As uranium prospectors begin to scour and drill across South Texas once again, folks across the region are increasingly organizing to protect our limited groundwater supplies from in-situ leach mining. Many of you already know the heavy toll the industry took on our lives and livelihoods in past decades, as well as the devastation that has occurred in neighboring New Mexico, especially on the Navajo Reservation where a new battle is brewing.
A few of you have also become aware that those companies kicking through your back forties are (often through convoluted chains of ownership and financing) coming out of Canada. But did you know how seriously the industry has affected the land and people in the Great White North?
Listen to this fascinating 30-minute interview about mining activities, weapons proliferation, and the spoiling of our earth and water with author Jim Harding: Canada’s Dirty Secret. This was passed to me by an excellent reporter tracking nuke happenings (and there’s plenty of ’em) over in the “Land of Enchantment.” You can find her blogging at High Desert Reports.
Now, uranium mining, runaway bomb material, and dangerous nukes can be shutdown in Congress simply by turning off the subsidy tap. The House kept nuclear loan guarantees out of their version of the Energy Bill. These subsidies are the only thing that would make the NRG/City of San Antonio proposed STP 3&4 possible. However, Sen. Domenici, R-NM, and others are trying to get the money put back in for nukes, while working to strip the House’s important renewable energy standards from the bill. The Senate blocked the Energy Bill from coming up for a vote on Friday (and of course Bush is also coming out against the renewable energy standards, so the fight is definitely still on).
That’s not all, according to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service should nuke subsidies be squeezed from the Energy Bill, Domenici and others in the Senate are trying to work $25 billion in taxpayer-funded nuke loan guarantees into the ’08 Appropriations Bill.
Please read the following from Michael Mariotte, NIRS director:
* Below is a sign-on letter to Congress. We encourage your organization to sign on to this letter by 9 am Eastern Time, Wednesday, December 12. To sign on, send your name, organization, city and state to email@example.com.
* Individuals (and people representing organizations): please call your Congressmembers, even if you have done so before, and tell them not to accept any federal loan guarantees for nuclear power for FY 2008. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121. Your calls and actions have played the pivotal role in stopping the loan guarantees in the energy bill—but now we all need to act again.
*While the energy bill has passed the House, its future is uncertain in the Senate. Already this morning, a minority of Senators stopped the Senate from considering the bill. They don’t like the idea of oil companies being forced to pay their fair taxes, and, inexplicably, many don’t support the very modest renewable energy provision in the energy bill—it calls for 15% renewable energy by 2020. This opens the door for Senators to try to change the Senate version, in particular, for Sen. Domenici to try to trade renewable energy support for nuclear loan guarantee support! Call your Senators today (same number as above) and tell them that an energy bill with nuclear loan guarantees is unacceptable! You might also want to indicate your support for renewable energy! It would be especially helpful to call those who voted against the bill this morning (vote list is included below).
Thank you for your activism. It is certainly needed now.
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Sign-on letter to Congress. Please send your name, organization, city and state to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign on to this letter.
December 12, 2007
We urge you to keep costly loan guarantees for nuclear power out of the Energy and Water and omnibus appropriations bills.
We understand from media reports that the Energy and Water Appropriations conferees are considering $25 billion in loan guarantees exclusively to the nuclear industry. The Administration proposed $9 billion for all energy loan guarantees and the House approved $7 billion for all energy loan guarantees in FY 2008.
There has been no Congressional debate or vote on this large sum of money. There has also been no discussion or hearings on the implications for other energy projects, if the $25 billion nuclear loan guarantee package is passed. $25 billion is more than the entire annual budget for the Department of Energy. Doesn’t Congress have the obligation to debate the ramifications of risking $25 billion?
Moreover, there is no hurry for a nuclear loan guarantee package: no nuclear utilities will be in a position in 2008 to use any federal funds for new reactor construction. Only four utilities so far have submitted applications for new reactors and the NRC licensing process is expected to take a minimum of 30 months for complete applications referencing certified standardized reactor designs. But none of the applications has been certified as complete by the NRC (Constellation Energy so far is missing half its application; NRG Energy’s application has deficiencies the NRC projects will take a year to correct), and none of the applications references a certified standardized reactor design (while the NRG Energy application references a standardized design, NRG is seeking 16 changes from the design as certified; TVA is seeking major changes from its standardized design; while Constellation and Dominion Resources are both seeking licensing of reactor decisions that have not yet gone through the certification process). It will be at least 2011, and probably later, before any utility can begin reactor construction.
The cost of new atomic reactors, and thus the usefulness of loan guarantees, is an issue that Congress has not yet fully explored. Cost estimates by nuclear utilities for new reactors have essentially doubled over the past two years, and are far above the $1,500-$2,000/kilowatt price the Nuclear Energy Institute said in 2005 was necessary to make nuclear power economically competitive. In October 2007, Moody’s Investor Service estimated that new reactors will cost far more than the nuclear utilities have estimated. Indeed, Moody’s estimates that new U.S. reactors will cost from $5,000 to $6,000 per kilowatt. If Moody’s is correct, a 1,600 MW reactor such as that proposed by Constellation for the Calvert Cliffs, Maryland site would cost from $8 to nearly $10 billion. Risking taxpayer funds on a project with such dubious cost-effectiveness would be unwise—especially years before the funds could actually be used. A full Congressional examination of nuclear construction costs should be undertaken before large amounts of taxpayer funds are risked.
The Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General warned in September that even $9 billion in loan guarantees proposed by the Department for FY 2008 “will result in significant risk to the American taxpayer.” What would $25 billion mean to the American taxpayer, especially given the skyrocketing cost estimates for new nuclear reactors?
Not only is the nuclear industry not ready to use loan guarantees, it is far from clear that the Department of Energy is yet capable of managing such an enormous program. By way of comparison, the U.S. Export-Import Bank—staffed with recognized experts in banking and lending–reported guaranteeing 736 loans valued at $8.2 billion in FY 2006. The Department of Energy does not have a similar expertise.
We urge you to accept this summer’s decision of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, which determined that no loan guarantee funding should go for nuclear power projects in FY 2008.
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Vote list on Senate Energy Bill, December 7, 2007
(a “yes” vote was in favor of the energy bill and renewable energy; 60 votes were needed to continue consideration of the bill)
————————————————————————————————————–People sometimes ask us why we urge you to call your Congressmembers, rather than set up an e-mail form for you to fill out. The reason is simple: we strongly believe your phone calls are far more effective than e-mails. Congressmembers know it takes little effort to send an e-mail; they are far more persuaded by constituents who take the effort to call. Congressional offices receive so many e-mails, they can’t possibly read them, and often don’t know which side of the issue the e-mailer is supporting. Moreover, many Congressmembers believe e-mail campaigns are rigged, or otherwise phony.
Consider these paragraphs from a Washington Post article on November 22, 2007: “A poll of 350 congressional staffers conducted by the Congressional Management Institute in 2005 indicated that half of them did not believe that form-letter messages were sent with the knowledge or approval of constituents.
Yet the volume of e-mail has skyrocketed. House and Senate offices last year received 318 million electronic messages, up from 200 million e-mails and postal letters in 2004.”
Your phone calls are effective. Your e-mails to Congress often are not.
481 organizations have now signed the statement on nuclear power and climate! Let’s get to 500! Please check the list of organizational signers (US: http://www.nirs.org/petition2/ussigners120507.pdf; international: http://www.nirs.org/petition2/intsigners120507.pdf) and if your organization hasn’t signed, please do so at: http://www.nirs.org/petition2/index.php. And if you haven’t signed yet personally, please sign (although please don’t sign if you already have)!
Finally, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to NIRS this holiday season. Your support enables us to do the outreach and mobilization needed to stop a nuclear power resurgence and build a sustainable, carbon-free, nuclear-free energy future. You can do so safely on our secure website at: https://secure.campagne-online.com/registrant/donate.aspx?EventID=2927&LangPref=en-CA