Environment News Service


The consumer watchdog group, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), has ruled for the second time that ads run by the American nuclear power industry touting the environmental benefits of reactors are "overly broad" and have a "strong potential to mislead customers." It called on Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to investigate the issue. The decision to involve the FTC and other state agencies to resolve the conflict is unusual one for the Bureau. Late last year, environmentalists asserted that the ads, which claim that "nuclear power generates about 20 percent of Americaís electricity without emitting greenhouse gases" were misleading and the Bureau agreed. The environmentalists point out that uranium fuel used in nuclear power reactors is made using electricity from coal plants, which emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. Under a voluntary resolution process designed to head off government regulation, questionable advertising claims brought against members of the U.S. advertising industry are investigated by the Bureau. Most companies and industries adhere to the Bureauís decisions. But the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), which placed the ads, defended them as factual and said it had never agreed to abide by the bureauís December ruling. It has continued running the ads in such publications as the "New Republic," the "Atlantic Monthly," as well as various newspapers. The ads were designed to influence policymakers, not individual consumers, according to an NEI spokesman.

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