Image by Nicolas Hippert.

For the first time since 1954, no large new atomic reactors are under construction or on order in the United States.
On March 1, 2024, Vogtle Unit 4 connected to the Georgia grid …years behind schedule and billions over budget.   Once hyped as “too cheap to meter,” America’s last large light-water reactor thus forever froze the “Peaceful Atom” in financial failure.
Despite enormous public hype and subsidies, ZERO new US atomic reactors—large or small— are likely to become significantly available here for at least a decade.
The first will likely be an unproven “Small Modular Reactor” prototype already leaning toward a trillion-dollar failure.
When it comes to the myth of nuke power helping to fight global warming…there’s no there there.
Atomic reactors cause climate chaos.  Some 415 reactors directly heat our air and water in concert with mega-explosions like Chernobyl and Fukushima.  All pour radioactive carbon 14 into a lethal brew of filth and wastes.
Despite the latest round of “Nuclear Renaissance” hype, the US lacks the industrial capacity to produce impactful new reactors—large or small— before 2030, if then.
The void comes when we most desperately need to reduce carbon emissions.  The mega-grift for unproven new nukes cripples the vital transition to renewables, multiplying the planet-killing impacts of fossil fuels…and of decrepit old reactors whose average age is now over 40.
The original fantasy that the “Peaceful Atom” would be “too cheap to meter” came from Atomic Energy Commission Chair Lewis Strauss, played by Robert Downey, Jr., in “Oppenheimer.”
Harry Truman’s 1952 Paley Commission Report on the future of energy had predicted an epic boom in renewables, including 15,000,000 solar heated US homes by 1975.
But in December, 1953, President Eisenhower—in a remarkably war-like speech—told the United Nations that “Atoms for Peace” would limitlessly power the planet.
On September 6, 1954, the Navy and Westinghouse began building the first US commercial reactor, which opened at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, on May 26, 1958.
In 1974 Richard Nixon promised a thousand US reactors by the year 2000.  There were in fact 104.  With Vogtle 4’s opening, there are now 94—and none on order or under construction.
Atomic power has become what Forbes Magazine called in 1985 “the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale.”
A 2014 study of 180 nukes worldwide said 175 of them cost 117% more than promised, while going 64% beyond schedule.
Despite the early hype, the Peaceful Atom’s financial catastrophes are too frequent to count, and with price tags too huge to compile, including…
X  the 1966 “We Almost Lost Detroit” accident at Michigan’s Fermi I, costing at least $100 million;
X  the 1979 Meltdown at Three Mile Island, which—aside from killing innumerable downwinders—converted a $900 million asset to a $2 billion liability;
X  the 1983 Washington Public Power System’s $2 billion pubic bond default, the first of its kind, killing four reactors then under construction;
X  Sacramento’s 1989 landslide vote to shut the municipal utility’s money-losing Rancho Seco reactor, where surrounding solar panels (unlike the dead nuke) still produce juice;
X  the Public Service of New Hampshire’s 1988 dump of Seabrook Unit Two, fueling the first investor-owned utility bankruptcy since the Great Depression;
X  the 1998 failure of New York’s never-to-operate $7 billion Shoreham, which shattered the Long Island Lighting Company;
X  the 2017 collapse of South Carolina’s VC Summer, whose $9 billion dead loss joined Vogtle’s $20 billion cost overrun to bankrupt Westinghouse;
X  NuScale’s 2023 SMR collapse in Idaho, fusing into financial failure the industry’s ever-escalating crises in safety, seismic instability, un-insurabililty, heat and radiation emissions, terrorism, war.
Massive explosions at Russia’s Kyshtym and New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project underscore the industry’s unsolved waste management problem.  So does radioactive devastation at California’s Santa Susanna and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State.
After seven decades of experience, massive 21st century catastrophes continue in the US, Finland, France, England.
Westinghouse’s Summer/Vogtle bankruptcy follows 70 years of a “negative learning curve.”
Finland’s Olkiluoto, France’s Flamanville and England’s double reactor project at Hinckley Point are all hugely over budget and years behind schedule.  Olkiluoto has occasionally shut to make way for cheaper wind and hydro.
Many of France’s flagship 56 reactors regularly curtail their output for generic repairs…or as rivers become too global-heated to cool the cores without serious downstream eco-damage.
But Germany’s 2023 final reactor closures allow more than half its power to come more cheaply and reliably from renewables.
California’s similar-sized economy now often gets 100+% of its power from renewables, dwarfing remnant double reactors at Diablo Canyon, now costing $1+ billion/year over market.
Undaunted, Brussels’ World Nuclear Summit just hyped a tripled global fleet, calling for investments beyond $5 trillion to fund a production schedule than many believe is simply impossible.
The international banking response has been a grim “Just Say No”…accompanied by a vote of confidence in a renewable future.
But most terrifying is the demand that decrepit reactors (average age 42+) operate without meaningful inspections or insurance.
Thus Congress has just extended the 1957 Price-Anderson Act which exempts reactor owners from liability for a major disaster, an official vote of no confidence in the industry’s ability to guarantee the public safety.
With the February 29 passage of the Advanced Atomic Reactor Act, the industry stands to grift billions in public subsidies for decrepit reactors whose licenses they want to extend for 60-80 years while fighting basic safety inspections from federal regulators.
Thus the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—whose financial support comes from the operation of the reactors it supposedly regulates—is infamous for its blind eye to the deep structural and operational holes that could soon doom the aging US fleet.
The NRC is currently green-lighting operations at Diablo’s 40-year-old Unit One despite a dangerously embrittled core that could irradiate all of downwind California.  Ohio’s Davis-Besse is riddled with mismanagement and decay.  Ohio’s Perry, Virginia’s North Anna and Diablo have all been recently shaken earthquakes.  California’s San Onofre shut in 2014 because its newly-installed unfixable steam turbines leaked radiation.
Convicted of 92 federal felony manslaughter counts, Diablo’s Pacific Gas & Electric is a criminal operation.  Its 2010 negligence at San Bruno gas lines incinerated eight people.  Its faulty transmission lines killed 84 people in northern California’s infamous 2017 Camp Fire.  No PG&E executive went to prison any of those killings.  In 2021 its CEO was paid $51.2 million.    .
For the public, the costs in health, ecological and economic damage at any US reactor could climb into the trillions, with radioactive clouds and multiple bankruptcies leaving countless victims dead, destroyed, destitute.
According to the US Government Accountability Office, from 2001 to 2006 alone, more than 150 reactor incidents violated acceptable safety guidelines.  A 2010 survey of US nuclear accidents showed least 56 by then involved loss of human life or more than $50,000 in property damage.
Said former Vice President Al Gore in 2009:
“Of the 253 nuclear power reactors originally ordered in the United States from 1953 to 2008, 48 percent were canceled, 11 percent were prematurely shut down, 14 percent experienced at least a one-year-or-more outage, and 27 percent are operating without having a year-plus outage. Thus, only about one fourth of those ordered, or about half of those completed, are still operating and have proved relatively reliable.[53]
Yet New York is dumping $7.6+ billion into keeping four decrepit reactors on line (one of which opened in 1969).  Ohio’s legislature recently pocketed $61 million in bribes to scam a $1 billion taxpayer bailout for two 40 and 50-year old nukes irradiating Lake Erie.  Michigan wants $8 billion to revive the 51-year-old Palisades reactor—which shut two years ago—even though Holtec (the waste management company designated to revive Palisades) has no experience building or operating any nuclear power reactor.  Pieces of the reactor have already been sold off for scrap.
Aside from operating old uninsured reactors in lethal perpetuity, the industry has hyped three options:
X  Oft-mentioned thorium-fueled reactor designs have no existing prototypes here in the US, and have no prospects for impacting the American energy picture in the near future.
X  Fusion research, centered on the multi-billion-Euro ITER facility in France, has no credible date for a working prototype.
X  As for Small Modular Reactors, the industry-leading Wyoming-based NuScale just lost its sole tangible order due to soaring costs and fading deadlines. 
Warns Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists: “I think the current hype about SMRs is mostly a bunch of hot air…Most of these startups greatly underestimate the resources and time necessary to develop new nuclear technologies.”
As prices soar, the earliest workable SMR prototypes are years away.  Mass deployment—even for Bill Gates’s hugely funded Terrapower and other SMR developers— can’t come significantly on line until well into the 2030s, if then.
Projected costs are already very far beyond currently available renewables…and rising.
According to nuclear expert Lindsay Krall, in conjunction with research conducted by former NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane, SMRs could create thirty times more radioactive wastes per kilowatt-hour than the original light water reactors now reaching oblivion.  Like them, the SMRs would emit radioactive carbon while generating planetary heat and threatening major disasters that remain uninsured.
Current cost projections show Gates would do far better investing in Wyoming’s abundant wind power than in the SMR factory he wants to begin building there this summer.  Proven wind technology is far cheaper to run and quicker to deploy than any new nuclear technology still in speculative development.
.Indeed, amidst all the billions being thrown at yet another “Nuclear Renaissance,” renewable energy far outstrips the risky, unproven SMRs on which the industry is gambling so many public billions.
As you read this, electricity “too cheap to meter” DOES pour from west Texas wind turbines spinning through fierce winter nights as locals charge their house and car batteries, run their computers, lights and washing machines for free.
The first off-shore US wind turbines have opened near Long Island, with cost projections far below nuclear.
Despite persistent official sabotage, wind power may finally come to Lake Erie, one of the world’s most powerful wind resources.
The costs of solar “photovoltaic” cells have recently risen slightly due to interest and supply chain issues
But since their 1953 inception at Bell Labs, PV—and wind power—have soared in direct opposition to atomic power, combining epic price drops with rising efficiency.  
Thus renewables are now public enemy number one for a fossil/nuclear industry whose larcenous end game means to grab endless public money while desperately sabotaging Solartopia.
In 2014, Ohio’s corrupt, gerrymandered legislature imposed a “set back clause” that killed $4 billion in wind projects. Ohio’s “North Coast” is ideal for commercial wind, with steady breezes, flat terrain, farmers seeking lease payments, and ample transmission to Toledo, Cleveland, Akron et. al.
Privately funded projects promised trillions of cheap, clean, safe, carbon-free kilowatt-hours along with thousands of jobs and saving hundreds of farms.  But with a single sentence the legislature killed it all…while also freezing additional turbine development in Lake Erie’s powerful wind streams.
The lawmakers then pocketed $61 million in bribes to throw a $1 billion lifeline to the dangerously decayed Davis-Besse and Perry nukes…plus two ancient coal burners, one of them in Indiana…while killing the state’s highly successful energy efficiency programs.
Likewise, California is attacking a rooftop solar industry that once employed 70,000 workers installing a PV network producing far more power far more cheaply than the state’s decrepit, uninsured Diablo Canyon atomic reactors.  Killing at least 17,000 jobs, the Public Utilities Commission hurled countless solar firms toward bankruptcy.
But Newsom’s legislature is handing a $1.4 billion lifeline to Diablo reactors endangered by earthquakes and riddled with severe structural decay.  Diablo produces far less power than the state’s rooftop solar industry, but does it at $1 billion over annual market prices.
Overall the bottom line is this:  the United States now gets more usable power from wind and solar than from coal or nuclear.  Gas and oil will soon follow.
Because with thousands of square miles of usable rooftops spread throughout the US, and with millions of acres on land and water usable for large-scale wind generation, the fossil/nuclear industry is now facing oblivion.
The ultimate Solartopian threat to King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas) has arrived.  With proven available technology in wind, solar, batteries, efficiency, geothermal, some bio-fuels and more, an era has ended.  Within a few short years, our energy picture can be totally dominated by renewables that are cheaper, cleaner, safer, faster to build and more than fossil or nuclear fuels.
For what has been humankind’s biggest business—obsolete energy—it’s a wholly unacceptable image of extinction.
Thus, across the land, bought governors, legislatures and utility commissions are waging a desperate, last-ditch war against renewables while handing billions to dangerously decayed reactors whose half-century history of failure forever deepens.
Renewables’ accelerating cost, safety and reliability breakthroughs join battery and efficiency technologies for a definitive market advantage over the obsolete fossil/nuclear technologies that are destroying our ability to survive on this planet.  “We need to massively develop renewable energies,” says France’s Prime Minister Macron, “because it is the only way to meet our immediate electricity needs, since it takes 15 years to build a nuclear reactor.”
But rear-guard bail-outs and the continual demand to run unsafe planet-hearing old reactors until they explode threaten our survival.
So do the nuclear industry’s roots in the weapons production that gave it birth.  Said Macron in 2022, “Without civilian nuclear energy there is no military use of this technology – and without military use there is no civilian nuclear energy.”
Thus nuclear power boils, irradiates, threatens and bankrupts us all.
But nuclear weapons and all that “Renaissance” hype aside, the market and Mother Nature are clearly pushing for Solartopia.  What’s likely the biggest techno-ecological-economic revolution in human history—the conversion to renewable energy—is very much upon us. 
But to get there, quickly burying the “Peaceful Atom” and its fossil-fueled partners will be the task of our lifetimes.
Harvey Wasserman wrote THE PEOPLE’S SPIRAL OF US HISTORY: FROM JIGONSASEH TO SOLARTOPIA.  Most Mondays @ 2-4pm PT, he co-convenes the Green Grassroots Election Protection Zoom (www.electionprotection2024).  The Mothers for Peace ( could use your help in the struggle to shut the Diablo Canyon nukes.