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Public Citizen Urges Lawmakers to Reject Bush Plan to Build New Nuclear Reactors, Subsidize Nuclear Industry With Taxpayer Money

April 10, 2003

Public Citizen Urges Lawmakers to Reject Bush Plan to Build New Nuclear Reactors, Subsidize Nuclear Industry With Taxpayer Money


Public Citizen Analysis Concludes “Nuclear Power 2010” Hurts Taxpayers, Makes Them Responsible for Nuclear Risks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen is urging lawmakers to cancel the Bush administration’s nuclear power expansion plan, known as Nuclear Power 2010, and reject the recommendations of a government consultant that suggested ways to lower the industry’s capital costs of new reactor construction at the expense of taxpayers.

The administration’s initiative to promote the construction of new nuclear reactors is enshrined in House and Senate energy legislation. On Thursday, the House is scheduled to vote on the energy bill (H.R.6), and senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on the nuclear title of a separate bill drafted by Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM).

Both bills direct the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to implement the Nuclear Power 2010 program and authorize spending taxpayer money on it. Senate legislation more specifically opens the door to unusual and unacceptable taxpayer subsidies for new reactors, including loan guarantees and power purchase agreements between the government and plant operators.

More details about this program’s likely direction surfaced in a report commissioned by the DOE, which sought recommendations on how the government can promote investor interest in nuclear power expansion. That report, prepared by Scully Capital Services, Inc., a Washington-based investment banking and financial services firm, is entitled Business Case for New Nuclear Power Plants: Bringing Public and Private Resources Together for Nuclear Energy.

The Business Case report recommended various extreme measures needed to promote the construction of new nuclear power plants. Among the recommendations are government power purchase agreements at above market price, subsidized federal loans, tax-exempt financing and taxpayer-backed insurance of last resort.

The report also recommended government action on three “show-stoppers” that now prevent the construction of new nuclear power plants – nuclear waste, liabilities associated with catastrophic accidents, and the potential that successful interventions, such as lawsuits, could block plants’ operating licenses.

“Nuclear power poses safety and security risks unlike any other source of electricity, and the issue of long-term nuclear waste management remains a costly problem,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “Throwing more tax dollars at nuclear power will not make it safer, cleaner or more economical. Lawmakers should reject the corporate welfare recommendations contained in the Business Case report.”

Public Citizen has prepared an analysis of the Business Case report’s recommendations. Click here to view it.