Cuomo vs. Bloomberg on Indian Point

Last week's spat between Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg over the Indian Point nuclear power plan has the grim fascination of a car wreck. Put aside the facts (Cuomo has the clear upper hand, politically and on the merits) and take a look at the forces unleashed.  

Cuomo has carefully orchestrated a plan to close Indian Point, arguing it's just too dangerous to allow to continue. Cuomo has been on this issue for several years, and he began to move toward closure when his staff told Entergy that he wanted the plant closed. In a post-Fukishima world this has resonated in and beyond New York. As Cuomo put it shortly after the Fukushima disaster began, "My position hasn't changed. . . . The world has changed." 

Bloomberg has a long history of support for nuclear power, without ever having done much to inquire into the economic and safety realities. Most recently he blithely posited that "nuclear hasn't killed anybody" (Fukushima? Chernobyl? A series of US incidents?) as evidence that IP should continue to run.  Then last week, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece about a report Bloomberg commissioned that says that pollution and cost increases will occur if IP is closed. Only a privileged few have actually seen the report.

Keep a few things in mind. Indian Point is the most dangerous nuclear plant in the nation, because of its location and its history as the worst-run plant in America. It is not cheaper. IP power is priced at the highest price in the market each day. It is taking in and polluting 2.5 billion gallons of water each day from the Hudson River. The evacuation plan in an emergency does not include New York City.

Now, it isn't irrational to ask what the economic and pollution consequences will be of shutting Indian Point. Assume that Bloomberg's right (he's not), shouldn't we worry about safety and environmental concerns at Indian Point?  Does that mean that the plant should continue to operate, no matter what the risks are? What are the dangers exactly? Who's making sure the plant is safe? The NRC?

Whatever temporary political monkeywrench Bloomberg has tossed, these issues won't go away.  Cuomo is determined to take on this reckless operation. His recent successes on gay marriage, union concessions and an on-time state budget have been built on bullying his way forward over opposition, right or wrong.

Will Bloomberg change Cuomo's course on this one? I don't think so. But he's trying.

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