FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Half-Trillion for Nukes

With Wall Street unwilling to finance new nuclear plants, U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Warner of Virginia have cooked up a scheme to provide $544 billion -­ yes, with a “b” — in subsidies for new nuclear power plant development.

Their move will be debated on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, June 3.

A Lieberman aide describes the plan as “the most historic incentive for nuclear in the history of the United States.”

The Lieberman-Warner scheme is cloaked in a climate change bill — the claim being that nuclear power plants don’t emit greenhouse gases and thus don’t contribute to global warming. However, the overall “nuclear cycle” ­- which includes mining, milling, fuel enrichment and fabrication, and reprocessing — has significant greenhouse gas emissions that do contribute to global warming.

Moreover, nuclear power is enormously dangerous. Accidents like the Chernobyl explosion of 1986 stand to kill and leave many people with cancer. Nuclear plants routinely emit life-threatening radioactivity. Safeguarding nuclear waste for millions of years is an insoluble problem.

Nevertheless, there have long been powerful forces in government and the nuclear industry promoting atomic energy.

Wall Street is uneasy — rightfully regarding nuclear power as terribly risky. Six of the nation’s largest investment banks including CitiGroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley last year told the U.S. Department of Energy that the risks “make lenders unwilling…to extend long-term credit.”

Enter Senators Lieberman and Warner.

Safe energy advocates are outraged by their scheme. Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, says: “It’s time to focus on real global warming solutions like solar, wind and energy efficiency, not to further fatten the moribund nuclear calf.”

John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA, says: “After 50 years of unresolved safety and waste disposal issues, it perplexes many Americans why Congress would support massive subsidies for the nuclear industry.  Nuclear power is a dirty and dangerous distraction from real global warming solutions.”

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear says: “If the nuclear power industry attains this $500 billion-plus in federal taxpayer subsidies, it would effectively double the subsidies this industry has already enjoyed over the course of the past 50 years which has made it the single most subsidized industry in the energy sector.”

“Taxpayers should not be asked to continue bankrolling a nuclear power industry that has never been financially or environmentally viable,” says Sandra Schubert, director of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group. And this “especially” must not happen “in times of tight budgets.” Instead, government “should do everything in its power to rapidly pursue clean energy solutions like solar and wind.”

Sneakily, the $544 billion for nuclear power is not specifically listed in the Lieberman-Warner measure. It is “covert” legislative sleight-of-hand, says Blackwelder, with the nuclear subsidy contained in a “vaguely-entitled category for zero and low carbon energy technologies.”

“Why are they hiding it?” asks Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “Because they know that the environmental movement in this country is serious about addressing climate change and will not tolerate a reversion to dangerous, dirty and expensive nuclear energy.”

“It’s so deceitful,” says Kay Drey of Beyond Nuclear, who is also incensed that the media have virtually made no mention of “this would-be half-trillion dollar nuclear bail-out.”

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service has organized a campaign for people to e-mail or write or telephone their senators to stop the Lieberman-Warner effort.

But the move has major support in the Senate -­ especially from John McCain, the presumptive Republican candidate for president.

Among the subsidies nuclear power already gets is $20 billion approved by Congress and President Bush only last year. And there’s a law Congress passed, called the Price-Anderson Act, that limits liability to $10 billion for a catastrophic accident — although, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, this is a small fraction of what a nuclear plant disaster could cause in property damage, not to mention birth defects, cancers and deaths.

Turning to nuclear power to deal with climate change is like trying to treat heroin addiction with crack. Lieberman and Warner would have us pay for hundreds of billions of dollars for atomic crack.

KARL GROSSMAN is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, author of several books on nuclear technology and host of the nationally syndicated TV program Enviro Close-Up.
Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail