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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail