Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Environment America today released a new report looking at the environmental implications of John McCain’s plan to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030, and 100 over time. Their report concludes that McCain’s plan would be “an economic and environmental disaster.”

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Environment America, which has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in the presidential election, found that the 45 reactors would cost taxpayers $315 billion, because most of the funding would have to come from taxpayer-backed federal loans. They also found that expanding the nuclear industry would create less than a quarter of the 700,000 jobs that McCain promised in the first presidential debate. And since the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association, estimates that it takes about 10 years to bring a new nuclear power plant online, it would do little for short-term energy concerns. Nuclear power is also resource-intensive — 45 nuclear power plants would use between 200 billion to 350 billion gallons of water per year. And, of course, there are the outstanding concerns about safety, storage, and disposal.

“America needs a new direction on energy, but Senator McCain’s plan would be serious setback to our economy and to prospects for clean energy,” said Anna Aurilio, the director of the D.C. office of Environment America. “These ‘McNukes’ would super-size our tax bills, our energy bills and our nuclear waste problems.”

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Their report concludes that McCain’s nuclear plan “fails to take advantage of cleaner, cheaper alternatives” like wind and solar, which “can deliver more energy much sooner than building new nuclear power plants, and create more jobs at a lower cost to taxpayers — without the risks.”