nuke texas (please)

Yesterday, San Antonio’s City-owned CPS Energy, local automotive mongrel Red McCombs, and Illinois polluter Excelon Energy established “Nuclear Energy for Texans,” a private-public partnership built to lobby taxpayers, voters, and lawmakers for a nuclear-powered future.

The collection of business interests (and former Guv Lite Bill Ratliffe) along with San Antonio’s recently spanked utility, fresh from a requested rate hike denial and green energy lectures from our very own city council, are pledging to fight hard to nuke this state.

It’s as if the utility has gone to TxDOT finishing school. One has to wonder just what percent of each utility bill goes to CPS’ advertising and lobbying budget.

Here’s what they say about themselves:

Committed to raising awareness of nuclear energy in Texas, NET’s steering committee is composed of elected officials at the state and local level, representatives from business and industry, health organizations and the scientific and engineering community. Their involvement ensures a high level of leadership and support in NET’s efforts to educate Texans about the benefits of nuclear energy.

Although their backgrounds vary, one common denominator of NET’s steering committee is the knowledge and belief that nuclear energy needs to be part of our state’s energy mix.

Initial funding for NET comes from Exelon Nuclear, the largest nuclear operator in the United States, with other NET members contributing financial support as well.

Meanwhile, up in Washington, the debate has begun on a climate bill opposed by the Bush Administration for its negative economic impact on Old Industry (coal), while a raft of planetary-systems advocates push for the creation of a new greenhouse-gas-free economy.

However, the bill, an example of the deafening power of underreporting still promises billions (over 500 of ’em) in nuclear earmarks and incentives.

Writes watchdog Karl Grossman:

With Wall Street unwilling to finance new nuclear plants, U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Warner of Virginia have cooked up a scheme to provide $544 billion –­ yes, with a “b” ­ in subsidies for new nuclear power plant development…

A Lieberman aide describes the plan as “the most historic incentive for nuclear in the history of the United States.”

The Lieberman-Warner scheme is cloaked in a climate change bill ­ the claim being that nuclear power plants don’t emit greenhouse gases and thus don’t contribute to global warming. However, the overall “nuclear cycle” ­– which includes mining, milling, fuel enrichment and fabrication, and reprocessing ­ has significant greenhouse gas emissions that do contribute to global warming.

Moreover, nuclear power is enormously dangerous. Accidents like the Chernobyl explosion of 1986 stand to kill and leave many people with cancer. Nuclear plants routinely emit life-threatening radioactivity. Safeguarding nuclear waste for millions of years is an insoluble problem.

Nevertheless, there have long been powerful forces in government and the nuclear industry promoting atomic energy.

Wall Street is uneasy ­ rightfully regarding nuclear power as terribly risky. Six of the nation’s largest investment banks including CitiGroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley last year told the U.S. Department of Energy that the risks “make lenders unwilling…to extend long-term credit.”

Enter Senators Lieberman and Warner.

Safe energy advocates are outraged by their scheme. Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, says: “It’s time to focus on real global warming solutions like solar, wind and energy efficiency, not to further fatten the moribund nuclear calf.”

Oblivious on the subsidy angle, the crowd reports:

Climate change debate began yesterday in the U.S. Senate and in Bonn, Germany, where a new round of negotiations began among 162 nations seeking to create a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.

On Capitol Hill, Senators voted 74-14 to bring debate on the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill to the Senate floor. The bill calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by roughly 66% below current levels by 2050.

The bill is not likely to pass the Senate this year. Opponents say the bill would severely damage the U.S. economy, while proponents say it will create new markets and jobs and only slightly decrease the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Reuters reported that as many as 20 Senators are uncommitted on the bill.

President Bush criticized the bill before the Senate vote, saying it would cost the U.S. economy $6 trillion dollars. He vowed to veto it, should it pass through Congress in its current form.

In a statement that is laughable in context of U.S. war debt accrued under the current administration, Bush said, “I urge the Congress to be very careful about running up enormous costs for future generations of Americans.”

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, responded to the president’s statement.

“Just when we finally have a chance to get off of Big Oil and foreign oil, you can count on the Bush Administration to fight us every step of the way,” Boxer said.

A climate change bill is not likely to pass until a new administration enters the White House.

So the honor of forging a sane energy plan in a world wrought by climate change will fall to the next administration, most likely. Here’s a newsflash for them: uranium is not a renewable resource.

A lot of attention has been fixed on how carbon credit notions and cap-and-trades will work. But before this goliath moves forward, we need a better working definition of sustainable energy. And the American people deserve a clear picture of this subsidy issue.

In the growing chorus for “energy independence,” we would be wise to remember the U.S. only has a fraction of the estimated 3 million tons of uranium on this planet.

Back to Grossman:

Among the subsidies nuclear power already gets is $20 billion approved by Congress and President Bush only last year. And there’s a law Congress passed, called the Price-Anderson Act, that limits liability to $10 billion for a catastrophic accident ­ although, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, this is a small fraction of what a nuclear plant disaster could cause in property damage, not to mention birth defects, cancers and deaths.

While you are brewing over all this inanity, surely you can find time to send a note of thanks to the steering committee members of the Nuke Texas campaign:

The Honorable Clyde Alexander
Member, State Parks Advisory Committee
Grant Billingsley
Wagner & Brown, Ltd.
Midland, Texas
William Blanchard
CEO, DeTar Hospital
Victoria, Texas
Consumer Energy Alliance
CPS Energy
San Antonio
Donald Day
Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas
Exelon Generation
Dale Fowler
Victoria Economic Development Corporation
Hector Gutierrez
El Paso Electric, Co.
The Honorable Glenn Hegar, Jr.
Texas State Senator
Becky Armendariz Klein
President, RA Klein & Co.
Sheldon Landsberger, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Program
The University of Texas at Austin
Red McCombs
CEO, McCombs Enterprises
The Honorable Geanie Morrison
Texas State Representative
Lee Peddicord, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor of Nuclear Engineering
Texas A&M University
Wilbur (Skip) Porter, Ph.D.
Founding President
HoustonAdvanced Research Center
John W. Poston, Sr., Ph.D.
Past-President, Health Physics Society
The Honorable Donald Pozzi
Victoria County Judge
The Honorable Bill Ratliff
Former Lt. Governor of Texas
Maria Teran
Board Member, Public Service Board of El Paso
Texas State Association of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
The Honorable Bruce Todd
Former Mayor of Austin
The Honorable Jim Wyatt
African AmericanChamber of Commerce of Victoria

Cross-posted at CurBlog.

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5 responses to “nuke texas (please)

  1. I had a feeling this was going to be the case. Silly Pollyana me was hoping otherwise.

    Okay…Warner asked us to get vocal. Be careful what you wish for because VOCAL it is.

    At the Cspan briefing, Boxer said she hadn’t had a chance to go over the late additions to the bill, which, presumably is where the nuclear references mainly are contained.

    Wonder if she’ll continue to sponsor this when she’s had a chance to envision what they are REALLY talking about doing.

    Once again, GH… I owe ya one. Thanks for being so prompt on your assessment of this incoming train wreck that is headed straight for us.

    I’ll link this up to my site as soon as the dingdang wireless ALLOWS me the ability.



  2. MM,

    The following press release from NIRS may answer some of your questions about late-breaking developments:

    “All day long, we have been receiving notes from people letting us know they have called their Senators demanding that nuclear power subsidies stay out of the climate bill! The response has been gratifying—and we know these calls are effective.

    “We’ve heard reports of some offices being overwhelmed with calls, and others simply turning on their answering machines to avoid more ringing phones.

    “We now don’t believe any nuclear amendments will be voted on today. Thus, if you haven’t yet called your Senators, please do so. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.

    “We also now have seen the text of the likely Lieberman/Warner nuclear amendment. It calls for funds for “nuclear science and engineering education” and for “nuclear energy trades training and certification,” as well as a “sense of the Senate” that nuclear power is safe, that nuclear power emits “fewer greenhouse gases than wind energy, solar energy, and biomass on a per kilowatt-hour basis,” and that Congress should develop new programs to “stimulate” investment for the manufacture of nuclear components—such as reactor vessels.

    “These provisions are being put in because the nuclear industry simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to build new reactors—so they want taxpayers to pay for that infrastructure. We need to tell the Senate that we want our money spent on the fastest, safest, cheapest and cleanest solutions to the climate crisis: renewables and energy efficiency.

    “We have not seen the likely Isakson amendment, but it reportedly will expand on the Lieberman/Warner amendment by providing specific tax credits for reactor component manufacture and by adding still more money for taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors.

    “Ten Washington based organizations issued a statement calling for rejection of the subsidies: Clean Water Action; Environment America; Environmental Working Group; Greenpeace; Natural Resources Defense Council; Nuclear Information and Resource Service; Nuclear Policy Research Institute/Beyond Nuclear; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Public Citizen; Sierra Club; and Union of Concerned Scientists.

    “Either or both of these proposals could be voted on late Wednesday night but more likely on Thursday.

    “Meanwhile, two other major nuclear developments:

    * All 27 countries in the European Union were put on Alert today because of a loss-of-coolant accident at the Krsko nuclear reactor in Slovenia. Authorities say there was no release of radiation, but Greenpeace International in Amsterdam is asking for independent assurances of that and our allies at Global 2000 in Vienna, Austria are on their way to the site now to take their own radiation measurements.

    *The US Department of Energy yesterday filed its application for licensing of the proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump in Nevada. Nevada officials and environmentalists everywhere will continue to fight this dangerous, leaky, earthquake-prone facility. We’ll have more on this in upcoming issues of the Nuclear Monitor.

    “Again, thanks to everyone who has made calls, and asked their friends and colleagues and even strangers to make calls. If you haven’t done so yet, there is still time. It’s the most effective thing you can do right now to stop the nuclear power relapse. 202-224-3121.”

    Michael Mariotte
    Executive Director
    Nuclear Information and Resource Service


  3. They are voting tonight or tomorrow nite? Ya know the timing of this is very convenient. A good many environmental activists are busy with the convention.

    Nah…I’m SURE that’s not why the vote is this soon.

    Okay..gonna post this so many places it will probably get me tossed out of Lefty blogs and BNN.

    Guess this is one of the reasons I couldn’t make it to the convention. Gotta call out the troops.



  4. Senate Repubs miffed over the pace of judicial nominations had the clerk reading the entire bill starting at like noon.

    She may be done by midnight tonight.

    Good old Washington tit-for-tat.


  5. For those tracking the climate change (nuke bailout) bill there was this note from Reuters I caught via the Environmental News Network:

    Carbon-capping climate Senate bill dies

    U.S. legislation that would have set up a cap-and-trade system to limit climate-warming carbon emissions died on Friday after a procedural vote in the Senate.

    The bill, which had bipartisan support but not enough to overcome opposition, aimed to cut total U.S. global warming emissions by 66 percent by 2050. Opponents said it would cost jobs and raise fuel prices in an already pinched American economy.

    Known as the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, the bill’s chances of passage were always slim. Even if Congress had approved it, President George W. Bush had vowed a veto.

    Bush has consistently opposed any economy-wide program to curb the carbon dioxide emissions that spur climate change, arguing that this would hurt the U.S. economy.

    U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would drop by about 2 percent per year between 2012 and 2050, based on 2005 emission levels, under a summary of the measure by its Senate supporters.

    Carbon dioxide, which contributes to the climate-warming greenhouse effect, is emitted by fossil-fueled vehicles, coal-fired power plants and natural sources, including human breath.

    Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, the respective Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, were not present for Friday’s vote, but both support limiting human-generated emissions that spur climate change.


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