So say the editors of the Los Angeles Times:
As the Senate debates climate legislation that could reinvent the country’s energy infrastructure, it is richly ironic that lawmakers who consider themselves rock-ribbed fiscal conservatives are among the strongest backers of nuclear plants — a vastly expensive, inefficient and dangerous source of energy that requires massive taxpayer bailouts.
Senate Republicans and many moderate Democrats are seeking to lard up prospective climate and energy bills with billions of dollars in loan guarantees and other subsidies for nuclear power, even though it makes no sense as a solution to climate change and is a terrible option from an economic, environmental and national-security standpoint. Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), whose bipartisan effort to restructure the cap-and-trade climate bill (which Republicans like to deride as “cap and tax”) offers its only hope of passage in the Senate this year, signaled their intent to add more nuclear pork to the bill in a recent Op-Ed article. Meanwhile, Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) recently introduced their own alternative climate bill calling for up to $100 billion in clean-energy loan guarantees, most of which would end up going to nuclear plants.
Nuclear energy is not a reasonable solution because plants take too long to build and cost far too much. Actually, it’s been so long since one has been built in this country that no engineering firm will even provide an estimate on the cost, but it’s safe to say that each new plant would run to several billion dollars. Because lenders aren’t willing to put up the money on such a risky investment, the nuclear industry is looking to Uncle Sugar. The last time there was a wave of nuclear construction in the United States, it took an average of nine years to build a plant, meaning we wouldn’t see the first one until at least 2018 — too late to play any significant role in meeting the Senate climate bill’s goal of cutting emissions 20% by 2020.
The rest here.