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Wednesday
Jan032018

Nuclear energy wants a spot in Trump's infrastructure bill

As reported by John Siciliano in the Washington Examiner.

(See how to take action in opposition to these nuclear power bailouts, towards the bottom of this post.)

The article extensively quotes "John Kotek, vice president for policy at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lead trade group."

Kotek calls for the nuclear power industry to share in the largesse of a Trump-backed infrastructure bill amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to American industries overall.

This would be in addition to the many tens of billions of dollars, or more, that the nuclear power industry (as well as the coal industry), hope to secure via Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry's call for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to bail out these dirty, dangerous, and expensive relics of the past.

Yet another subsidy Kotek advocates for is an extension of the nuclear production tax credit. The two proposed new reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia (each less than half built, despite being many billions of dollars over budget, and many years behind schedule for completion) have taken so incredibly long to build, that the production tax credits passed in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, meant to subsidize their construction, will expire in 2020, at least two years before Southern Nuclear et al. say the reactors can begin producing electricity! (Production tax credits require electricity to be generated and distributed to the grid, before they can be applied.)

All of these subsidies, flowing from the public (ratepayers and/or taxpayers), would take place just after Congressional Republicans, and President Trump, approved one of the largest single transfers of wealth (from the working and middle classes, to the richest 1% and large corporations) in U.S. history -- the tax deform bill enacted into law with President Donald J. Trump's signature, just before Christmas.

The new nuclear power subsidies would come on top of more than a half-century of major public subsidies enjoyed by the nuclear industry, as compiled in a comprehensive 2011 Union of Concerned Scientists report.

In addition to the new subsidies, Kotek also calls for regulatory retreat, to make life easier for both age-degraded old, and proposed new, atomic reactors. A big push from NEI's Kotek is for so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), and for such public subsidies and weakened regulations to allow the U.S. nuclear power industry to compete with the Russian, Chinese, and South Korean nuclear power industries for sales overseas.

A recently revealed aspect of the controversies swirling around indicted former Trump National Security Director Michael Flynn involves atomic reactor sales to Saudi Arabia.

Of course, such weakened regulations will mean increased risks to safety, health, and the environment for those who lives downwind and downstream atomic reactors, radioactive waste dumps, and other nuclear facilities. This, despite Kotek's spin to the contrary.

It is telling that he praises Republican Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman Kristine Svinicki. She has long been a guaranteed rubber-stamp vote for industry interests, against public interests, as an NRC Commissioner for the past decade.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Republican NRC Commissioners for the next five years, Annie Caputo and David Wright would serve as a solid majority lock on all NRC votes in the nuclear power industry's interests.

TAKE ACTION!

Please contact your U.S. Representative, and both your U.S. Senators, and urge that such additional nuclear power industry subsidies, at public (ratepayer and/or taxpayer) expense, be blocked. Also urge that such nuclear power industry regulatory rollbacks be blocked.

You can phone your Members of Congress via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Just follow the instructions that are given, to be patched through to your Members of Congress.

You can also look up your U.S. Senators here (see FIND YOUR SENATORS in the upper left), for direct office phone numbers, fax numbers, web forms, snail mail addresses, etc. Please urge both your U.S. Senators to block Trump's NRC Commioner nominees, David Wright and Annie Caputo, as industry shills.

And you can look up your U.S. Rep. here, for detailed contact info. (See FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE in the upper right, type in your zip code, and click LOOK UP.)

(Ironically, NEI spokesman Kotek ran the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) consent-based siting public comment period, from Dec. 2015, throughout 2016, under the Obama administration. This was DOE's effort to get targeted communities to agree to hosting irradiated nuclear fuel burial dumps, or more near-term, centralized interim storage sites. During the transition from Obama to Trump administration, Kotek went to work for the nuclear power industry lobby arm, NEI. Kotek's "leadership" (mis-leadership) of the DOE consent-based siting effort is thus one of the more cynical examples of the pro-nuclear stranglehold on federal policies of recent times, and his passage through the revolving door between government and industry one of the more outrageous. But at least his true loyalties are now clear as day, and on full display.)