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Sociology Talk Featuring Dr. Kate Pride Brown

Event Type
Department of Sociology
wifi event
Feb 25, 2022   3:00 pm  
Originating Calendar
Department of Sociology

Paying the Price for a Nuclear Renaissance: How Financialized Logics Undermine Effective Energy Regulation in the Southeastern United States

Abstract: Following the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included sizeable incentives for the nuclear industry, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) received a flurry of applications for nuclear construction and expansion. Thus began a “nuclear renaissance” in the United States after a nearly 30 year moritorium in the construction of new nuclear power plants. Within a decade, however, the proclaimed renaissance was over, with all but one project withdrawn, cancelled, or scrapped before completion. In Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, customers paid billions of dollars to utilities for nuclear power plants that either never delivered power or that had become uneconomic endeavors. As all of these projects were overseen by state regulators, it begs the question: why did regulation fail to protect consumers from exorbitant and unnecessary costs? Drawing upon the sociological literature on financialization, and based upon case studies comprising interviews and documentary evidence from nuclear power projects in three states, I show the important role of financialized logics in producing the observed outcome. By promoting moral hazards and undermining effective regulation, financialization produced regulatory capture in the abortive attempt at achieving a successful “nuclear renaissance.”

Bio: Kate Pride Brown is an environmental and political sociologist whose research focuses on a range of issues, including environmental activism in Russia and conservation policy in the United States. She received her doctorate from Vanderbilt University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment. Her book, Saving the Sacred SeaThe Power of Civil Society in an Age of Authoritarianism and Globalization (Oxford University Press, 2018), examines the conflict between local and transnational environmentalists, multinational corporations, and the Russian government over the future of Lake Baikal, the largest, deepest and oldest freshwater lake on Earth. While she continues to study environmental issues in Russia, especially around Lake Baikal, Dr. Brown has also published research on water and energy politics and policy in the United States. She is currently studying the "nuclear renaissance" in the southeastern United States. Among other honors, she has received a Fulbright Fellowship, a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State, and funding from the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. Her research has appeared in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Energy Research and Social Science, Environmental Politics, Environmental Sociology, Ethnography, Memory Studies, Nature and Culture, Research in Political Sociology, Social Movement Studies, Sustainability: Science, Practice and PolicyWater Policy and WIREs Water.

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Meeting ID: 884 4973 8607

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