FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Atomic Solyndra

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

The future of nuclear power now hangs on a single decision by President Obama—and us.

His Office of Management and Budget could cave to the unsustainable demands of reactor builders who cannot handle the standard terms of a loan agreement.

Or he could defend basic financial procedures and stand up for the future of the American economy.

You can help make this decision, which will come soon.

It’s about a proposed $8.33 billion nuke power loan guarantee package for two reactors being built at Georgia’s Vogtle.   Obama anointed it last year for the Southern Company, parent to Georgia Power.  Two other reactors sporadically operate there.  Southern just ravaged the new construction side of the site, stripping virtually all vegetation.

It’s also stripped Georgia ratepayers of ever-more millions of dollars, soon to become billions.  This project is in the Peach State for its law forcing the public to pay for reactor construction in advance.  When the project fails, or the reactors melt, the public still must pay.  A taste of what’s coming has emerged in shocking defects in poured concrete at the site which will cost millions to correct and months of delay on a project whose construction has barely begun.

Nonetheless, Southern runs virtually no financial risk.  It actually has an interest in never finishing.  Florida is now in turmoil, trying to rid itself of a similar Construction Work in Progress law.

Worldwide estimated reactor costs have jumped from $3-5 billion each a few short years ago to $10 billion or more, and rising.

Uranium prices are set to soar as the supply of Russian weapons-based fuel is about done.  And renewables have long since outstripped atomic energy as being cheaper, faster to build, cleaner, safer, more reliable and open to community ownership.

There are virtually no private investors willing to back new reactor construction.  There are no private insurers willing to take the risk on operating reactors.  There is no place to store the radioactive wastes they generate.

Operating reactors in Vermont, New York, California and elsewhere now face ferocious public uprisings to get them shut.

They are being joined by Governors, US Senators and entire legislatures.  Peter Shumlin, Governor of Vermont, has appeared at a major public rally to shut Yankee.  The legislature long ago voted (26-4) the same way.  Shumlin was joined by US Senator Bernie Sanders, who has issued a stunning denunciation of the loan guarantees.  US Senator Ron Wyden of Orgeon has published a serious warning about the on-going dangers of Fukushima, which he recently visited.

Once the public kills one of these elderly reactors, a tsunami of shutdowns among the 104 currently licensed in the US will follow.

Germany and much of the rest of Europe have abandoned the technology.  Bulgaria has just scrapped plans for two proposed generators.  Major banking institutions have warned potential investors in Britain’s planned reactors that if they proceed, they will lose their financial standing.  Mexico has also said it won’t build new nukes.

In Asia, only one of Japan’s 54 licensed reactors now operates, and it may soon shut.  Huge demonstrations and hunger strikes are raging against a proposed project at Koodankulam, India.  The Philippines says it won’t build any reactors at all.  China, the last bastion of any apparent large-scale interest in multiple nukes, seems to be wavering, in part because of the rise of a No Nukes movement there.

Here, two reactors barely beginning construction in South Carolina are also in deep trouble.  Their builders need massive rate hikes in North Carolina to proceed, and the opposition there is fierce.

But the lynchpin is Vogtle.  The construction loan guarantee program got $18.5 billion from George W. Bush in 2005. With the industry in deepening chaos, it took until last year for a president to designate less than half that money.  For the first time in years, there is no Executive or Congressional request to put more money into the fund.

The French National Utility EDF did step forward to get funding for Maryland’s proposed Calvert Cliffs project.  But haggling over terms contributed to its demise.

Now Southern faces the same abyss.  It refuses what the mortgage community would consider a normal 20% downpayment on its taxpayer-funded loan.  Southern wants to put virtually none of its own money into the project, leaving the radioactive gamble totally to the public.

But the Office of Management and Budget is apparently demanding something more reasonable.  Because the OMB is a White House agency, Obama holds the key.  It’s our job to make him turn it in a green direction.

A short while ago, this package was considered a done deal.  But the GOP uproar over the failed $535 million loan to the solar company Solyndra changed to context.  Initiated by Bush, Republicans have made Solyndra the poster child for bad federal loans.

Vogtle involves some 15 times Solyndra’s liability.  And it’s all Obama’s.  At least three petitions are circulating against the package.

There are many ways to finally shut down what has been the most expensive technological failure in human history.  Fukushima and the killing power of radiation, the unsolved problem of radioactive waste, the campaigns against failing reactors such as Vermont Yankee, Indian Point, San Onofre and Davis-Besse—all are key.  The first weekend in May, a conference convened by the Sierra Club in Washington, DC, will weigh the various strategies.

But killing this loan guarantee package could finally kill the prospect of new reactors in the US.  The astonishing rise of Solartopian green technologies has far outstripped atomic energy in the marketplace.  Every delay deeply diminishes the possibility of building more of these profoundly uneconomic anachronisms.

In the long run, Vogtle, Summer and any other new nukes that seem to slip through in the short term will almost certainly be stopped by what has become one of the most powerful non-violent social movements in human history.

But right now, it’s up to Obama—and us.  Does he really want an atomic Solyndra on his hands?  Will we really let this happen?

Let’s relieve the President of this radioactive burden.  Let’s kill these reactors before they kill us, and take the most significant leap of all toward a green-powered Earth.

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

 

More articles by:

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

November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail