Green Watch

The Richest Opponents of Carbon-Free Nuclear Energy

A new profile at InfluenceWatch for the Opposition to Nuclear Energy movement lists 11 anti-nuclear nonprofits that each individually have annual revenue in excess of $50 million. As shown in a previous essay, hundreds of left-leaning nonprofits oppose the use of zero-carbon nuclear energy, including nearly all of the nation’s largest climate/carbon alarmist groups.

Their combined annual revenue exceeds $2.3 billion.

The Cleanest of “Clean” Energy

Nuclear power is America’s largest source of zero-carbon electricity, and second place isn’t even close. In 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear provided 78 percent more electricity than wind turbines, 189 percent more power than hydroelectric dams, and 435 percent more than solar panels.

A nation that was serious about cutting carbon emissions could and should be building far more nuclear power stations.

It’s the cleanest of the “clean” energy sources. According to the Department of Energy, “nuclear energy produces more electricity on less land than any other clean-air source.” The Department of Energy notes the comparison is particularly apt for wind and solar because “wind farms require 360 times more land area to produce the same amount of electricity and solar photovoltaic plants require 75 times more space.”

The waste profile of nuclear power is tiny. According to the Department of Energy, “all of the used nuclear fuel produced by the U.S. nuclear energy industry over the last 60 years could fit on a football field at a depth of less than 10 yards!”

The fuel is plentiful. The Department of Energy reports that uranium is “a common metal found in rocks all over the world.” And a 2009 Scientific American analysis projected that supplies found in seawater could keep nuclear reactors running for another 60,000 years.

Nuclear is also the safest major power source we have. In 2020, Our World in Data estimated that getting an equal amount of energy from nuclear fuel rather than other major other sources “results in 99.9% fewer deaths than brown coal; 99.8% fewer than coal; 99.7% fewer than oil; and 97.6% fewer than gas.”

The Opposition

These 11 American nonprofits known to have annual revenue in excess of $50 million are the vanguard of the opposition to the development of carbon-free nuclear energy.

World Wildlife Fund. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported a total revenue of $381,636,162 for the year ending June 2022.

In April 2021, according to the WWF InfluenceWatch profile, the group registered its opposition to a final draft of proposed rules regarding what the European Union would consider “green taxonomy” energy investments. The World Wildlife Fund statement declared that “fossil fuels and nuclear power are unsustainable” and that the final rules needed “to make clear that gas and nuclear will not be part of the green taxonomy once and for all.” In March 2020, as recommendations were being made regarding the final draft, the WWF praised recommendations provided to the EU that “would rightfully put an end to polluting fossil fuels, nuclear and bioenergy being greenwashed.”

World Resources Institute. The World Resources Institute (WRI) reported a total revenue of $289,669,226 for the year ending September 2021.

In 2018, according to the WRI InfluenceWatch profile, the group hosted an awards ceremony honoring two activists credited with blocking the construction of a nuclear power plant in South Africa. A WRI news release praised the pair for a “victory that protected South Africa from an unprecedented expansion of the nuclear industry.”

EDF. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reported a total revenue of $284,762,302 for the year ending September 2022.

In 2017, according to the EDF InfluenceWatch profile, the group advocated for the shutdown of a nuclear energy plant in New York. In 2016 EDF promoted the shutdown of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California. The pro-nuclear Environmental Progress has accused EDF of “hypocrisy” because EDF advocated for taxpayer subsidies for wind and solar energy but opposed similar assistance for nuclear energy.

NRDC. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported total revenues of $186,185,838 for the year ending June 2022.

The NRDC InfluenceWatch profile shows the group has repeatedly supported the shutdown of nuclear power plants, including Diablo Canyon in California and Indian Point in New York.

Sierra Club. The Sierra Club reported total revenues of $152,093,074 for the year ending December 2021.

The InfluenceWatch profile for the Sierra Club shows that the group is one of the nation’s most strident opponents of nuclear power. The Sierra Club website has stated that nuclear power is “a uniquely dangerous energy technology for humanity” and that the “Sierra Club remains unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy.”

Rocky Mountain Institute. The Rocky Mountain Institute reported a total revenue of $116,983,377 for the year ending June 2022.

Amory Lovins, the RMI founder, has been an influential opponent of nuclear energy for nearly 50 years. The RMI InfluenceWatch profile quotes a 2011 RMI report written by Lovins, in which he asserted that nuclear power is “costly and dangerous and a poor alternative to renewable energy sources.” Lovins reiterated his criticisms of nuclear power in a July 2017 report for RMI.

Also covered in the InfluenceWatch profile for RMI is a February 2022 report on solutions to an energy shortage in Europe. Written by another RMI researcher, the report recommended that policymakers not look “backward to domestic fossil or large-scale nuclear,” criticized French and Dutch investments in nuclear energy, and proposed that all of Europe should instead invest heavily in alternative sources such as weather-dependent wind.

League of Conservation Voters. The League of Conservation Voters LCV) reported total revenues of $114,796,662 for the year ending December 2021.

According to LCV’s InfluenceWatch profile, the group was one of more than 100 co-signatories on a November 2020 letter to the U.S. Senate that expressed opposition to the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 (S. 4897). The letter stated that nuclear power “amplifies and expands the dangers of climate change” and denounced it as an example of “false solutions to the climate crisis that perpetuate our reliance on dirty energy industries.”

NAACP. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). reported total revenue of $103,738,054 for the year ending December 2021.

The InfluenceWatch profile for the NAACP shows two examples of the group’s opposition to nuclear energy.

In 2018 the NAACP approved a resolution titled: “In Opposition to Nuclear and Fossil Fuel Technologies as Safe, Viable Alternatives to Renewable Energy.” The text of the resolution stated: “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that, the NAACP stands in opposition to nuclear energy and attempts to avoid the much needed, inevitable energy transition by merely converting from one fossil fuel source to another.”

In May of 2021, the NAACP was one of 715 groups and businesses listed as a co-signer on a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House and Senate that referred to nuclear energy as a “dirty” form of energy production and a “significant” source of pollution.

Southern Environmental Law Center. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) reported total revenues of $82,818,237 for the year ending March 2022.

The InfluenceWatch profile for SELC shows the group has repeatedly criticized and opposed nuclear power generation and promoted instead weather-dependent wind and solar energy systems. Examples of SELC’s anti-nuclear advocacy have occurred in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Dream Corps. Dream Corps reported a total revenue of $57,812,679 for the year ending December 2021.

Green for All is the climate policy project of Dream Corps. The Dream Corps profile on InfluenceWatch reports that Green for All was one of more than 600 co-signing organizations on a January 2019 open letter to Congress that denounced nuclear power as an example of “dirty energy” that should not be included in any legislation promoting the use of  “renewable energy.”

Movement Strategy Center. The Movement Strategy Center reported a total revenue of $57,326,783 for the year ending June 2022.

The MSC profile on InfluenceWatch features quotes from a January 2015 report produced jointly by MSC that criticized nuclear energy and carbon capture technology as examples of “false solutions” to the challenge of creating low-carbon and carbon-free energy sources. The same report praised the work of left-leaning advocates in India who were opposing nuclear power and zero-carbon hydroelectric dams.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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