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

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail