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« CSPAN Washington Journal debates Obama's nuclear loan guarantees | Main | Nuclear power industry has spent nearly $650 million in lobbying and $63 million in campaign contributions in past decade alone »
Tuesday
Feb162010

Beyond Nuclear denounces President Obama's decision to transfer risks for new atomic reactors onto U.S. taxpayers

President Obama himself, flanked by nuclear power industry unions such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (photo at left), today announced the awarding of an $8.3 billion, taxpayer-backed loan guarantee to Southern Nuclear Company of Georgia for its proposed twin-reactor expansion at Plant Vogtle near Augusta. Ironically, Plant Vogtle's currently operating twin reactor nuclear power plant was the poster child of cost overruns in the last generation of reactor building -- coming in at a whopping 13-fold, or over 1,000%, cost overrun. Such skyrocketing costs delivered the death blow to nuclear power plant construction in the United States, even before Three Mile Island melted down in 1979. In a follow up press conference today, Energy Secretary Steven Chu revealed his ignorance of the Congressional Budget Office's prediction that over half of new atomic reactors will default on their loan repayments. This will, of course, leave taxpayers holding the bag for many billions of dollars per failed project. Financial analysts are unconvinced that such federal largesse is sufficient to achieve the nuclear power industry's coveted "renaissance." They have even pointed out that, despite President Obama completing President Bush's unfinished favor -- at taxpayer expense -- for the nuclear power industry, it is too little, too late to achieve a nuclear power relapse in this country. Beyond Nuclear immediately issued a media release denouncing President Obama's decision. Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman wrote "Obama's Change on Nuclear Power" in response to today's nuclear loan guarantee announcement. Bob Alvarez of Institute for Policy Studies responded to President Obama's pro-nuclear power, and even pro-nuclear weapons, policies with "Nukes Aren't the Answer." In fact, the environmental and taxpayer coalition opposed to nuclear power loan guarantees erupted with a "negative reaction," a flurry of fury, including from Public Citizen; PSR; Friends of the Earth; Environment America; Sierra Club; and Taxpayers for Common Sense. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader  calls President Barack Obama’s loan guarantee for nuclear power plants a "monumental mistake." Watch  Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps on Al Jazeera English interview (play the "In video" report by John Terrett in the lower right hand corner). Watch Kevin debate the Nuclear Energy Institute's top lobbyist, Alex Flint, on C-SPAN's Washington Journal from 7:45-8:30 a.m. on Wed., Feb. 17th. As the top staffer for former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at the time), Alex Flint played a lead role in the writing and passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which established the nuclear loan guarantee program in the first place, as well as awarded another $13 billion in federal subsidies to the nuclear power industry. In fact, as reported by Mike Stuckey of MSNBC, Alex Flint has passed through the revolving door between the nuclear power industry and Capitol Hill more than once, making himself a pretty penny in the process.