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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 8, 2010

OBAMA CANCELS NUKE PROMISE; BACKS HUGE SUBSIDIES FOR DANGEROUS ENERGY

Arjun Makhijani, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research - In his State of the Union address, President Obama formally abandoned his campaign promise on new nuclear plants. In 2008 he endorsed only continued operation of existing nuclear power plants. New ones would have to wait until safety, waste, and proliferation concerns are resolved. The latter two concerns are arguably more acute than before he took office. The Obama administration has rightly abandoned Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear waste . . . But his commission on nuclear waste has not even begun work; it will be 2012 by the time it issues its final report.

Further, while expressing concerns about deficits, the Obama administration is opening the spigot for more loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants because Wall Street won't finance them. They are just too risky. A single project is often more costly than the entire net worth of many electricity generating companies. They don't want to bet their companies on nuclear. But they are OK with betting taxpayer dollars. Given that the underlying relationship between energy demand and economic growth is changing (quite apart from the recession), many nuclear projects are likely to be abandoned. Some already have been. Every nuclear power plant ordered after the first energy crisis in 1973 was abandoned, leaving ratepayers and bondholders on the hook. This time it will be the taxpayers.

Worst of all, nuclear will not materially help with global warming. It takes too long and too much money to build a single plant. Pursuing nuclear takes so much money that it will sideline renewable energy and efficiency to marginal roles.


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