Stop the Insane Nuke Bailout
Harvey Wasserman / Reader Supported News
(August 21, 2021) — Buried deep in Joe Biden’s various infrastructure deals is a bailout every bit as insane as the original decision to stay in Afghanistan — up to $50 billion in handouts to keep old nuke reactors operating … at least until they blow up.
The cost of our arrogant lunacy in Afghanistan was thousands of lives and maybe $2 trillion.
The cost of the inevitable explosion at one or more of these crumbling jalopy nukes could be millions of lives and trillions in both destroyed property and an irradiated ecosphere.
Throughout the globe, the Solartopian technologies of wind, solar, batteries, and efficiency are skyrocketing in production while their prices plummet. But Biden’s proposed bailout would take a huge amount of capital away from clean, job producing renewables and put it into expensive, dangerous, obsolete reactors.
Richard Nixon in 1974 — amidst the Arab oil embargo — promised there’d be a thousand “Peaceful Atom” nukes in the US by the year 2000. In that year there were 104. Today there are 93, with the number still dropping — but not fast enough.
Every day these fast-deteriorating reactors become more likely to explode. Under the Price-Anderson Act of 1957, their owners are exempted from liability if their negligence lets a reactor carpet the American landscape with deadly radiation.
Because they’re not on the hook for the apocalypse they might cause, reactor owners have no particular incentive to expensively maintain these nukes as they sink into decrepitude. And thus the taxpayer and the individual citizen (YOU!) must absorb the cost of the meltdowns/explosions we all know are coming.
The rationale for the bailout is that aging atomic reactors — even ones long since amortized — cannot compete with the onslaught of renewables, batteries and efficiency. Allegedly, in our “free market capitalist” country, we all must compete. But when major corporate assets like nuke reactors can’t, apparently they must be bailed out.
The “problem” is obvious: the cost of operating and maintaining old nukes is skyrocketing. So is the cost of building new ones. The last two under construction in the US — in Georgia — have already doubled in cost (approaching $30 billion) and are still not open. If they ever do open (God help us!!!) the electricity they’d produce would be far more expensive than the wind turbines and solar panels that will surround them.
Indeed, from 2009 to 2019, the price for solar photovoltaic electricity dropped by 89%. For on-shore wind, it went down by 70%.
An epic rush to off-shore wind is on … Big Time. Ironically, some of those gigantic turbines in the ocean are set to send juice through undersea cables into switching stations once used by nuclear plants such as California’s San Onofre (now shut) and Diablo Canyon (set to go down in 2024-5).
The juice they send will be cheaper, safer, cleaner, more reliable and far better for human health and eco-sustainability than anything the Peaceful Atom has ever produced. They will NOT, for example, be producing radioactive waste the likes of which is being sloppily stored ONE HUNDRED FEET from the tide line at San Onofre.
What they WILL do is bury King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes and Gas), which entrenched fossil/nuclear fuel interests rely on to keep control of our energy supplies.
The lengths to which the corporate dinosaurs will go to preserve these old reactors is astounding. The owners of two extremely decrepit and dangerous nukes on Lake Erie helped funnel a $61 million bribe to the Speaker of the Ohio House in exchange for a $1 billion ratepayer bailout (since repealed).
Disgraced governor Andrew Cuomo helped shut two extremely dangerous old nukes at Indian Point, near Manhattan, but forced through $7.6 billion in handouts for four falling-apart upstate reactors, at least one of which the owner wanted to shut. Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois and other states are in various stages of bailout madness.
But now Biden wants to take the disease federal. The reactors he wants to save for $50 billion cannot compete with new wind or solar. They may temporarily sustain an aging, fast-retiring workforce. But they’ll create no new training or safe longterm employment for a rising Solartopian generation.
Burning at 571 degrees Fahrenheit, the reactors will continue to heat the planet daily … and when they explode. The carbon they emit while operating and in fuel production will fuel the climate crisis. The wastes they create remain forever unmanageable.
In all, the Biden bailout is a disgrace, a planet-heater, and a real threat to human survival. Please join those working against it.
The advances in renewables over the past ten years are unprecedented in human history. They are poised to help us solve the problems of energy sustainability and climate chaos.
We don’t need an insane nuke bailout getting in the way. Let’s stop it!!!
Harvey Wasserman wrote Solartopia! Our Green-powered Earth and The People’s Spiral of US History: From Jigonsaseh to Solartopia(www.solartopia.org). He co-convenes The Grassroots Emergency Election Protection Coalition zoom call Mondays at 5 p.m. Eastern (www.electionprotection2024.org).
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.