McClaughry: Bill McKibben backtracks on nuclear energy

Middlebury College professor Bill McKibben

By John McClaughry

Bill McKibben, the climate activist at Middlebury College and the leader of, now appears to be tiptoeing away from his ardent anti-nuclear views of yesteryear. In a journal article that appeared two weeks ago, McKibben says this:

The shift away from combustion is large and novel enough that it bumps up against everyone’s prior assumptions — environmentalists’, too. The fight against nuclear power … was an early mainstay of the green movement, because it was easy to see that if something went wrong it could go badly wrong. I applauded, more than a decade ago, when the Vermont legislature voted to close the state’s old nuclear plant at the end of its working life, but I wouldn’t today. Indeed, for some years I’ve argued that existing nuclear reactors that can still be run with any margin of safety probably should be, as we’re making the transition — the spent fuel they produce is an evil inheritance for our descendants, but it’s not as dangerous as an overheated Earth, even if the scenes of Russian troops shelling nuclear plants added to the sense of horror enveloping the planet these past weeks.”

Well, thanks for that, Bill. He and I have radically different views of the supposed climate emergency, and I have little concern about the safe management of spent nuclear fuel, but he finally dares to say that nuclear power is essential to avoiding an overheated earth, that he thinks is coming. That’s progress.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

11 thoughts on “McClaughry: Bill McKibben backtracks on nuclear energy

  1. The Pied Piper of Climate Change , Bill McKibben, continues to rally naive and easy to con high school and college kids plus the at sea Vermont legislators to demand total the elimination of fossil fuels and conversion to unreliable and costly green energy. Passed and propose climate policies that have barely been given an iota of thought or transparency to the billions of dollars in costs, unintended consequences and financial impact on regular Vermonters……..Policies that the legislature knows will do nothing to mitigate Climate Change…….A reality that has been said out loud.

    Meanwhile, multi-billions of human beings from China, India, Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Europe countries continue to build coal fired power plants at home and in third world countries and/or drill for fossil fuels…….The message from.Bill McKibben, the high schooling college kids plus Vermont legislators is ignored and ridiculed by multi- billions world wide. A group so large its constitutes the vast majority of mankind……Even Joe Biden wants to buy the oil from these countries and billions of people while American workers are put out of work.

    How much longer can this madness go on?

  2. Not only McKibben!

    I seem to recall that a former Vermont governor, a very influential Democrat politician, if my memory serves me correctly, who was extremely active in pushing for the then proposal to dismember Vermont Yankee, our sole, nuclear plant. Seems that the undertaking of that project commenced some seven or so years ago and that the process is still underway with no completion in site expected for yet some several more years to go. What was his name? I think it begins with an “S”. Yeah, it does: it’s Shumlin!

    I wonder what’s become of him. One rarely ever hears his name mentioned any more. I guess if I were to be in his shoes, I, too, would try to keep a low profile these days. Just think of what his brilliant initiative has cost the citizens of Vermont today and what the ongoing price of his resplendent, civic enterprise will end up being as it continues to further empty out our collective pocketbooks for an untold number of years to come without our having the benefit of nuclear power in Vermont to provide us with the necessary production of energy at a more reasonable cost.

    Will we ever learn to pay more attention to the qualifications of those who would pretend to be our
    leaders before we allow them to assume the positions from which they demand our following?

  3. Waffling ijits like McFibbin shouldn’t be allowed any where near impressionable mush minds of
    our youths.. He gets them gung ho on one track then down the road changes his mind but the
    damage is done. Like Nukes he bad mouthed until it was driven in their little minds was too dangerous
    to be using as a power source when in reality it’s less dangerous than exploding car batteries and
    thrown away spent lithium batteries. A new generation Thorium Reactor can burn all the spent
    fuel rods we’ve been storing and provide all the power this little state needs. We could even charge
    who’s storing the spent rods to burn them. Our ridge lines could remain unpolluted by bird choppers and our fields could be free of the black squares of plastic polluting them. One plant is all we’d need.

  4. I want people like him to live for a year having electricity only when the sun shines or the wind blows. they need a dose of that reality. When they can’t cook in the evening, or have hot water, or watch TV, or turn on the lights at Christmas, maybe they will figure out how dumb then are being.

    Wind and solar are only a supplement to base load generation, and they are all too foolish to listen to the facts.

    • My most fervent wish is to test this ‘clean energy and save the planet’ from fossil fuels.

      Shut off all the fossill fuel heat, oil. gas lp, all of it in the statehouse for next winters session.

      Let them observe up close what they propose.

  5. While in the Senate Natural Resources Committee at a time when Vt Yankee was under attack by the so-called environmentalists I pointed out that those groups promoting wind power as an alternative to nuclear power were incorrect and illogical. They would promote that this new wind power development destroying our ridges and bear habitat would power 15,000 residences!! Sounds like a lot of homes… but fails completely in comparison to Vt Yankee’s production; chugging along 24/7 producing consistent power at 4 – 5 cents/kw producing electricity that would power “every single residence” in the state of Vermont! Yes, with a footprint smaller than Vernon, Vermont… the anti-nuke arguments were not logical, all propaganda by those with self interests in alternative schemes!!

    • Those self-important, self-serving wind/solar folks, did and are still doing great damage to the US people and the US economy.

      Their highly subsidized RE nonsense has been going on for 30 years, for the benefit of the well-connected few, laughing all the way to the bank, at the expense of all others, by exploiting the global warming canard to befuddle lay people.

      Mendacity to the nth degree.

      Go to the polls in November en masse to overcome any vote counting shenanigans, and vote out the career Dem/Progs

    • George, you hit the nail on the head. None of the opposition to VT Yankee and nuclear power is logical. The green energy initiative as foisted upon us in Vermont, the US and around the world, is not about logic, climate change, the environment, the earth, nor its people. Instead, this new industry opened a multi-trillion dollar opportunity for a new generation of entrepreneurs, investors, politicians, and government bureaucrats who had missed making a killing in fossil fuels, or for whom that industry plateaued, and who devised clever coercive mechanisms to exert a new political heavy hand. When things don’t make sense look for another explanation, no matter how hidden, seemingly unlikely, or subtle. Cui bono?

      Many are growing fabulously wealthy. The taxpayer is being squeezed and funding governments which buy votes and influence by the development and manipulation of a dependent population who will soon no longer be able to afford to pay their own way and will be given incentives and disincentives to go along with a “new’ culture and way of life, all to support the myth that green energy as it will be practiced is good for the earth and its people.

      What ever happened to Earth Day and cleaning up after ourselves. That made sense. The rest is propaganda exuding a stink quite hard to sanitize.

  6. I wonder what McKibben now thinks of the wood chip generator in Burlington or the wood chip heat at Middlebury College. Not a good thing to support a failure and then go 360 degrees after it’s a reality. I saw the Michael Moore film and it discredited much of McKibben’s rants at the time.

    • Add up th total fossil fuels for the wood chip plant. Huge Machinery to fell the trees, huge machinery to drag the trees to a point, huge machinery to chip the wood, the huge multi ton train that is staffed to make one trip a day, the costs of manageing the chips at the generating plant. Lots of Fossil fuels, and tons of man hours and their fossil fuel uses, plus the queipment and the train.

      Fossil fuel is brought in one truck, and done.
      Add it up !!

  7. McKibben is a demagogue and a weathervane

    He was for tree burning for heat and power, until he was against it.
    He was for abolishing CO2-free nuclear, until he wanted to revive it

    The Russians did not “fire on nuclear plants”.

    In one instance, they fired on a nearby building about 150 yards from the nuclear plant building.

    In the building, were Ukraine soldiers firing at Russians when they appeared.

    The Ukraine soldiers likely regretted that, because the Russians responded with a tank barrage that destroyed the building and neutralized the Ukraine soldiers.

    During all that time the nuclear plant was producing electricity.

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