Authored by SACE’s High Risk Energy Choices Organizer, Mandy Hancock
Last month, I joined the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability in Washington, D.C. for their annual DC Days. I was one of nearly a hundred concerned citizens and activists from across the nation that converged in Washington to educate Congress on issues relating to the nuclear industry. It was a timely trip, considering the ongoing disaster occurring at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan. The event also coincided with the blooming of the cherry blossom trees and the national Cherry Blossom Festival, which provided a beautiful backdrop and reminder of the long friendship shared between Japan and the United States.
The sole priority on Captiol Hill that week, however, was to pass a Continuing Resolution specific to Congressional budgets that would prevent a government shut down. With much ado being made over the budget, it was quite an appropriate time to speak to fiscal conservatives about the expense and financial riskiness of investing in new nuclear power reactors. Taxpayer-financed nuclear loan guarantees for new nuclear reactor projects in the U.S. are a serious concern as an additional $36 billion was proposed by the Obama Administration for fiscal year 2012 (beginning in September 2011). If approved, this would bring the total budget for nuclear loan guarantees to $54 billion ($18.5 billion was already authorized several years ago with Southern Company’s proposed Plant Vogtle expansion in Georgia receiving the first conditional loan commitment of $8.3 billion).
The message we delivered to Congress was clear: U.S. taxpayers do not want to and should not be on the hook for these risky projects. We presented Congressional members and their staff with information on how they could reduce the budget by opposing expensive new nuclear reactors projects. Multiple resources from our allies at Physicians for Social Responsibility, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Union of Concerned Scientists, Friends of the Earth and the Nuclear Information Resource Service are available for reference.
Instead of throwing billions more dollars at new nuclear reactors, we advocated for Congress to support clean and safe efficiency and renewable energy standards. We shared information from the Department of Energy and the Institute of Environmental and Energy Research that shows we can move towards a clean energy future that does not include coal and nuclear. For such a heavily subsidized industry that has received nearly three times the funding of efficiency and renewable programs, why can’t the mature nuclear industry stand on its own? Instead, it is relying on double-dipping into our pockets with loan guarantees at the federal level and early cost recovery schemes at the state level. As taxpayers and utility ratepayers, we won’t stand for these financial schemes that put all of the risk onto us!
Let your members of Congress know that you do not support providing billions of dollars more in taxpayer-financed nuclear loan guarantees to the wealthy nuclear industry. If Wall Street won’t finance these risky projects, why should you? Take action TODAY by visiting our website.
–SACE’s Sara Barczak assisted with this post
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