Senator McCain’s Nuclear Plan: An Economic and Environmental Disaster

Environment Colorado

Denver, CO – Senator John McCain’s plan to build up to a 100 new nuclear reactors could cost taxpayers an estimated $280 billion and present significant risk for the economy and the public, while doing little to solve America’s energy problems, according to a new report by Environment Colorado.

“America needs a new direction on energy, but Senator McCain’s plan would be serious setback to the new energy economy and for growth in renewables,” said Keith Hay of Environment Colorado. “These ‘McNukes’ would drop a huge straw into Colorado’s limited water supply and suck up water that we don’t have for dirty energy that we don’t need. Worse, nuclear plants would super-size our tax bills, our energy bills and our nuclear waste problems,” he added. 

Since private investors have been unwilling to finance new nuclear power plants, the industry has been applying to the federal government for taxpayer-backed loans.  The Congressional Budget Office assumes that these loans are so risky at least 50 percent would default.  Environment Colorado estimates that taxpayers could be on the hook for $126-280 billion in failed nuclear loans.

“As the country struggles with an economic meltdown, it’s astonishing that Senator McCain is proposing massive subprime loans to the nuclear industry,” said Hay. “We’ve all seen what happens when Wall Street takes foolish risks, now Senator McCain’s plan asks taxpayers to foot the bill for building new nuclear plants that even Wall Street has refused to pay for,” he added.

Senator McCain has repeatedly called for building 45 new nuclear reactors before 2030 with an ultimate goal of building 100 new plants. Environment Colorado’s report shows:

·    A $280 Billion Cost to Taxpayers: Nuclear plants are enormously expensive. The cost of 45 reactors is likely to be at least $315 billion, while 100 reactors would cost at least $700 billion. Under Sen. McCain’s plan, taxpayers are estimated to be on the hook for $126-280 billion in failed nuclear loans, with the average American household paying $1,100 to more than $2,400 for failed nuclear loans.

·      A Job Creation Fantasy: New nuclear power plants would create, at best, one- fourth as many jobs as Sen. McCain claimed during the second presidential debate, costing taxpayers as much as $19 million for each permanent job created.

·      Failure to Take Advantage of Cleaner, Cheaper Alternatives: Clean energy technologies like energy efficient products, super-efficient buildings and wind and solar power can deliver environmental results and meet more of our energy needs  much sooner than building new nuclear power plants, and create more jobs at a lower cost to tax payers – without the collateral environmental and security risks. 

Environment Colorado estimates that Senator McCain’s plan would create enough highly radioactive waste to fill a second Yucca Mountain-sized dump and dramatically increase the amount of nuclear waste transported on our roads and rails.  The report also concludes that the plan would do nothing to deal with our current energy crisis since no new power would be generated until at least 2019.

“Senator McCain opposed proposals even to ship nuclear waste through his home state but has no real plan for what to do with all highly radioactive waste from his 45 to 100 proposed new plants,” said Keith Hay, energy advocate at Environment Colorado.

“Senator McCain is so vehement about building these nuclear plants that he has turned a deaf ear to what we just learned about risky loans and how much they can hurt tax payers,” said Hay.   “This is especially alarming given Senator McCain’s consistent failure to support the kinds of clean energy investments that can strengthen our economy and save us money,” he concluded.