Loan Guarantees

New reactor construction is so expensive and unpredictable that no U.S. utility is willing to take the risk without the backing of federal loan guarantees, potentially in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Beyond Nuclear and others fight to prevent the mature nuclear industry from seizing any such subsidies which are better spent on true climate solutions such as renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.



Washington Post coverage of DOE energy loan guarantee scandal

The Washington Post's lead editorial headline on November 18, 2011 got it spot on: "The Energy Department's loan guarantee program is the real Solyndra scandal." Since the "Solyndra solar scandal" began making headlines last summer, continuing to the present day, we list links to the Washington Post's coverage thus far (articles and editorials, but not including blogs) in hopes that lessons from the current solar loan guarantee scandal can be learned and applied to prevent much bigger nuclear loan guarantee defaults, leaving taxpayers holding the bag:

"U.S. offers $535 million loan toward solar energy plant," March 21, 2009;

"Obama's focus on visiting clean-tech companies raises questions," June 25, 2011 (the Washington Post also posted a video report, "Obama's Clean Tech Road Show");

"Lawmakers seek White House documents on Solyndra loan guarantee," July 14, 2011;

"Solyndra solar company fails after getting controversial federal loan guarantees," Aug. 31, 2011;

("U.S. Must Regain Lead in Solar Manufacturing," U.S. Department of Energy statement on day of Solyndra's bankruptcy announcement, Aug. 31, 2011);

"FBI searches offices of Solyndra; lawmakers say they were misled about firm's finances," Sept. 8, 2011 (AP t.v. also aired a report);

"Solyndra loan: White House pressed on review of solar company now under investigation," Sept. 13, 2011;

"Capitalizing on 'venture socialism,'" Sept. 18, 2011 (editorial);

"How Obama's plan for infrastructure bank would work," Sept. 19, 2011;

"House Judiciary Chair: Justice should probe Solyndra bankruptcy," Sept. 19, 2011;

"Solyndra executives will invoke the Fifth at House hearing," Sept. 20, 2011;

"Solyndra employees: Company suffered from mismanagement, heavy spending," Sept. 21, 2011;

"Heat rises for Solyndra in government probe," Sept. 23, 2011 (Associated Press t.v.);

"Who had the worst week in Washington? Solyndra," Sept. 23, 2011;

"Solyndra executives take the Fifth before U.S. House subcommittee," Sept. 23, 2011;

"Senate rejects government spending bill, leaving open possibility of government shut down," Sept. 23, 2011.

"McDermott tapped to represent Solyndra," Sept. 25, 2011;

"The birthing of Solyndra," Sept. 26, 2011 (editorial);

"Investment in failed solar firm Solyndra raises questions about nonprofit's purpose," Sept. 27, 2011;

"Solyndra violated loan terms in 2010 but got more federal money, DOE confirms," Sept. 28-29, 2011;





"The Energy Department's loan guarantee program is the real Solyndra scandal"

Today's Washington Post editorial headline above got it spot on! A high-profile hearing before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce government oversight subcommittee has shined a bright spotlight on the "Solyndra solar scandal," but nary a word about much more risky nuclear loan guarantees was uttered. The Washington Post has run three articles and an editorial in the past two days in its print edition: yesterday's "Solyndra made demands of Energy Department" and "Upton sought loan for now-ailing solar company in Michigan"; today's front page above the fold "Energy chief defends agency"; and today's lead editorial "No fun in the sun." Hopefully, the magnifying lens being taken to the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default will also be applied to already approved, and future proposed, nuclear loan guarantees! See Beyond Nuclear's nuclear loan guarantee website section for more information, as well as our summary backgrounder on U.S. Representative Fred Upton's (R-MI) nuclear power industry cheerleading (see the section entitled "Handing over the keys of the U.S. Treasury to the nuclear power industry").


"White House orders audit of Energy Dept. loans"

The Washington Post reported an article by that title on its front page on October 29th. Although focused on the fallout from the Solyndra solar loan guarantee scandal -- the taxpayer loss of $535 million due to the bankruptcy of the California-based solar panel manufacturer -- and mentioning another federal energy loan guarantee at risk of default in a separate article on the same day entitled "Obama adviser tied to firm that won loan: Political ties played no role in DOE's decision, car company says" (to the Vehicle Production Group for a compressed natural gas vehicle designed to accomodate wheel chairs), the Washington Post does not mention federal loan guarantees for new nuclear facilities. Nor do Republican U.S. House Members mention nuclear loan guarantees, as they are poised to subpoena the Obama administration for documents related to the Solyndra scandal. The right wing Americans for Prosperity has even launched a campaign against all of Obama's solar loan guarantees, not just Solyndra's, including high-priced t.v. ads -- but again, doesn't mention nuclear loan guarantees, or those for other dirty energy projects, including coal based ones.

President Obama himself announced the award of an $8.3 billion nuclear loan guarantee for two new atomic reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. That amounts to more than 15 times more taxpayer money at risk than was lost in the Solyndra solar default.


Boehner blasted for billion dollar nuclear hypocrisy

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear appeared on the Thom Hartmann Show, blasting U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (Republican-Ohio) for advocating for a $2 billion nuclear loan guarantee in Ohio, while supposedly being against the energy loan guarantee program in the first place, based on fiscal conservative and free market principles. Boehner supports federal taxpayer backed nuclear loan guarantees for a uranium enrichment facility proposed by U.S. Enrichment Corporation at Portsmouth, Ohio. Kevin also gave updates on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, and shield building cracks and the history of near-disasters at Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo.


Markey's "Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011" would require nuclear loan guarantees to consider Fukushima catastrophe risks

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)On March 29, 2011 -- just 18 days after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began -- U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the "Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011." Its Section 3 on Loan Guarantees would amend Section 1702(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16512(b)) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following: "In the case of a guarantee for advanced nuclear energy facilities, the Secretary [of Energy] shall ensure that the cost of the obligation is calculated using a consideration of the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 to estimate the risk characteristics of the project."

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