Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 6, 2009

IEN: NO! $50 billion loan guarantees for nuclear reactors

From the Indigenous Environmental Network to our Friends:

Please ask your friends, colleagues, community organizations and (for Native Nations), ask your Tribal leadership, to take action, and contact their Senators to stop $50 BILLION in new taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for construction of new nuclear reactors!

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee late on the night of January 27 snuck in a provision to President Obama's economic stimulus package that would allow as much as $50 BILLION of your dollars to be used as loan guarantees for construction of new nuclear reactors. This would be on top of the $18.5 Billion taxpayer dollars already authorized by Congress during the Bush administration.

These loan guarantees would mean more nuclear reactors and more radioactive waste piling up in communities across our country. Please be reminded that It has been the plan of the U.S. government and the nuclear power and utility industry to permanently store its high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Yucca Mountain is within the traditional lands of the Western Shoshone Nation. Spiritual leaders and elders of the Western Shoshone have consistently opposed using the sacred lands of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump. Approval of this $50 billion loan package within the Obama economic stimulus plans would have devastating affect on the treaty rights of the Western Shoshone Nation to protect their sacred lands and provide a safe and secure homeland for their future generation.

These loan guarantees would also mean less money for safer, cheaper and cleaner energy alternatives like solar and wind power.

These loan guarantees would further stimulate an unsustainable and dangerous push by the mining industry to expand uranium mining in the homeland of Native and non-Native rural communities from Arizona, New Mexco, Nebraska, South and North Dakota and First Nation lands of Canada. Any expansion of nuclear power will need uranium to fuel these reactors. Uranium mining within Native Nation territories has already left a legacy of environmental and human health degradadtion and injustice.

The provision is vaguely worded. It would authorize $50 Billion in new loan guarantees for "eligible technologies." These technologies include nuclear, "clean coal," renewable energy sources and electric transmission. But the stimulus package is intended to create new jobs and economic activity over the next two years. Not only should new nuclear reactors and the false concept of "clean coal" be excluded from taxpayer support, but the reality is that neither technology is ready to produce any jobs within the next two years.

The Department of Energy apparently would have to decide how to allocate this $50 Billion. If it all went to safe, cost-effective renewable energy sources,that would be one thing. Unfortunately, the provision's backers, like Sens. Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) are clear that their intent is that it would go for new nuclear reactor construction. Yet the Congressional Budget Office predicts a 50% default rate by nuclear utilities using this program! This is simply a nuclear bailout waiting to happen, and we can't afford it.

But it's not too late. You can help stop this nonsense. The original plan was for the Senate to vote on the stimulus package during this week of February 2. However, the Senate and the House are still in debate on the stimulus package. There is still time to contact you Senator!

Please CALL your Senators now (Senate Switchboard: 202-224-3121) and tell them to stop all loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors. AND, please send an e-mail to your Senators with the same message using the form below. (Note: We encourage you to edit the wording to personalize your e-mail and reflect your own concerns. IEN networks with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) who manages this email campaign below.)

Thank you,

Tom Goldtooth, IEN

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