Take a look at the full-page ad from Areva below. Notice the symbols: American flag, people at work doing who knows what. Notice the words that stand out: American clean-energy solutions, thousands of American jobs.
So what two words are missing from the ad?
In case you can’t read the text, here it is:
AREVA is America’s largest supplier of innovative solutions for carbon-free energy. AREVA is the biggest employer in our sector with 6,000 highly skilled American workers in 20 states. Thousands more jobs depend on us through our 5,000 American suppliers. AREVA’s investments in America’s energy infrastructure also means new jobs. Our planned $2.5 billion Eagle Rock enrichment facility will help create another 5,000 jobs and enhance our nation’s energy security. And the new $360-million AREVA Newport News facility, a partnership with Northrup Grumman, will add another 500 high-wage U.S. jobs building state of the art EPR reactoirs for America and the world.
Reader of this blog, it should go without saying, are smart and well-informed so by now you have figured out what two words are missing.
One is nuclear.
The other is France.
Areva is, of course, a big French multinational company (13,1 billion euros in 2008 revenues) that develops and builds nuclear reactors around the world, mines uranium and disposes of nuclear waste. (Yes, it has some windpower and lots of transmission assets as well, but its core business is nukes.) Areva is building new nuclear plants in China and India, and it wants to develop them here in the U.S.–which must why it is waving the red, white and blue, making questionable claims about jobs and promising to “enhance our nation’s energy security.” I assume that’s a reference to the U.S. and not France, but who knows?
Now, I don’t really think Areva is trying to hide anything. But what’s going on here? Is nuclear energy so unpopular that the company won’t use those words in its ads? (This page came from The New Republic but I assume the campaign is running in other publications aimed at government officials and opinion leaders.) Is France a negative, too? The words “America,” “American” or “U.S.” appear eight times.
You have probably figured out by now that I don’t think much of this ad. Here’s why:
1. I’m skeptical about the “clean energy jobs” argument. I don’t think the potential for job creation should drive energy policy. If it did, solar on every rooftop would be a lot better idea that building nukes or wind farms.
2. I like France. I’m a U.S. citizen but I’m not ashamed to admit that (like Areva) I was born in Paris.
3. I’m open-minded about nuclear power. Why would a nuclear power company not talk about nukes?
Like a growing number of environmentalists, I think the climate crisis means that we need to take low-carbon nuclear power seriously.In fact, I’d love to hear thoughtful arguments from Areva about why the nuclear industry wants protection from liability, why it needs loan guarantees, why proliferation shouldn’t be a worry and what will happen with waste. That’s an important conversation, one we should be having and one in which Areva’s contributions would be welcome.
Instead we get a slogan: “Building a new American generation for energy generation.” Whatever that means.