A Tribute To Extravagant Corporate Welfare

Georgia “Public Service Commission” vice-chair Tim Echols’ comments against the Green New Deal (GND) could hardly be more misleading, misinformed, and cynically ironic. [Savannah Morning News, March 29, 2019.]

In his deeply flawed rejection of the progressive GND proposal, Echols defends Georgia’s energy policy, falsely portraying Plant Vogtle as a praiseworthy centerpiece of our state’s achievements. Even casual observers of the protracted, wasteful fiasco known as Plant Vogtle recognize that it’s a tribute to extravagant corporate welfare – absurdly over budget, now double the starting cost at $30 billion, and years behind schedule, a horrendous but profitable hoax foisted on U.S. taxpayers and Georgia Power customers. 

If that profligate transfer of wealth from citizens to entrenched corporate autocracy is Georgia’s pride and joy, the state’s energy policy – and our collective future – are doomed.

Even if Vogtle were completed – running on schedule and within budget – an impartial, complete assessment of nuclear power explains why there are so few plants now being built. True, unlike coal and other fossil-fuel power-plants, no carbon emissions are produced in generating electricity with nuclear reactions. But, like the scripted banter of a well-rehearsed huckster, this claim deceives by truncating the truth. 

The reasons for omitting nuclear power from the GND include:

  • Accidents such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island demonstrate costly, dangerous public safety risks of nuclear power.
  • Mining and processing nuclear fuels, combined with construction and close-out of nuke-plants, produce huge amounts of carbon emissions.
  • After nearly 70 years of investigating, no acceptable method for long-term (10,000-year) storage of deadly radioactive waste has been found.
  • The cost of building a nuclear plant requires corporate financing – lavishly supplemented by government-guaranteed loans, without which the nuke industry would not exist.

Unlike nuclear power, solar equipment can be scaled-down to ownership by individual households, reducing revenues primarily benefiting major corporations that further concentrate wealth among executives and well-heeled stockholders.

One of GND’s major goals is correcting unfair and unhealthy income disparities, which are facilitated by public policies that reward corporations at the expense of the public. By supporting decentralized energy technology, such as rooftop solar, and omitting corporate-dependent power sources like nukes, the GND will help working people build economic security.

Contrary to Echols’ claims espousing the scandal-ridden Plant Vogtle project, GND’s aims – though ambitious – are legitimate. Providing clean energy while overhauling U.S. public policies to offer greater access to living-wage employment and equitable business opportunities is a commendable, timely enterprise vital to America’s future.

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Image credit: photo of the construction) underway at Vogtle by Charles C Watson Jr (CC BY-SA 3.0)

David Kyler

David Kyler

Executive Director at Center for a Sustainable Coast.