A new study by Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School, released today, warns "it is highly unlikely that the problems of the nuclear industry will be solved by an infusion of federal loan guarantees and other subsidies to get the first plants in a new building cycle completed. U.S. policymakers should resist efforts to force the government into making large loans on terms that put taxpayers at risk in order to ‘save' a project or an industry that may not be salvageable." The press release contains a link to the executive summary and the full report. Steven Thomas of Greenwich University in London, expert on Electricite de France and Areva economic woes, joined Dr. Cooper for the press conference, a full audio recording of which can be found at www.nuclearbailout.org after 6 p.m. today.
The nuclear industry has been heavily subsidized throughout its 50+-year history in the U.S. It continues to seek the lion's share of federal funding since it cannot otherwise afford to expand.
A New York Times editorial has blasted the latest end run around campaign finance regulations, being carried out by Members of Congress and their friends in industry. It involves unlimited giving by companies to charities set up by U.S. Representatives and Senators, who then return the favor by supporting those companies' legislative agendas. The editorial cited the example of James Clyburn, the third most powerful Democrat in the House, stating: "...consider the dozen or so nuclear energy companies that were suddenly interested in financing scholarships for needy South Carolina students once Representative James Clyburn set up a charity to do so. The foundation holds an annual golf tournament and dinner at which corporate givers can hang around Mr. Clyburn, the Democratic whip, and donate to his favorite charity. Nuclear companies said openly they were happy to reward Mr. Clyburn for his support of their industry." These nuclear companies include: Fluor Daniel, Savannah River Remediation, Nuclear Innovation North America LLC, Nuclear Energy Institute, Shaw Areva Mox Services LLC, Duke Energy, Progress Energy, and SCANA. Several of those very companies are the same ones whose lobbyists are working the "halls of power" to secure nuclear loan guarantees and other subsidies worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars -- at taxpayer risk and expense -- for new reactors and other atomic facilities in the U.S.
Could such corporate largesse explain why, as Congress comes back into session, there are numerous ways that the nuclear power industries' lobbyists are seeking expanded loan guarantees and other subsidies? We must remain vigilant against such moves in appropriations bills, energy bills, even tax, defense, and oil disaster response bills. Contact your Representative and Senators via the Capitol Switchboard, (202) 224-3121, and urge them to block any further taxpayer giveaways to the filthy rich nuclear power industry.
Democratic Party leaders have indefinitely postponed the Kerry-Lieberman “American Power Act” climate-energy bill, due to lock-step Republican opposition to carbon cap “energy taxation,” but nuclear power subsidies must still be vigilantly guarded against in other legislation.
The Kerry-Lieberman "American Power Act" would have subsidized new atomic reactors in various ways, including raising nuclear power loan guarantee funding levels to $54.5 billion, as called for by the Obama administration. In addition, Kerry-Lieberman would have introduced a number of significant rollbacks on nuclear safety regulations. Analyses by NRDC, PSR, FOE, and UCS have highlighted numerous environmental and taxpayer concerns with the bill. NIRS has reported on how the nuclear loan guarantees would actually benefit foreign firms and workers, not American firms and workers, despite the financial risks being borne by American taxpayers. Despite Kerry-Lieberman's postponement, attachment of such provisions to other bills that are moving must still be guarded against.
However, the Senate has not recessed for its annual summer getaway from Washington D.C.'s blistering heat and humidity yet, and won't till August 7th. Thus, we must remain vigilant against any attempts by the politically savvy and powerful nuclear power industry to attach its mile-long-wish-list to another package of energy legislation that might reach the Senate floor, including by amendments offered by pro-nuclear Senators.
One bill to continue to watch out for is Sen. Bingaman's "American Clean Energy Leadership Act" (ACELA), which passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June 2009. It contains unlimited nuclear power loan guarantees, without congressional appropriations oversight.
Appropriations bills in both houses of Congress must also be watched out for. The House of Representatives passed $9 billion in nuclear loan guarantees on the emergency supplemental war and disaster relief funding bill on July 1st. The House Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee also recently passed $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees on its Fiscal Year 2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. If ultimately enacted into law, this would add up to the $34 billion in expanded nuclear loan guarantees called for by the Obama administration for FY2011.
Although final Senate action on such provisions is still pending, the Senate Appropriations Committee today did approve another $10 billion in nuclear loan guarantees.
It's ironic that the House and Senate continue to lard radioactive pork, in the form of nuclear loan guarantees, onto appropriations, climate and energy bills, given the U.S. Government Accountability Office's scathing report on the failing state of the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program. This includes the finding that DOE has given significant and undue advantage to nuclear power applicants, over other applicants. Nuclear power subsidies even seem to be given priority over such basic societal needs as teachers' salaries, as pointed out by FOE.
As these appropriations bills continue to make their way through each house of Congress, and eventually merge in conference committee, we must continue to express our opposition to nuclear power subsidies at every turn.
Call both your U.S. Senators and Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. At the Library of Congress website, you can also look up your Members' fax numbers and postal addresses for submitting hand written letters, as well as their webform for submitting electronic mail: click on "Senate" and "House of Representatives" on the left hand side, to look up your own Members of Congress.
Urge them to block any nuclear power subsidies, or nuclear safety regulation rollbacks, from being added to any energy or appropriations legislation. Gather together a group of concerned citizens, or representatives of environmental and taxpayer groups in your area, and request a meeting with both of your Senators, as well as your U.S. Representative, during their visit home during the August congressional recess. If your Members of Congress say they are too busy to meet with you, request to meet with their staff instead. Contact Kevin Kamps at Beyond Nuclear, (301) 270-2209 ext. 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions about how to set up a meeting with congressional home-district offices.
Analyses reveal tens to hundreds of billions in subsidies and giveaways for nuclear industry proposed in Senate bills
A recent analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that the subsidies, tax breaks, etc. in the Kerry-Lieberman "American Power Act" (APA) and the Bingaman "American Clean Energy Leadership Act" (ACELA) proposed in the U.S. Senate could amount to a nearly $150 billion taxpayer giveaway to the over 50 year old, already heavily subsidized nuclear power industry. Another recent analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman APA, commissioned by Friends of the Earth and conducted by Doug Koplow of Earth Track, shows that the proposed tax incentives for new reactors alone could benefit the nuclear power industry by over $57 billion at taxpayer expense. As these bills could still reach the Senate floor yet this month, it is urgent that concerned citizens contact both their U.S. Senators as soon as possible to urge that they block any further subsidies for the nuclear power industry. Call your U.S. Senators via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Given the short time frame, write your Senators via their webforms, or fax them a hand-written letter. Better yet, write a letter to the editor or opinion-editorial to your local newspapers, decrying any further taxpayer largesse for the atomic industry. And best of all, work with a coalition of concerned taxpayers and environmental groups in your state to request an in-person meeting with your Senators' staff, or even the Senators themselves, as soon as possible. Contact Kevin Kamps at Beyond Nuclear (email@example.com or (301) 270-2209 ext. 1) for help with any of these ideas. Finally, you can also sign Beyond Nuclear's "ActNow!" petition, and pass word of it on to everyone you know, and urge them to do the same!
Michele Boyd at Physicians for Social Responsibility has published a two page summary and an eight page analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman "American Power Act" being proposed in the U.S. Senate. After reading these analyses, phone (via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 202-224-3121 end_of_the_skype_highlighting) your two U.S. Senators to urge they block such nuclear power subsidies and regulatory rollbacks -- the nuclear power industry's "wish list" in this legislation is a mile long!