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Matthew McKinzie, Director, Nuclear Program and Senior Scientist, Lands and Wildlife Program, Washington, D.C.

Matthew McKinzie
I direct NRDC’s nuclear program and am a senior scientist in NRDC's lands and wildlife program. In the nuclear program, my main focus is on eliminating nuclear weapons, in particular finding solutions to the threats posed by left-over Cold War arsenals in the United States and Russia, and getting a handle on the dangers of terrorism and the bomb. In the lands and wildlife program, I apply Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology in support of NRDC’s work to protect wilderness and wildlife from oil and gas development in the Rocky Mountain West, and to understand how renewable energy can be facilitated while conserving our natural heritage. I earned my bachelor’s degree in physics from Bard College and have a doctorate in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Pennsylvania. I became an environmentalist as a teenager, backpacking and hiking across the Alaskan wilds. As a graduate student, I performed dissertation research at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and my time on the mesa left me with an awareness of the power and danger of nuclear weapons. I live with my wife Esther and our children Noah and Sarah. I enjoy running, especially with our family's dog, a labradoodle.

Recent Posts

Feeling a Cold War Chill over Ukraine

Posted July 23, 2014 by Matthew McKinzie


Reflecting on the Ukraine crisis, in a July 20, 2014 CNN interview Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein agreed that U.S.-Russian relations are at Cold War levels. Reacting to Senator Feinstein's viewpoint, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul stated...continued

Fukushima Radiation Risks from Eating Fish

Posted September 24, 2013 by Matthew McKinzie

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Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant is releasing radioactively contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese government has placed restrictions on fishing in waters near the reactors. Are radioactive substances from Fukushima being found in fish caught and sold...continued

NRDC Welcomes Southern California Edison's Decision to Retire the San Onofre Nuclear Plant

Posted June 7, 2013 by Matthew McKinzie

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Today the California utility company Southern California Edison (SCE) made the decision to permanently retire the two nuclear reactors at its San Onofre Generating Station, or SONGS, located on the Pacific coast mid-way between Los Angeles and San Diego. SCE’s...continued

Reading the Tea Leaves on China's Nuclear Viewpoint

Posted September 11, 2012 by Matthew McKinzie

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On September 11, 2012, the homepage of the English version of China's People’s Daily Online featured a link to an article titled “China must enhance strategic nuclear forces." Although the English translation is rough in places, the piece contains a...continued

Mapping Fallout from Severe Nuclear Power Plant Accidents in the United States

Posted March 5, 2012 by Matthew McKinzie

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The nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Dai’ichi nuclear plant in Japan, which began nearly one year ago, on March 11, 2011, has had a major impact on how Americans view the risks of nuclear power. The explosion and fire at the...continued

"Static, Not Stable" - What Could Happen in the Second Month of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident in Japan?

Posted April 19, 2011 by Matthew McKinzie

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US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko used these words – “static, not stable”– to describe the current situation at Fukushima Daiichi in a Senate hearing this past Tuesday. I was in the hearing room of the Committee on Environment...continued

The NRDC Nuclear Program's Notes on the Accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Posted March 31, 2011 by Matthew McKinzie

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Over the last twenty days, the status of the nuclear accident on Japan’s Pacific Coast has changed dramatically.  During the first week – in the direct aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami – explosions and fires damaged four of the...continued

Sixty Thousand Tons of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Stored at U.S. Reactors for 60 Years?

Posted February 23, 2011 by Matthew McKinzie

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Why NRDC has Challenged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Waste Confidence Rule Last week my colleague and NRDC Senior Attorney Geoffrey Fettus filed a legal challenge to two final rulemakings by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: the “Waste Confidence Decision Update” and...continued

Helping out with the New START - My Nuclear Weapons World View

Posted September 23, 2010 by Matthew McKinzie

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Nuclear weapons are hard to talk about. I’ll readily admit that, even as someone who works professionally on these matters. We have to cope daily with news about joblessness and the fragile economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism and...continued


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