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Sen. Udall Reportedly Joins McCain On Nuclear Power

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So says the Denver Post after Sen. John McCain joined Sen. Mark Udall on a tour of Rocky Mountain National Park to see firsthand some of the deleterious effects climate change has already wrought. The takeaway? “Bipartisan” support for nuclear power.

Really? Really, Sen. Udall – that’s what you’re going to work towards in the Senate? And again, we see a Democratic Senator pledge to work with their Republican colleague toward a policy solution when it is quite apparent what McCain really wants [emphasis mine]:

President Barack Obama must put forth a White House plan as soon as possible that congressional leaders can debate, McCain said.

Is this a continuation of the Cons’ view that executives make laws? Because if they do, then President Obama doesn’t need the Congress for anything. No, McCain and his Con buddies just want to continue to use President Obama as a smear target. Sen. Udall – you cannot work with these people until they demonstrate they want to work with you. And no, sliming Democrats at every opportunity and trashing the deliberative process in your chamber doesn’t count as working with you, in case you were curious or confused.

But it isn’t about any of that, really. It sounds nice in media reports, but all these chummy talking points don’t capture what’s really going on in the Senate anymore.

Hunter posted a piece earlier this morning that I think every Democrat should read and understand. What’s going on in the Senate, and quite possibly the House to a somewhat lesser degree, is nothing less than the corporatization of our government.

Quite frankly, Sen. Udall’s pronouncement that the nuclear power industry will be helped out by “bipartisanship” means only one thing: billions of American taxpayer dollars in the form of corporate welfare will be shuttled to the waiting arms of the nuclear industry. The oil industry is going to fight for their billions. The natural gas industry is going to fight for their billions. The coal industry is going to fight for their billions. How many billions is enough, Senator?

Somehow, this will all likely happen in legislation that is supposed to reduce our dependence not just on foreign dirty fuel, but dirty fuel period. Energy efficiency and clean energy need the billions – they’re relatively nascent and tiny sectors of our economy compared to the dirty energy behemoths that will push them around.

Will the nuclear industry really need the billions from the government? Absolutely – if the nuclear industry could have afforded to build new nuclear power plants in the U.S. in recent decades, they would have done it already. The risk is too high, so the industry has had trouble accessing enough funds to protect themselves against that risk. What that means is that they’ll put that risk on the American taxpayer in a heartbeat.

A recent example of the runaway costs of building new nuclear power plants includes: $26 Billion cost scuttles 2,400MW Ontario plant. That’s 3x what the expected cost was going to be. It would have translated to $10,800 per kilowatt of power capacity!

The GOP, a group that never turns its back on corporate giveaways at taxpayer expense, has stated they want 100 new nuclear plants by 2030. Some quick math: 100 1,000MW nuclear plants would cost something like $1.3 Trillion! Where is that money supposed to come from? Do they seriously think we can’t provide health care for $1 Trillion, but we can throw that money at nuke plants?

Recent plans to build nuclear power plants across the world have been beset with delays and cost overruns. I don’t see any realistic way to build 100 new plants in the next 20 years. Such an effort is even more fool-hardy when you realize that the lowest hanging fruit on the energy tree is energy efficiency. Technologies are ready to be deployed today, pretty much everybody can use them, and the sector would only need a relatively small shot in the arm before public demand for efficient products can sustain it at a much higher level.

To go one step further, even if the 100 plants were built, how will they run in the world we’re going to face by mid-century? Average temperatures across the entire U.S. are heading toward an 11F increase. Dozens of major cities will experience between 90-120 days of 90F+ maximum temperatures every summer. As river water temperatures increase, they won’t be able to cool the nuclear plant water. That means we could spend $1 Trillion plus to have 100 nuclear power plants that can’t provide power in the summer, when the temperatures are the hottest and demand is the highest. Talk about an unreliable power source!

Sen. Udall, there are plenty of energy and climate solutions that are deserving of legislative attention. Giveaways to industries aren’t among them. It would be nice if you stood firm on your environmental roots and convinced your Republican colleagues to concentrate on viable solutions. That would be real bipartisanship.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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