Skip to main content

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.

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.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…