A bill proposed by U.S. Senators Jim Webb (Democrat from Virginia) and Lamar Alexander (Republican from Tennessee) seeks to double nuclear power in the U.S. over the next 20 years, and relapse further into radioactive waste reprocessing, at taxpayer expense to the tune of $100 billion, not to mention radiological risk. Beyond Nuclear issued a press release condemning the move. In addition, Environment America expressed immediate opposition, urging resources be directed to cleaner, safer, and cheaper energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity.
Estimates for new reactor construction costs continue to sky-rocket. Conservative estimates range between $6 and $12 billion per reactor but Standard & Poor's predicts a continued rise. The nuclear power industry is lobbying for heavy federal subsidization including unlimited loan guarantees but the Congressional Budget Office predicts the risk of default will be well over 50 percent, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Beyond Nuclear opposes taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies for the nuclear energy industry.
The high financial risks for U.S. taxpayers of new reactor loan guarantees have led the Office of Management and Budget to take a more cautious approach than the nuclear power proponent, U.S. Department of Energy, ClimateWire reports. Such caution is wise, given the litany of new reactor cancellations, suspensions, skyrocketing cost overruns, and licensing/construction schedule delays, as documented by Physicians for Social Responsiblity in "Nuclear Power: The Renaissance That Wasn't."
U.S. Sen. McCaskill's letter to Energy Secy. Chu requesting extension to public comment deadline on nuclear loan guarantees
On Sept. 3, 2009, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (Democrat-Missouri) wrote to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, requesting an extension to the public comment deadline on DOE's proposed changes to the rules governing nuclear power loan guarantees. DOE agreed to a two week extension.
Seven national environmental groups wrote the U.S. Dept. of Energy on August 20th. They urged that DOE's period for public comments, regarding the highly technical and high stakes changes to its regulations governing nuclear power loan guarantees, be extended from 30 to 90 days. This would better allow adequate time for concerned taxpayers to submit carefully considered comments, thus boosting the transparency of the process.
Action Alert, Sept. 2, 2009
Urge Energy Dept. to Extend Public Comment Period on Nuclear Loan Guarantee Rules!
On August 7th, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) posted an announcement in the Federal Register about proposed changes to its nuclear loan guarantee program. This weakening of the rules could well put taxpayers at increased risk of being left holding the bag for tens of billions of dollars in loan repayments, when new nuclear projects default.
Despite such astronomical financial risks, and the complex technical nature of the regulatory changes, DOE has allowed just 30 short days for public comments to be submitted. The month long comment period just so happened to coincide with the August congressional recess, meaning that many watchdog groups, as well as House and Senate Members and staff, would be on travel, and not find out about it till Congress resumes in earnest the day after Labor Day. But that’s the very day that comments are currently due – Tuesday, Sept. 8th.
On August 20th, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote DOE, requesting a 60 day extension to the comment period.
Please email DOE right away at firstname.lastname@example.org. Express support for the Aug. 20 environmental coalition letter, and urge DOE to grant the 60 day extension to the comment period.
Alert your U.S. Senators and Representative to DOE’s sneak maneuver, by calling them via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, (202) 224-3121. Urge your Members of Congress to themselves contact DOE and demand a 60 day extension to the comment period, so that their staff can submit carefully considered comments to protect American taxpayers against the astronomical financial risks of new atomic reactors and uranium enrichment facilities.
And watch for an additional alert in the next few days, inviting groups to join a coalition comment submission currently in the works, to be turned in by Sept. 8th in case DOE rejects our extension request. Individuals can send comments directly to the DOE email address given above.
To learn more about DOE’s proposed nuclear loan guarantees, and to see the “Full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” go to http://www.lgprogram.energy.gov/. Also, read on here at Beyond Nuclear’s “Nuclear Costs” website section. If you have further questions, contact Kevin Kamps at Beyond Nuclear, (301) 270-2209 ext. 1, or email@example.com.