Lindsey Graham: Coal and Nuclear are “Clean” Energy

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


You’ve heard of greenwashing, but maybe you should also be on the lookout for “cleanwashing.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the lead proponents of a climate bill, wants the Senate to include coal and nuclear power in a so-called “clean energy” mandate.

Graham is circulating draft legislation that would replace a provision in the current Senate climate bill requiring utilities to produce a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources—known as a renewable electricity standard, or RES. Graham’s proposed mandate instead involves ramping up the amount of electricity from “clean” sources over time—13 percent by 2012, 25 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2050. But the big question is what “clean” means. According to Graham’s draft language, new nuclear power and coal with carbon-capture technology would qualify, in addition to renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass and hydropower. This would be a boon to the nuclear industry, which has pushed hard to be included as part of any clean energy mandate.

Environmentalists have already slammed the RES in both the House and proposed Senate text as too weak. Including technologies that aren’t actually renewable would only undermine the RES further.

Graham has made it clear that he wants major incentives for nuclear power and offshore drilling in a climate and energy bill as part of the deal to cut carbon dioxide pollution. Graham’s clean energy mandate also calls for more government-backed loans for nuclear power, with place-holder language calling for funds “sufficient to build 60 additional nuclear reactors.” This would require an even greater expansion of a program that the Obama administration has already advocated tripling.

It’s not known whether Graham’s proposal will be included in the final legislation that Sens. John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Graham are working on in the hopes of gaining bipartisan support for a climate bill. But they’ve made it clear that there will be a lot of compromises on energy in order to bring reluctant senators on board. 

 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate