"‘Bacon-Trimmers’ Nelson And Collins Protect $50 Billion In Nuclear Pork"
Despite Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) claim that he, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and other centrists “trimmed the fat, fried the bacon, and milked the sacred cows” to deliver a shrunken economic recovery package, they kept in a $50 billion dollar nuclear boondoggle:
Subject to section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, commitments to guarantee loans under section 1702(b)(2) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, shall not exceed a total principal amount of $50,000,000,000 for eligible projects, to remain available until committed: Provided, That these amounts are in addition to any authority provided elsewhere in this Act and this and previous fiscal years . . .
As the Wonk Room has previously written, the line item inserted by Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) for $50 billion in misleadingly named “clean energy” loan guarantees will go primarily to the nuclear industry, generating few jobs and little economic growth.
Furthermore, the Senate watered down a new program intended to spur the widespread commercial deployment of renewable electricity. The new program, Section 1705, is exclusively for loan guarantees for renewable energy and electric power transmission systems that will be completed by September 30, 2012. The House of Representatives appropriated $8 billion exclusively to this program. Nelson-Collins instead allocates $8.5 billion to both Section 1705 as well as the broad “clean energy” loan guarantee program, thwarting the goals of President Obama.
The Senate package also ups the cash for coal companies at the behest of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), more than doubling the House’s allocation for fossil energy programs that capture carbon emissions to $4.6 billion. There is even a loophole that allows coal plants that do not make any attempt to capture emissions to qualify, by allowing that “awards for such projects may include plant efficiency improvements for integration with carbon capture technology.”
In sum, Sens. Bennett and Byrd, Nelson and Collins “trimmed the fat” by keeping $50 billion in pork for the nuclear and coal industry — while cutting billions in funds for science, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green jobs programs.