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Seniors Group: Nuclear Bailout in Climate Bill As Bad or Worse Than Wall Street Bailout


By: Alliance for Generational Equality

WASHINGTON, D.C. May 12, 2010 - If your Member of Congress says he or she opposes more bailouts and then turns around and supports the Senate climate bill released today, they are simply not telling you the truth, according to the independent and nonprofit Alliance for Generational Equality (AGE), which represents seniors as well as Americans in other generations.

AGE wants all seniors to know that the Senate climate bill contains $54 billion in loan guarantees for new reactors, in addition to 20 years of unlimited loan guarantee authority for new reactors established in the referenced Senate energy bill (S.1462) that would leave taxpayers on the hook for what would likely be huge sums. Of particular concern: the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the default rate on new reactors will be "very high – well above 50 percent."

AGE Vice President and CEO Dave Herman said: "This is not about whether you support or you oppose nuclear power. For elected officials, it is about whether they are being sincere in saying no more federal bailouts. Whether it's for banks, car companies, investment firms or nuclear reactors, a bailout is a bailout is a bailout. In fact, this is even worse than the earlier bailouts since the nuclear loan guarantees are unlimited, meaning there is literally no limit to how deeply the industry could reach into taxpayers' pockets."

Herman added: "How can Republicans in the Senate who are opposing financial reform legislation because of the fear of potential bailouts, then turn around here and dole out what are explicit bailouts for another industry? Federal loan guarantees for new reactors encourage utilities that are currently financially sound to take enormous risks and promise in advance to bail out them out with U.S. taxpayer dollars when the bets go bad. Federal loan guarantees that put U.S. taxpayers directly on the hook in advance are not only a huge drain on federal tax dollars waiting to happen, but they actually somehow manage to do the impossible by making the earlier bailouts look like good deals."

Herman concluded: "We need a little less socialism from Washington and a lot more faith in the wisdom of the marketplace. We don't care if the nuclear power industry wants to build more nuclear reactors. This is a very profitable industry with extensive foreign ownership that already makes a guaranteed profit in most states under utility regulation. If these companies controlled by French, Japanese and U.S. interests want to finance new reactors and find investors who want to support that, they have our blessing. But we are not prepared as taxpayers to allow seniors and other Americans to be ripped off by yet another multi-billion-dollar bailout for another industry."

See Jerry Taylor, "Radioactive Corporate Welfare," Cato Institute, February 18, 2010, at http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/02/18/radioactive-corporate-welfare/ and "Nuclear Reactionaries," Washington Monthly, May/June 2010 at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com//features/2010/1005.frank.html.

The independent and nonprofit Alliance for Generational Equality (AGE) is an advocacy group made up of people of each generation who are committed to raise their voices so that Congress will hear the concerns of real Americans. AGE is committed to break the culture in the Congress and our State Legislatures where lobbyists for special interest groups have a greater say in public policy than the people those elected officials are supposed to represent. For more information, go to http://www.AgeAdvocacy.org.


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