FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Ohio Got Nuked

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

Ohio is poised to do its thing as the ultimate swing state. On March 4 it may, along with Texas, choose the Democratic presidential nominee.

Tragically, the candidates will campaign in a state whose economic future has been nuked.

Once a great industrial heartland, Ohio’s rust belt status has been solidified by billions in excess electric rates driven by four nuclear reactors, and by the state government’s inability to make way for a green-powered future.

On Friday, February 22, a powerful group of international steel investors announced they were pulling Ohio out of the running for a new high-tech production plant. Some 500 jobs will now go elsewhere. The investors blamed unstable power prices. "If you had to rank from clarity on the utility situation, Ohio would not rank very high," said one.

The state suffers some of the nation’s highest and most unpredictable electric costs for four simple reasons: the Davis-Besse, Perry, Zimmer and Beaver Valley 2 nuclear plants.

Davis-Besse, near Toledo, is world-famous for a leak of boric acid that ate through a six-inch stainless steel reactor pressure vessel, bringing northern Ohio to the brink of a Chernobyl-scale catastrophe. Perry, east of Cleveland, suffered billions in construction cost over-runs, and is the only US nuke to have been damaged by an earthquake. Zimmer, on the Ohio River, was allegedly more than 95% complete when massive design and construction flaws forced its hugely expensive 1980s conversion to coal. Beaver Valley 2, near Pittsburgh, has run up even more in overages.

To recoup their radioactive losses, Ohio utilities rammed a 1999 "deregulation" bill through the legislature that has thus far cost ratepayers at least $10 billion, and counting. The vast bulk of the money has gone to repay "stranded costs," corporate code for sunk debt reactor owners don’t want to eat. Had that money gone to increased efficiency and renewable technologies, Ohio’s economy would be on a very different footing.

The bill was largely guided by the Akron-based FirstEnergy, whose Anthony Alexander has been a major Bush-Cheney donor. FirstEnergy makes very large campaign donations, mostly to Republican legislators in Ohio and nationwide. Forbes Magazine estimated Alexander’s 2005 salary at more than $6 million.

As part of the dereg scam, the utilities promised an "open market" for electricity once the nukes were paid off. But instead of competition, Ohio is getting unregulated monopolies that are neither clean nor reliable. It was FirstEnergy’s shaky grid that helped black out 50 million people in the northeastern US and Canada in 2003. Small wonder investors are skittish.

A much-touted energy bill passed by the state Senate in October mandates that Ohio utilities generate 25% of their electricity with "advanced energy" by 2020.

About two dozen other states have similar provisions. But Ohio’s has become a national joke by including "clean coal" and nuke power in the mix. The Senate bill says half of that quota—12.5%— must come from renewables such as wind, solar and bio-fuels. But the other 12.5% can come from still more nuke and fossil fuels.

Because of this and disputes over regulation, the bill has languished in the Ohio House. Republican Speaker Jon Husted is reportedly considering removing the coal/nuke concession. But Democratic Governor Ted Strickland has long-standing ties to the coal and uranium enrichment industries, which are deeply rooted in his native southern Ohio.

In the meantime, electric prices and green energy are in deep in limbo, and have dragged down any hope of an economic revival. Except for municipal utilities like Cleveland and Bowling Green, northern Ohio endures some of the nation’s highest electric rates.

The region does not lack green visionaries—or resources. Bowling Green owns four extremely successful wind turbines, and may build more. The Cleveland Foundation and others are pushing hard for a renewable energy infrastructure along the lakefront to manufacture wind turbines, solar panels and fuel cells. The Museum of Science hosts the only utility-scale windmill in a US downtown.

The Great Lakes region boasts some of the world’s most powerful wind resources. But a sustainable green harvest must somehow blow by Ohio’s continued corporate commitment to nuke power.

The Senators campaigning here for the presidency had best look closely at the $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for new reactor construction that were written into the Congressional Appropriations Bill passed in 2007. They might also do something about the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Bill, soon to be debated on the Senate floor, which may contain significant handouts to build still more atomic reactors.

Above all, as the campaign rolls through swing state Ohio, those who would be president should make note of what a mess nuke power has made of this state’s economy.

HARVEY WASSERMAN, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com

 


 

February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail