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Obama Budget Erases Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Ramps Up Nuclear Spending

Clean Energy Comes Out a Winner

By Stacy Morford

Feb 1, 2010

“Eliminating these and other fossil fuel subsidies, as the U.S. and other G20 nations pledged to do last year, will help correct some of the market distortions that unfairly advantage dirty energy at the expense of clean energy. We hope the Congress will ignore the same old tired scare tactics that the industry will undoubtedly dust off and quickly move forward with implementing this important proposal.”

Obama made his position clear to reporters this morning:

“We will not continue costly tax cuts for oil companies or investment fund managers or those making over $250,000 a year. We just can’t afford it.”

That doesn’t mean ending all spending increases, however. Clean energy is a big beneficiary of the president’s 2011 budget proposal.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters that the government was "aggressively promoting alternative energy" and the budget would keep the country on track to double renewable energy output by 2012. The budget would provide loan guarantees and nearly $2.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including significant investments in solar power ($302 million), biofuels and biomass ($220 million), advanced vehicle technology ($325 million) and energy efficiency building technologies ($231 million). Chu is also requesting a $300 million increase in funding for ARPA-E, the disruptive technologies program tuned to energy innovation.

“Just as it would be a terrible mistake to borrow against our children’s future to pay our way today, it would be equally wrong to neglect their future by failing to invest in areas that will determine our economic success in this new century,” Obama told reporters. “That’s why we build on the largest investment in clean energy in history, as well as increase investment in scientific research so we are fostering the industries and jobs of the future right here in America.”

Nuclear Loan Guarantees

The president also is proposing an additional $36 billion, for a total of$54 billion, in loan guarantees for nuclear energy development, an industry that several Republicans in Congress have been pushing to revive. That part of the budget proposal is raising some eyebrows, however.

Sierra Club spokesman Josh Dorner described the budgeting for the nuclear loan guarantees as "slight-of-hand accounting" that could become extremely costly. The budgeted amount only covers about 1 percent of those loans, he said, yet nuclear is considered a high-risk investment with a default risk the Congressional Budget Office has in the past put at upwards of 50 percent. The U.S. hasn't brougt a new reactor online in over a decade.

Reactor construction has a history of cost overruns, Berning added.

“Our view is this is essentially a bailout for the nuclear industry,” Berning said. “They’re unable to exist without taxpayer support. That Wall Street thinks nuclear reactors are too risky to invest in ought to tell you something.”

Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu see a different future for nuclear.

The loan guarantees should be enough to build seven to 10 reactors, which would get the industry started again, Chu said. Scientists' knowledge of nuclear power and dealing with nuclear waste is developing, he said, and the U.S. has the potential to take the technological lead in such developments as small modular reactors and fast reactors that can burn down waste.

In a question-and-answer session with videos sent in by the public, Obama explained to a group of college students why the administration was still looking at coal and nuclear power.

He said he believes clean energy will be the driver of the U.S. economy in the long-run.

Subsidies for fossil fuels

The fossil fuel subsidy numbers from the Environmental Law Institute may actually be too low.
According to a study- Koplow's 2007 report to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development:

"Estimating U.S. oil and gas subsidies is very challenging. Subsidies rarely involve cash payments. Instead scores of U.S. government agencies and departments create hundreds of programmes to support the U.S. energy sector. And there is no requirement for the federal government to keep track of all this. Energy subsidies are often simply hidden from public scrutiny."

His numbers for 2006 are $49 billion annually for fossil fuels, with $39 billion of that going too oil.

Nuclear Waste(ful)

Nuclear power is anything but clean, and it is certainly not affordable. Just ask the South Texans who are fighting the uranium mining in their back yards - or the Navajo or Hopi Native Americans who are doing the same (along with the coal mining and burning). Or how about the enrichment facilities that produce massive amounts of depleted uranium and other toxic, hazardous and radioactive waste? How about the coal plants that have to power these enrichment facilities, and the other ecological footprints of nuclear fuel mining, transport, use and disposal? I haven't even mentioned the high-level rad waste from the reactors yet.

Add to that the fact that nukes are the most expensive form of power generation - they always go massively over budget and overtime. The only way they are ever built is through massive government subsidies - Wall Street won't touch them, and as we've seen Wall Street isn't particularly fussy about sound investments lately...

The latest nuke proposed in Texas went from a proposed $5.4 billion price tag to over $18 billion, and that's before they had even obtained any permits or broken any ground. Obama should stop these incredibly wasteful and pointless subsidies for nuclear - and "clean" coal too for that matter. We are more likely to see energy generated by unicorns before we see coal technology that is even remotely "clean."

great news in the budget!

Excellent news in the Obama Administration’s 2011 budget. Slashing tax benefits for oil and coal companies while dedicating more funds to nuclear and clean energy sectors: let’s hope lobbyists don’t stall or derail this important shift in federal funding directives from fossil fuels to green tech.

Nuclear Power Plant Contribute to Global Warming

Nuclear power plants produce heat. This heat is created by the destruction of the nuclear fuel in the nuclear reactor. The nuclear plant converts only one third of this heat into electricy. The rest of this heat, known as waste heat goes into the environment. The heat transfered water, which then becomes hot and is sent to cooling towers to let the heat go into the air. Some nuclear plants,however, dischage this hot water directly into tghe rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world. This discharge of hot water into the rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world increases their temperature on a continuous basis.

* It must be remembered that this heat energy that is produced by these nuclear power plants is brand new heat energy, that never existed before, and is continously being added to the environment. Nuclear power plants are right now increasing the effects of global warming.

Got Water? Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Needs


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