Indian Point vital to NYC’s livelihood and growth: Giuliani

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani

By MIAWLING LAM

Closing Indian Point would be catastrophic for New York City and result in more brownouts, blackouts and higher utility bills, according to former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The one-time presidential candidate weighed in on the controversial topic during his keynote address at the Bronx Chamber of Commerce Irish Heritage luncheon last Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters before addressing a bumper crowd of up to 200 people, Giuliani said the nuclear power plant, located just 24 miles from The Bronx, was critical in sustaining the city’s power-hungry needs.

“If we were to close Indian Point, we’d cut off 25 percent of the power to New York City,” he said.

“We would risk rolling brownouts for a significant period of time. I think we will really risk blackouts, and for sure, the cost of your electricity will skyrocket.

“The idea of closing it would be a catastrophe for New York City.”

Giuliani and his firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, have been heavily involved in vouching for the plant’s safety while its owners, Entergy, lobby officials to approve the licenses for two of its reactors.

The current operating licenses for two reactors at Indian Point are due to expire in 2013, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for the plant to be shut down due to safety concerns.

While Giuliani admitted there were risks associated with nuclear power, he said it remains one of the safest forms of energy.

“I know nuclear power has risks. Everyone knows that, but the history of nuclear power in this country is that we’ve never lost a single person in a nuclear accident in the United State of America, and that’s over 30 years with over 105 plants,” he said.

“It has its risks, but compared to other forms of energy, it’s one of the safest.”

Giuliani, who served as New York City mayor from 1994 to 2001, also blamed the Obama administration’s clean-energy agenda for stifling the economy.

He said unlike India and China, who are both pushing ahead with nuclear energy, the U.S. has remained stagnant.

“If we don’t start embracing all of the above policies, our economy is never going to be what it used to be,” he said.

“In order to have the dominant economy in the world, you have to grow more energy. We should be expanding our nuclear power by 30 or 40 plants. We should be finding ways to deal with coal. We should be drilling for oil. We should be embracing fracking.

“To put all our eggs in the basket of wind turbines and solar is irresponsible. It’s just a mistake.”

Safety concerns about Indian Point intensified following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan last year, when a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck, damaging four reactors and sparking global panic. It was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl tragedy of 1986.

Leading member of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition Marilyn Elie said she was disgusted by Giuliani’s comments, and she dismissed suggestions that the city needed the energy generated at Indian Point.

“What I’d love to say to his face is that you can say this when you’re a paid shield for the industry,” she said. “It’s a lie that we need the electricity from Indian Point.

“We use only 570 megawatts. That’s all ConEdison transmits. They just refuse to say where the rest of the electricity production in that plant goes.”

Elie, who lives in Westchester, has been lobbying officials to create a 50-mile evacuation zone, to hold routine practice drills and to shut the facility down.

Currently, Indian Point’s evacuation plan takes into account only 300,000 residents living within a 10-mile ring of the plant.

There are no plans for those living outside that radius, including those in Riverdale and surrounding parts of The Bronx, Elie said.

“Japan had a terrible tragedy. A triple catastrophe. And they’re now looking at going from 85 percent electricity production by nuclear to going green,” Elie said.

“Life goes on. The lights are still on, the subways are still running and they’re conserving. We can do the same.”

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