Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt called said critics of Trump administration environmental policies hypocrites, singling out German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phasing out her country’s nuclear power plants.
If cutting carbon dioxide emissions “is so important to you, Madam Chancellor, why are you getting rid of nuclear?,” Pruitt told Politico in an interview Wednesday. “Because last time I checked, it’s pretty clean on CO2.”
Nuclear power does not generate CO2 emissions, which scientists blame for global warming. A single nuclear reactor can prevent 3.1 million tons of CO2 from being emitting a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“I just think the hypocrisy runs rampant,” Pruitt said. “To look at us as a nation and say, ‘You all need to do more’ in light of what we’ve done in leading with innovation and technology — the hypocrisy is palpable in those areas.”
Pruitt said the U.S. has been far more effective at reducing CO2 emissions than Germany. U.S. emissions have fallen 12 percent since 2005 due to increased natural gas production from fracking. Emissions in Germany and Europe are rising, largely due to Merkel’s nuclear policy shift.
“We’ve got a very positive environmental agenda,” Pruitt said. “[There’s] work to be done, opportunity to achieve good outcomes, a plan to do that, and there’s not very much margin, if any at all, with groups that are liberal, conservative, the rest, at getting those things done.”
Merkel’s government turned against nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan. Nuclear power made up 29.5 percent of Germany’s electricity supply in 2000, but by 2015 nuclear power only provided 16 percent of the country’s electricity.
Nuclear’s decline created an opening for coal-fired electricity to make a small comeback. Shifting to coal power caused Germany’s CO2 emissions to actually rise by 28 million tons each year following the change in nuclear policy.
The cost replacing nuclear power is estimated by the government to be more than $1 trillion dollars. The professor who helped design Germany’s plan to switch from nuclear power to green energy is now calling the scheme a “disaster.”
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