The Guardian May 28, 2003


Nuclear industry gave millions to Congress

As the US Senate debates a comprehensive energy bill (S14) that features 
unprecedented subsidies to promote commercial nuclear power, an analysis of 
nuclear industry campaign contributions suggests that energy policy is for 
sale in the halls of Congress.

The President's industry-endorsed energy policy, unveiled in 2001, drew 
attention to the inappropriate cosiness between the Bush administration and 
energy industry executives.

According to the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Political 
Action Committees (PACs) affiliated with oil and gas companies and electric 
utilities  the main beneficiaries of the Bush energy policy  gave more 
than $17 million to congressional campaigns in the 2002 election cycle 
alone.

And PAC contributions are just the tip of the iceberg. CRP calculates that 
total contributions over the same period from these energy interests 
(including individual and "soft money" contributions) were nearly $45 
million.

Like the energy bill recently passed by the US House of Representatives (HR 
6), energy legislation now before the Senate is larded with giveaways to 
these lucrative industries, at the expense of consumers, taxpayers and the 
environment.

In particular, the Senate bill provides substantial subsidies to promote 
the construction of new nuclear power reactors. For instance, one provision 
authorises government loan guarantees and power purchase agreements to 
finance up to half the costs of reactor construction, which could leave 
taxpayers liable for an estimated $30 billion.

Analysis by Public Citizen of nuclear industry PAC contributions to members 
of the current Congress highlights this industry's egregious influence on 
lawmakers. The new report examines PAC contributions from companies that 
own or operate nuclear power plants to current House representatives in the 
2002 election cycle, and to senators of the current Congress in the past 
three election cycles.

The report found that PACs contributed more than $5.8 million to the House 
and Senate campaigns of members of Congress in the 2002 election cycle. 
Current members of the Senate received more than $3.2 million from these 
nuclear PACs over the past three election cycles.

The 23 members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took 
almost half a million dollars from nuclear power plant PACs in the 2002 
cycle, and close to $1 million over the past three election cycles  
nearly one third of the total Senate receipts.

In the 2002 election cycle, nuclear PACs contributed nearly $3.8 million to 
Republicans, almost 65 percent of the total amount of their contributions. 
Democrats, on the other hand, received about $2 million from those PACs, 
roughly 35 percent of the total.

"Politicians insist that their votes are not for sale, but the anti-
consumer, anti-environment and fiscally irresponsible nuclear provisions in 
Senate energy legislation will test the loyalties of many members", said 
Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and 
Environment Program.

"Rather than pandering to the interests of nuclear industry executives, 
lawmakers should reject this energy bill and instead work toward forward-
looking policy that promotes safe, clean and affordable energy."

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Public Citizen

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