I think it’s commonly known now that Obama is quite supportive of nuclear power. He mentioned it prominently in his State of the Union speech as a form of clean energy (“to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country….”). Now, he has announced over $8 billion in loan guarantees to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia (“scheduled to be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to break ground in nearly three decades”) and has proposed $54 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power plants.
Of course, it didn’t take long for environmentalists, economists and others to jump on all of this and call it a bad idea, (see: “Obama’s nuclear error: $54 billion in loan guarantees make little policy or political sense“, “5 Reasons Why Nuclear Energy is Even Worse than Clean Coal“, “Next in Line for a Bailout: The Nuclear Industry?“, “There’s a New Drive for Nuclear Power, But It’s Still a Financial Dead End“, “The loan arranger: Obama triples budget for nuke loan guarantee program… but hasn’t seen a single promising application in two years“).
Energy Secretary Steven Chu decided to respond to some of these concerns on Facebook, explaining the administration’s rationale for supporting nuclear.
Of course, the debate is not over. And now, to try to stop the new nuclear reactors in Georgia and others from being built, Friends of the Earth is running very eerie TV ads on the topic (one above and another one below).
“Even if nuclear reactors weren’t top terrorist targets,” the one above asks, “even if radioactive waste didn’t remain deadly for ten thousand years, even if you wouldn’t mind radioactive waste passing through your town, how would you feel about exposing your family to a potential radiation accident? Tell President Obama: ‘No bailout for new nuclear reactors. They’re just not safe.’”
This second video focuses heavily on the financial risk of new nuclear reactors, something many of the articles above focused on.
When releasing these videos, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said:
“Yesterday’s vote by the Vermont Senate to close a radiation-leaking reactor shows what deep trouble the nuclear industry is in. Nuclear reactors and their radioactive waste are inherently dangerous. They also pose a huge bailout risk for taxpayers. The ads we’re launching today make this case. Most Americans don’t want these reactors in their back yards. The future lies in clean energy sources like wind and solar – not nuclear reactors.“
Where will all of this lead us? Will Obama pull back on the nuclear power push? Will others sign onto his proposals?
If new nuclear reactors are built, will the consequences for the American public be what is talked about in these TV ads? Or is nuclear power clean and safe and reliable these days?