FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Another No Nukes Victory

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

The atomic energy industry has suffered another astonishing defeat. Because of it, 2010 again left the “nuclear renaissance” in the Dark Age that defines the technology.

But an Armageddon-style battle looms when Congress returns next year.

The push to build new nuclear plants depends now, as always, on federal subsidies. Fifty-three years after the first commercial reactor opened at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, no private funders will step forward to pay for a “new generation” of nukes.

So the industry remains mired in unsolved waste problems, disturbing vulnerability to terror and error, uninsured liability in case of a major catastrophe, and unapproved new design proposals.

Two new reactor construction projects in Europe—one in Finland and the other at Flamanville, France—are sinking in gargantuan cost overruns and multi-year delays. To financiers and energy experts worldwide, it’s a clear indicator the “rebirth” of this failed technology is a hopeless quagmire.

Meanwhile the 104 reactors currently licensed in the US are leaking radiation and are under escalating grassroots attack. Vermont’s new governor, Peter Shumlin, is committed to shutting the Yankee plant there, and public demands to close New York’s Indian Point and Oyster Creek, New Jersey, among others, have reached fever pitch.

Most importantly, advances in green technologies are leaving atomic power in the dust. Numerous new studies now show it is significantly cheaper to build new generating capacity with photovoltaics, wind and other renewable Solartopian sources than to go nuclear. That gap will only grow in the coming years.

But Barack Obama has proposed some $36 billion in new nuke loan guarantees to add to $18.5 billion set aside by the Bush Administration. Earlier this year he handed $8.33 billion of that to a Georgia utility that broke ground on two new nukes at the Vogtle site, where two old, trouble-plagued reactors still operate.

The nukes are being built in Georgia—along with two more in South Carolina—because ratepayers are being forced to foot the bill as construction proceeds. The company’s returns are guaranteed even if the reactors never operate. Georgia has already suffered crippling rate hikes of $1 billion and more to pay for a construction project likely to wind up as little more than a moribund mausoleum.

Nonetheless, amidst a major economic crisis, the White House and its pro-nuke allies have been pushing hard to fund still more of these radioactive boondoggles.

As Congress wound down this fall, the Administration inserted $7 billion in new loan guarantees into the first Continuing Resolution meant to fund the government on an interim basis.

That CR was abandoned for a larger Ominbus Budget proposal, into which $8 billion for new nukes was stuck.

But grassroots activists from around the nation flooded Congress and White House with at least 15,000 calls and letters.

Amidst the chaos of the lame duck session, the Omnibus bill fell by the wayside. Yet another CR emerged, this one stripped of earmarks—including all money for new nuke guarantees.

Thus the industry was once again shut out. In the past decade it has spent more than $640 million lobbying for federal handouts.

But a vastly underfunded grassroots movement has held its own. In 2007 the industry tried to gouge out $50 billion in new guarantees, but was beaten back by a national campaign (www.nukefree.org) that continues to rage.

The industry will surely return with its money guns blazing. A far more conservative Congress will convene in January, and the industry will pour its usual unlimited steam of lucre into legislative coffers. The “renaissance” is nothing if not a cash cow for Congressional candidates and the White House.

But, says Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information & Resources Service, “Once again, taxpayers have been spared the expense of bailing out the wealthy, multinational nuclear power industry.

“But the nuclear lobbyists will be back next session, hat-in-hand, even while distributing campaign checks to their allies.”

Nonetheless, he adds, the industry “may have missed its moment. It will become increasingly difficult for it to justify spending increases when all indications are that the new Congress will be focused on spending cuts.”

So the battle will resume in January, with the industry again selling its “renaissance” as a done deal. But if the grassroots environmental movement can keep up the pressure, and the revolution in green power proceeds, nuclear power may just be done, period.

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

 

 

 

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail