the great nuke giveaway

Yep. Under cover of Ike, the energy mashup in Washington has gotten underway.

While the “Drill Me – Drill You” mantra has pressed offshore derricks and scenes of middle-aged Republican coitus to the forefront of popular consciousness, there’s a lot more to this here debate than crowd hysterics. What you may not have heard about is the proposed opening of the national treasury to all things nuclear.

And as involved peoples of South Texas know, the cost for just a couple of these mammoths can be hard to nail down … They just keep going up. Last good estimate on the tech that nearly bankrupted Austin was about $18 billion.

Washington Times is reporting this week that John McCain’s dream of nuclear nirvana will cost us (you and me) as much as $318 billion. I’m reminded of a line from a book I’m reading, that after so many zeros extended time and expansive monies just become Really Fuckin’ Big. Yeah, I’m paraphrasing. In short, it’s nothing we could afford even if we wanted to unleash global death-rock mania on this too-young century.

From the Times:

Sen. John McCain’s plan to revive the U.S. nuclear power industry with 45 new reactors may cost $315 billion, with taxpayers bearing much of the financial risk.

The Republican presidential nominee and Arizona senator wants the plants built in time to help the United States meet a 29 percent increase in electricity demand by 2030. Industry estimates put their cost at $7 billion each, and investment bankers, citing the industry’s cost overruns in the 1980s, say they won’t finance its long-sought “nuclear renaissance” without federal backing.

I think they’re probably underestimating, but it’s enough to understand this will be a massive federal undertaking being pushed by a guy who wants to shrink government and let the market forces work. Wrong way, McCain.

In fact, according to bill watchers at Public Citizen and NIRS, etc., the promise of federal (read: our) money is open-ended. There is a big push to get public input on this massive Gang of 10 package.

Got this from NIRS — a National Call-In Day:

This is it. In the mainstream media, the Gang of 10 (actually, now it’s the Gang of 20) energy bill is all about offshore oil drilling. And, to be sure, there’s lots of that in the bill, which is expected to come up in the Senate late next week. But the bill would also be the biggest giveaway to the nuclear power industry ever.

Unlimited loan guarantees for construction of new atomic reactors. That’s right, unlimited. As much money — hundreds of billions of dollars — as everyone in the nuclear industry wants, when it wants, for as long as it wants.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how that would absolutely destroy our ability to effectively address the climate crisis and what a disaster that would be for our economy, for our nation, for our planet.

How do these Senators think they can get away with this? Because they’re not hearing from enough of us, often enough. They think this is a popular stand. We all need to stand up now and be counted.

That’s why NIRS, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other national groups are putting out the word for a National Call-In Day to the Senate on Wednesday, September 17. We need at least 10,000 phone calls to the Senate on Wednesday. We need the phones there to be ringing non-stop from dawn to dusk. Will you help?

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

*Please call both of your Senators that day with a very simple message: Take taxpayer loan guarantees for nuclear power out of the Gang of 20 energy bill. (note: the bill does not yet have a number. It’s called the New Energy Reform Act of 2008, but everyone will know what you are talking about if you just say “Gang of 20 energy bill.”)

I commented on this story elsewhere when it came out but never quite found time to discuss it here. Well, time like that I still don’t have, but for some remarkable insights into the uranium market, espionage, and counterintelligence work, you MUST READ this passively title NYTimes article: “In Nuclear Net’s Undoing, a Web of Shadowy Deals.”

The Swiss president, Pascal Couchepin, took no questions. But he asserted that the files — which included an array of plans for nuclear arms and technologies, among them a highly sophisticated Pakistani bomb design — had been destroyed so that they would never fall into terrorist hands.

Behind that official explanation, though, is a far more intriguing tale of spies, moles and the compromises that governments make in the name of national security.

The United States had urged that the files be destroyed, according to interviews with five current and former Bush administration officials. The purpose, the officials said, was less to thwart terrorists than to hide evidence of a clandestine relationship between the Tinners and the C.I.A.

If you find yourself as spread thin as I’m making myself, make that phone call first. Read at your leisure.

[Top image is Comanche Peak nuke plant in North Texas, courtesy of Wash Times. Big shot above is from the "real" Times.]

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