By Ben Geman - 02/16/10 12:29 PM EST
“Proven efficiency and renewable energy technologies that can benefit millions of households are more cost-effective public investments than financially risky and uncertified nuclear technology,” said Slocum, who directs the group’s energy program. Friends of the Earth was also critical of the planned loan support.
Something to watch: What, if anything, the green groups supporting efforts to salvage a compromise bipartisan climate deal on Capitol Hill – such as the League of Conservation Voters and Natural Resources Defense Council – will say about Obama’s action.
Look for a rather low-key response. It has been apparent for a while that increased federal financial backing for nukes will be a big part of the plan that Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are drafting.
Costs are among the biggest questions facing the nuclear industry’s bid to build a new fleet of reactors. Huge cost overruns plagued companies building reactors in the 1970s and 1980s, but the industry is hopeful that new designs and overhauled Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing procedures will help keep the overruns in check.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution, in a piece Tuesday about the upcoming White House announcement, notes the problems that Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power faced when building the first two reactors at the site where the new units are now planned.
“For its part, Georgia Power suffered from huge cost overruns when it built the first two nuclear plants at Vogtle in the late 1980s. The original estimate was $975 million for four reactors. The final price tag was $9 billion for two reactors. Federal subsidies such as these loan guarantees, as well as insurance are in place, however, in an attempt to calm investor nerves,” the story states.
Back to the Senate: Does Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D-Ind.) surprise decision not to seek reelection this year change the landscape on climate and energy?
Bayh has been on the fence about supporting a climate bill this year. In 2003, he voted for an early version of cap-and-trade sponsored by Sens. Lieberman and John McCain (R-Ariz). The bill failed in a 43-55 vote.
In 2008, he voted for cloture – or to end a filibuster – on the climate bill backed by Lieberman, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and then-Sen. John Warner (R-Va.). (The filibuster was sustained on a 48-36 vote.)
But Bayh was then among the 10 Democrats who then said in a letter to Senate leadership that they would not have supported final passage of that bill “in its current form” anyway. The letter listed several proposed changes.
The question now is whether Bayh, newly unshackled from seeking reelection in conservative-leaning Indiana, is more likely to support legislation if it comes up this year. “I hope this can free him up to vote for a strong climate protection bill,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.
In Saudi Arabia, officials have certainly taken note of initiatives in various countries to move away from fossil fuels.
The Associated Press reports that “A top Saudi energy official expressed serious concern Monday that world oil demand could peak in the next decade and said his country was preparing for that eventuality by diversifying its economic base.” Bloomberg also has a story.
National Geographic and other outlets are reporting on a new study that finds declining fog along California’s coast is bad news for the state’s majestic redwoods.
“Among the tallest and longest-lived trees on Earth, redwoods depend on summertime's moisture-rich fog to replenish their water reserves,” notes the National Geographic account.
“But climate change may be reducing this crucial fog cover. Though still poorly understood, climate change may be contributing to a decline in a high-pressure climatic system that usually ‘pinches itself’ against the coast, creating fog, said study co-author James Johnstone, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.”