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Tuesday
Jan012013

"Congress and the Fiscal Cliff," by Karl Grossman

Racing towards a radioactive cliff edge? Entergy is on a nuclear joy ride, in more ways than one!Investigative journalist, author, prolific nuclear power muckraker, and Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman has published a piece in Counterpunch entitled "Congress and the Fiscal Cliff." Reflecting on the role of corporate cash in elections -- and in policy making, as members of congress return favors for the campaign contributions they've received -- Karl concludes:

"...As Alex Gibney, maker of the documentary 'Casino Jack and the United States of Money,' has said, we have 'a system of legalized bribery in Washington.'

This reflects directly on the low, low level of Congress doing anything—and, when it does, mainly serving special interests.

Change—major change—is desperately needed!"

In fact, investigative journalist Judy Pasternak at American University reported three years ago that, from 1999 to 2009, the nuclear power industry had spent $645 million lobbying the federal government (that's $1.25 million per week!), and "invested" another $64 million over that decade in the best Congress and White House money can buy in the form of campaign contributions.

Also in his article, Karl writes "...Indeed, making the rounds of the Internet in recent years has been the posting: 'Members of Congress should be compelled to wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers, so we could identify their sponsors.'" The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), American Nuclear Society (ANS), and nuclear utilities, such as the infamous Entergy, owner of a dirty dozen atomic reactors (see photo, left), have literally emblazoned their logos on race cars, as documented by Sourcewatch, so members of congress may very well be next!

Beyond Nuclear has documented snapshots of such largesse and influence, as on U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), now chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, with oversight on nuclear power matters. 

The National Diet of Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Indepenedent Investigation Commission report emphasized repeatedly the role of nuclear utility lobbying on the lowering of safety standards, and regarded such collusion between government, regulator, and industry as the root cause of the nuclear catastrophe.

Frighteningly, as a new U.S. congressional session is about to begin, the nuclear power industry's influence will be as strong as ever. As but one, albeit major, example: nuclear lobbyists, and their friends in Congress, will be pushing very hard for passage of a major overhaul of U.S. radioactive waste law. Specifically, they are seeking authorization, and funding, for the launch of unprecedented numbers of risky "Mobile Chernobyl" irradiated nuclear fuel shipments on the roads, rails, and waterways, bound for "centralized interim storage" (parking lot dumps), at such places as the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.