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Nuclear Costs

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.

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Tuesday
Jun152010

Obama's post-Gulf oil catastrophe call for "clean energy" tacit push for taxpayer-backed atomic expansion

Although President Barack Obama did not say the words "nuclear power" in his first ever Oval Office address to the nation on June 15th, his call for an accelerated "transition to clean energy" in response to the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history -- the worsening oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico -- represents a tacit push for the expansion of atomic energy. This would only take place by transferring the financial risks and even direct costs (not to mention the radiological risks) squarely on the backs of taxpayers. Obama said "Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill –- a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses." He failed to mention that the 2009 Waxman-Markey climate-energy bill would carve out up to 30% of federal "Clean Energy Deployment Administration" funding and support -- loan guarantees, outright loans, and other subsidies -- for new atomic reactors and other nuclear facilities such as uranium enrichment plants. Obama also failed to mention that the Kerry-Lieberman "climate" bill in the Senate -- more of a dirty energy subsidy bill, including, ironically, support for expanded offshore oil drilling -- contains a long list of taxpayer giveaways to the nuclear power industry, as revealed in analyses by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The Kerry-Lieberman bill would include the $36 billion expansion of the nuclear loan guarantee program funding requested from Congress by Energy Secretary Chu for the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, $9 billion of which the Obama administration is trying to rush onto the Fiscal Year 2010 budget by attaching a rider onto the emergency supplemental war funding and disaster relief bill currently before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. Also not mentioned in Obama's speech was the Bingaman energy bill, passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer: its version of the federal "Clean Energy Deployment Administration" is significantly worse than the House version, allowing for unlimited loan guarantees for nuclear power, without congressional oversight -- granting the Department of Energy veritable blank check writing authority for the nuclear relapse. Contact the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111, or fill out its web form at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact; urge President Obama to stop seeking to expand atomic energy at taxpayer risk and expense.

Friday
Jun112010

PSR releases analysis of Kerry-Lieberman "climate" bill's nuclear power section

Michele Boyd at Physicians for Social Responsibility has published a two page summary and an eight page analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman "American Power Act" being proposed in the U.S. Senate. After reading these analyses, phone (via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121) your two U.S. Senators to urge they block such nuclear power subsidies and regulatory rollbacks -- the nuclear power industry's "wish list" in this legislation is a mile long!

Wednesday
Jun092010

"Nuclear Reactionaries"

"It’s a big-government-dependent tool to fight climate change that was championed by Jimmy Carter, is now dominated by the French, and has never managed to compete in the marketplace. So why, exactly, do Republicans love nuclear power so much?" (by T.A. Frank in the May/June 2010 Washington Monthly)

Wednesday
Jun092010

Still time to block $9 billion expansion to nuclear loan guarantees -- call Congress today!

As Harvey Wasserman reports in "Apocalypse in the Gulf now (oil) & next (nukes)," we still have a week to urge our U.S. Representatives to remove $9 billion in new loan guarantees for atomic reactor construction from the emergency war and disaster relief funding bill before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. See the environmental group coalition letter to House Members, as well Taxpayers for Common Sense's own letter to the U.S. House, objecting to these new atomic reactor loan guarantees. Check to see if your U.S. Representative serves on the Appropriations Committee. If they do, phone them via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to do all they can to block this atomic industry give-away at taxpayer risk. Even if your U.S. Representative does not serve on that committee, call them anyway, and urge that they weigh in with their colleagues on the committee to oppose this massive subsidy. Also, call U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI) at (202) 225-2771 to urge this radioactive provision be removed from the bill. See Beyond Nuclear's earlier alert on this issue for additional background information, as well as our original post when Politico broke this story.

Wednesday
May262010

Urge Congress Members to block rushed $9 billion nuclear power loan guarantee expansion attached to emergency supplemental war funding bill!

Calls are urgently needed to Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, especially Members of the House Appropriations Committee, urging opposition to $9 billion of new nuclear power loan guarantees being rushed into law as a rider on the emergency supplemental war spending bill. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and House Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey met at the White House with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, White House Climate and Energy Czar Carol Browner, and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzag. Reportedly, a deal was struck allowing for $9 billion in expanded nuclear power loan guarantee authority to be enacted as part of the emergency supplemental war spending bill, along with an equal amount of loan guarantee authority for renewable energy sources, especially solar. The $9 billion in expanded nuclear power loan guarantees is actually a first installment on the $36 billion nuclear loan guarantee expansion that President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu called for earlier this year on the Fiscal Year 2011 Department of Energy Budget Request to Congress. But instead of waiting for next fiscal year, they are rushing to assist new reactor projects in Fiscal Year 2010. The most likely recipients for the $10.2 billion currently remaining in the nuclear loan guarantee program fund, and now this proposed $9 billion expansion, are: the French Areva “Evolutionary Power Reactor” at Constellation/Electricite de France’s Calvert Cliffs 3 site in Maryland (which happens to be in House Majority Leader Hoyer's own district); two Toshiba-Westinghouse “Advanced Passive” AP1000 reactors at South Carolina Electric and Gas's Summer Nuclear Power Plant; and the South Texas Project Units 3 and 4 Hitachi-General Electric “Advanced Boiling Water Reactors,” proposed by NRG Energy and its partners, the Japanese atomic reactor vendor Toshiba and nuclear utility Tokyo Electric Power Company. The solar/nuclear Faustian bargain is not even as good as it sounds, for renewables industries already have authority for more loan guarantees than they can presently use, and are actually reluctant to pay the relatively steep credit subsidy fees required to apply for such loan guarantees. The nuclear power industry, on the other hand, hopes to expand its loan guarantee authority as much as it can, to finance the growing number of astronomically expensive new reactors it hopes to build in the U.S., largely at taxpayer risk. The vote on the emergency supplemental war spending bill is already upon us, and could happen as early as 5 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, May 27th. ASAP, call your U.S. Representative via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to act quickly to block $9 billion in new nuclear power taxpayer-backed loan guarantees from being added to an emergency supplemental war funding bill, by weighing in with their colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee. Then call the House Appropriations Committee Majority Staff, at (202) 225-2771 and urge that House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (Democrat-Wisconsin) block the nuclear loan guarantee expansion. Taxpayers for Common Sense has objected to the legislative shenanigans of attaching nuclear power loan guarantees to such a bill. NIRS has put out an action alert with helpful background information.