On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase nuclear loan guarantees by $50 billion in the economic recovery package (S. 336). This staggering sum “would more than double the current loan guarantee cap of $38 billion” for “clean energy” technology:
TITLE 17—INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM
The Committee also recommends an additional $50,000,000,000 to support the deployment of eligible technologies under the Section 1702(b)(2) of EPACT 2005 that will contribute to transforming the energy sector. This funding will add to the existing loan guarantee authority provided in other appropriations bills to support self-financed loan guarantees. The Committee is aware of the strong interest in the program and the large number of pending applications.
In contrast, the committee allocated only $9.5 billion exclusively for “standard renewable energy projects.” Although the loan guarantee program covers nuclear technology, carbon capture and sequestration for coal plants, as well as renewable energy, the vast bulk of requested loans — $122 billion — are for new nuclear power plants. This $50 billion nuclear throwaway nearly matches the total allocation for genuinely clean energy in the House version of the stimulus package: only $52 billion in total for smart grid, renewable energy, and energy efficiency investments.
Unlike renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, investments in the nuclear industry generate few jobs or economic growth. The nuclear industry has developed through massive federal subsidization from research to deployment over decades. Such a massive expenditure of nuclear pork has no place in the economic recovery bill. Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth, who discovered the nuclear pork, called the appropriations “unconscionable“:
Now is not the time for another bailout boondoggle. Nuclear power is the most expensive form of energy there is. It takes 10 years or more to build a reactor, so it is impossible to claim with a straight face that this preemptive bailout has anything to do with creating jobs. Senate appropriators’ decision to include such wasteful spending in the stimulus is an example of Washington at its worst.
E&E News reports that two of the Senate’s strongest nuclear supporters, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), are pushing for more nuclear goodies:
A proposed $2 billion in manufacturing tax credits in the Finance Committee mark only applies to production of components for renewable energy, electric or hybrid-electric car storage systems, grid and efficiency components, carbon capture and storage equipment and renewable fuels. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) are working to change the manufacturing tax incentive so that it is “technology neutral.”
,ClimateProgress‘s Joseph Romm notes reports that a new nuclear plant in Turkey ” is likely to be cancelled due to the high price.” Instead:
First comes efficiency, efficiency, efficiency and then comes renewables, and once you’ve tried everything else twice as hard as you ever thought possible, then and only then should you consider the the really expensive options that need a lot of technological advances, like nuclear and coal with carbon capture and storage.