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Oh, Appropriations Season...

Posted by Morgan Pinnell on June 24, 2011

It’s that time of year again when Congress attempts to move through the appropriations process.  If you need a refresher, Schoolhouse Rock shows how the process is supposed to work…  Here’s a look at where we’re at so far with nuclear subsidies:

Step 1: Budget Request

  • The Obama administration requested an additional $36 billion in nuclear loan guarantees in FY2012  (same request as FY2010 and FY2011… are you sensing a pattern yet?)
  • The administration also requested about $753 million for the nuclear energy program including $95.7 million for small modular reactors (click here to find out why that’s ghastly waste of taxpayer funds)


Step 2: House Appropriations

  • Like FY10 and FY11, the Administration has not gotten the Green Light from House Appropriations.  With all of the talk about loan default and cutting spending, loan guarantees are hard as heck to justify.  The House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Committee approved no increase in nuclear loan guarantees but kept the existing $18.5 billion that they’ve had.   But they definitely had a sad about that and couldn’t let anybody think they don’t  really want new reactors, but have their doubts about the loan program and, apparently, the number of utilities lining up for guarantees.  


“This Committee continues to strongly support the role of nuclear power in the United States. The tragedy in Japan highlights the potential for accidents and underscores the need for the safety improvements that the next generation of plants will incorporate.

However, neither the track record of this program nor the current demand for projects supports the request for an additional $36,000,000,000 in nuclear plant loan authority. The Committee includes no additional authority for nuclear plan loan guarantee authority, noting that nearly $11,000,000,000 in previous authority remains, and will consider requests for additional authority in response to demand.”

  • On the nuclear energy program front, the House appropriators cut a little bit from the President’s request leaving it at about $733 million for nuclear energy – but fully funded the requested $97.5 million for design certification and licensing of small modular reactors.


Step 3: Senate Appropriations

  • We’ve yet to see what Senate appropriators are going to do.  Certainly the Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Subcommittee, Senator Lamar Alexander has professed his undying love for all things nuclear.  Right now it isn’t clear whether there will even be a Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill this year, or whether it will get wrapped up in the debt ceiling negotiations. In the past two years, Senators have attempted to tuck nuclear loan guarantees in various bills, including the stimulus bill, Senate climate bill, and even an emergency war supplemental.    But now that pesky deficit comes into play…


So, this is where we are for now.  Stay tuned to see how the debt ceiling discussions shape the discussion!


Mary Jane Williams said ..

Thanks for this! I've been wondering where we were on loan guarantees.

July 8, 2011

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