Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Friends of the Truth

stein We normally don’t spotlight our comments section: that’s your area to have at the topics addressed on the blog without a lot of pushback from us – though we’ll drop in to clarify a point now and then. But we were struck by the comments left by Nick Berning of Friends of the Earth about our post below:

Contrary to your post's assertions, our release was clear that not all of the $50 billion is necessarily going to the nuclear industry. What we said is "much" of the money is "likely" to go to a nuclear industry bailout. The veracity of this claim is underscored by your organization's interest in ensuring the bailout is included in the final bill.

This is a real head-scratcher, since Berning seems to think that weasel words like “much” and “likely” mitigates the actual quote from their President. Take it away, Brent Blackwelder:

"Senators are supposed to be fixing the economy but instead they’re offering the nuclear industry a $50 billion gift that will create virtually no near-term jobs. It's unconscionable.

Well, is it $50 billion or “likely” “much” of it or, as we said, split between a smorgasbord of energy-related industries? We think we “likely” come “much” closer to the reality. Berning and Blackwelder should get together and decide just how villainous the nuclear energy industry is and the nature of the villainy, then try again.

Let’s see if we can help them. Berner considers it damning that NEI and the industry wanted nuclear energy to be included, but so did every other industry that was (and some that probably weren’t) included. We’re reasonably sure FOE has things they’d like to see in the stimulus and advocate vociferously for it, as well they should. But good infrastructure and workforce build out projects are exactly what this bill is supposed to be about and what the nuclear industry can contribute. It doesn’t prove the veracity of FOE’s claim at all.

FOE simply wants to paint the nuclear industry as blackly as possible under the guise of an inexact populist outrage and a shaky grip on an easily verifiable truth. FOE seems to believe nuclear energy is so wicked, no precision in their arguments (“Bail-out!” Fah!) is necessary as long as it vanquishes the wickedness. But, in this case, to quote Gertrude Stein: There is no there there.

Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein. Stein also said, “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” And she has a plate of brownies she’d like you to try.

1 comment:

Jack Spencer said...

And for a different perspective on the LG's.

I started to leave a comment in the responses to the last blog and it quickly turned into a treatise. So since we have our own blog at Heritage I just posted it there. But in a nutshell, I argue that while limited LG's and other subsidies can have a role in overcoming some initial uncertainty, the move now to expand them is detrimental to tax payers, consumers and the long-term competitiveness of the energy industry. To me, the question is not whether or not nuclear should get LG's but to what extent any energy source (or industry) should be allowed to build its long-term business plan around permanant subsidies. What are the ramifications for such a policy? Does it benefit the consumer? The tax payer?

Also, we get so cought up in who pays for the subsidy or LG, we forget that there are real costs outside of the administration of the program.

These are real questions that need to be debated.

We seem to be entering a whole new era where business models are based more on subsidies, preferences, and protections rather than on providing consumers with the best product for the best price.

I know that we all need to advance our own interests and I am all for that. But it seems to me that the consumer is sometimes left without representation and he's the one that will end up paying the bill.

Another treatise. Sorry.