North Shore, Long Island
Im guessing it was excessive exposure to either radiation or George Bush, but Sen. John McCains comments from inside a nuclear power plant in Michigan are so cracked-brained that I fear some loose gamma rays are doing to McCains gray matter what they did to Homer Simpsons.
On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the presumptive Republican candidate descended into the colon of a nuke to declare we need to build 45 new nuclear plantsthat this is the way out of our energy crisis. Nuclear power, declared the senator, is a safe, efficient [and] inexpensive alternative to oil.
Really? We can argue all day about whether nuclear plants are safe (they arentperiod). But there can be no argument whatsoever that these giant radioactive tea-kettles are breathtakingly expensive.
Nuclear plants are cheap until you actually try to build one. Not one of the last 49 nuclear plants cost less than $2 billion apiece. Im looking down the road at the remainders of the Shoreham nuclear plant which took nearly 20 years to build at a cost of $8 billionor close to $7,000 per customer it was supposed to supply. When I say supposed to, it was closed for safety reasons after operating just one single day.
Were told that the new generation of plants will be different. Just like an alcoholic child-beater, the nuclear plant builders promise us that, This time it will be different. Sure. And McCain believes them.
I dont. Maybe thats because I headed the government racketeering investigation of the Shoreham nuclear plants builders. Stone & Webster Engineering and its partner paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle the civil racketeering claim over the evidence we found of fraud and perjury. Now Stone & Webster will cash in big-time under Plan McCain.
The other big builder which will hit the jackpot under the McCain scheme is KBR, the onetime subsidiary of Halliburton, whose best known project is the rebuilding of Iraq. (Halliburton dumped KBR last year. Cant blame them.) KBR has built many nukesnot one within a mile of its promised cost.
But that doesnt bother McCain. So who is McCain getting his energy advice from? Im looking at a photo of the perplexed senator inside the control room, looking like Homer without a donut, getting a lecture on the wonders of nuclear energy from a power company CEO, one Tony Early. Early is the former President of LILCO, the very corporation the Feds and State of New York charged with civil racketeering. (We did not name Early as a co-conspirator. When the government got him on the witness stand, it was clear the guy was too clueless to recognize he was in the midst of a billion-dollar swindle. McCains got quite some team.)
Now, you Obamaniacs might not want to read this next paragraph:
While McCain is pushing nuclear power, a senator from Illinois who shall remain nameless (skinny, just gave up smokes), was already embracing radiation as the solution to pollution. This senator voted for George Bushs energy bill, a law which contained massive giveaways to nuclear energy, legislation which disses and dismisses conservation. Indeed, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate has been derided as the Senator from Commonwealth Edison, the Chicago company which is the nations largest operator of nuclear plantsand whose executives were the money backbone to his early presidential campaign.
So, weve got both candidates hawking the nuclear snake oil. But there is one difference between them. A big, big, BIG difference.
McCains ready to spend a hundred billion dollars on nuclear power, no questions asked. But Barack Obama puts a crucial condition on his approval for building new nukes: an affordable method of disposing the new plants radioactive waste.
Thats not small stuff. While the New York Times reporters following McCain repeated his line about inexpensive nuclear power without question, a buried wire story on the same day noted that the Energy Department is putting the unfunded bill for disposing nuclear plant waste at $96.2 billionnearly a billion dollars per plant operating today. And no one even knows exactly how to do it, or where. Obama has the audacity to ask about the nuclear wastes cost. Can we deal with the expense? he said on Meet the Press.
McCains plan to spend endless billions on nuclear plants without a waste disposal system in place is like building a massive hotel without toilets. I suppose you can always tell the guests to poop in buckets until someone comes up with a plan for plumbing. But the stuff piles up. And unlike the fecal droppings of tourists, nuclear waste will stay hot and dangerous for a thousand generations.
So there you have our election in a nutshell. We have two candidates who rise above their partiesonly to agree on a ludicrous pro-nukes energy plan.
But at least Sen. Obama, when confronted with an economic question, doesnt have to take off his shoes to add up the facts.
Greg Palast is the author of the bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Sign up for updates on Palasts investigation with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. into the threat to the integrity of the 2008 election at www.GregPalast.com. And watch Palasts investigative reports for BBC Television and Democracy Now! on our YouTube channel.
From The Progressive Populist, Sept. 1, 2008
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