Alexander and Webb Tout More Nuclear Pork

On the floor of the U.S. Senate this Monday, Senator Lamar Alexander (TN-R) introduced the Clean Energy Act of 2009 that aims to double the amount of nuclear energy generated in the U.S. within 20 years by providing the nuclear power industry with billions of dollars in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees. The legislation was co-sponsored by Senator Jim Webb (VA-D). Senator Alexander spoke about the bill earlier in the day at conference held by the American Nuclear Society.


A summary of the bill that was provided clearly shows that the bulk of the requested $20 billion over 10 years would go to finance the already-mature nuclear industry to continue building risky and costly new nuclear reactors and reprocessing technologies. The legislation seems to be a repeat of what Senator Alexander began pushing earlier this year. Building one hundred new reactors would result in an enormous burden on the U.S. taxpayer, which was outlined in a recently released fact sheet.

The proposed legislation dramatically increases the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program up to $100 billion, which Senator Alexander claims would only result in a cost of no more than $10 billion to taxpayers. This does not align with Government Accountability Office numbers that predict that the default rate for new reactors is 50% with an asset recovery of 50% in the event of a default (see page 19 of the GAO report). Instead, 100 new reactors could cost the U.S. taxpayer $200 billion.  The Clean Energy Act of 2009 suggests that, once again, privatizing profit and socializing risk are in play in the US Senate.


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Folks who oppose the badly-needed Clean Energy Act of 2009 had better flush out their headgear. Our nuclear power industry provides our only low-cost, large-scale source of green power, yet its growth has been stagnant due to public ignorance and useless politics. The future of our economy depends on the proper approach and execution in building our next generation of power plants, which we need to start doing NOW. Our aging nuclear fleet cannot be continuously uprated to meet demand, and they will not be able to satisfy their licensing requirements into perpetuity. The industry has been quietly doing its homework – many utilities have new reactor sites that are grid-accessible, and the industry has learned from the past several decades on where it can safely economize on reactor and turbine generator designs. Americans, open your eyes… we need the most inexpensive clean power, and we will crush manufacturing forever in this country if we don’t pursue new, more-efficient nuclear plants that are well within our reach and good for our economy.

Comment by michael on November 18, 2009 2:48 pm

[...] climate advisor Carol Browner said, responding to efforts by senators such as Bingaman (D-NM), Webb (D-VA), Dorgan (D-ND), Lincoln (D-AR), and Lugar (R-IN) to pass an energy bill without [...]

Pingback by Wonk Room » The WonkLine: November 19, 2009 on November 19, 2009 10:10 am

While Senator Alexander has been praising nuclear power, he has also been criticizing wind energy, including snubbing it from his proposed $20 billion climate legislation, Clean Energy Act of 2009. In his April 17 blog entry, Dr. Smith addressed the misinformation about wind energy that Sen. Alexander has been spreading and since then Sen. Alexander has continued to criticize wind energy in speeches and media interviews. I’d like to reply to some of the negative things Sen. Alexander has said.

“…to generate the same 1,000 megawatts with wind, one would need 270 square miles” –Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, June 2, 2009
The wind turbines themselves take up only 2% of the land leased for wind farms. The land around the turbines can still be used for a variety of things such as farming and cattle grazing.

“We’re about to destroy the environment in the name of saving it.” – Lamar Alexander in an opinion column for the Wall Street Journal called Energy ‘Sprawl’ and the Green Economy, Sept. 18, 2009
Wind energy is one of the most benign types of energy generation. It needs no mined fuel and doesn’t require water, which is becoming an increasingly more valuable resource. Nuclear power requires mined uranium and large amounts of water.
The National Research Council recently released a report of its study on the hidden costs of energy production. The report concludes that “potential damages associated with wind turbines are small compared to those associated with coal and natural gas as electricity sources.”
The report can be found here:

“…the wind doesn’t blow very much in the Southeast.” – Lamar Alexander in a speech given at American Enterprise Institute on July 29, 2009
According to the Department of Energy’s 20% Wind by 2030 report, the Southeast has a realistic potential to contribute 22-42 GW of installed wind energy by 2030.
Wind has the potential to play a part in the Southeast’s energy economy. The market is what is stalling wind development in the Southeast. Utilities are hesitant to buy into wind, which drives developers and money outside of the region.

Comment by Katie Stokes on November 19, 2009 1:50 pm

[...] climate advisor Carol Browner said, responding to efforts by senators such as Bingaman (D-NM), Webb (D-VA), Dorgan (D-ND), Lincoln (D-AR), and Lugar (R-IN) to pass an energy bill without [...]

Pingback by » The WonkLine: November 19, 2009 on November 19, 2009 3:18 pm

[...] Sens. Alexander, Webb Unveil Energy Bill to Double US Nuclear Power [...]

Pingback by Climate Action Hotline, Nov. 19 | USCAN Blog on November 20, 2009 10:34 am

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