Celebrities Say No to Nukes

Bonnie Raitt Standard i i

Bonnie Raitt says she likes parts of the Senate energy bill, but not the provision for funding new nuclear power plants. Bonnie Raitt hide caption

itoggle caption Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt Standard

Bonnie Raitt says she likes parts of the Senate energy bill, but not the provision for funding new nuclear power plants.

Bonnie Raitt

Musician Bonnie Raitt is leading a group of artists to Capitol Hill to lobby against federal financing for new nuclear reactors. Raitt tackles the question of why Americans should care what a celebrity thinks about the issue.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

LUKE BURBANK, host:

As we mentioned, it's flashback day on Capitol Hill today.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: Bonnie Raitt and a number of artists who were sort of talking about this exact same thing, you know, maybe 30 years ago are on Capitol Hill again. They're delivering a petition to try to persuade legislators to remove that loan guarantee that we've been talking about for nuclear power pants - power plants from the energy bill.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Nuclear power pants - I'd like to see those.

BURBANK: Yeah.

STEWART: Hey, we talked to Bonnie Raitt the other day about her opposition to nuclear power in general and this amendment in particular. Here's what Ms. Raitt had to say.

Would you be more comfortable if there was more public discussion about it? Is that part of the issue that you feel, that it's being slid right past people?

Ms. BONNIE RAITT (Singer): Yeah. I think the nuclear issue is very important to be talked about, as are any issues of safety, especially in an era of terrorist threats as we have. It, you know, anytime somebody makes a deal for something like unlimited loan guarantees, be it without public approval and just - the way it was done is just kind of underhanded. And I don't think that's the way democracy works. I have no problem with an honest debate on the issue, but it needs to be out in the public. That's where the artists come along. It's not that we're experts, but we do want to present the other side, so that we have what's able to make decisions about this. And we, you know, people can make up their own mind.

STEWART: With the issues involving global warming and climate change, shouldn't we be looking at nuclear energy in some way? Considering it - isn't there another evil out there that we have to be dealing with, and shouldn't this be considered one of the options on the table?

Ms. RAITT: Well, that's definitely the argument, I mean, if nuclear plants are up and running in China and in France. I mean, there's a lot of plants that are currently running, but the premise that they've improved it somehow and made it more safe and figured out where to put the waste and that it's clean is really, you know, it's a publicity campaign. It really doesn't - isn't borne out in science.

So I don't believe the risk of nuclear is worth the expenditure and the cost overruns when we have such great alternatives that are already developed. So it's just a question of where you put your priorities and where you put your money and weighing the risks. And yes, it's an emergency - this climate change, but we can also take that focus and take those - that money and move it over and develop affordable alternative energy solutions for everybody, including raising the standards.

This - the energy bill itself has a lot of great stuff in it. We just don't - we just would like to see this one amendment pulled out, which is why we're asking people to contact their Congresspeople.

STEWART: So many people, when celebrities get involved in a cause, always wonder why should I listen to a celebrity? Bonnie Raitt, I love her music, but why I should be listening to Bonnie Raitt about this?

Ms. RAITT: You know, I live in the planet, just like everybody else does. I don't want a nuclear - I mean, if nuclear waste was so safe, why don't they plant next it to, you know, dig a hole next to some golf course in a rich neighborhood, you know, where I live or nearby? I mean, it's just not the case. I mean, it's much more complicated than the way it's coming across. And artists have always just kind of been the conscience and the town criers. And, you know, if Greenpeace and the anti-nuclear groups had as much money as the big industry energy companies, then we would be having an even debate in the op-ed pieces. But it's just not the way it is.

So I'm a citizen first and a musician second, you know. And I - and people can choose to not listen my music if they don't like what I'm saying. But, you know, it's all I am as one voice, and people can listen to the other side and make up their own mind.

STEWART: Bonnie Raitt, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

Ms. RAITT: Thank you, Alison. Thanks, Luke. I really appreciate it.

BURBANK: We're going to put up that video of Bonnie Raitt, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne and others. We're also going to put a response video rebutting the claims made by them. We'll have both of them on our blog, npr.org/bryantpark.

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.