Alert 641: Stop Senator Carper’s $50B nuke/coal bailout

Stop Senator Carper’s $50B nuke/coal bailout
keep nuclear and coal out of “stimulus” bills
Calls needed to Castle, Carper, Kaufman

A lot is right and a lot is wrong with the “economic stimulus” bills working their way through the House and Senate.

Green Delaware has gotten many alerts from different organizations on different aspects of the overwhelming (about 1000 pages between the House and Senate versions) legislation that would spend about 900 thousand million dollars ($900,000,000,000).

Essentially, the conflict is between spending money in ways that will actually help people and the economy vs traditional special interest pork spending.

One of the most obviously bad features is $50 billion (that’s fifty thousand million dollars!) in loan guarantees primarily for the coal and nuclear industries. It’s increasingly clear that Delaware Senator Tom Carper has been a ringleader in working this nuclear pork into the Senate version of the bill.

This nasty item is in the Senate but not the House versions, so the question is what will be in the “compromise” version.

Here’s a rundown from solartopia.org

A $50 Billion Nuke Power Bomb is Dropping Toward Obama’s Stimulus Package

The desperate, dangerous nuclear power industry has dropped a $50 billion stealth bomb meant to irradiate the Obama Stimulus Package.

It comes in the form of a mega-loan guarantee package that would build new reactors Wall Street wouldn’t finance even when it had cash. It will take a healthy dose of citizen action to stop it, so start calling your Senators now.

The vaguely worded bailout-in-advance provision was snuck through the Senate Appropriations Committee in the deep night of January 27. It would provide $50 billion in loan guarantees for “eligible technologies” that would technically include renewable sources and electric transmission. But the handout is clearly directed at nukes and “clean coal.”

The Stimulus Package is explicitly meant to create jobs within the next two years. But according to sources at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, no new reactors could be licensed for construction within that time. Nor could any new coal plants. And thus the funds in this rider are to “remain available until committed.” That means their “stimulus” might not go into effect for many years.

But the nuclear industry does have the ability to spend large sums of money on “site preparation” and other busy work prior to being licensed. Though the guarantees could technically be used for truly green sources such as wind and solar, the provision’s backers, including Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Thomas Carper (D-DE), have made it clear that this money is meant to go for new reactor construction.

In late 2007, nuclear power’s Congressional Godfather, then-Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), stuck a similar $50 billion loan guarantee package into that year’s energy bill. A grassroots uprising, joined by virtually all national environmental organizations, helped defeat the package. Among other things, the fight inspired a music video from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Keb Mo and Ben Harper (www.nukefree.org).

In late 2008 the industry came back again with a blank check package that went down in flames along with the stock market.

Still unable to get private financing, the industry is back yet again. In the interim, the projected cost of building new reactors has soared to more than $10 billion each, and continues to climb steadily. Many of the previous generation of reactors came in hugely over budget. According to the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, one DOE study places the overall average overruns at 207%. But reactor projects such as Seabrook, in New Hampshire, New York’s Shoreham, Pennsylvania’s Beaver Valley, California’s Diablo Canyon, and many others, far exceeded that.

The Congressional Budget Office now predicts that half the nuclear utilities using such a loan program will go into default. Some $18.5 billion in loan guarantees has already been approved, apparently for such use. But its legality is being hotly disputed, and the money has not been distributed by the Department of Energy.

Washington insiders believe this latest attempt at a pre-arranged bailout has again come from Domenici, who has stayed in Washington to lobby for his radioactive benefactors after apparently retiring from the Senate in January.

This guarantee package was not part of the Stimulus Package that passed the House. Its secretive, late night inclusion on the Senate side is reminiscent of how former Vice President Dick Cheney did business for the fossil/nuclear corporations that funded much of the Bush Administration. The reappearance of this kind of back door dealing has not been well received, especially in the House.

Numerous national groups, including the Nuclear Information & Resource Service (www.nirs.org) are providing sign-ins for sending e-mails to the Senate. They also urge that you call your Senator at 202-224-3121.

Time is fast slipping by for the nuke power industry. As the popularity of renewables and efficiency escalates, the most obvious source of new jobs and prosperity has become truly green technologies. Atomic power has long since been priced out of the market. Only massive federal and ratepayer subsidies could bring it back, to the direct detriment of the revolution in renewables.

Defeating this latest money grab will help drive another nail in the coffin of the 20th century’s most expensive failed technology. It is an essential step toward a truly green-powered future.

Contact all three and ask them to REMOVE the coal and nuclear subsidies:

Congressman Mike Castle: 202.225.4165, 302.428.1902, olivia.kurtz@mail.house.gov,
Senator Tom Carper: 202.224.2441, 302.573-6291
Senator Ted Kaufman:: 202-224-5042, 302.573-6345

More information is in the message below:

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

CONTACT YOUR HOUSE MEMBER:

LET’S STOP THE $50 BILLION NUCLEAR/COAL BAILOUT!

February 9, 2009

Dear Friend,

We have now confirmed that the “compromise” Senate stimulus bill still contains the $50 Billion pre-emptive bailout for the dangerous and dirty nuclear power and coal industries.

But as we’ve noted before, the version passed by the House of Representatives does not include this provision.

Now we need to ensure that the House position prevails in the final negotiations over the two versions. Please send a letter to your House member now by clicking here.

And then please call your member at 202-224-3121.

We’ve been getting more than 1200 letters per day into the Senate! Now let’s turn that focus to the House. Note: this letter is new, so even if you’ve sent a letter to your Representative already, please send the new one too.

And, please forward this Alert to all of your mailing lists, friends, colleagues. Put it up on blogs, Facebook and Myspace pages, and everywhere you communicate.

Let’s make clear we’re not willing to be the bankers of last resort for new nuclear reactors and coal plants. Nor do we want more dangerous radioactive waste and dirty coal ash piling up in our communities.

Thank you to the thousands and thousands of you who have acted so far in this campaign–your response has been amazing! But your help is needed even more now. Congress is trying to finish the stimulus bill this week–our actions now can make the difference! Click here to send your message to your Representative.

After you do that, please consider making a small donation to help us pay for this campaign. Your help is needed and gratefully appreciated.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte

Executive Director

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

nirsnet@nirs.org

www.nirs.org

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