Here’s a bit of a head-scratcher:
The federal regulatory agency charged with ensuring that nuclear plants are licensed and running safely could see its funding boosted -- or reduced -- in light of the gulf oil spill, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said today.
"It may be that as a consequence of this, we can ensure that we see additional funding in our other regulatory agencies," the Senate Energy and Natural Resources panel's top Republican told an audience at a nuclear energy conference this morning. On the other hand, she speculated, "It may just be that nuclear will actually be less resourced as we try to move over to the oil and gas sector [in terms of regulatory efforts] as a consequence of [the oil spill]. I would hope that's not the case. It could go either way."
Murkowski’s a big supporter of nuclear energy, so she may well just be worrying, but we find it odd that the government, even when it’s concerned with deficits, would bleed one regulatory agency to fund another. That doesn’t seem a recipe for a safety-oriented regulatory environment, does it?
Germany, along with many other countries, is trying to pay down its deficit. Generally, that may include austerity measures – and the word austerity certainly does appear frequently in stories about this – and/or raising revenue. Germany is trying both.
Among the revenue raising ideas:
The German government Monday announced plans to impose taxes on nuclear power plant operators and air travel in a bid to rein in public budget deficits.
The government said the levy on nuclear energy will be the price reactor operators will have to pay in return for longer operating lives of the power plants.
We’re sure they didn’t mean that to sound like extortion, but a lot of people tend to think that about taxes anyway.
We were amused by the phrase “price to pay,” that this is a great favor to the industry. Consider these data points, extracted from the story, then decide who is doing whom the favor.
The government has said it plans to extend the operating lives [of nuclear plants] to help achieve its ambitious climate protection targets.
The government also said the duty on reactors will help relieve the federal budget in financing the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.
It looks like decommissioning has been kicked down the road a ways.
It also said that nuclear reactors aren't affected by carbon dioxide emission trade, contrary to other energy sources such as fossil fuels. As a result, utilities that operate nuclear reactors have posted considerable windfall profits, which further justify the levy, the government said.
In other words, nuclear energy’s status as a emission-free energy source, thus freeing it from carbon levies, marks it as insufficiently taxed compared to energy sources Germany would like to eventually shutter to meet “ambitious climate protection targets,” something nuclear energy will help it to do.
We’ve changed our minds. This sounds just like extortion. Sheesh!
Correx: Oops! Don’t ask us why, but we misheard FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe’s “national disaster” for “natural disaster” in our transcription. Since that was the point of the post, we listened again to see if we misheard Kibbe. Yup. He said “national.” We’re still not sure we agree with his comment, but it’s not the comment we commented on and fair’s fair. Our mistake and we’ve removed it. Our apologies to Mr. Kibbe.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski