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Nuclear Industry Effort to Exploit Coronavirus Crisis for Backdoor Bailout Decried as 'Disaster Capitalism at its Worst'

"The nuclear industry begged for a bailout last fall and is now using coronavirus to try and brazenly grab more cash," warned Friends of the Earth.

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant is seen in the early morning hours March 28, 2011 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant is seen in the early morning hours March 28, 2011 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

Friends of the Earth on Monday accused the nuclear power industry of exhibiting "disaster capitalism at its worst" after a lobbying group representing it reportedly asked the Trump administration for a 30% percent tax credit amid the coronavirus pandemic and pressed congressional lawmakers to include handouts in stimulus legislation making its way through the House and Senate.

According to E&E News, which focuses on the energy industry, the request came in a letter sent to congressional leaders and White House officials on Friday by Nuclear Energy Institute president and CEO Maria Korsnick.

In addition to other forms of aid—including sick leave for employees and "prioritized access" to testing and masks—the letter requested taxpayer-funded grants in the form of broad tax credits and waivers for existing regulatory fees.

"Our member companies are anticipating—or are already experiencing—severe financial strain as product orders are delayed or canceled, as industrial electricity demand falls, and as workforce availability becomes increasingly constrained," Krosnick wrote to in a letter sent to lawmakers, Treasury Sectary Steven Mnuchin, and Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council.

In reaction, Friends of the Earth senior policy analyst Lukas Ross called the request a bald effort to exploit the current outbreak and economic downturn to obtain the same kind of financial bailout it has repeatedly sought from the U.S. government in recent years.

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"Demanding a $23 billion gift from taxpayers during an unprecedented public health crisis sets a new low bar," said Lukas Ross, senior policy analyst with Friends of the Earth. "The nuclear industry begged for a bailout last fall and is now using coronavirus to try and brazenly grab more cash."

The industry proposal, added Ross, "would hurt ratepayers and the climate at a time when immediate need for people must be the first priority. The nuclear lobby should be ashamed. This is disaster capitalism at its worst."

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