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Inslee: Wind Turbines Cause Jobs, Not Cancer

I heard Washington Governor and Presidential candidate Jay Inslee speak intelligently Friday morning on NPR about his broad and sensible environmental vision. Intelligent speech alone distinguishes Inslee from the White House occupant he seeks to replace. So does his understanding of the science, technology, economics, and facts of transitioning from fossil fuels to sustainable energy:

We’re going to have a rational transition, and the pace is driven by science. Now we’ve got a president who says that wind turbines cause cancer. He’s wrong. They cause jobs. And I’ve had a vision for this that now is coming to pass, and we know that because clean energy jobs today are growing twice as fast as the U.S. economy. And these are not jobs for physicists necessarily. They’re jobs for carpenters and laborers and machinists [Gov. Jay Inslee, interviewed by Rachel Martin, “Gov. Jay Inslee Says Washington State Is a ‘Template for Success’ for the U.S.,” NPR: Morning Edition, 2019.05.31].

Governor Inslee acknowledges that transitioning from fossil fuels does not create jobs mining coal, just like working for peace does not create jobs making bombs. But mining coal does cause cancer, and we can retrain coal miners for jobs that will be healthier for them and the economy:

I’ll give you a real-world example. And so in Centralia, Wash., we have the last coal-fired plant. We have reached a community agreement to close it in the next few years. In doing so, we’ve created a $55 million fund that will help with the families and retraining education. It will also help build jobs because training is not enough. You have to have a job [Inslee, 2019.05.31].

Inslee says we can pay for this training and transition by phasing out favors for the doomed fossil-industry and Trump’s rich friends:

…we have something that I think we need to do in any event, which is to remove the giant subsidies from the oil and gas companies. We need to repeal the majority of the Trump tax cuts, which went to the upper, you know, income brackets – rather than working people – and did not produce jobs. So simply having some reform like that is what makes sense [Inslee, 2019.05.31].

Because I know our nuclear-keen commenters will take the comment section in the direction of nuclear energy, Governor Inslee says he is keeping “all low- and zero-carbon technologies on the table.” Washington State gets more power from nuclear plants than from nonhydroelectric renewables, coal, or natural gas. The zero-carbon-by-2030 bill that Inslee signed this spring (and which the Sierra Club applaudsincludes nuclear power in its clean-technology roadmap. Working in nuclear plants can cause cancer, but perhaps not as much as we might think… and nuclear power appears to kill fewer people than other energy sources.


  1. leslie 2019-06-01 08:16

    Xcel Energy (ie Black Hills Energy partner in some form) is patting itself on the back with SDPBTV1or2 radio ads (just like disgusting capitalistic AM radio) bellowing about its “100% carbon free renewables by 2050” Our wise anti nuke colorado transplant is watching carefully as XCEL) manuevures its subterfuge to monopolize Boulder City/County.

    I do not trust a monopoly utility that builds itself a $70M TIF subsidied glass 4 story palace on the ridge intentionally blocking “greater” rapid city from majestic Black Elk Peak views.

    Now im hearing electric monopolies charging users for their negligent fire sparking while denying climate change. Arrogant. Bstrds!

    2030 is within AOC’s 12 year deadline. If Doc can muster local small nuke power west river, safely disposing waste, instead of wringing his hands over wind blade pollution, i’ll listen. :)

  2. grudznick 2019-06-01 10:21

    Nuclear power does kill fewer people and feed our gluttonous craving for energy much more efficiently, but I still like a good old-fashioned coal-fired kilowatt ever now and then. I do look forward to Mr. Pay and Dr. McTaggart’s debates on the issue.

    Tomorrow’s Opening Rant will convince the breakfasters to be #4Science

  3. jerry 2019-06-01 10:39

    While we flood, just to the north of us, in northern Alberta, wild fires rage. Of course it has nothing to do with the climate crisis that republicans declare is non existent. Stand by for the smoke to start heading our way.

    Nuke power kills, just more slowly. You’re infected right now from the nukes that have been tested in far places while you’re right here in South Dakota. Kinda makes a feller glow with pride.

  4. Robert McTaggart 2019-06-01 16:15

    We can have more renewables than we have today. But instead of having all of these carbon trading schemes…just don’t emit carbon in the first place :^).

    Nuclear has the lowest accident rate and death rate per kilowatt-hour of all of the energy sources. The last 4 decades of emphasizing safety have paid off in that regard. For wind and solar it is trips and falls, plus electrical hazards, not cancer (although working with various chemicals and solvents may be an issue).

    The new plants MUST be uber-safe in order to get approved, sited, and built in this political climate.

    “Importantly, all [new nuclear designs] are walk-away-safe, which means the reactor just won’t melt down or otherwise cause any of the nightmares people think about when imagining the worse for nuclear power. It just shuts down and cools off.”

    The new ones do not need to be water-cooled either (which is good for west river), as some of them can be helium-cooled. Helium is inert, and it is also transparent (better for monitoring). You can measure things in non-helium reactors of course, but sometimes seeing is believing.

    The small ones would be good to generate process heat. There has been some push back on pipelines as some don’t see that benefiting the state economically in the long run. Process heat for generating biofuels without emitting carbon would be in the state’s interests.

    And if they can 3d-print a Navy submarine vessel ( , then they can 3d-print a nuclear reactor vessel. Costs should come down as a result. If we could 3d-print wind turbine blades here (and control the biodegradability of said material), we could also 3d-print reactor vessels and many other parts and components for nuclear also (let’s have a clean energy research park!).

  5. Robert McTaggart 2019-06-01 16:42

    Jerry, you are confusing nuclear weapons with nuclear power. They do not work the same way…sorry.

    If you don’t deliver cool water to today’s nuclear reactors and remove the hot water, then chemical reactions can generate gas under pressure. Ultimately all the regulations from the NRC are in place so that events that can disperse radionuclides (like a gas buildup event or a fire) do not take place.

    The good news is that the new reactor fuels for current water-cooled reactors are more resistant to high temperatures. The chemical reactions can be abated for much longer periods of time.

    The more recent reactors that have been built in China and Georgia remove heat via natural convection (i.e. no external power), which also extends the time people have to provide backup power in even the worst of disasters.

    I could be convinced to shut down and decommission today’s reactors if you could either (a.) show me that we can deliver the same (if not more) power without emitting ANY carbon whenever we demand it, or (b.) permit the newer designs to replace the old ones at the current sites.

    Utilities have proven that they cannot shut down a nuclear reactor without emitting more carbon. We can extend the lifetimes of today’s reactors, but eventually we will need the newer reactors.

    And yes, the new reactors can even help power the manufacturing of renewable technologies without emitting carbon. No more emitting carbon in the name of not emitting carbon…

  6. Robert McTaggart 2019-06-01 17:04

    Freedom fries, yes. Freedom molecules, no. Natural gas and coal really need some method of carbon capture to work.

    But I think they are ultimately trying to sell liquefied natural gas to nations that may become more dependent on natural gas from Russia.

  7. jerry 2019-06-02 10:55

    Pasteurize milk like Europe, clean eggs like Europe with better animal husbandry

    By doing so, you would eliminate more than half of the existing coal plants and more than half of the existing nuke plants. Rely on solar and wind to power this nation and put coolers out to pasture. Ever go into large supermarkets and walk down the cooler lane, you’r gonna freeze your tuchus off. Conserve energy, save money and live free. Also, CAFO’s would be thought of as what they really are, crap holes with no value but to pollute.

    Nukes cause cancer, always have and always will.

  8. Robert McTaggart 2019-06-02 15:20

    Good point jerry. We could be following the example of Europe by irradiating our food, extending the shelf life of fresh produce, and killing unwanted pathogens. Great idea! Safe food for everybody!

    Food irradiation saves lives.
    Medical imaging and radiation therapy save lives.
    Nuclear energy saves lives.

    Oh, you don’t believe me. OK, look at the statistics for deaths and disease and asthma caused by fossil fuel emissions, and then look at how many millions of tons of emissions have been displaced over the last 50 years by nuclear energy. Maybe then you will believe me….probably not, but it’s worth a try. This is why Cory Booker is supportive of advanced nuclear energy, and Gov. Inslee is at least open to it.

  9. jerry 2019-06-02 15:59

    Little to no irradiation of foods in Europe, you’re thinking of the United States, sorry doc, Every year, the United States has over 1,000,000 cases of salmonella. In Europe, less than 100,000. Population of the EU as of yesterday 743,065,109 Population of the US 328,894,358.

    Looks like the good folks in the European Union, a population that is double that of the US has 10 times less cases than what our lackadaisical place has. Face it, we don’t give a damn if you get sick and die or not. Profits baby, profits.

    Nukes cause cancer, always have and always will.

    Pasteurize milk, and cut down the ridiculous waste of energy. Not only will that save energy, it will also cut down on milk production.

  10. Robert McTaggart 2019-06-02 16:29

    The sun causes cancer, but instead of not going outside and not doing anything, we can limit our exposure and use proven methods to reduce our risk. Same thing with nuclear.

    Nuclear can be used safely for our collective benefit. Food irradiation kills pathogens in food. Medical imaging identifies cancers for better treatment. Radiation therapy kills cancers. Using nuclear energy keeps our air clean while delivering the amounts of energy that we enjoy today.

    Radiation safety uses nuclear science.
    Nuclear science is science. Always has been. Always will be.

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