Anybody remember Three Mile Island or Chernobyl or even Fukushima? Tsunamis happen, earthquakes happen, accidents from human error happen and nuclear accidents, like diamonds are forever.
It seems that Obama owes the nuclear industry some favors. They supported his senate and presidential campaigns and now he is up for reelection, with a super-pack ready to take the funneled contributions, the nuclear industry has awaited the payback and here it is another sign of how corporations game the political process.
Three Mile Island News
“TMI-1 was sold to AmerGen (now Exelon) in 1999. GPU Nuclear retains the license for TMI-2 and is owned by FirstEnergy Corp. GPU contracts with Exelon for maintenance and surveillance activities. The licensee plans to actively decommission TMI-2 in parallel with the decommissioning of TMI-1.”
Georgia nuke plant first to get OK’d in decades
11:01 PM, Feb. 9, 2012 |
| Staff, wire reports
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved the nation’s first new nuclear power plant in more than three decades, and a spokesman said it should rule within weeks on plans for a similar project in South Carolina.
The NRC voted 4-1 to approve Southern Co.’s request to build two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle site near Augusta, Ga., just over the South Carolina line, clearing the way for the reactors to begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.
The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.
NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko voted against the Vogtle license, saying he wanted a binding commitment from the company that it would make safety changes prompted by the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.
NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said the commission’s next vote on a new nuclear plant will be on plans by SCANA Corp. and Santee Cooper to add two reactors to their V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville near Newberry.
Burnell said he didn’t have a timetable for that decision but added that “it’s reasonable to say we’re talking weeks, not months.”
Charlotte-based Duke Energy, the Upstate’s dominant power provider, has said it may take a minority interest in the V.C. Summer expansion.
An NRC vote on Duke’s plans for a possible new nuclear plant in Cherokee County isn’t likely until 2013, Burnell said.
Despite his opposition to the license, Jaczko called the vote “historic” and a culmination of years of work by Atlanta-based Southern Co. and the NRC.
Southern Co. Chairman and CEO Thomas A. Fanning called the NRC vote “a monumental accomplishment for Southern Company, Georgia Power, our partners and the nuclear industry.”
“The project is on track, and our targets related to cost and schedule are achievable,” Fanning said.
Tom Clements, an anti-nuclear activist in Columbia, said the Vogtle expansion would be “going nowhere” were it not for a Georgia law that forces utility customers to pay in advance for part of the construction costs.
South Carolina has a similar law, and Clements said SCANA customers have already been hit with rate increases to pay for the proposed new reactors in Jenkinsville.
Duke customers “may soon feel the same pinch” if the Charlotte utility’s plans are allowed to go forward in Cherokee County, said Clements, nonproliferation policy director at the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
The Vogtle project is considered by many observers to be a major test of whether the industry can build nuclear plants without the delays and cost overruns that plagued earlier rounds of building decades ago.
President Barack Obama has offered the project $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees as part of a pledge to expand nuclear power.
Obama and other proponents say greater use of nuclear power could cut the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and create energy without producing emissions blamed for global warming.
Nuclear industry lobbyists’ clout felt on Hill
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN | 3/16/11 4:33 AM EDT Updated: 3/16/11 1:42 PM EDT
Facing its biggest crisis in 25 years, the U.S. nuclear power industry can count on plenty of Democratic and Republican friends in both high and low places.
During the past election cycle alone, the Nuclear Energy Institute and more than a dozen companies with big nuclear portfolios have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions to lawmakers in key leadership slots and across influential state delegations.
The donations and lobbying funds came at a critical moment for the nuclear industry as its largest trade group and major companies pushed for passage of a cap-and-trade bill.
While that effort failed, the money is sure to keep doors open on Capitol Hill as lawmakers consider any response to the safety issues highlighted by multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns in Japan in the aftermath of last week’s monster earthquake and tsunami.
“The bottom line is you’ve got a variety of industrial interests that care about nuclear power and have a heck of a lot of money to spend if their business and their bottom line is put in political jeopardy,” said Dave Levinthal, communications director at the Center for Responsive Politics. “As Congress is talking about potentially diving deeper, these companies bring a lot of resources and a heck of a lot of cash to bear if this fight goes forward.”
NEI, the industry’s biggest voice in Washington, for example, spent $3.76 million to lobby the federal government and an additional $323,000 through its political action committee on a bipartisan congressional slate, including 134 House and 30 Senate candidates, according to data compiled by the CRP.
Alex Flint, NEI’s senior vice president for government affairs, said the spending is a byproduct of record high demand for his industry.
“The fact that the day after the election, both the president and [House Speaker John Boehner] said nuclear was an area where it’s something they can agree, it’s made us that much more in demand,” Flint said. “Our lobbying expenses have gone up more in large part because we have more people talking to more members of Congress.”
Nearly all of the investor-owned power companies that operate U.S. nuclear reactors play in the donation game.
Exelon, the owner of the nation’s largest nuclear fleet, gave nearly $515,000 during the 2009-10 election cycle. The company contributed to more Democrats than Republicans (58 percent to 40 percent), though it made sure to cover all of the key bases. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) got the $10,000 limit from Exelon for primary and general election fights, while California Rep. Henry Waxman’s campaign account received $5,000.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51367.html#ixzz1lxkZIQ00
New York Times
Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate
By MIKE McINTIRE
Published: February 3, 2008
When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state’s freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.
John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon and also of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a lobbying group, has been an Obama donor.
Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was “the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed.”
“I just did that last year,” he said, to murmurs of approval.
A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.
Those revisions propelled the bill through a crucial committee. But, contrary to Mr. Obama’s comments in Iowa, it ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate.
“Senator Obama’s staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft,” said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. “The teeth were just taken out of it.”
The history of the bill shows Mr. Obama navigating a home-state controversy that pitted two important constituencies against each other and tested his skills as a legislative infighter. On one side were neighbors of several nuclear plants upset that low-level radioactive leaks had gone unreported for years; on the other was Exelon, the country’s largest nuclear plant operator and one of Mr. Obama’s largest sources of campaign money.
Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.
Another Obama donor, John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear power industry’s lobbying group, based in Washington. Exelon’s support for Mr. Obama far exceeds its support for any other presidential candidate.
In addition, Mr. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to Exelon. A spokeswoman for Exelon said Mr. Axelrod’s company had helped an Exelon subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, with communications strategy periodically since 2002, but had no involvement in the leak controversy or other nuclear issues.
The Obama campaign said in written responses to questions that Mr. Obama “never discussed this issue or this bill” with Mr. Axelrod. The campaign acknowledged that Exelon executives had met with Mr. Obama’s staff about the bill, as had concerned residents, environmentalists and regulators. It said the revisions resulted not from any influence by Exelon, but as a necessary response to a legislative roadblock put up by Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time.
“If Senator Obama had listened to industry demands, he wouldn’t have repeatedly criticized Exelon in the press, introduced the bill and then fought for months to get action on it,” the campaign said. “Since he has over a decade of legislative experience, Senator Obama knows that it’s very difficult to pass a perfect bill.”