The Midmorning Refill: Hey Tea Party, you can't cut government spending and have your nuclear, too

Today’s Flickr photo

Tea Party poster child. Flickr photo by Jen_Maloney_Photo.

If you read one thing today . . .

Darius Dixon poses an interesting question in his Politico piece that asks “Can the tea party go nuclear?” While some Tea Party-backed freshmen members of Congress have said they would support expanding nuclear power, Dixon wonders what happens when they see the sticker price? Public Citizen has long argued that besides grave safety and security risks and unanswered questions about what to do with all that radioactive waste, nuclear power is a boondoggle that couldn’t exist without massive taxpayer subsidies and support. Can members of Congress who have preached austerity and cutting spending justify support of nuclear power?

Nuclear power is where energy independence meets big government – the industry depends on subsidies, loan guarantees and other federal funds that are an easy target for those seeking to shave deficits and big government.

The bulk of the industry’s planned construction in the U.S. is propped up by multibillion-dollar federal loan guarantees. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 – passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush – created a pool of $18.5 billion in guarantees to promote low-emission energy sources, including nuclear.

But those loan guarantees are now drawing heavy fire from conservatives looking for places to cut federal spending obligations. Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Taxpayers Union all have urged Congress to drop additional loan guarantee funds.

Overheard:

From the same Politico article cited above comes Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense:

We have to question those who consider themselves fiscal conservatives [while] supporting nuclear power which is, essentially, the most heavily subsidized form of power in a heavily subsidized industry.