proponents of S 2095, the Energy Policy Act of 2003, claim that this bill costs
less money than its earlier version (HR 6), it still subsidizes already-established
energy technologies, like nuclear, while ignoring
renewable energy which is a necessary part of our energy policy.
short, this bill remains an insult to consumers, the environment and the budget.
Sen.Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. W.J. “Billy”
Tauzin (R-La.), crafted the bill mostly in secret with little input from other
Congress members. The original bill, HR
6, was rightly blocked in the Senate by a filibuster. Now Senate proponents of the
old legislation are seeking passage of a slightly slimmer version, S. 2095.
This bill will still cost a staggering $14 billion in tax breaks, most of which
will go to the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries. These costs are not
currently offset in the budget and the true costs of the bill remain hidden by
a shuffling of dates and numbers. This economic jujitsu puts in doubt even the
modest cost reduction claimed by the bill’s supporters.
The nuclear largesse in this bill is no surprise, considering that Nuclear Energy
Institute (NEI), the industry lobbying organization, met with Vice President
Cheney’s secretive energy task force some 19 times, apparently more than any
other energy interest.
Among the nuclear provisions:
- Extension of the Price-Anderson Act insurance
subsidy for 20 years to cover new reactors
- Authorization for more than $2 billion for
nuclear energy research and development including the U.S. Department of
Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Power 2010
program to construct new nuclear plants and its Generation IV program to develop new reactor designs
- Allocation of $865 million for research and
development of nuclear reprocessing technologies
- Give-away of $1.1 billion for a nuclear plant to
generate hydrogen fuel, a boondoggle that would make a mockery of clean
- Weakening of whistleblower protections that were
passed in the House energy bill by excluding Department of Energy and
Nuclear Regulatory Commission employees and extending the deadline for
final decisions on whistleblower claims from 180 to 540 days
- Authorization of $30 million to fund “in-situ”
leaching mining projects, which would encourage a method of uranium mining
that could pollute drinking water in New Mexico
- Weakening of constraints on U.S. exports of bomb-grade uranium
- Requirement of NRC to license uranium enrichment
facilities within 2 years, removal of environmental justice from the
licensing criteria, reclassification of depleted uranium (UF6) as
“low-level” radioactive waste, all of which benefits Louisiana Energy
Services, which wants to build a new uranium enrichment plant in New Mexico.
Meanwhile, a short-sighted S.
2095 fails in a necessary area: renewable energy. It has no Renewable Portfolio
Standard (RPS) which would require utilities to incorporate renewable
electricity generation despite a letter from 53 Senators supporting this