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Subsidy Addiction

Government incentives are smothering free enterprise.

Fortnightly Magazine - December 2009

figure out storage and safety issues.”

By raising spent fuel as a sine-qua-non issue, Obama seemed to be staking out an anti-nuclear position. As a result, when American voters put Obama into the White House—and put Democrats solidly in control of Congress—nuclear project sponsors scaled back their hopes for a nuclear renaissance. Duke Energy said it would postpone its Lee Energy project for three years, and Exelon pushed back its plans for two new reactors at Victoria, Texas, by some 20 years. In both cases the companies cited economic factors for their decisions, but undoubtedly the elections damped the industry’s excitement about a nuclear renaissance.

But then, along came climate-change legislation, and the sands shifted again. Today, lawmakers across the political spectrum, including the president, agree that any consensus on climate policy must include incentives for building new reactors—rekindling hopes for a nuclear renaissance to begin sooner rather than later ( see “ Hope for Change ).

Unfortunately, however, policy changes being considered as part of climate legislation won’t improve America’s fundamentally unsustainable nuclear energy policy. They’ll continue preventing free enterprise from optimizing the nuclear fuel cycle, and they’ll dump more taxpayer dollars into the trough of corporate welfare.

So the subsidy addiction continues, unacknowledged and unabated.