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Published on Thursday, September 18, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
The Senate's 'Drill Drill Drill' Bill Hides Nuke Power Mega-Theft
by Harvey Wasserman
The McCain/Palin push for endless oil drilling is being used as a smokescreen to gouge a half-trillion or more taxpayer dollars in subsidies and loan guarantees to build new atomic reactors. The mega-theft could be approved by the US Senate this week. Green activists throughout the nation are calling their Senators, as should you.
The atomic power industry can't get private financing to build new reactors. So while Wall Street plummets into catastrophe, it is using the "drill drill drill" mantra to hide this latest raid on the depleted federal treasury.
The new Senate bill authorizes the oil industry to drill for oil virtually anywhere it wants, without meaningful environmental restraint. The enormous profits would stay in the hands of the petro-barons.
Hidden in the bill is a limitless blank check for loan guarantees to build new reactors. A year ago the industry tried to slip $50 billion in guarantees into a bill sponsored by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), nuke power's chief Congressional pusher. A national grassroots campaign, sparked in part by NukeFree.org and other national green groups, helped beat the bill. Not a single major environmental organization supported the reactor industry.
Now desperate reactor builders have upped the ante, demanding a wide range of financial give-aways and regulatory favors to jump-start a technology defined by fifty years of proven failure. The centerpiece is a loan guarantee plan to stick taxpayers with 100% of the liability for failed reactor construction projects. The GOP McCain/Palin ticket wants at least 45 new reactors for the US , with a price tag that could easily exceed $500 billion, all of which would be guaranteed by this bill.
On Tuesday, September 16, the House passed a bill engineered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that limits new drilling to no less than 50 miles offshore. State approval is required, but all profits would go to a federal fund to promote renewable energy. There are no subsidies for nuke power. George W. Bush has threatened a veto.
Neither existing nor proposed reactors can get private insurance, so taxpayers are already liable for disasters by terror or error. The industry wants the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to license its proposed high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain despite overwhelming opposition from the people of Nevada . Current cost estimates are in the $100 billion range.
Reactor pushers in Florida , Georgia , the Carolinas and elsewhere are now in the process of forcing ratepayers to fork over billions in higher electric bills to pay for new reactors while they are being built.
But the McCain/Palin blank check in the Senate's "Drill Drill Drill" bill would put hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on the line for a new generation of radioactive time bombs, deployed on our soil, guaranteed to fail.
The time to stop this is now. Call your Senator immediately.
Harvey Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org. He helped found Musicians United for Safe Energy, and edits the nukefree.org web site.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs