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Patrick Moore on nuclear power

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Patrick Moore is a former Greenpeace activist who has been a corporate consultant since at least 1991. He began working for the Nuclear Energy Institute front group, the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, in 2006. The Coalition was organised and funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute, with help from the public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton that has a $8 million account with the nuclear industry.[1] In October 2008, Greenpeace issued a statement distancing itself from Moore, saying he "exploits long gone ties with Greenpeace to sell himself as a speaker and pro-corporate spokesperson, usually taking positions that Greenpeace opposes." [2]

The strategy behind CASE

According to Environment News Services: "Nuclear power advocates are hoping that Moore and Whitman can sell the American public on the benefits of nuclear power and help spark the resurgence of an industry that has not constructed a new plant in some 30 years".[3]

An editorial in the Colombia Journalism Review noted the benefit to the nuclear industry of having Moore and Whitman front their PR exercise, as in subsequent media articles Moore was often quoted as a "founder of Greenpeace" or an "environmentalist," but not as a paid consultant to the nuclear industry: "Life is complicated. So are front people for industry causes — or any cause, in a world of increasingly sophisticated p.r. We have no position on nuclear power. We just find it maddening that Hill & Knowlton ... should have such an easy time working the press".[1] (See Patrick Moore: Media coverage that doesn't disclose Moore's nuclear consultancy work for details of media not disclosing Moore's nuclear consultancy work).

In an article together, Moore and Whitman argued the coalition will "help raise awareness of the benefits of clean and safe nuclear energy and continue to build support for nuclear energy as a component of a comprehensive plan to meet America's future electricity needs".[4]

The name of the coalition is no co-incidence, nor was the language used in the article, such as clean, cheap and safe. It reflects a world-wide public relations push by the nuclear industry to portray itself as "clean" and "safe".

Because of Moore’s earlier connections with Greenpeace, despite the fact that he left the organisation some twenty years ago, the new coalition was seen by some as a sign of the growing acceptance of nuclear power by the green movement. The New York Times called it "the latest sign that nuclear power is getting a more welcome reception from some environmentalists". To back-up their argument, The Times also quoted well-known nuclear supporter James Lovelock, whom Moore calls his hero. What The Times failed to point out is that Lovelock has been a supporter of nuclear power for twenty years.

Moore is also listed as an honorary member of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy-USA and the Honorary Chair of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy-Canada. [1] [2]

Warming to nukes (and questioning global warming)

In a 2006 interview with Iceland Review, Moore claimed that the dangers of nuclear power "are overstated. Chernobyl was the only accident that caused death and injury and that style of Soviet reactor should never have been built. Of course, there are risks with all technologies, but nuclear is one of the safest. Many of the other Chernobyl-style reactors are still operating, after they were refit so that a Chernobyl type accident could not occur again. We learn from our mistakes." [3]

"What drives me nuts," Moore told the New York Times, "is that the environmental movement itself has become the primary obstacle to reducing fossil fuel emissions. Energy and climate are two sides of the same coin, and they've got it completely backward. Either you quit worrying about climate change and go on burning fossil fuels or you accept nuclear energy and get off fossil fuels. They're stuck between a rock and a hard place of their own making." [5]

In an interview with Engineering News in South Africa, Moore said that "as an environmentalist, and someone concerned about both climate change and human health, I think nuclear is superior, because it doesn't produce greenhouse gases and it doesn’t produce air pollution in the same way that fossil fuel combustion does."[6]

While extolling the purported benefits of nuclear power as a solution to global warming, Moore has also ridiculed efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In December 2005 Moore had attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal. "Expanding nuclear energy is one way that we can actually [reduce] reliance on fossil fuels in a big way," said Moore, who also praised the United States for refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, calling the treaty "a colossal waste of time and money."[7]

During an April 2008 talk in Idaho, Moore said "there is no proof global warming is caused by humans, but it is likely enough that the world should turn to nuclear power." [8]

In September 2008, Moore supported Environment Minister Sammy Wilson from Northern Ireland, after Wilson publicly questioned human contributions to global warming. Moore claimed that "there are a number of scientists from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who do not believe climate change is man-made 'but their views are ignored.'" Moore further alleged "a climate of fear in academia on climate change, with people afraid to speak out for fear of losing funding." [9] Moore also downplayed the role of carbon dioxide in driving global warming. "It has a much better correlation with changes in solar activity than CO2 levels," he claimed.[10]

Previous anti-nuclear sentiment

That contrasts sharply with Moore's earlier stance on nuclear power. For the 1976 issue of the Greenpeace Report, Moore wrote the following, according to one of Moore's contemporaries at Greenpeace, Captain Paul Watson: [4]

Nuclear powerplants are, next to nuclear warheads themselves, the most dangerous devices that man has ever created. Their construction and proliferation is the most irresponsible, in fact the most criminal, act ever to have taken place on the planet. ...
It should be remembered that there are employed in the nuclear industry some very high-powered public relations organizations. One can no more trust them to tell the truth about nuclear power than about which brand of toothpaste will result in this apparently insoluble problem.

Moore described nuclear power plants as "slow atomic bombs" and warned that radioactive waste was an "insoluble problem".

In the report, Moore also took issue with the nuclear industry's spin doctors: "It should be remembered that there are employed in the nuclear industry some very high-powered public relations organizations. One can no more trust them to tell the truth about nuclear power than about which brand of toothpaste will result in this apparently insoluble problem".

The report ended with the statement; “The time to stop this crime against ourselves and countless future generations is now.”[11]

Five years later, in 1981 he said of Greenpeace's priorities: "The nuclear issue is going to be the major one in the next 10 years, right from the issue of nuclear testing, to the issue of waste dumping to the issue of uranium mining -- all down the line it's going to be necessary for people to become more aware and educated."[12]

U-turn

Moore testified in 2006 about his changing views: "A lot has changed in the 35 years since then, and my views have changed along with these new circumstances ... As a co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition along with Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, I make it known often that I strongly believe the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because now—more than ever before—nuclear energy is the electricity source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: potentially harmful climate change."[13]

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) says Moore: “changed his views as he took a longer look at how the threat of global warming might best be countered, and whether the anti-nuclear folklore had any real substance”.[14]

In a February 2008 interview, Moore said he regretted taking part in a 1970s "rally in protest of Canadian shipments of uranium to the then-military dictatorship of Argentina," reported Canada's Telegraph-Journal. "The uranium was officially for energy use, but the fear was the governing Junta would use the metal for making weapons." Moore told the paper, "In retrospect, that was probably misguided. ... I'm not in favour of the Junta, but even the Junta should be using clean energy." [15]

Lack of disclosure

In May 2007, Moore told the San Francisco Bay Guardian, "In every interview I do the reporter already knows that I'm cochair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and that I work for the nuclear industry." [5]

But the Guardian called his disclosure practices into question, noting that "Moore did not identify himself as such during a lengthy interview with us until we asked. The disclosure was also missing during the long biographical presentation given to the folks in Fresno on Feb. 22, which did include pictures of his [Greenpeace] Rainbow Warrior days. Again, on May 24, Moore didn't mention his plutonium paycheck during a radio debate on KZYX. Neither did the moderator, and it was only when [Dan] Hirsch [of the anti-nuclear group Committee to Bridge the Gap], his debating partner, got a moment to speak that it was revealed. 'Let's be clear here, Patrick,' Hirsch said. 'You're being paid by the industry.'" [6]

In an 828 word opinion column published in the Trenton New Jersey newspaper, The Times, Moore's disclosure statement stated "an advisor to industry and government, Dr. Patrick Moore is a co- founder and former leader of Greenpeace and chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd." There was no mention of his role as a consultant to the nuclear industry. [16]

During an interview with a Canadian newspaper, Moore dismissed criticisms of his pro-nuclear work as bought and paid for: "I've been working with the environment all my life, ever since I finished my PhD in ecology; I have another PhD in science and I've got a bachelor of science in biology and forestry," he said. "I think I have myself sufficiently credentialed to be able to be judged on the merits of my arguments, rather than who is buying my dinner for me. ... The reason we're working for the nuclear industry is because we think it's important." [15]

Local pro-nuclear efforts

For more information on Patrick Moore's travel in support of the nuclear power, logging and mining industries, among his other clients, see the article on Patrick Moore appearances.

On the conference circuit

Since 2005, Moore has been listed as a speaker who "Makes the Case for Nuclear" for the Global Speakers Agency, listing his fee as anything from $10,000 to $25,000.[17] Moore was also a speaker at the Nuclear Industry Association / British Nuclear Energy Society, "Energy Choices 2006" Conference in December 2006, in London.[18]

Moore has also made numerous speaking appearances touting nuclear power, often at local chamber of commerce and business events. For a listing of recent public events where Moore has spoken, see Patrick Moore appearances.

Vermont

Part of Moore's pro-nuclear work involves advocating for new plants at the local and state levels. In January 2007, it was revealed that Vermont Energy Partnership had hired Moore's firm, Greenspirit Strategies Ltd.. [7] Based on a February 1, 2007, editorial by the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper, part of Moore's work for VEP included meetings with local media: [8]

One can argue that the Vermont Energy Partnership, a corporate-backed group that supports the continued operation of Vermont Yankee, may be paying Moore to serve as a "greenwasher," someone hired to make a dirty and dangerous technology seem clean and environmentally friendly.
But Moore can't be dismissed that easily. In a visit to the Reformer on Wednesday, he brought up many good points about why nuclear energy should still be part of Vermont's energy mix.

Moore's Vermont appearance was slammed in several letters to the editor, [9] including in one published by the Barre - Montpelier Times Argus. "We the undersigned Vermonters, who have collectively dedicated 78 years of service to Greenpeace, are offended to see the nuclear lobby group Vermont Energy Partnership has hired Patrick Moore to speak on behalf of nuclear power in the Vermont Legislature," opens the letter signed by 10 people. "While Mr. Moore was involved with Greenpeace in its early years, he has long since made his living as a hired spokesperson for some of the most environmentally-destructive industries on the planet." [10]

An op/ed by Harvey Wasserman, who is described as a "senior advisor to Greenpeace USA since 1990," questions Moore's credibility and the suitability of nuclear power for Vermont. "The alleged 'renaissance' of nuclear power is nothing more than heavily funded industry hype. Wall Street financiers are not lining up to invest in these dinosaurs, and numerous utility executives have publicly doubted the wisdom of building them," wrote Wasserman. [11]

About Moore, Wasserman wrote, "Moore has claimed for years to be a founder of Greenpeace, an exaggeration of his actual role. ...Moore now gets big money defending the indefensible, posing as a reformed environmentalist who has seen the light ... any light he is paid to see. He has hyped genetically modified crops, PVCs, and brominated flame retardants. He has soft-pedaled dioxins and toxic mine tailings dumped by Newmont mines into Indonesia bays." [12]

In April 2008, the Brattleboro Reformer reported that Moore "visited the Reformer to talk about the change in his philosophy," from anti-nuclear to pro-nuclear power. "Moore has visited Vermont several times in the past year on behalf of the Vermont Energy Partnership," which "receives much of its funding from the nuclear industry, including Entergy, which owns and operates Yankee." [19]

New York

Moore is listed as an "advisor" of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NY AREA), an industry-associated lobbying group pushing for license renewals for the Indian Point nuclear power nlants. [13]

Moore spoke to memberes of NY AREA in February 2007, reported the Times Union of Albany, NY: [14]

Energy conservation and alternative fuels cannot drive large enough carbon dioxide reductions, Moore said. Governments should also push nuclear power while discouraging use of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas.
"The only way to do this reduction is through government market intervention," he said. "That might not be good in the oil and gas business, at least in the short term. They might have to shrink a little bit," he said.

"It was bad luck that Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace who became a proponent of nuclear energy, was trying to make a case for Indian Point on the very day a new radioactive leak was revealed," wrote The Journal News (Westchester, NY) reporter Noreen O'Donnell in mid-May 2007. O'Donnell wrote: [15]

Moore, now a consultant working for an industry group, the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, called the leaks inconsequential. If one became consequential, he said, "I bet they would do something, but that would require an awful big leak. I don't think the radiation that exists in the pool is enough to be consequential."

However, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Neil Sheehan told The Journal News, "Make no mistake about it... there's a significant quantity of nuclear material in the spent-fuel pool at Indian Point." [16]

At a public hearing in September 2007 on the re-licensing proposal Moore stated that "If we want to actually reduce our fossil fuel consumption, the CO2, emissions, in other words, greenhouse gasses they give off, the concern about climate change, and if we want to get our air cleaner, most of the problem being caused by burning fossil fuels, we need to have an aggressive program of renewable energy plus nuclear energy in order to accomplish that task." [20] Despite seeking to tack nuclear power onto the coattails of renewable energy sources, he proceeded to deride their potential contribution. "Solar energy is simply too expensive," he said. "Wind and solar power are too intermittent. The wind doesn't blow all the time, and sun doesn't shine at night." Moore also asserted that "if humans had outlawed everything that could be turned into a weapon, no one would have been able to harness fire." [21]

Minnesota

On February 19, 2007, Moore spoke at a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce seminar on, "The Future of Minnesota's Energy -- What's a realistic solution for business?" Moore's speech was titled, "The future of nuclear power: Why are we so far behind the rest of the world?" [17]

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, "Environmentalists ought to embrace nuclear power as an alternative to more coal- and natural-gas-powered electricity plants whose emissions will only speed up global warming, a former Greenpeace director who advocates nuclear power told the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday." The article noted that Moore now "runs an environmental consultancy" and that he "is leading a movement to rehabilitate nuclear energy's image from that of Frankenstein's monster to one of environmental hero." However, there was no mention of Moore's being paid by the Nuclear Energy Institute. [18]

Michigan

On September 11, 2007, Moore spoke to the Washtenaw Economic Club in Ypsilanti, at an event sponsored by DTE Energy, the owner of "the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in Monroe and recently began the application process to build a new plant at the site." In his presentation Moore argued for a "a more intelligent way forward" on nuclear power. "I propose that we campaign to get off the books the discrimination about nuclear energy in the U.S. and Europe, and that nuclear energy be recognized as a renewable technology," he told the economic club members. "The fantasy of thinking we can do all of this with wind and solar power is just that: A fantasy."[22]

Other Moore appearances in Michigan include Monroe and Grand Rapids, also on September 11, 2007. [23] [24]

Tennessee

Moore is scheduled to be one of the speakers at a October 3rd and 4th 2007 conference on nuclear power organised by the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy in Tennessee. [25]

Texas

In December 2007, Moore visited Austin, Texas, with "Tom Tevlin, also from Greenspirit; J. Scott Peterson, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute ... and Brad Bennett, of the CASEnergy Coaliton," reported Asher Price. "They’re laying the groundwork for lobbying work on nuclear power. They’re meeting with the Texas Association of Business and utilities and have a bunch of 'private meetings,' though they said none are with city officials or state lawmakers. Moore called the trip a 'passing-through' organizational trip." [26]

"We're gradually ramping up the efforts," Moore told Bloomberg News, referring to his lobbying in favor of new nuclear plants in Texas. " is a key state, a can-do state, and what it decides to do gets done." [27]

Canada

In September 2007 Moore spoke at an event organised by the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce. At it Moore argued that as Saskatchewan exported uranium it should also have nuclear power stations. "Well, it seems to be actually rather ridiculous to have a province which is exporting uranium to the rest of the world ... for the operation of nuclear power technology that then has an anti-nuclear stance against having its own nuclear technology," Moore remarked. [28]

Regina resident Ron McMahon responded in a letter to the editor, "Patrick Moore, former president of Greenpeace Canada, suggests that Saskatchewan 'must' build nuclear plants because our population is growing ... but Saskatchewan's population has remained between 900,000 and 1,000,000 for over 80 years! What else did Moore skip in his research into the benefits and 'necessity' of nuclear power?" McMahon added that "every Candu nuclear power plant ever built has required premature refitting work that has cost as much or more than the original construction bill." [29]

In February 2008, spoke in New Brunswick, Canada, in support of nuclear power. His two talks in the area came as the province "engaged in fractious debate over the utility of a second nuclear reactor and uranium mining efforts. Two consultant reports now support the Liberal government's nuclear ambitions at Point Lepreau, and uranium exploration efforts have reached unprecedented levels, thanks to record high prices." [15]

South Africa

In March 2008, Moore traveled to South Africa for a "lecture tour of local universities, sponsored by the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa," reported The Times. During his visit, Moore claimed that nuclear waste "is a problem solved by France 30 years ago. Nuclear plants produce very little waste, which is the first reason environmentalists should be in favour of them. Nearly all of their waste can be recycled to be run through nuclear power stations again." [30]

Uranium boosting

In January 2008, the Arizona-based mining company Bancroft Uranium Inc. announced that it had retained Moore's PR firm, with the firm "act[ing] as a liaison to the public and media regarding all inquiries concerning the Monmouth Uranium Project near Bancroft, Ontario." [31]

At the same time, Moore joined Bancroft's Advisory Board. In a press release, Bancroft president Les Hammond said Moore's advisory role "will allow the Company access to his wealth of valuable experience regarding the Nuclear Industry and developing a strategy for the future of the Monmouth Uranium Deposit and other uranium projects within Bancroft's portfolio." [31]

SourceWatch resources

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Columbia Journalism Review, "False Fronts - Why to Look Behind the Label", Editorial, May / June, 2006.
  2. Press release, "Greenpeace Statement On Patrick Moore," Greenpeace, October 10, 2008.
  3. J.R. Pegg, "U.S. Nuclear Industry Fires Up Public Relations Campaign", Environment News Service, Washington DC, April 24, 2006.
  4. Christine Todd Whitman and Patrick Moore, "Nuclear Power will Drive the Future", The Boston Globe, Reprinted in the International Herald Tribune on May 15, 2006..
  5. Peter Applebome, op/ed: "The Power Grid Game: Choose a Catastrophe," New York Times, December 9, 2007.
  6. Keith Campbell, "Environmental scientist lauds SA’s PBMR technology", Engineering News (South Africa), March 21, 2008.
  7. Marc Morano, "Nuclear Energy Debate Turns Radioactive at Climate Conference", CNSNews.com, December 08, 2005.
  8. "Greenpeace Founder Now Backs Nuclear Power," The Idaho Statesman (Boise), April 24, 2008.
  9. "Climate row sparks debate around world," The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 10, 2008.
  10. "Wilson voices doubts over climate change", The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 11, 2008.
  11. Paul Watson, "Dr. Strangewhore, The Strange Transformation of Dr. Patrick Moore", Scoop, April 27, 2006.
  12. Deb Van Der Gracht, "Greenpeace -- An Environmental Crusade ‘Peaceful Direct Action’", United Press International, November 20, 1981.
  13. Patrick Moore,Testimony for the Record, Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, Appropriations Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, September 13, 2006.
  14. World Nuclear Association,"Widening Acceptance of Nuclear Power", Newsletter, May - June, 2006.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Reid Southwick, "Green activist crosses nuclear divide," Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick, Canada), February 5, 2008.
  16. Patrick Moore, "Use nuclear energy", The Times of Trenton (New Jersey, September 21, 2007.
  17. Global Speakers Agency, "Patrick Moore Makes the Case for Nuclear Energy", August 23, 2005.
  18. Nuclear Industry Association, Energy Choices 2006.
  19. Bob Audette, "Lobbyist explains switch in nuclear position," Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont), April 18, 2008.
  20. "Critics, supporters, about even at latest Indian Point hearing", MidHudson News, September 20, 2007.
  21. Greg Clary, "Water, air, overall safety dominate Indian Point meeting", The Journal News (New York), September 20, 2007.
  22. Jordan Miller, "Washtenaw Economic Club speaker advocates for more nuclear energy", MLive.com, September 11, 2007.
  23. Eric Morath, "Environmentalist touts nuke energy: New plants would help cut nation's dependence on fossil fuels, says ex-Greenpeace leader," The Detroit News, September 12, 2007.
  24. Kristina Riggle, "'We were wrong,' former nuke protester says," The Grand Rapids Press, September 12, 2007.
  25. George Brown, "Baker Center co-hosts conference on nuclear energy", Tennessee Journalist, September 17 2007.
  26. Asher Price, "Nuclear power, redux," Salsa Verde blog of The Austin American-Statesman, December 12, 2007.
  27. Michael Janofsky, "Texas Going Nuclear With Greenpeace Founder's Backing," Bloomberg News, December 17, 2007.
  28. "Sask. should have nuclear reactors, former Greenpeace activist says", CBC News, September 19, 2007.
  29. Ron McMahon, "'Tired and toxic nuclear technology'," The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan), September 28, 2007.
  30. Robert Laing, "'Greenpeace should now go pro-nuke'", The Times (South Africa), March 4, 2008.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Press release, "Bancroft Uranium Contracts Greenspirit Strategies for Public and Media Relations -- Former Greenpeace President Dr. Patrick Moore Joins Advisory Board," Bancroft Uranium via Marketwire, January 28, 2008.

Patrick Moore on Nuclear Power: External links

For a list of statements, columns and news articles about Patrick Moore's support for nuclear power, see Patrick Moore on Nuclear Power: External links.