The mystery has been solved.
Where is this "new reactor renaissance" coming from?
There has been no deep, thoughtful re-making or re-evaluation of
atomic technology. No solution to the nuke waste problem. No making
reactors economically sound. No private insurance against radioactive
disasters by terror or error. No grassroots citizens now desperate to
live near fragile containment domes and outtake pipes spewing
radioactive tritium at 27 US reactors.
No, nothing about atomic energy has really changed.
Except this: $645 million for lobbying Congress and the White House over the past ten years.
reported by Judy Pasternak and a team of reporters at American
University's Investigative Reporting Workshop, filings with the Senate
Office of Public Records show that members of the Nuclear Energy
Institute and other reactor owner/operators admit spending that money
on issues that "include legislation to promote construction of new
nuclear power plants."
Money has also gone to "other nuclear-related priorities" including
"energy policy, Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste disposal, plant
decommissioning costs, uranium issues, such as tariffs, re-enrichment
and mining, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding." But even that
may not fully account for money spent on coal and other energy sources, or on media campaigning.
In short: think $64.5 million, every year since the coming of George W. Bush.
$1 million per every US Senator and Representative, plus another, say
$100 million for the White House, courts and media.
"I think that's understated," says Journalism Professor Karl
Grossman of the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury.
The "torrent of lies" from General Electric and Westinghouse, the "Coke
and Pepsi" of the nuclear industry, "has made the tobacco industry look
like a piker.
Their past, present and/or future media mouthpieces, says Grossman,
span CBS, NBC and a global phalanx of interlocking radio-TV-print
All are geared, adds MediaChannel.org's Rory
O'Connor, to flood the globe with "Nukespeak," the Orwellian lingo that
sells atomic power while rehtorically air brushing its costs and
Thus Noam Chomsky's "manufacturing consent" has become an "outright purchase."
National Public Radio is now the Nuclear Proliferation Redux. Disgraced
ex-Greenpeacer Patrick Moore (who also sells clear-cut forests and
genetically modified food) is portrayed as an "environmentalist" rather
than an industry employee.
That's not to say all reactor advocates do it for the money. Certainly some have grown on their own to like nuke power.
$645 million---six hundred forty-five million---can buy a lot of
opinion going one way, and suppresses a lot going the other. Op eds,
air time, "independent" reports, phony claims that "green" nukes can
solve global warming...not to mention campaign "donations," fact-finding
junkets, political fundraisers, K-Street dinners...all can be had for a
trifling drip from the mega-slush fund.
The latest payback is Barack Obama's $8.33 billion in promised loan
guarantees for two new nukes proposed in Georgia. Two old ones came in
at 3000% over budget at a site where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
warns the proposed new ones might crumble in an earthquake or
As Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! points out,
Team Obama has taken VERY goodly chunks of that $645 million from
Chicago's nuke-loving Exelon. Despite his campaign hype for a green
revolution, Obama's first two named advisors, David Axelrod and Rahm
Emmanuel, were proud Exelon "associates."
Now Obama wants taxpayers to pony up $36 billion MORE in loan guarantees. (John McCain wants a mere trillion).
this before the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations are "persons"
who can spend without limit to buy Congress and the media. The cash
pouring into the pockets of politicians voting for still more taxpayer
money to build still more reactors will parallel the gusher of
radiation that poured from Chernobyl.
But does this mean the flood of new reactors is inevitable?
that cash tsunami, grassroots activists stopped $50 billion in loan
guarantees three times since 2007. No new US reactor construction has
started since the 1970s, when public opinion was over 70% in favor of
atomic power, and Richard Nixon promised 1000 US reactors by the year
With green jobs advocate Van Jones ditched and Obama now openly in the nuclear camp, atomic energy is still a loser.
can't solve its waste problems, can't operate without leaking
radiation, can't pay for itself and can't get private insurance against
terror or error.
Once hyped as "too cheap to meter," Warren Buffett, the National
Taxpayers Union, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute are
among those joining the Congressional Budget Office in warning that
atomic energy is really "too expensive to matter."
With all those hundreds of millions to spend, the reactor backers
are still selling a technological corpse. With licensing and
construction and the inevitable unforeseen, not one new US reactor can
come on line in less than seven years.
Meanwhile, renewable/efficiency prices will continue to plummet.
And grassroots opposition will not stop, as in Vermont and wherever
else reactors operate or are proposed.
As Abe Lincoln reminds us: you can't buy all the people all the time. And the ones that can't be bought can be damn powerful.
Those loan guarantees, all that hype about a new nuclear age...they
are not a done deal. They still must withstand a Solartopian revolution
in green technology that's left atomic power in its economic dust...and a
human species whose core instincts demand economic and ecological
So when you hear some hired gun selling nukes, remember: even $645
million can buy only so much green lipstick for a dead radioactive pig.
And when Nature bats last, the final score is not about cash.