No Money In Supporting Nuclear Power For Environmentalists



By Norris McDonald

It was refreshing to see the New York Post article about a recent paper by Matthew C. Nisbet, a communications professor at Northeastern University, that examined the climate-change and energy grants given by 19 green-leaning philanthropies — including familiar names like the Hewlett, Kresge and MacArthur foundations.  His conclusion: America’s biggest environmental groups seldom, if ever, talk about the climate-change benefits of nuclear energy. Why not? There’s no money in it. 

As the first environmentalist to publicly and aggressively support nuclear power in the climate change and global warming era, I can testify that Professor Nisbet's conclusion is absolute true.  I have been working as a pro-nuclear environmental activist for 18 years and I can barely pay my rent.  I also seriously doubt that my recommendation to the nuclear industry to start funding the environmental groups to support nuclear power will be adopted because they probably are not willing to put up the tens  to hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to get them to acknowledge the obvious: that nuclear power is the best weapon against global warming.

Here are some of the findings from his paper:

Between 2011 and 2015, the 19 foundations made 2,502 grants totaling nearly $557 million to environmental groups like the Sierra Club (the largest single recipient, with nearly $49 million in grants), Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund.

Of that $557 million, the big environmental groups received nearly $187 million to promote renewable energy and efficiency. They got another $92.5 million for “climate change-related communication, media and mobilization” and nearly $82 million to oppose hydraulic fracturing and to “promote actions to limit/oppose [the] fossil fuel industry.” But “no grants were focused on promoting nuclear energy, though $175,000 in grants were devoted to opposing nuclear energy for cost and safety reasons.”

To underscore: Over a five-year period, some of America’s biggest foundations doled out more than half a billion dollars to some of America’s biggest environmental groups and not a penny was spent promoting nuclear energy, even though nuclear provides about 20 percent of US electricity and twice as much emissions-free juice as all US solar and wind, combined.

Why would any of the large environmental groups risk losing many millions of dollars to support correct science as it relates to nuclear power and global warming?  Nisbet’s paper is important because it exposes the anti-nuclear orthodoxy that prevails at some of America’s biggest philanthropic groups. Just as important, it shows that those same philanthropic groups are ignoring the conclusions of the world’s top climate scientists.