An Astonishing Holiday No New Nukes Victory!!!

Dec 9, 2010

An Astonishing Holiday No New Nukes Victory!!!

Welcome to the NEW Nukefree.org, & an urgent CALL TO ACTION. The Nukefree.org website has been revamped for more news and action updates, as well as for this blog.



Another Astonishing Holiday No New Nukes Victory


By Harvey Wasserman



The atomic energy industryhas suffered another astonishing defeat. Because of it, 2010 again left the “nuclear renaissance” in the Dark Agethat defines the technology.


But an Armageddon-stylebattle looms when Congress returns next year.


The push to build new nuclearplants depends now, as always, on federal subsidies.  Fifty-three years after the first commercial reactor openedat Shippingport, Pennsylvania, no private funders will step forward to pay fora “new generation” of nukes. 


So the industry remains miredin unsolved waste problems, disturbing vulnerability to terror and error,uninsured liability in case of a major catastrophe, and unapproved new designproposals. 


Two new reactor constructionprojects in Europe---one in Finland and the other at Flamanville, France---aresinking in gargantuan cost overruns and multi-year delays.  To financiers and energy expertsworldwide, it’s a clear indicator the “rebirth” of this failed technology is ahopeless quagmire. 


Meanwhile the 104 reactorscurrently licensed in the US are leaking radiation and are under escalatinggrassroots attack.  Vermont’s newgovernor, Peter Shumlin, is committed to shutting the Yankee plant there, andpublic demands to close New York’s Indian Point and Oyster Creek, New Jersey,among others, have reached fever pitch.


Most importantly, advances ingreen technologies are leaving atomic power in the dust.  Numerous new studies now show it issignificantly cheaper to build new generating capacity with photovoltaics, windand other renewable Solartopian sources than to go nuclear ( http://nukefree.org/energy-information-administration-nuke-costs-rise-while-solar-falls).  That gap will only grow in thecoming years. 


But Barack Obama proposedsome $36 billion in new nuke loan guarantees to add to $18.5 billion set asideby the Bush Administration.  Earlierthis year he handed $8.33 billion of that to a Georgia utility that brokeground on two new nukes at the Vogtle site, where two old, trouble-plaguedreactors still operate.


The nukes are being built inGeorgia---along with two more in South Carolina---because ratepayers are beingforced to foot the bill as construction proceeds.  The company’s returns are guaranteed even if the reactorsnever operate.  Georgia has alreadysuffered crippling rate hikes of $1 billion and more to pay for a construction projectlikely to wind up as little more than a moribund mausoleum.


Nonetheless, amidst a majoreconomic crisis, the White House and its pro-nuke allies have been pushing hardto fund still more of these radioactive boondoggles. 


As Congress wound down thisfall, the Administration inserted $7 billion in new loan guarantees into thefirst Continuing Resolution meant to fund the government on an interimbasis. 


That CR was abandoned for alarger Ominbus Budget proposal, into which $8 billion for new nukes was stuck.


But grassroots activists fromaround the nation flooded Congress and White House with at least 15,000 callsand letters.


Amidst the chaos of the lameduck session, the Omnibus bill fell by the wayside.  Yet another CR emerged, this one stripped ofearmarks---including all money for new nuke guarantees.


Thus the industry was onceagain shut out.  In the past decadeit has spent more than $640 million lobbying for federal handouts.


But a vastly underfundedgrassroots movement has held its own.    In 2007 the industry tried to gouge out $50billion in new guarantees, but was beaten back by a national campaign (www.nukefree.org) that continues torage. 


The industry will surelyreturn with its money guns blazing. A far more conservative Congress willconvene in January, and the industry will pour its usual unlimited steam oflucre into legislative coffers. The “renaissance” is nothing if not a cash cow for Congressionalcandidates and the White House.


But, says Michael Mariotte ofthe Nuclear Information & Resources Service, “Once again, taxpayers have beenspared the expense of bailing out the wealthy, multinational nuclear powerindustry.


“ But thenuclear lobbyists will be back next session, hat-in-hand, even whiledistributing campaign checks to their allies.”


Nonetheless,he adds, the industry “ may have missed its moment. It will become increasinglydifficult for it to justify spending increases when all indications are thatthe new Congress will be focused on spending cuts.”


So thebattle will resume in January, with the industry again selling its“renaissance” as a done deal.  Butif the grassroots environmental movement can keep up the pressure, and therevolution in green power proceeds, nuclear power may just be done,period. 


HarveyWasserman edits the www.nukefree.org website; his Solartopia!, as sung by PeteSeeger, is at www.solartopia.org.









Harvey Wasserman edits www.NukeFree.org.