U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy & Water Appropriations approves $25 billion in additional nuclear loan guarantees
Thanks to everyone who acted on our alert and called your U.S. Representatives. Unfortunately, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations earlier today did approve $25 billion in additional nuclear loan guarantees on the Fiscal Year 2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. By the way, the bill also would provide $7 billion to the Dept. of Energy for maintaining and even expanding the nuclear weapons complex, and $1 billion for U.S. Navy nuclear reactors. Just over $5 billion would be appropriated for cleaning up the radioactive messes left over from manufacturing nuclear weapons in the first place. And another $824 million would go to the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, for research and development aimed at expanding atomic energy. Congressman Pastor (D-AZ), the chairman of the subcommittee, put out a statement breaking down these and other funding levels.
While the bill also approved $25 billion in loan guarantees for renewable and energy efficiency projects, there is already more money than the renewables and efficiency industries can use in the federal energy loan guarantee coffers. This is especially true, because the DOE has decided to charge such projects a 10% or higher "credit subsidy" fee for applying for loan guarantees, while only charging the nuclear industry around a 3% application fee, even though the former are less financially risky, while nuclear is more financially risky. These "credit subsidy" fees are supposed to cover the cost of project defaults. But the Congressional Budget Office has predicted, based on the nuclear industry's past record, that well over 50% of new reactors will default on their loan repayments, leaving taxpayers holding the bag for 49% of the repayment on defaulted loans. A 10% or higher credit subsidy fee for applying for loan guarantees is cost prohibitive to most renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Just this week, the Government Accountability Office slammed DOE for its half-baked energy loan guarantee program, including for inappropriately favoring nuclear projects over and above renewables projects!
Friends of the Earth has appropriately asked "Did Democratic Leadership Try to Buy a House Seat with a $25 Billion Nuclear Bailout?" Regarding the July 1st House approval of nuclear loan guarantees but rejection of safeguarding teachers' paychecks, FOE stated "Nuke Industry Bullies Students, Demands Lunch Money." We appreciate their insightful communications on these mind boggling nuclear power industry money grabs at taxpayers' pocket books, aided and abetted by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Senate has not taken up this $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees, nor the $9 billion in nuclear loan guarantees passed on the House floor on July 1st as part of the emergency war funding bill. Thus, calls to U.S. Senators urging they block any new nuclear loan guarantees would be valuable right now. The Capitol Switchboard can patch you through: (202) 224-3121.
Also, the full House Appropriations Committee, and the full House of Representatives, have not yet approved the $25 billion in new nuclear loan guarantees -- so now is the time to continue calling your U.S. Representative at the number above, and urge that they strip the nuclear loan guarantees out of the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations act!