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U.S.: Another spectactular US$50 billion No Nukes Victory

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Harvey Wasserman

For the third straight year, against all odds, a national grassroots No Nukes campaign has stripped out of the federal budget a proposed US$50 billion (39 billion Euro) boondoggle for new atomic reactors. The victory gives a giant boost to solar, wind, efficiency, mass transit and other Solartopian technologies that can solve global warming sustain real economic growth and bring us a truly green-powered Earth.

This latest victory came February 11, as a top-level Congressional conference committee ironed out the last details of the Obama stimulus package. The loan guarantee scam was slipped into the Senate version by Republican Bob Bennett in cooperation with Democrat Tom Carper. The loan guarantees would have backed a Department of Energy program supporting new reactor construction, despite a report from the Government Accountability Office warning that such projects would bankrupt more than half the utilities that might undertake them.

A national grassroots campaign involving virtually all major environmental organizations dealing with energy once again underscored the overwhelming green opposition to atomic power. The Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Beyond Nuclear, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Environment America,, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, IEER, Center for American Progress, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action, Rainforest International and more than 200 national and local environmental and taxpayer organizations joined in opposition to the guarantees.

A similar victory was won in the fall of 2007 when a $50 billion loan guarantee was slipped into the national energy bill by then-Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM). The campaign prompted a song from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Ben Harper and Keb Mo posted at With the help of, it delivered more than 120,000 signatures to Congress in less than three months.

In 2008 the industry was forced to withdraw a blank check loan guarantee program when the banking system collapsed.

The No Nukes victory came within hours of the passing of Guy Chichester, a legendary founder of the Clamshell Alliance and National Green Party. Chichester helped lead the mass demonstrations at the Seabrook (NH) nuclear site that thrust the atomic power issue into the global limelight. In the 1977 'Last Resort' ( Guy became one of the first to speak on film about a green-powered Earth, arguing that the money being squandered on Seabrook should instead go to renewable energy which would create thousands of jobs and save the planet. As a green pioneer, Chichester’s innumerable -often humor-filled- non-violent arrests were matched only by his great heart and loving spirit.

Ironically, this latest push for reactor subsidies coincides with what may be a death blow to the proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump. Opposed by both Reid and President Obama, the multi-billion-dollar project may be defunded. After a half-century, the US has no high level nuke waste repository, and none planned.

No one expects an end to the industry’s relentless assault on the taxpayer trough. New reactor cost estimates have tripled since 2007 and are likely to at least double again. Michael Mariotte of NIRS says pro-nukers now want atomic energy labeled “green” in a national renewable energy standard. As Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear points out, additional attempts to get money are likely to follow in upcoming debate on an Energy Bill and other legislation.

But as renewables and efficiency and the movement supporting them surge ahead, the Solartopian vision of a truly green planet, free of fossil/nuke power, becomes ever more real.

Source and contact: Harvey Wasserman, The Free Press, 12 February 2009

U.S. Nuclear Industry Seeks Yucca Alternative.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is urging the Obama Administration to approve a nuclear waste commission. The commission would be used to find alternatives to burying radioactive fuel at Nevada's Yucca Mountain. An NEI official presented a proposal to state utility regulators, which would allow the Department of Energy to continue pursuing construction of the Yucca repository, but would make the commission a fallback if the Yucca Mountain project is halted. President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu have already endorsed the idea of a plan B, saying it's necessary to review the safety and efficacy of disposing used nuclear fuel. During the presidential elections both Democrats-candidates Obama and Hillary Clinton opposed the Yucca Mountain repository.

However, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a group of state officials on February 18, he favors moving toward licensing a nuclear waste repository in Nevada, although whether it would ever be built is another thing altogether.
But… according to the Nuclear Energy Institute blog, several people who were at the 20-minute session said Chu stressed that President Barack Obama doesn't want the Yucca repository, "and I work for the president."

Latest: On February 23, Congress proposed slashing Yucca Mountain's funding by nearly another US$100 million (80 million Euro) for the remainder of fiscal 2009, severely gutting the project and potentially forcing several hundred job layoffs. The House proposes US$288.3 million annualized for the remainder of the fiscal year, down from US$386.4 million approved for the project last fall. Funding already had been cut more than 20 percent over the past two years. Workers at the project's headquarters in Summerlin have been bracing for layoffs. Many of them are already leaving.

KXNT Radio, Texas, US, 17 February 2009 / / Las Vegas Sun, 23 February 2009