Thursday, August 14, 2008

Op-Ed: Taxpayers shouldn't have to underwrite nuclear power

August 11, 2008 Dear Editor: Senator John McCain joined a growing legion of “tax and spend” politicians who have declared that part of their strategy to cure global warming is to build more nuclear generating stations. While nuclear plants have less of a carbon "footprint" than their coal-generating siblings, Mr. McCain failed to factor the financial, radioactive, and aquatic "footprints" associated with and additional 65 nuclear plants. One of the first out of the gate for the free nuclear cash is Pennsylvania Power Light (“PPL”). According to PPL, a new nuclear reactor requires a federal subsidy of $4.5 billion or 80 percent of the projected cost of the project. This "nuclear loan" is guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury -- taxpayers. The real cost, based on overruns in Florida and Texas, is actually $10 billion. Which begs the obvious question for Mr. McCain: Why aren't the shareholders of one of the "best managed" and "most profitable utilities" (Forbes magazine, December 2007) assuming the risk for a multibillion-dollar slam dunk? It's back to the future. PPL's operating nuclear plants were projected to cost ratepayers $2.1 billion, but overruns resulted in a $4.1 billion price tag. These are the same folks who are currently collecting $2 billion in nuclear taxes referred o as “Competitive Transition Costs.” It gets worse for senior citizens and those living on fixed incomes. PPL will be treating its loyal customer base to at least a 35% increase on January 1, 2010. Why is Mr. McCain supporting yet another nuclear subsidy at the same time senior citizens are trying to keep their lights on? Each nuclear reactor produces 30 metric tons of high-level radioactive waster per year. This is toxic garbage without a forwarding address which will create a "radioactive footprint" that lasts thousands of years. How is Mr. McCain going to underwrite the cost of securing Pennsylvania’s roads and rails when waste shipments from the northeast come barreling through your town? As of June, 2008, all of Pennsylvania's nuclear reactors began storing low-level radioactive waste on site when Barnwell (South Carolina) closed its doors to states outside of the Atlantic Compact. (Pennsylvania belongs to the Appalachian Compact.) Neither the industry or the Department of Environmental Protection has been able to "incent" (bribe) a single Pennsylvania community to bed down with a 500-year "low-level" radioactive "footprint." Where is Mr. McCain going to store the waste? Communities and ecosystems that depend on limited water resources are also adversely affected by exiting nuclear stations. PPL’s nuclear station draws 58 to 63.5 million gallons of water per day from the Susquehanna River. The plant returns much smaller portions of the back wash into the river at elevated temperatures. Last fall, 53 Pennsylvania counties were placed on "drought watch," including Luzerne County where the station is moored. Yet nuclear power plants are exempted from water conservation efforts. Why does Mr. McCain continue to support water subsides for nuclear plants while the rest of us are compelled to ration? The fundamental question remains the same: Why should taxpayers subsidize big nuclear’s "radioactive footprint?" Mr. McCain's solution to global warming is little more than corporate socialism wrapped in a green bow. Sincerely, Eric Epstein, Chairman, TMI-Alert 4100 Hillsdale Road Harrisburg, PA 17112 717-541-1101 Three Mile Island Alert, Inc. is a safe-energy organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and founded in 1977. TMIA monitors Peach Bottom, Susquehanna, and Three Mile Island nuclear generating stations.

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