Nuclear Power and the Lobbyists Behind It

A new investigation finds that the nuclear industry has spent millions of dollars over the past decade to sell the public and Congress on the virtues of new reactors.

  • Nuclear Power Plant
    Is nuclear energy a smart choice for the future? The amount of money lobbyists are spending to convince Congress and the public that nuclear power should be part of the next climate and energy bill may trigger a cloud of skepticism as you answer that question.

  • Nuclear Power Plant

The nuclear industry claims that there is increased public support for nuclear power as a solution to climate change and some members of Congress are arguing that massive incentives for new nuclear reactors are critical to passing a climate and energy bill. Today, the Obama administration is expected to propose tripling the amount of loan guarantees to the industry to $54 billion and there are proposals in Congress to add billions more through a new "clean" energy fund and other incentives to support nuclear power expansion.   

Where did all this support for new nuclear reactors come from? Let’s follow the money.

Growing support for new nuclear power comes after an extensive decade-long campaign in which companies and unions related to the industry have spent more than $650 million on lobbying and campaign contributions from 1999 through 2008, according to a new analysis by former Los Angeles Times reporter Judy Pasternak, now with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University. (To learn more, read Nuclear Energy Lobby Working Hard to Win Support.) In the first three quarters of 2009 alone, the nuclear energy industry spent $84 million lobbying Congress.

“In many ways, the nuclear power industry’s efforts to win support are a textbook case of how the influence game is played in Washington,” Pasternak reports. “Besides the money spent on lobbying and campaign contributions, the industry, led by the NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute), has created a network of allies who give speeches, quote one another approvingly and showcase one another on their websites. The effect is an echo chamber of support for nuclear power.”

Two of the industry’s celebrity spokespeople, former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and former Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore, have been stumping around the country, writing op-eds, and appearing on TV to extol the virtues of nuclear power as the co-directors of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. They rarely, if ever, mention that the NEI created the coalition and is its sole funder.

2/22/2010 12:45:33 PM

Ohhh and this: From the climate change lobby: "The Environmental Defense Fund says it spent about $40 million on direct climate advocacy, both domestically and internationally last year — about 40 percent of the organization’s budget." One enviro organization spent HALF as much as the nuc. INDUSTRY??? Look at the whole article: Use their tool to "See" who's lobbying.. .and select Nuclear.. I used $100,000 and nothing popped up for the nukes...

2/22/2010 12:31:50 PM

continued from below: from TBI: GE’s specific lobbying issues included the “Climate Stewardship Act,” “Electric Utility Cap and Trade Act,” “Global Warming Reduction Act,” “Federal Government Greenhouse Gas Registry Act,” “Low Carbon Economy Act,” and “Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.” It is ridiculous, and is an example of extremism if you think for a second you can replace the volume of coal produced power with wind or solar by themselves. It will take a combination of the different technologies in order to rip ourselves away from the fossil fuel known as oil.. Associated links and sources:

2/22/2010 12:22:15 PM

follow the money, eh? 300 companies and 2340 lobbyists formed the "green Lobby" in 2008. Envir groups (non-$$$ money makers) have assets >1.5 Bln. Not a bad gig.... $84 million in comparison? Chump change. Do you have valid points about "left overs"? Yes. So what do the French do? Learn from them (did a right winger actually SAY that?)... From "Lobbyists from every industry are representing green interests in greater numbers every year, but the automakers and related industries are the ones who are showing tremendous growth and the greatest amount of money being spent on eco-concerns. "United States automakers and auto industry affiliates spent an additional $62.6 million dollars in recent years with GM being among the top ten spenders. Nissan was the top foreign spender in green lobby money for the same time frame." So car companies BY THEMSELVES, lobbying for green causes only, accounted for 2/3rds of the amount of funding that the Nuc. lobby dished out. Ohhh and the PAYOFF??? from the WSJ: "GE lobbyists pressed for grants, tax cuts or rebates aimed at businesses GE is engaged in, including provisions worth more than $80 billion for energy projects, appliances, health-care information systems and wind farms. GE would have to compete with rivals for a share of these grants. GE spent $7.55 million lobbying in the second quarter, a 34% increase from the year-earlier period and more than any other single company, according to federal data"



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