Thursday, July 01, 2010

Friends of the Wretched Child

Oliver Our opinion about Friends of the Earth swings a bit between annoyance and amusement – the former because the environmental group plays so loosely with facts, the latter because they are often quite maladroit even with their loose facts. Consider:

This week Congress will vote on whether to take teachers away from students so that they can give nuclear reactors a $9 billion preemptive bailout. We continue to be shocked that Congress brazenly puts the interests of corporations above the needs of regular Americans, including teachers and children. This is further proof our political system has been corrupted by corporate influence and special interests.

That brazen Congress! We fully expect to see Dickensian children in rags crowding the doors of local nuclear plants begging for alms if this horrid bill passes. Or would, if the cruel taskmasters of the nuclear energy industry weren’t also masterminding legislation to put those wretched children to work hauling overflowing bales of uranium up steep hills to feed the voracious maws of the flame-belching reactors.

Honestly!

(Funning aside, we should mention that the $9 billion is for loan guarantees, for which recipients pay a hefty fee plus interest. It’s not a direct charge against government revenues, which the schools portion would be. That would go back to the “loose with facts” part. But that’s our FOE!)

Mark Lester from the film Oliver! (1968). Lester left acting in 1977 and became an acupuncturist in his native England, where he currently has his own acupuncture clinic.

3 comments:

gunter said...

Howdy folks,

That "hefty fee plus interest" Mark menstions is actually around 1% or less where even federal highway loans require 5%.

Given the uncertainty and growing risk of industry default has already been determined by Congress to be "significantly more than 50%"(in 2003 dollars), this is practically a give-a-way for that next Atomic Big Dig.

JD said...

Howdy gunter,

As I'm sure you're well aware, the 50% default rate estimate from the Congressional Budget Office was from seven years ago. (I think that's what you meant by saying 50 percent in 2003 dollars...)

More recently, the CBO posted on its Director's Blog the following information (emphasis mine):

"A number of people have inquired as to whether the information in those estimates is relevant to estimates of the credit risk of the announced loan guarantees. The short answer is: not necessarily."

"The assumptions and analyses supporting that estimate reflected information about the technical, economic, and regulatory environment as it existed in 2003, almost seven years ago. Such generalized estimates of credit risk may not apply to a guarantee for any particular power plant because of variations in the technical, economic, regulatory, and contractual characteristics of each project. Without such information, much of which would be proprietary, CBO has no basis for estimating the cost to the government of any specific loan guarantee of this type."

So let's be fair. You can hardly make the case that there is a "growing risk of industry default", and the 50% figure you cited has been deemed out of date by the very organization that came up with it in the first place.

But I know you follow these issues. Obviously you already know this. So why post things so obviously misleading? Do your ends justify your means? I don't understand you, gunter.

(Link to CBO's blog: http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=478)


P.S. -- Feel free to prove that you aren't intentionally deceiving people by using the caveat "The CBO estimated in 2003 that the default rate of new nuclear projects would be well above 50% but more recently has said that this estimate does not necessarily apply today. Energy Secretary Chu said this year that he believes the default rate will be far lower." If you revise your post to be more accurate, I will gladly rescind my criticism.

gunter said...

Greetings JD,

If anything the percentage the risk of default has gone up not down.

What's changed that might affect that to the contrary?

Off the top of my head there are several significant areas indicating just how thin the ice remains:

--the projected cost-of-completion continues to steeply rise;

--the projected time-to-completion for new construction continues in demonstrated longer delays;

--design certification surprises abound for these untested designs signalling more and longer delays;

--and the streamlining of federal licensing procedures has not eliminated intervenors.