Overview of Nuclear Subsidies in the 2005 Energy Bill
Released jointly with Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, US PIRG, and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Despite its claim of energy “too cheap to meter,” the nuclear power industry continues to be dependent on taxpayer handouts to survive. Since its inception in 1948, the nuclear industry has received tens of billions in federal subsidies, including for the mining of uranium ore, research and development of reactor designs, limiting liability for accidents, and the disposal of spent nuclear fuel rods. Yet, despite more than half a century of “cradle to grave” federal subsidization, the nuclear power industry is still unable to compete economically on its own.
Now the nuclear industry wants to build new nuclear power plants and is insisting that taxpayers bear the brunt of the financial risks.1 In the previous energy debates in Congress, the nuclear power industry has sought to increase the size and types of subsidies from the federal government in order to make nuclear power artificially cost-competitive with other energy sources. The House recently passed an energy bill with $6.1 billion in tax breaks and subsidies, as well as other incentives, for the nuclear industry. The Senate is in the process of writing its energy bill and the industry is asking for a suite of subsidies.