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by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
Feb. 18, 2010
President Obama’s support of loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear power plants is a monumental mistake. It is a decision that is bad for consumers and taxpayers, and it is wrong-headed from an environmental and national security perspective.
Providing $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to help the Southern Company build two reactors in Georgia is the last thing the Obama Administration should be doing. There is no place for new nuclear power plants in our country’s energy future.
It is deplorable that President Obama has called for more so-called “safe, clean nuclear power plants.” Adding insult to injury, he requested from Congress another $54 billion in taxpayer loan guarantees on top of the $18 billion previously approved under Bush. Wall Street financiers will not loan electric companies money to build new nuclear plants, which can cost $12 billion and up, unless Uncle Sam guarantees the loans. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nuclear companies will default on loans for new reactors 50 percent of the time:
“CBO considers the risk of default on such a loan guarantee to be very high—well above 50 percent. The key factor accounting for this risk is that we expect that the plant would be uneconomic to operate because of its high construction costs, relative to other electricity generation sources.”
Following the Three Mile Island near-melt down, the many accidents, spills and shutdowns at other plants, and the Chernobyl disaster in what is now Ukraine, the electric utility bosses found Wall Street unwilling to invest in nuclear power and public opposition to nuclear power overwhelming.
Nuclear power is financially risky and regularly bogged down with delays and cost over-runs. Moreover, there are too many spent fuel rods filling pools at nuclear power plants because no permanent storage sites for deadly radioactive wastes have been certified. Finally, the risks of sabotage and nuclear proliferation, which have become prominent national security concerns in the post-9/11 era, are significant.
President Obama should be pursuing energy policies that promote safe, domestic, renewable sources of energy and proven energy conservation strategies to meet our nation’s energy demands, not costly, risky, dirty nuclear power.
“A Bad Day for America”: Anti-Nuclear Activist Harvey Wasserman Criticizes Obama Plan to Fund Nuclear Reactors
President Obama has pledged $8.3 billion in loan guarantees needed to build the first nuclear reactors in nearly three decades. The move, along with a tripling of nuclear loan guarantees in the President’s budget, represents a new federal commitment to the nuclear power sector. We speak to independent journalist and longtime anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman, who helped found the grassroots movement against nuclear power in the United States in the 1970s.
President Obama on Tuesday pledged $8.3 billion dollars in loan guarantees needed to build the first nuclear reactors in nearly three decades. The move, along with a tripling of nuclear loan guarantees in the president’s budget, represents a new federal commitment to the nuclear power sector. Obama made the announcement after touring a Maryland training facility for energy jobs.
The $8.3 billion dollar loan guarantee will help the Atlanta-based Southern Company build two more nuclear reactors in Burke County, Georgia near the city of Augusta. The loan guarantees will cover up to 70 percent of the company’s portion of the project’s costs. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Department of Energy to issue up to $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear plants and other energy projects. President Obama wants to triple the size of the loan guarantees to $54 billion.
Harvey Wasserman, independent journalist and longtime anti-nuclear activist. In the early 1970s, he helped found the grassroots movement against nuclear power in the United States. He is the editor of nukefree.org and is a senior adviser to Greenpeace USA.
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