Nuclear Energy Institute

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search
Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.

The propaganda wing of the US nuclear industry

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)[1] is described by Dr Helen Caldicott - a pediatrician and long-standing nuclear critic - as “the propaganda wing and trade group for the American nuclear industry [which] spends millions of dollars annually to engineer public opinion”.[2]

NEI’s objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the “beneficial uses” of nuclear energy in the United States and around the world. It has over 280 corporate members in 15 countries, including companies that operate nuclear power plants, as well as design and engineering firms, fuel suppliers and service companies, and labor unions.[3]

With its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and a staff of about 132 employees, NEI is governed by a 47-member board of directors. The board includes representatives from the nation's 27 nuclear utilities, plant designers, architect/engineering firms, and fuel cycle companies. Eighteen members of the board serve on the executive committee, which is responsible for NEI's business and policy affairs.

In recent years, the NEI has used a whole host of techniques and tactics to try and win the PR battle to secure a new generation of nuclear power plants:

Lobbying spend

In 2008, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) spent $2,360,000 lobbying Congress, their highest tally to date. x In 2012, NEI spent $2,315,000. Between 1999 and 2009 the nuclear power industry spent $645 million in federal lobbying and nearly another $65 million in federal campaign contributions. This equates to a staggering $1.36 million a week for a decade.

NEI Ghostwriters

In April 2004 The Austin Chronicle [4] revealed that NEI had hired the Potomac Communications Group [5] to ghostwrite pro-nuclear op-ed columns to be submitted to local newspapers under the name of local personalities. Other clients of this Washington Public Relations Company include: Areva; Bechtel; BWX Technologies; Entergy; and Washington Group International.

The power behind the current nuclear resurgence

NEI is undoubtedly the power behind the current resurgence in nuclear power in the US.[6] In March 2006 it launched its largest campaign in years to build support for nuclear energy, acciording to the Wall Street Journal [7] and PR Week. [8] The ad campaign - run by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton to promote a "nuclear renaissance" – aimed to prepare the ground for as many as four proposals for nuclear plants that are expected to enter the licensing process at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2007. NEI's Scott Peterson said the goal is to "build a broader base of bipartisan support, both in Washington and across the country." [9]

The campaign had three themes; firstly to show that the widely held belief that the public does not want nuclear power is incorrect; secondly to show that nuclear energy is consistent with environmentalism; and thirdly that nuclear power should be part of a portfolio of sources to wean the US off foreign sources of energy.

Spinning nuclear as "Emission-Free"

As part of its major PR campaign, the NEI tried to capitalize on President Bush's State of the Union speech in which Bush had spoken of the need to break America's "addiction to oil". Skip Bowman, NEI president, said Bush's backing of nuclear energy is a "positive sign that the U.S. should expand its reliance on this emission-free source of electricity."

Bowman's words formed part of a carefully-crafted public relations campaign. According to the leading PR magazine, O'Dwyers: "The H&K (Hill and Knolwton) campaign plays up nuke power as a major player when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases". [10]

A New pro-nuclear front group that is "Clean" and "Safe"

Hill and Knowlton and the NEI have also been involved in the setting up of a pro-nuclear front organisation. In April 2006, the New York Times, [11] reported on the formation of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. [12] It said that a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, “acknowledged that it was providing all of the financing, but would not say what the budget was". Former New Jersey Governor and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Christine Whitman, and former environmentalist, Patrick Moore, were hired to lead this new public relations campaign for new reactors.

The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition was described as a front group forged by Hill & Knowlton for the nuclear power industry, by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). [13] The Review criticised the Washington Post for simply referring to Moore as an “environmentalist” and a cofounder of Greenpeace — without mentioning that he is funded by the industry.

A string of other newspapers followed this, failing to mention that Moore is also a paid spokesman for the nuclear industry. CJR concluded that it is “…maddening that Hill & Knowlton, which has an $8 million account with the nuclear industry, should have such an easy time working the press”.

The words "Clean" and "Safe" were deliberately used as part of the nuclear industry's mult-million pound campaign to repackage itself. It is interesting that the industry carries on using these words even after similar campaigns were found to be misleading..

A Previous NEI Spin Campaign Had Been Criticised for Saying Nuclear is Clean

In 2004, NEI had released Vision 2020: Powering Tomorrow with Clean Nuclear Energy - a report calling for the building of 50 new nuclear power plants. [14] It promoted nuclear power as "clean energy" or “the largest source of clean-air, carbon-free energy in North America".

The NEI continues to produce adverts with this message today, despite the fact that it directly defies a 1998 ruling by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD stated that the NEI should "discontinue" its "inaccurate" advertisements that claim nuclear power is clean. The NAD called on NEI to terminate its advertisements to "avoid any potential for consumer confusion and that broad, unqualified claims that nuclear energy is 'Environmentally Clean' or produces electricity 'without polluting the environment' be discontinued". [15]

In their decision, the NAD noted that nuclear energy cannot be considered "environmentally clean" for several reasons. First, the uranium enrichment process relies heavily on electricity generated from coal-burning plants that produce "a significant amount of greenhouse gases." And perhaps most importantly, unlike other forms of energy, nuclear power produces toxic, radioactive waste, for which no safe method of disposal has been approved.

NEI Attacks Myth Debunkers

In October 2006 the New York City-based Grass Roots Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) published a report entitled “False Promises: Debunking Nuclear Industry Propaganda”. [16] NEI’s response was published in a matter of days claiming that the GRACE report was full of “gross inaccuracies and blatant misrepresentations” and that NEI had produced a “point-by-point discrediting of the report’s fallacious conclusions”. [17]

Make Bush Fix Yucca Mountain

In September 2006 the NEI ran full page ads calling on Congress to "Fix Yucca Mountain." It was part of NEI's campaign to pressurize Congress to pass legislation that would boost progress in opening up the repository for highly-radioactive nuclear waste that has been blocked by lawsuits for several years. [18]

The NEI is hoping that Bush will fix the problem in his last two years in office. "The president has been a strong friend of nuclear, and we would certainly like to see legislation advance under his administration," Michael Bauser, an NEI associate general counsel said. [19]

Major Defence Companies Secretly Join NEI

In September 2006, the journal Energy Washington reported how "Major defense contractors have begun to align directly with the nuclear power industry, quietly joining the industry's leading trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), in recent days."

The article continued: "The move has been significant in terms of attracting what some DOE sources call an ever-widening range of powerful new stakeholders looking to lobby for nuclear power's rebirth. The largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, along with Northrop Grumman signed on as members following meetings between NEI president Frank "Skip" Bowman and defense industry CEOs earlier this month"

"Bowman", said the article "believes becoming a leader in nuclear energy is a U.S. national security issue. The country's lack of infrastructure in specialized, often large, nuclear components needed for new or next generation reactors places the military and hence the nation at growing risk." [20]

NEI's Lobbyists

US Senate lobbying records show that the following lobbying companies have worked for the NEI since the late nineties lobbying at the Senate:

In 2006, only Clark and Weinstock and Flynn and Associates still listed the NEI as a client at the Senate. Flynn were working on the "approval of Yucca Mountain as a national spent fuel repository," whereas Clark and Weinstock were lobbying on "nuclear fuel management and disposal"; "general information on environmental impacts of nuclear power" and "a bill to enhance and protect against terrorist attacks at chemical facilities". [21]

The opensecrets database that compiles a list of lobbying across federal buildings, shows a different list of companies working for the NEI in 2005, being paid a total of $700,000:

NEI Directors and Executive Committee

This list may not be 100% complete; it is compiled from NEI Press Releases, but NEI has no complete list on its website, nor is there an Annual Report available online.

Directors Elected May 2006

Anthony F. Earley Jr. Chairman of NEI’s board of directors. DTE (Detroit Edison) Energy Co.[23] Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. DTE owns the Fermi 2 nuclear power station.

John W. Rowe, Vice Chairman of the NEI board of directors. Chairman and CEO of Exelon.[24] Exelon operates the largest nuclear fleet in the US, and the third largest in the world, with ten stations and 17 reactors. The stations are: Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle County, Limerick, Oyster Creek, Peach Bottom, Quad Cities, and Three Mile Island Unit 1. Exelon is a member of the NuStart consortium[25] which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

Ronald E. Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department, [26] America’s Trade Union Movement.

James J. Graham, president and chief executive officer, ConverDyn[27] – a company which manufactures uranium hexafluoride.

William P. Hite, general president of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada.[28]

John K. Welch, president and chief executive officer, USEC Inc.[29] – a leading supplier of enriched uranium.

Richard Graves, senior executive, power services, Fluor Enterprises.[30] The Fluor Corporation is one of the world's largest, engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance services companies. It is particularly active in the nuclear decommissioning arena.

Louis E. Pardi, president and chief executive officer of power, Washington Group International Inc.[31] which provides engineering, construction, and management services. WGI says it has been involved in nuclear power generation since it started and has provided services to virtually every nuclear power station in the United States.

E. James Reinsch, president Bechtel Power Corp.[32] – another engineering, construction and management services company. The company says during 2005 it was “helping utilities plan for a new generation of nuclear plants”, including Constellation, Dominion, Southern, and Tennessee Valley Authority. It also has projects to replace aging components at power generating stations in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Texas, and Arizona. Bechtel National, Inc., has joined forces with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to create BSC, which is now the prime contractor for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump. It also has various nuclear decommissioning and clean-up projects including at Idaho National Laboratory, Hanford, Los Alamos, and Savannah River.

Dr. Kris P. Singh, president and chief executive officer, Holtec International.[33] This company describes itself as a “provider of cutting edge technology and equipment to the global power industries”. The Company says it has provided spent fuel wet storage systems to over 80 nuclear plants in the U.S., Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Britain, and Mexico. The company also provides dry storage systems.

Robert G. Van Adel, president and chief executive officer, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited;[34] AECL says it is a “fully integrated nuclear technology and services company providing services to nuclear utilities worldwide”. It is a Canadian Government-owned company, which promotes its own reactor type – the CANDU and the Advanced CANDU Reactor (ACR).

Andrew C. White, president and chief executive officer, GE Energy, Nuclear.[35] There are more than 90 of GE’s Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) operating worldwide. GE's Advanced BWR was the first advanced Generation III reactor design to be certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and four ABWR plants have been completed and put into commercial operation. GE Energy says it is preparing for a nuclear renaissance. GE is a member of the NuStart consortium,[36] which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

Directors Elected 2005 for Three Years

Dr. Lee Dodds, head of the Nuclear Engineering Department and IBM Professor of Engineering, University of Tennessee-Knoxville;

John A. Fees, president and chief operating officer, BWX Technologies Inc.;[37] which describes itself as the Premier Manager of high consequence nuclear and national security operations.

A.W. (Bud) Wendorf, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Sargent & Lundy LLC[38] which provides comprehensive engineering, energy business consulting, and project services for new and operating fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants and power delivery systems.

George D. Turner, president and chief executive officer, American Nuclear Insurers;[39] ANI’s purpose is to "pool" the financial assets pledged by "member" insurance companies to provide the significant amount of property and liability insurance we make available to nuclear power plants and related facilities throughout the world.

Robert E. Prince, president and chief executive officer, Duratek Inc.[40] which “offers technologies, services and experience to safely, cost-effectively and securely handle radioactive materials disposition and environmental remediation”. The Company has been merged with Energy Solutions.

Directors Elected 2004 for Three Years

Dr. Charles W. Pryor Jr., president and chief executive officer, Urenco Inc.[41] – the American arm of the Uranium Enrichment Company owned by Dutch German and UK Governments. Urenco’s Technology Group (ETC) owns the uranium centrifuge technology which it will supply to Areva, the French nuclear Group and the National Enrichment Facility in the United States.

Thomas A. Christopher, president and chief executive officer, AREVA Inc.[42] – the American arm of the French reactor company.

Stephen R. Tritch, president and chief executive officer, Westinghouse Electric Co..[43] The reactor vendor recently sold by BNFL to Toshiba.

NEI’s Executive Committee

Thomas B. King, president and chief executive officer, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.[44] – owner of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

Lewis Hay III, chairman, president and chief executive officer, FPL Group Inc.[45](Florida Power and Light); The group owns four nuclear power plants: St Lucie, Turkey Point, Seabrook, and Duane Arnold. FPL is a member of the NuStart consortium[46] which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

Robert B. McGehee, chairman and chief executive officer, Progress Energy Inc..[47] The Company owns four nuclear plants, Brunswick and Harris in North Carolina, Robinson in South Carolina and Crystal River in Florida. Progress Energy is a member of the NuStart consortium[48], which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

William J. Post, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Pinnacle West Capital Corp..[49] Through its subsidiaries Pinnacle West generates, sells and delivers electricity and energy-related products and services in the western United States. Its largest affiliate is Arizona Public Service, which is the operator and co-owner of the Palo Verde Nuclear Station.

James B. Beasley Jr., president and chief executive officer, Southern Nuclear Operating Co.[50] - a subsidiary of Southern Company – it is the licensed operator of 3 nuclear plants: Joseph M Farley nuclear plant (Alabama); Edwin I Hatch Nuclear Plant (Georgia) and Alvin W Vogtle Electric Generating Plant (Georgia) Southern Company is a member of the NuStart consortium[51] which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

Michael B. Sellman, president and chief executive officer, Nuclear Management Co. LLC.[52] NMC operates four nuclear plants in the Upper Midwest: Palisades, Michigan; Monticello and Prairie Island in Minnesota and Point Beach in Wisconsin. The plants are not owned by NMC - two are owned by Xcel Energy and the others have different owners.

Dr. Ruth G. Shaw, president, Duke Power Co.[53]; (now Duke Energy) Duke Energy operates three nuclear power plants: Catawba and Oconee in South Carolina and McGuire in North Carolina. Duke Energy says it is considering building a new reactor in the Carolinas. Duke Energy is a member of the NuStart consortium,[54] which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

Gary J. Taylor, chief executive officer, Entergy Operations Inc..[55] Entergy Operations Inc. is America’s second largest nuclear operator with eleven reactors at nine plants: Arkansas Nuclear One Units 1 and 2 near; Grand Gulf, Mississippi; Cooper, Nebraska; Indian Point Units 2 & 3 New York; James A. FitzPatrick, New York; Pilgrim Massachusetts; River Bend Station, Louisiana; Vermont Yankee; Vermont; Waterford 3, Louisiana. Entergy Nuclear is a member of the NuStart consortium,[56] which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

Oliver D. Kingsley Jr., president and chief operating officer, Exelon Generation[57] and president and chief executive officer, Exelon Generation; Exelon operates the largest nuclear fleet in the US, and the third largest in the world, with ten stations and 17 reactors. The stations are: Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle County, Limerick, Oyster Creek, Peach Bottom, Quad Cities, Three Mile Island Unit 1. Exelon is a member of the NuStart Consortium which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies.

Mark F. McGettrick, president and chief executive officer, generation, Dominion Energy;[58] Dominion owns four nuclear stations: Kewaunee in Wisconsin; Millstone in Connecticut; North Anna and Surry in Virginia.

Mayo A. Shattuck III, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Constellation Energy Group Inc..[59] Constellation has three nuclear facilities: Calvert Cliffs, Maryland; R.E. Ginna, and Nine Mile Point, New York; Constellation Energy is a member of the NuStart consortium,[60] which aims to obtain one of the new ‘streamlined’ combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for two selected reactor technologies. UniStar Nuclear[61] – “pioneering a new era for nuclear power in America”- is jointly owned and operated by Constellation Energy and AREVA Inc.

NEI Officers

Frank L. “Skip” Bowman, president and chief executive officer;

Marvin S. Fertel, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer;

Alex Flint, senior vice president; Senior Vice President, Governmental Affairs – Joined April 2006, Former staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Jay K. Thayer, vice president, nuclear operations. Thayer is a loaned executive from Entergy Nuclear and most recently served as site vice president at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station.

Anthony R. Pietrangelo, Angelina S. Howard and J. Scott Peterson, vice presidents;

Ellen C. Ginsberg, vice president, general counsel and secretary;

Phyllis M. Rich, vice president and treasurer; and

Lisa I. Steward, assistant secretary.

Robert Powers joined the Institute as senior director of legislative programs in July 2006. Powers was formerly the legislative director for the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department.


  1. Nuclear Energy Institute website
  2. Dr Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Power is not the Answer, The New Press, 2006.
  3. NEI Profile, NEI website.
  4. William M. Adler "Will Shill for Nukes", Austin Chronicle, 16 April, 2004.
  5. Potomac Communications Group, SourceWatch 2005.
  6. Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, "Spinning Nuclear Power into Green",PR Watch, Volume 12 No.1.
  7. John Fialka, "Nuclear Industry Plans Ad Push for New Plants", Wall Street Journal, 6 February, 2006.
  8. Michael Bush, "NEI Efforts Aims to Build Support for Nuclear Plants", PR Week, 13 February, 2006.
  9. Smith & Harroff, Two Cases Studies on Advertising Campaigns by Smith & Harroff for NEI
  10. Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter, "H&K Extols Nuke Power", Vol. 39, No. 7; 15 February, 2006, p. 1.
  11. Matthew L. Ward , "Ex-Environmental Leaders Tout Nuclear Energy", New York Times, 25 April, 2006.
  12. Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, SourceWatch, 2006.
  13. "False Fronts: Why to Look Behind the Label", Columbia Journalism Review, July-August 2006, Editorial.
  14. Vision2020: Powering Tomorrow with Clean Nuclear Energy, NEI website, 2004.
  15. Lisa Rainwater van Suntum, "Spinning Nuclear Power into Green",PR Watch, Volume 12 No.1.
  16. GRACE Energy Initiative, False Promises: Debunking Nuclear Industry Propaganda,October 2006.
  17. NEI, NEI Exposes Grace Myths with Facts, 26 October, 2006.
  18. UPI, "Nuke Lobby Says Yucca Needs Help", 12 September, 2006.
  19. Associated Press, "Industry Group Floating Bill to Speed Opening of Yucca Mountain", 21 September, 2006.
  20. EnergyWashington, "Major Defense Contractors Join Premier Nuclear Industry Trade Group", Vol3 No39, 27 September, 2006.
  21. United States Senate, Office of Public Records
  22., "Nuclear Energy Institute", Client Summary 2005.
  23. DTE website
  24. Exelon Corp. website
  25. NuStart Energy website
  26. AFL-CIO website
  27. ConverDyn website
  28. UA website
  29. USEC Inc. website
  30. Fluor Enterprises website
  31. Washington Group International Inc. website
  32. Bechtel Nuclear website
  33. Holtec International website
  34. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited website
  35. GE Energy, Nuclear website
  36. NuStart Energy website
  37. BWX Technologies Inc. website
  38. Sargent & Lundy LLC website
  39. American Nuclear Insurers website
  40. Duratek Inc. website
  41. Urenco Inc. website
  42. AREVA Inc. website
  43. Westinghouse Electric Co. website
  44. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. website
  45. FPL Group Inc. website
  46. NuStart Energy website
  47. Progress Energy Inc. website
  48. NuStart Energy website
  49. Pinnacle West Capital Corp. website
  50. Southern Nuclear Operating Co. website
  51. NuStart Energy website
  52. Nuclear Management Co. LLC. website
  53. Duke Power Co. website
  54. NuStart Energy website
  55. Entergy Operations Inc. website
  56. NuStart Energy website
  57. Exelon Corp. website
  58. Dominion Energy
  59. Constellation Energy Group Inc. website
  60. NuStart Energy website
  61. UniStar Nuclear website