We missed this when it came out, probably because we haven’t paid much attention to Newsweek since it became a digital-only publication. But with stories like this one, we’ll have to think about taking a look at Newsweek more regularly. And just because we missed it in late January doesn’t mean you should miss it now. Kentucky-Fried Politics is the story of how two powerful U.S. Senators, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and tea party advocate Rand Paul, teamed up to scam ratepayers in the Northwest by forcing Energy Northwest, part of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), to pay $700 million for enriched uranium–that BPA didn’t even need–that could have been purchased on the open market for $450 million. And if that weren’t bad enough, details hidden in the contracts could cause BPA to end up paying well over $1 Billion for the uranium.
This was all done to benefit the near-bankrupt U.S. Enrichment Corporation, which has closed its enrichment facility in Paducah, Kentucky. It not coincidentally kept about 1,000 workers on the payroll through the 2012 Congressional elections, though many lost their jobs shortly afterwards when the plant shut down. It also indirectly benefited another entity important to Kentucky, the Tennessee Valley Authority, which sold electricity to the Paducah plant–a very large (and very inefficient) user of electricity.
Meanwhile, a recent report prepared by an independent consultant for the Washington-Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility concluded that ratepayers would save as much as $1.7 Billion by closing Energy Northwest’s only nuclear reactor in Washington state. With deals like this going on, it’s not hard to imagine even greater savings by its shutdown.
And an interesting follow-up post by the Spokane Inlander on the controversy, including comments from Energy Northwest and the Inlander’s reply
And speaking of USEC’s Paducah Ky site, GE Hitachi says it wants to build a new laser uranium enrichment plant at the site. One has to wonder if the hidden hand of Sen. McConnell is behind this announcement too.
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