by Glen Ford
Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
24 February 2010
“Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.”
Opponents of nuclear power have now joined the ranks of those who are bitterly disappointed with President Obama, who is proposing to triple loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry.
Barack Obama has long been allied with nuclear power, as have his two closest confidants, political advisor David Axelrod and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago-based Exelon corporation, the biggest nuclear power operator in the United States, was a major Obama campaign contributor. Obama’s support for nuclear power has never been a secret. If environmentalist Obamites were surprised by their president’s all-out push for nukes, they have only their own self-delusions to blame.
Back during the campaign, when Obama was getting huge checks from Big Nukes and Big Coal, environmentalists were giving him a political blank check for no other reason than Obama wasn’t George Bush. But it turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush – three times worse. By boosting federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors from $18.5 to $54 billion, Obama is attempting to bring back to life an industry that has been all but dead for almost three decades. More than just a bailout, Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.
“It turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush.”
The demise of U.S. nuclear power is generally dated to the partial meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island plant in March, 1979. But nuclear power has always been a failed business model in the U.S. Construction costs consistently run amok, at three, four and five times advertised. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that loans for nuclear plant construction have a more than fifty percent chance of never being repaid. Environmental opposition to nuclear power is not the reason the industry has been moribund for 30 years. Nuclear power was all but dead because private capital saw the industry as a bad risk. So Wall Street helped elect a president who would put up the people’s money. With public dollars reviving the industry, Chicago-based Exelon’s stock should shoot through the roof. Wall Street can prepare to process billions of dollars in new loans, knowing it doesn’t stand to lose one cent because the public is taking all the financial risk.
The public is also taking all the risk for the health hazards of nuclear power. Private industry will not insure against accidents, which could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. The public will ultimately pay for any cleanup.
Late-stage finance capitalism, like nuclear power, can only exist as a parasite on the larger society. The people pay all the costs: financial, safety, and health. The investment class puts up no money unless guaranteed a payback plus big profits. This isn’t about the environment. It’s about Wall Street stealing the people blind, through their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Congress and the White House. It’s really a crime story.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
from the archives: