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Excerpt: "After 60 years, the taxpayer should not continue to subsidise multibillion-dollar corporations in the nuclear energy sector."

'Wealthy nuclear corporations recently secured access to $18.5bn in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees.' (photo: Dunya News)
'Wealthy nuclear corporations recently secured access to $18.5bn in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees.' (photo: Dunya News)

Stop the Nuclear Industry Welfare Program

By Bernie Sanders and Ryan Alexander, Reader Supported News

13 April 12


he US is facing a $15 trillion national debt, and there is no shortage of opinions about how to move toward deficit reduction in the federal budget. One topic you will not hear discussed very often on Capitol Hill is the idea of ending one of the oldest American welfare programmes – the extraordinary amount of corporate welfare going to the nuclear energy industry.

Many in Congress talk of getting "big government off the back of private industry". Here's an industry we'd like to get off the backs of the taxpayers.

As, respectively, a senator who is the longest-serving independent in Congress and the president of an independent and non-partisan budget watchdog organisation, we do not necessarily agree on everything when it comes to energy and budget policy in the US. But one thing we strongly agree on is the need to end wasteful subsidies that prop up the nuclear industry. After 60 years, this industry should not require continued and massive corporate welfare. It is time for the nuclear power industry to stand on its own two feet.

Nuclear welfare started with research and development. According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, since 1948 the federal government has spent more than $95bn (in 2011 dollars) on nuclear energy research and development (R&D). That is more than four times the amount spent on solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biofuels, and hydropower combined. But federal R&D was not enough; the industry also wanted federal liability insurance too, which it got back in 1957 with the Price-Anderson Act. This federal liability insurance programme for nuclear plants was meant to be temporary, but Congress repeatedly extended it, most recently through 2025. Price-Anderson puts taxpayers on the hook for losses that exceed $12. 6bn if there is a nuclear plant disaster. When government estimates show the cost for such a disaster could reach $720bn in property damage alone, that's one sweetheart deal for the nuclear industry!

R&D and Price-Anderson insurance are still just the tip of the iceberg. From tax breaks for uranium mining and loan guarantees for uranium enrichment to special depreciation benefits and lucrative federal tax breaks for every kilowatt hour from new plants, nuclear is heavily subsidised at every phase. The industry also bilks taxpayers when plants close down with tax breaks for decommissioning plants. Further, it is estimated that the cost to taxpayers for the disposal of radioactive nuclear waste could be as much as $100bn.

Even with all of those subsidies, the private sector still will not agree to finance a new nuclear plant, so wealthy nuclear corporations recently secured access to $18.5bn in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees. Maybe the Wall Street banks agree with the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated the risk of default on nuclear loans at above 50%. The nuclear industry's financial troubles are not new. In the 1960s and 1970s, 100 reactors were cancelled because of cost overruns. Things were so bad Forbes called it "the largest managerial disaster in business history". Despite this history, some want to dramatically increase federal loan guarantees for nuclear plants.

It is shocking that the nuclear industry continues to receive so much federal support at a time of record debt. Of course nuclear subsidies benefit some of the wealthiest and most powerful energy corporations in America, which may explain the persistence of nuclear welfare. For example, Exelon, which takes in $33bn in revenue annually, is the leading operator/owner of nuclear reactors in the US. Entergy, with revenues of more than $11bn annually, is the second largest. Together, these two companies own or operate almost one-third of US reactors, and based on their revenue they are doing pretty well. Why do they need endless federal welfare for their industry year after year? Will it ever end?

Well, as secretary of energy Steven Chu confirmed at a recent Senate hearing, without federal liability insurance and loan guarantees, no one would ever build a new nuclear plant. Whether you support nuclear energy or not, we should all be able to agree that with record debt, we cannot afford to continue to subsidise this mature industry and its multibillion-dollar corporations. If the nuclear industry believes so fervently in its technology, then it and Wall Street investors can put their money where their mouth is. Let's let them finance it, insure it, and pay for it themselves. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+4 # Virginia 2012-04-13 22:28
$15 TRILLION - you sure that's all? That's only in one sector... Federal Reserve printed a hell of a lot more than that...
+3 # cordleycoit 2012-04-13 23:14
Obama loves loves nukes, or at least the money they bring his super Pac. He has a way of moving towards money even if it means death and destruction.He puckers well to the backside of the Nuke industries death grip on the budget. As the nuke industry pushes death Obama becomes a choiceless choice. He is lessor but still evil.
+2 # CaptD 2012-04-14 14:42
Yes he does and his "payback to his largest donor, the Nuclear Industry is not the CHANGE most of US voted for!

What a Nuclear Waste!
-6 # Raymond Dean 2012-04-13 23:41
It is sad that when suthors have a valid point to make they are so intent on comdenation that they provide misleading statistics and claims. The R&D money put into nuclear was direcedt toward a nuclear navy in the era when the US was striving mightily to avoid nuclear confrontation with the Soviets. The reactors in Pennsylvania were manned by future sailors and officers of nuclear subs, in particular. In fact not only did these reactors provide the successful model for the nuclear power industry, but President Eisenhower launched Atoms for Peace internationally.

The Forbes article referenced was a masterpiece that explained very well why a number of nuclear reactors were never lit off even after great expenditures. Too many companies tried to design and build a single plant. The companies such as Commonwealth Edison of northern Illinois manged to supply greater Chicago with 90% of the electric load with nuclear (they used the most proved technology as I recall largely out of that developed at Shippinport)at reasonable price that was included in the rate base; Florida Power and Light, Duke and others also suceeded admirably.

Officers who retired from the Navy were the backbone of power company personnel for many years. Thus, their training did not go to waste after retirement.

These chaps need to rewrite the article with less passion.
+2 # unitedwestand 2012-04-15 01:16
The point is that we don't need it anymore, we don't want and even $1 subsidy more for nuclear as far as I'm concerned is too much.
+12 # infohiway 2012-04-14 00:01
ABSOLUTELY and it gets worse.

Look up: Export Credit Guarantee(s) - whereby the US taxpayers 'insure' foreign government's orders for defense and infrastructure contracts. When they default JOE PUBLIC is saddled with it.

Another bizarre scenario in play is:
A RECOGNIZED banana republic buys a US made electricity grid plus generators (conventional or nuclear) paying for that with drug money - no questions asked.

That laundered money is pumped back into the US economy and upping the share prices in the process - notwithstanding the offshore payola in the middle.
+36 # old cynic 2012-04-14 01:09
I wish we had around 75 more Bernie Sanders in The Senate.
+3 # CaptD 2012-04-14 14:40
And about 40 in Congress...

Then America would be leading the World again instead of dragging it's nuclear feet to benefit only the nuclear lobby!
-13 # DemocracyNeedsDefenders 2012-04-14 02:22
A little less breathlessness, and a little more balance would help. Perhaps the author would rather burn coal - contaminate our rivers (pregnant women should not eat fish because of mercury from coal), pollute our air (asthma in children is at all time highs), and heat up our planet. If coal had to pay for its sewerage, there would be no need for nuclear loan guarantees, and no need for federal programs to support renewable energy. The market economics would do all that is necessary. But until coal has to start paying its true costs we need to support "uncompetitive" cleaner technologies - or face environmental disaster.
+11 # Karlus58 2012-04-14 11:37
These are corporate welfare subsidies he's talking about. Why on earth should be continue subsidizing when look at the profits they earn. Its foolish to think otherwise. Ridding ourselves of this debt should not have any effect on the deliverance of muclear energy.
+4 # Jorge 2012-04-14 13:17
It is not a choice between nuclear and coal. Coal sucks as a power source also, but that does not excuse the need to phase out nuclear, as some countries are doing (Germany). With subsidies similar to nuclear and oil we could have solar panels on every home/building in America and also supply energy for clean/green electric vehicles. "Market economics would do all that is necessary"...Hm mmm, that does not seem to be working that great for most Americans.
+1 # DemocracyNeedsDefenders 2012-04-14 14:52
Absolutely we need a solar panel on every roof. We could do a lot more to save power too. But nuclear also has a place for the baseload power which solar can't do. Don't believe all the hype from the antis.
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-04-15 11:28
"Baseline" power is not necessarily needed if there is enough quantity and diversity of sustainable generation and if there is a way to store energy locally.
(There start to be other than batteries. Modern flywheels are amazing and it is also possible to store electric power as gas, such as by electrolyzing water.)

In any case, any reasonable solution necessarily implies better efficiency on the consumption side to decrease the actual need: home insulation (a joke in the US), better mileage, more telecommuting, more buying local etc.
Coal and nuclear can only be justified by baseload as a transitory measure pending real solutions.
+6 # jky1291 2012-04-14 03:35
While Bernie Sanders is currently my favorite politician, whom I wish were running for President, I would not wish to see the nuclear power option fatally crippled or abandoned until all the preferable alternative sources are in place to supply all our environmentally friendly needs. But, I would agree that distinguishing nuclear energy supply from obscene corporate profits should be legislated and regulated so that if those ventures prove to be so profitable, then the proceeds should revert back to the federal government to reduce the national debt, not enrich those who are already wealthy from government subsidies.
+1 # unitedwestand 2012-04-15 01:26
We didn't build any new plants for a couple of decades, but recently and maybe still, there were plans to built a dozen or so more. This is what we need to avoid. We need to decommission as many as possible as they get too old to be safe and put ALL our money into renewable energy. Just think how much further along we would be with safe energy if we had spend the money there.

I'm so sick of the ounter-argument s that I've heard for decades. Between the fossil fuel companies and the nuclear industry the country and the world has been put in jeopardy. ENOUGH!!
+24 # BenECoyote 2012-04-14 03:44
On a state level as well, Vermont Yankee, for example, pays less in taxes than solar or wind plants do. It is criminal. Unsafe, Unclean and Unreliable, Entergy has consistently lied to our citizens, and to the state of Vermont. There is no excuse for the American Tax Payer to have to foot the bill for an industry that refuses to act in good faith.
+27 # Progressive Patriot 2012-04-14 05:18
Three's a reason why we've been subsidizing the nuclear industry for decades ... because it's such a bad investment, that private industry won't touch it.

So it's time to stop subsidizing it.
+15 # deejaycee 2012-04-14 08:16
Until we know how to safely store the waste from a nuclear power plant I think it's wrongheaded to build any more reactors. Didn't Chernobyl or Japan teach us anything about the danger of Nuclear power?

If the US put the money they are using to subsidize our current power sources (oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy) into developing solar and wind power and if industry could figure out a way to make money on these free resources we could save the environment and have cheap electricity.

But industry can't figure out how to make 'gazillions' on the sun's rays or the wind storm. It makes me sad that nuclear power is part of the equation.
-21 # MidwestTom 2012-04-14 09:05
When they passed ObamaCare the largest "savings" were to come from cutting Doctors income by roughly 25%; however, ever since Congress has delayed the implementation of the cuts, which were to total roughly $400 billion per year, which is far more than the financial support for the environmentally friendly nuclear power.
+3 # Cassandra2012 2012-04-15 14:15
So Fukushima and Chernobyl are your idea of 'environmentall y friendly'??
+14 # infohiway 2012-04-14 09:16
The 'bottom line' is?

Serious and extensive:
monopoly and
trust -
busting; freeing efficient zero-point energy generation -

The extortion by: gas, oil, coal and nuclear fired electricity generators is both obscene and lethal.

Meanwhile: DHS orders 750,000,000 rounds of (illegal dum-dum) hollow point ammo? WHY? So no one can complain - or else? Gordon Duff, USMC ret, of -
connects some other dots.

Patrick Henry did too ( "I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motives for it? Has Great Britain (the DHS???) any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies (AMMO)?

No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging."

History does repeat itself - if, and only if, we let it.
+21 # CaptD 2012-04-14 09:26
A Great Friday the 13th Article!

Bernie Sanders ROCKS!

Nuclear is becoming ever more expensive & RISKY.

Solar (of all flavors) is going down in price...

The USA should N☢T be building any NUKES...
We cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster.
+2 # infohiway 2012-04-14 11:19
+13 # infohiway 2012-04-14 09:38
It ain't cheap and it ain't safe.
+2 # CaptD 2012-04-14 14:35
And it is getting more RISKY and MORE expensive every year as these nuclear turkeys age and Solar (of all flavors) prices continue to drop FAST!
+7 # CaptD 2012-04-14 09:44
Speaking of money!

The times are a changin'... Bob Dylan

When folks think Location, Location, Location, one of the most important things is:
"How close am I and or are we downwind from a potential Nuclear Reactor Meltdown"

Lets use Southern California as an example:

What would happen to property values in SoCal if SORE, (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) suffered a meltdown like Fukushima for ANY reason, like an EQ (Earth Quake), terrorism, Tsunami, operator error or just "because it can"?

Per the NRC: Fact Sheet on Nuclear Insurance and Disaster Relief

In short, if there is more than $12 Billion in damages, residents are left holding a empty radioactive bag! This is only a tiny fraction of what it will cost in Fukushima, which is estimated to be about a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster!

What is the value of all the homes and Commercial property downwind of SORE?
Probably at least several TRILLION dollars...

Here is a great graphic that will help everyone visualize what is downwind of any of the US reactors! NRDC Nuclear Fallout Map:
Just click on a reactor and zoom in...

Where will the US Government get the REST of the money if it happened at SORE (or a reactor where you live) next week, probably from Social Security and or Medicare?
+13 # CaptD 2012-04-14 09:44
I believe that if Americans really knew the true cost of Fukushima, WE, the people, would demand CHANGE and that is something that some of those in Government and the entire Nuclear Industry want to avoid at all cost!

What will determine the total cost of their "Trillion Dollar" Eco-Disast­er?

Please feel free to add your comments and or estimates to this list:
 Decommissi­onin g costs
 Loss to all other radioactiv­e decontamin­atio n caused by this Disaster.
 Loss of revenues by Tepco
 Loss to TEPCO's share holders caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss of Japanese personal income caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss to Japanese businesses caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss of all Japanese health costs related to radioactiv­ity
 Loss due to unusable Japanese Land related to radioactiv­ity
 Loss due to Japanese housing caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss of Japanese Property Values caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss of fishing grounds caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss of manufactur­ing caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss to the value of the Yen caused by radioactiv­ity
 Loss to other Utilities caused by Fukushima'­s radioactiv­ity
 Loss to Japans credit rating caused by Fukushima'­s radioactiv­ity
 Loss to the Japanese peoples Lives because of radiation
+6 # CaptD 2012-04-14 09:47
We are now are being ruled by those in Nuclear Denial*; instead of by Leaders that demand an end to the Trillion Dollar Eco-Disast­er RISK that Nuclear poses to mankind!

How would the UK pay for a Fukushima
Deal with a 50 mile NO GO ZONE ?

Remember Nature does not follow design basis calculations or even engineering RISK formulas…

The nuclear industry is fighting tooth and nail to maintain it’s market share; yet NOW Solar (of all flavors) is far less costly to construct, faster to construct and carries with it N☢ Nuclear radioactiv­e baggage that can kill a Countries economy and or those living nearby!
Ask The Japanese!

*Nuclear Denial
The illogical belief that Nature cannot destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365!
+7 # CaptD 2012-04-14 09:48
From WeMustDoBetter

Anyone who still thinks nuclear energy is safe is ignorant of what is really going on…

Dr. Chris Busby; Consequences of Burning Radioactive Waste In Japan; via A Green Road Blog

No Solutions For Nuclear Disasters Or Nuclear Waste; via A Green Road Blog

What Happens To Nuclear Waste In Your Country? via A Green Road Blog

93 Long life Radiation Contaminants; via A Green Road Blog

Depleted Uranium Effects In The Human Body; via A Green Road Blog

Nuclear Plants And Radioactive Water Contamination; via A Green Road Blog

This is all happening near YOU.
+4 # CaptD 2012-04-14 09:50
Here is a great graphic that will help everyone visualize what is downwind!
NRDC Nuclear Fallout Map
Just click on a reactor and zoom in...
What about the effects on Climate Change caused by the radionuclides that were released from Fukushima, most of which are NEVER mentioned in MSM and why have all these scientists not speaking up about them unless they have been told not to?
+8 # CaptD 2012-04-14 09:55
Fukushima SFP #4 another Pearl Harbor?
by CaptD on Saturday, 07 April 2012 13:58

The day before Easter 2012, I'm reminded of an earlier warning about another historic disaster, the bombing of Pearl Harbor; and the still ongoing discussion about if the US Military and or US Gov't. had any advanced knowledge of the attack (from intercepted code or even then high tech radar) but decided instead to "stand down" for geo-political reasons...

Today, the meltdown of Fukushima's reactor #4 spent fuel pool (SFP) is a potentially similar "event," only this time, the Japanese UN Ambassador is warning US ahead of time, in no uncertain terms, and also even asking for our HELP to prevent it from happening! See the link below for much more.

BTW: You probably have not been keeping up with the ongoing story about the 3/11/11 Fukushima reactor meltdown in Japan like I have, but this will bring you up to speed quickly... This is a huge "ADMISSION" by one of the Senior Japanese Officials that is frustrated by their Governments "nuclear denial"...

Ambassador Murata writes to UN Secretary General: “It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on No. 4 reactor” - Appeals for independent assessment team
"If Fukushima's SFP #4 collapses it will pollute the Earth"
+7 # angelfish 2012-04-14 11:11
The Nuclear Energy Industry will eventually KILL us all as evidenced by what is happening in Japan. The Technology has exceeding their knowledge of how to deal with the devastation caused by spills, leaks and meltdowns. We MUST rein them in and close down the aging nuclear Plants already at risk! Otherwise, when you see the flash in the sky, the only thing left to do is to turn and embrace your demise.
+10 # Eliza D 2012-04-14 11:17
Raymond Dean-I'll bet you are a military man and have sympathy for the diligent men you speak of who did R&D back before anyone thought about what would happen to nuclear waste. Now we know-it's leaking into the Columbia River from the Hanford Site in WA and into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima and dozens of other places no one will tell us about. The price of solar and wind energy are NOTHING compared to the loss of property and life outlined by Capt D. Furthermore, the Japanese government has stated that they don't know if Reactor 4 in Fukushima has had a MELT THROUGH of radioactive material and won't know for more than 20 years-the estimated time it will take to remove the thousands of tons of concrete debris from the explosion! How can we possibly allow a disaster of this magnitude to happen again??? We may already be walking dead from Fukushima. NO nukes!!
+4 # CaptD 2012-04-14 11:50
America is hurting , here is why:

Special Interests...EXP OSED!!! - YouTube
B of A: Too Crooked to Fail | Politics News | Rolling Stone
+2 # pamitty 2012-04-14 13:07
Nuclear is Too DANGEROUS to use.
It is probably too late. Our planet is dying and we will kill off our own kind.
The humans who are in control (beyond the USA, beyond any country but the small group of the top 400 in the world are suicidal!
We don't think about it because it's too obvious and there is nothing we can do about it.
There is ALWAYS someone who Thinks They can be the winner of all but not even the 1% can win on this issue!
+2 # CaptD 2012-04-15 10:04
RE: Well, as secretary of energy Steven Chu confirmed at a recent Senate hearing, without federal liability insurance and loan guarantees, no one would ever build a new nuclear plant. Whether you support nuclear energy or not, we should all be able to agree that with record debt, we cannot afford to continue to subsidise this mature industry and its multibillion-do llar corporations. If the nuclear industry believes so fervently in its technology, then it and Wall Street investors can put their money where their mouth is. Let's let them finance it, insure it, and pay for it themselves.

No Nukes would be Great News for the USA and the Planet, because we cannot afford another Fukushima for any reason, anywhere on the Planet
+1 # davehaze 2012-04-15 11:07
Obama administration giving 18.5 billion in loan guarantees to build nuclear reactors. Neat.

This doesn't generate a headline to pierce the skulls of all the liberal Democrats who thought they were voting for a progressive environmentalis t type of guy. And didn't get one.

A Republican administration couldn't have gotten away with such a gift to nuclear so they didn't seriously try. It takes a Democrat who talks nice to us but has an agenda no different than the 1 percent who rule us.

The 1 percent are the welfare recipients. And they buy most all politicians, both parties, with paltry sums of money. How much did they have to pass around for 18.5 billion?
+1 # CaptD 2012-04-16 09:36
The nuclear loans were a "GIFT" to BOTH the GOP side of the isle and to President Obama's largest donor, the Nuclear Industry!

Forget the Dem vs. Rep politics and see this for what it is, a payback to the Ultra's in both Parties...

America is being now ruled by the Ultra's that control who gets elected to Congress!

See my 9:50 post above for why...

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