Ralph Nader: The Green Hive

In a hive, the seemingly random actions of many individuals take on an order and synergy that no individual within the hive could possibly understand fully nor orchestrate. In nuclear issues, Ralph Nader is the premier hive builder.

If there is a coordinated effort to destroy nuclear energy in this country by subverting the Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office and by influencing certain politicians in the State of Nevada, the national leader of that conspiracy would certainly be Ralph Nader. Nader's web of interconnecting environmental groups and activists, culminating in the Safe Energy Communication Council, is the only guerrilla organization with the commitment, institutional savvy and long range strategic planning to carry out such a plan.

Whether or not Ralph Nader is the grand anti-nuclear conspirator who has personally wreaked havoc on the state of Nevada or whether the protest movement is driven by an independent hive mentality towards a collective anti-nuclear goal is difficult to determine. It appears that Ralph Nader plays the part of Queen Bee within the anti-nuclear community, so that while it may not be true that he directs the war, he still exerts an enormous organizing influence. As explained in The Antinuclear Movement:

The prime mover for the reassessment of nuclear power by environmentalists is Ralph Nader, also a consumer advocate. Nader sponsored a convention of nuclear power critics in Washington D. C. ("Critical Mass '74) in order to coordinate antinuclear activities throughout the nation. Initially, Nader portrayed the emergence of a garrison state to protect plutonium. Only by not using fission power would this possibility be negated. The energy program advocated by Congresswatch, the Nader organization, in fact became federal energy policy during the administration of president Carter. Conservation and the use of coal, with environmental safeguards, were interim solutions, while in the later part of the century solar, geothermal and fusion power would be available. [Price, Jerome; The Antinuclear Movement, 1982, p52]

Nader has been involved in the anti-nuclear movement since at least 1972 when he helped organize the Critical Mass nuclear protests, which repeated in 1974 and 1978. It was from these efforts that Nader's central organization, Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project, grew. Public Citizen is now no longer focused solely on the nuclear issue and under its president (Joan Claybrook, Jimmy Carter's head of transportation) the organization takes on everything from pesticide use to the North American Free Trade Agreement, with enviable success.

In 1979, Nader wrote a book titled The Menace of Atomic Energy in which he presented most of his case against the dangers of nuclear power, bringing up many of the same anti-nuclear arguments that would be tried in Nevada over the following decade. Of special note are some of the people Nader chose to quote in The Menace of Atomic Energy, especially four people who a decade later come to play a role in Nevada's anti-nuclear circus:

Amory Lovins (Friends of the Earth, Rocky Mountain Institute), Marvin Resnikoff (NYPIRG, Sierra Club Radioactive Waste Campaign and later the Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office), Helen Caldicott (founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility) and Robert D. Pollard (Union of Concerned Scientists) are links that tie the Naderite past to the Nevada present. The reemergence of these actors on the Nevada stage hints that the Yucca Mountain protest has at its core a small but dedicated kernel of true believers, who have now professionally opposed nuclear energy for more than twenty years.

Marvin Resnikoff's work for Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office, Helen Caldicott's speech in Nevada October 1991 sponsored by Judy Treichel's Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, Amory Lovins' support and advocacy for Senator Bryan's CAFE bill and Pollard's testimony in Casper, Wyoming against an MRS facility at which he played advocate for Marvin Resnikoff, subtly link all these actors to the Yucca Mountain debate. This is the core of the professional anti-nuclear elite whose entire careers and purposes in life has been to fight nuclear energy to the death. The interesting question is how such a small number of dedicated protestors came to have such an inordinately large impact on our nation's energy future.

The answer to that question lies in part in Ralph Nader's seemingly unstoppable formula for creating interlocking organizations both in the environmental and consumer spheres. Most of these groups alone are seemingly innocuous consumer-oriented dwarfs, but their ability to fuse and gang tackle their opposition makes them a dangerous amoeboid killer of technology. The span of Nader organizations is truly a modern wonder of the Washington D.C. based environmental movement.