June 4, 2008
4:32 PM
CONTACT: Environmental, Science and Public Health Groups
Clean Water Action: Lynn Thorp, 202-395-0820
Environment America: Ben Schreiber, 202-683-1250
Environmental Working Group: Sandra Schubert, 202-667-6982
Greenpeace: Jim Riccio, 202-319-2487
Natural Resources Defense Council: Geoff Fettus, 202-289-2371
Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Michael Mariotte, 301-270-6477
Nuclear Policy Research Institute/Beyond Nuclear: Kevin Kamps, 240-462-3216
Physicians for Social Responsibility: Will Callaway, 202-667-4260, x224
Public Citizen, Tyson Slocum, 202-256-3152
Sierra Club: David Hamilton, 202-547-1141
Union of Concerned Scientists: Aaron Huertas, 202-331-5458

Environment Groups to Senate:
Reject Amendments Promoting More Subsidies for Nuclear Power in Proposed Climate Bill

WASHINGTON, DC - June 4 - Environmental, science and public health groups today commended the Senate for beginning debate on the most comprehensive legislation to date addressing climate change and urged lawmakers to reject adding nuclear power subsidies to the bill.

According to the organizations, the Climate Security Act of 2008 (S. 3036) — sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and John Warner (R-Va.) — potentially offers an opportunity to put our nation on the path to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. But they voiced concerns that some senators will attempt to attach amendments to the bill that would give the nuclear power industry billions of dollars in unwarranted taxpayer subsidies at the expense of conservation, efficiency and renewable energy sources that could be deployed much more quickly. (See below for a list of the organizations and contact information.)

The groups pointed out that the nuclear industry already has benefited from more than $100 billion in taxpayer subsidies over the past half century, billions more in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (more than $13 billion), and even more in the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (more than $18 billion in federal loan guarantees). Despite this support, just this week Moody's Investor Service stated that a utility's credit rating could be undermined by building a new nuclear power plant due to the skyrocketing cost of new reactors. The price tag for just one reactor could exceed $7,000 a kilowatt, far more than many preferable low-carbon options.

Studies indicate that the United States can dramatically cut global warming emissions without expanding nuclear power capacity, the groups said. In 2007, for example, researchers from U.S. national laboratories and other institutions found that by ramping up investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology available today, the United States could reduce its global warming emissions enough by 2030 so that it would be on the path to reductions of 60 to 80 percent below 2005 levels by mid-century.

The Climate Security Act would create a cap-and-trade regime that would provide a significant market advantage to all low-carbon technologies, including nuclear power. Regardless, the nuclear industry is trying to obtain more taxpayer subsidies, which could lead to less investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that are cleaner, safer and cheaper, and could be implemented more quickly.

At the same time, nuclear power is beset by serious problems that the industry and federal government have failed to address. These include lax federal oversight of reactor safety, inadequate security against terrorist attacks, no viable site for the long-term storage of nuclear waste, significant environmental threats from the entire fuel cycle, and a federal policy that does not require new reactor designs to be safer or more secure against sabotage and attack than those currently in operation.

Because of concerns about nuclear power's cost, its radioactive waste, its safety, security and proliferation risks, adding subsidies for nuclear power will jeopardize momentum on the bill, the organizations said. They called on senators to oppose any amendments that would provide the nuclear power industry with more taxpayer subsidies.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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