Most environmentalists have been focusing, justifiably, on the BP disaster, but this has been an opportunity for the nuclear power industry to push for billions in added subsidies with the blessing of the Obama administration. On Wednesday, an alert under the banner of the activist group, Nukefree.org, went out signalling a stepped-up grass-roots battle to stop added subsidies being voted on today, July 15, in the House -- and it's joined by original No-Nukes allies Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash.
While environmental groups have been split over supporting pending climate legislation that includes nuclear power giveaways, they've united in opposing adding billions in new subsidies through back-door legislative maneuvers.
Their alert declared:
This is nuclear power's summer of desperation. It has just a few short weeks to grab billions in taxpayer funding for new nuclear plants.
Last time we wrote, a $9 billion package was being slipped into an "emergency" war appropriations bill. Amidst a wave of your letters, the vote did not happen.
The issue is now in the Senate, and has been greatly complicated by our efforts.
Now the industry is demanding $25 billion for unspecified projects. Again, your voice can make a difference.
Please join us (Bonnie, Jackson, Graham and the NukeFree team) in writing and calling the members of the House, and especially in calling members of the House Appropriations Committee, per the below alert from NIRS [Nuclear Information and Resource Service], and ask them to oppose this latest industry boondoggle. A key vote may come up as soon as Thursday afternoon.
Your voice HAS made a difference. But we need to keep shouting. Please contact Congress ASAP.
The enclosed Congressional alert from NIRS was urgent:
The Obama Administration is attempting to get another $25 Billion in loans for new nuclear reactor construction.
A House Appropriations Subommittee has scheduled a meeting for Thursday, July 15 at 2 pm to consider the energy and water appropriations bill for next year's budget. The committee had tried to meet on June 24 but was forced to cancel the meeting after some members (we're looking especially at you Chet Edwards (D-Tex) and Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.)) complained that the bill did not include President Obama's request for $36 billion in new nuclear loans. Since then, the full House has approved $9 billion of that in the emergency supplemental funding bill (the Senate has not yet taken up that bill), so that leaves $25 billion the Administration wants.
And, unfortunately, that money is now in the bill that will be considered on Thursday. We need to stand up and insist that these loans for new reactor construction be removed!
Your actions can stop this unnecessary nuclear bailout: Tell your Representative that wealthy nuclear companies like Electricite de France, Areva, General Electric, NRG Energy and Toshiba don't need taxpayer bailouts! Fill in your zip code below to send your letter.
As always, you can edit your letter to reflect your own concerns. Thanks for taking action! Please help your friends, relatives and networks take action too by sending them to this page at this link:
As another activist group, Beyond Nuclear, recounts the full story leading up to today's critical vote:
The big stink we raised about that $9 billion "advance" may have led House Appropriations Committee leaders to decide not to include the additional $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees requested by the Obama administration in the FY2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill unveiled in late June.
But pro-nuclear power Democrats on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee -- namely Chet Edwards (D-TX), Chaka Fatta (D-PA), and Marion Berry (D-AR) -- made a stink of their own, leading to the postponement of the bill's mark up session in late June.
A coalition of environmental groups urged House Appropriators at that time to strip the $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees from the bill, [highlighting apparent industry favoritism among key members]: (Luminant has proposed building new reactors in Rep. Edwards' district; Rep. Fattah represents Philadelphia, a hometown to Exelon, the largest nuclear utility in the U.S., which hopes to build new reactors; Rep. Berry is from the host state to the "Arkansas Nuclear One" twin reactors, owned by Entergy, the second biggest nuclear utility in the U.S., which hopes to build numerous new reactors in the Southeast).
But now the FY2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill is back on the front burner, and unfortunately does contain the $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water is scheduled to meet on Thursday, July 14 at 2pm Eastern time to vote on the FY2011 spending bill, including this major increase in nuclear loan guarantees.
Please call your U.S. Representative right away via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Urge them to block this pre-emptive bailout to the already heavily subsidized nuclear power industry. If your Member serves on this subcommittee, it is especially vital that you call them. If your Member serves on the full House Appropriations Committee, urge them to weigh in with their colleagues on the subcommittee. And if your Member does not sit on the Appropriations Committee, urge them to weigh in with their colleagues who do.
What's at stake in all this? Here's what Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service has to say: " We don't need more radioactive waste, more radiation leaks, and higher electric bills--all the things more nuclear power would bring. We had hoped to begin moving our attention to the Senate this week, which soon will be taking up energy/climate bills--with potentially disastrous nuclear provisions.
"But first we have to stop $25 billion in new nuclear loans. So we all need to act, and act fast."
This article originally appeared in Salon.com.