Cursed forever? Experiences of post-nuclear local economies

Authors: Angelica Greco*, Colgate University, Daisaku Yamamoto, Colgate University
Topics: Energy, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Energy, local level, nuclear decommissioning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bacchus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Nuclear power plants in the United States today face an uncertain future. An increasing number of plants are shutting down before their licenses expire, leaving host communities struggling to cope with the unexpected change. But is nuclear decommissioning really the economic "death sentence" that it is sometimes made out to be? This research builds on the work of Haller, Haines, and Yamamoto (2017). Looking at the county level, they find that nuclear decommissioning is associated with increases in per capita income and employment over time. These results are surprising; my fieldwork and other community-level case studies have pointed to negative impacts of decommissioning at the host community level (Haller, 2014; Mullin & Kotval, 1997). Thus, Haller, Haines, and Yamamoto’s result creates an opportunity for further investigation. No study to date has articulated how nuclear decommissioning impacts a host community's economic trajectory. Could measures of county-level growth be concealing disparities and unevenness at the local level? Or, alternatively, could accepted conclusions about growth trajectories in communities with decommissioned nuclear plants be overstated? Residents may perceive their towns as doing comparably worse, but an analysis of economic indicators may disprove those perceptions. This case study will draw on census place and minor civil division data to find out how post-nuclear communities fair in the years following decommissioning.

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