FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump has Plenty of Accomplices in his Reckless Energy Policies

Some 360,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, more than in nukes and coal combined. In fact, more Americans are now working in California’s solar industry than are digging coal nationwide. And the U.S. wind business now employs more than 100,000 people.

But President Donald Trump wants to change that. He has already slammed the solar industry’s growth by slapping a 30 percent tariff on imported Chinese panels, slowing installations nationwide.

He’s also contemplating using an obscure Korean War-era “emergency” ordinance that would let the government bail out money-losing coal and nuclear plants at the expense of renewables.

The idea was presented to Trump while he dined with a lobbyist from the infamous Akron-based FirstEnergy, whose bad business decisions have hung it with four crumbling, money-losing nuclear power reactors and some eighty obsolete coal burners.

More than half the nation’s ninety-nine licensed commercial reactors are now losing money. FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse, near Toledo, Ohio; Perry, east of Cleveland, Ohio, and Beaver Valley 1 & 2, outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are bleeding radioactive red ink. One might expect “free market” corporate executives to cut their losses and let competition determine how our energy will be generated.

But FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones (annual salary: $8.7 million) has begged Ohio’s legislature and regulators to slap consumers with billions in higher electric rates. So far he’s failed, which is why he sent his lobbyist to dine with Trump.

Already, governments are doing what they can to prop up the nuclear power and fossil-fuel industries and damage the cause of renewable power.

Three nuclear reactors in Illinois have been granted a $200 million annual handout for the next decade. Pennsylvania and Connecticut may soon get soaked with massive rate hikes to keep reactors running there.

The New Jersey legislature has just approved spending $430 million over the next decade to run three more uneconomical reactors there, two at Salem and one at Hope Creek. Activists including actor Alec Baldwin have urged that state’s new Democratic governor to veto that proposal.

Throughout the United States, owners of even those few reactors that are still making money are poised to scam their way into compliant legislatures to see how much they can grab.

But the biggest nuke scam of all has been rammed through state regulatory agencies by New York’s “liberal” Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo backs the 2021 shutdown of two decrepit reactors at Indian Point, saying they are too close to Manhattan to be considered safe.

But Cuomo wants ratepayers statewide to cough up a staggering $7.6 billion for four upstate reactors whose owners had them slated for decommissioning. To the astonishment of economists, ecologists, business and ratepayer groups, Cuomo’s hand-picked regulators approved the rip-off last year.

Nuclear opponents have gone to court to stop it. They argue that while less than four thousand jobs are tied to the reactors, many thousands more would be created by replacement wind and solar projects.

FirstEnergy’s scam is even more brazen. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the average reactor generally employs between four hundred and seven hundred workers. Some workers stay on long after shutdown to deal with issues of decommissioning and waste management.

But along with bailing out its four dying nukes, FirstEnergy wants a staggering $8 billion per year in above-market ratepayer fees for some 80 coal burners.

Rightwing think tanks like Heritage have joined financial and business groups in warning such rate hikes could decimate the area’s economy.

Meanwhile, a bitterly disputed “set-back” law has stopped some $4.2 billion in proposed wind projects along Ohio’s “north coast,” which is flat, windy, well-wired and full of farmers desperate for the projects to begin. But repeal has stalled, with tens of thousands of jobs and billions in income hanging in limbo.

They’ll all disappear if Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry approve FirstEnergy’s “emergency” bailout.

Last September, the Trump Administration approved another $3.7 billion in federal loans, on top $8.3 billion approved in the past, to sustain a scandal-ridden nuclear project in Vogtle, Georgia.

More recently, on May 10, Congress passed a new attempt to open the proposed Yucca Mountain waste dump. The plan to store some 70,000 tons of high-level commercial radwaste in an earthquake-riddled dormant volcano is overwhelmingly opposed by Nevadans and had long since been written off. But a bi-partisan House vote of 340 to 72 mandated that within 30 months the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must decide whether to license the facility. It now heads to the Senate, where Republicans may be hesitant to act because their cohort, Dean Heller of Nevada faces a tough re-election battle in a state where the dump is extremely unpopular.

As all of this plays out, tens of thousands of jobs hang in the balance. The nation’s entrenched fossil-nuclear corporate elites are more focused on propping up the industries of the past than embracing the technologies of the future.

More articles by:

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

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail