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.


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

David Kyler

David Kyler

David Kyler is the co-director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, a non-profit membership organization he co-founded in 1997. The Center works to protect, preserve, and sustain the vital natural, cultural, and economic resources of coastal Georgia.

One of David’s deepest convictions, and a founding principle of the Center, is that environmental research, scientific information, and public involvement are urgently needed to improve decisions affecting the sustainability of natural systems. Accordingly, the Center’s slogan is “Advocating responsible decisions to sustain coastal Georgia’s environment and quality of life.”

To pursue the Center’s mission, Kyler gives priority to raising public awareness about issues affecting coastal Georgia at all levels – from local to state and national, to global. He frequently publishes letters and opinion columns in Georgia newspapers, often commenting on controversial issues that require improving the analysis and coordination of both economic and environmental considerations.

In the past three years alone, on behalf of the Center David has published close to one-hundred commentaries on a range of issues, including offshore drilling, protecting Cumberland Island National Seashore, risks of contamination by coal ash and other toxic materials, coastal development controls, and conflicts between environmental protection and economic development practices.

In the past decade, under Kyler’s influence, the Center has been one of the few Georgia non-profit organizations persistently voicing alarm about the global climate crisis and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In 2018 and 2019 the Center hosted several public forums on climate issues in the Savannah area and collaborated with the Climate Reality Project in organizing a rally in Savannah, scheduled to be coordinated with the international Climate Strike.

Through his work with the Center, David is helping to redefine economic self-interest by incorporating the principles of sustainability in public policies governing both economic development and environmental protection. He is convinced that systemic analysis and life-cycle assessment, including thorough evaluation of economic and societal externalities, are essential to responsible environmental stewardship.

He holds degrees from Lehigh University (BS, Industrial Engineering) and Southern Illinois University (MS, Design Science), and has completed advanced studies in Resource Management and Policy at the State University of New York at Syracuse. Mr. Kyler has worked in environmental policy analysis, regional planning, and public-interest advocacy for over 40 years. He’s been a resident of Saint Simons Island since 1977 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.