use of nuclear power to generate electricity.
Mrs. Whitman, a former New Jersey governor, was scheduled to headline the press conference but was delayed by a late flight. Her prepared remarks read in part: "Nuclear power plants produce no controlled air pollutants or greenhouse gases -- none. That benefit is of particular importance to me."
Mr. Moore said 103 nuclear power plants provide 20 percent of the nation's electricity. Another 60 percent comes from coal and other nonrenewable sources.
"If we had 60 percent of our electricity coming from nuclear power and 20 percent from coal, the U.S. would easily comply with Kyoto," Mr. Moore said, referring to the international protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "That's like taking 100 million cars off the road."
Both the Teamsters and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support the construction of nuclear power plants because of the jobs that would be created.
"Each new site creates 1,000 new jobs," said William Kovacs, vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "These are good jobs."
"Nuclear power will help ease the financial burden facing industries," said Bobby Zafarnia, legislative representative for the Teamsters. "Nuclear energy is a win-win situation for everyone."
CASEnergy Coalition plans to embark on a promotional tour highlighting the potential benefits of nuclear energy.
"We'll bring about even more support at the grass-roots level," Mr. Moore said.