© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Environmentalists call on Cuomo to end support of nuclear power in upstate NY

Tom Magnarelli
Anti-nuclear protesters organized by the Alliance for a Green Economy stand outside the State Office Building in Syracuse Friday..

Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, protesters in Syracuse are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop supporting nuclear and invest in renewable energy instead. The protest was organized by the Alliance for a Green Economy.

Critics of nuclear say it is dangerous and expensive. Joe Heath, an attorney for the Onondaga Nation, grew up in Oswego County and said he understands how important jobs such as the ones at the Fitzpatrick nuclear plant are to the region. But Heath said the governor should be investing in green jobs in Oswego County, the way he did with the solar panel manufacturing plant, SolarCity in Buffalo.

“If we invest in the renewable future, then we will have jobs for generations yet to come,” Heath said.

Nuclear power is included in Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard by the Public Service Commission because nuclear does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. But the idea is to help the state transition into using more renewable power in the future without losing ground on emission reductions.

Heath said nuclear power produces spent fuel rods which are radioactive and require constant maintenance.

“Like so many other environmental mistakes that we’re making, we’re kicking the can down the road to future generations,” Heath said.

Heath said nuclear is not cheap. The reason Entergy said it is closing Fitzpatrick is because it is losing tens of millions of dollars. While renewable power sources such as solar can also be expensive, environmentalists argue the more people that use it, the cheaper it will be in the future.

There is one nuclear plant Cuomo does want to close; Indian Point over safety concerns because of its proximity to New York City. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.