Working to Stop New Nukes: DC Days with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

March 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm 1 comment

GA Women's Action for New Directions with Arjun Makhijani

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s valuable “DC Days.” Representing the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and the Southern Energy Network (SEN), I was joined by Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions to talk with our Southeastern U.S. Representatives and determine where they stand on the issues.

We met with the offices of Rep. John Barrow, Senator Johnny Isakson, and Rep. Sanford Bishop to specifically address Southern Company’s two new proposed reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. Although both Reps. Barrow’s and Isakson’s staff at least agreed that monitoring of radiological contaminants should be restored in Georgia, there was little else to be excited about. It seems they all support nuclear power all the way, despite their supposed fiscally conservative philosophies. Plant Vogtle is in Congressman Barrow’s district so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that he has fully adopted the talking points of the nuclear industry.

At the Capitol with GA WAND's Amanda Hill

The point I reiterated at each of the meetings is this: offering up $54 billion in taxpayer-financed conditional loan guarantees as proposed by President Obama for risky, expensive new nuclear reactors is not a fiscally conservative maneuver and is not going to create jobs for Georgians.  I have sent each of them the 2003 Congressional Budget Office Report that estimates the nuclear industry will have a 50% default rate. That’s a 50% chance that the industry will borrow our tax money, not pay it back, and be forgiven their debt: another taxpayer funded bailout for another wealthy and well-connected industry! It will be interesting to see how their supposed “fiscally conservative” approach can be defended if they back the loan guarantees despite this compelling information.

We also met with Charles Lee, Director of the Office of Environmental Justice of the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the burden that the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle will place on the local Shell Bluff community. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit the community and hear their concerns. So last week it was very inspiring to hear them express their concerns directly to their decision makers and administrators. They spoke of the heavy economic burden their community faces, even after they were promised a new life when the first two reactors were built. They talked about high cancer rates, contaminated water, and rampant poverty. The stories were all too common:  their community was left behind, even as others were relocated out of the immediate impact area of the nuclear reactors that are literally across the river from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) massive Savannah River Site nuclear complex. Mr. Lee promised to follow up in the DOE’s promise to reinstate radiological testing of the water and soil on the Georgia side of the river.

These issues are complex and multi-faceted. The bottom line is this: nuclear power is a problem. It’s not a solution to global warming or achieving energy independence. It only creates more problems in the form of dangerous, highly radioactive waste. It squanders our precious water resources and diverts limited financial resources from truly clean, renewable energies that can create good, safe jobs for local Southeastern communities. It is time for sustainable solutions, not more false solutions.
Now do your part – please sign this petition today to urge your decision makers in Congress to oppose gambling away your tax dollars on risky new nuclear reactors!

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Entry filed under: southern energy network.

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