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Failing nuclear industry pushing for $23 billion federal bailout

A bailout proposed by the nuclear industry would cost tax and ratepayers billions, while starving demand for wind and solar

WASHINGTON – As the nuclear industry lobbies Congress for a bailout, a new analysis commissioned by Friends of the Earth shows that their favored tax proposal would entail massive costs for taxpayers, ratepayers and the climate. Even using the most optimistic projection, the direct costs to taxpayers totals $23 billion over ten years and $34 billion over 20 years.

“The dying nuclear industry wants a massive bailout at the expense of taxpayers and the climate,” said Lukas Ross, Senior Policy Analyst for Friends of the Earth. “With just a decade left to prevent the worst of the climate crisis, we shouldn’t dump more money into ancient nuclear reactors at the expense of cleaner and much cheaper renewables.”

This new subsidy would add to over half a century of massive government support for the nuclear industry. The exact proposal would create a new 30 percent investment tax credit for existing nuclear reactors based on their refueling and capital costs. Utility giant Exelon, the largest nuclear operator in the country, is lobbying hard to include this proposal as a possible tax extender.

“Subsidizing nuclear keeps reactors on-line and crowds out the alternatives. It slows the transition to an electrical grid based on low-carbon distributed resources,” wrote expert Dr. Mark Cooper, the author of the analysis and Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis at the Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. “Nuclear power has no role to play in the long-term future of a low carbon electricity sector.”

The burden to regular ratepayers and the climate would be significant as well. Keeping aging, expensive reactors online instead of replacing them with clean renewables blocks the transition to a low-cost, low-carbon energy future—a delay that would cost regular electricity consumers $33 billion over the next 20 years.

“Stumbling from one bailout to the next isn’t a business model,” added Ross. “For the sake of taxpayers, electricity consumers and the climate, Congress must stop this endless nuclear boondoggle.”

Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, ejensen@foe.org

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