Don’t Buy Politico’s False Choice on Nuclear Power

Conn Carroll /

callaway-nuclear2

One of the repeating story lines the lamestream media is looking to advance for the 112th Congress is the fictional contradiction between Tea Party small government convictions and the necessity of big government intervention to cause economic growth. Today’s contribution comes from Politico’s Darius Dixon who asks, “Can the tea party go nuclear?

The premise of the piece is that conservative plans to jump start nuclear power plant construction conflict with Tea Party plans to shrink the size and role of the federal government since today’s nuclear power industry is dependent on federal loan guarantees. This is two thirds right. Yes, the Tea Party does want to “to cut spending and pull back the hand of government.” Yes, the nuclear power industry “depends on subsidies, loan guarantees and other federal funds.” But that doesn’t mean that more federal loan guarantees and subsidies are the only way to revive our domestic nuclear power industry. In fact, expanding the existing loan guarantee program would simply remove incentives to decrease costs, stifle innovation, suppress private-sector financing solutions.

The best policy for reviving our nuclear power industry is completely consistent with a Tea Party vision of governing. Specifically, the federal government should: limit the loan subsidies of Energy Policy Act of 2005 to existing law; avoid creating a government-dependent nuclear industry; remain committed to scientific conclusion on Yucca Mountain; introduce market principles into nuclear waste management reform; and focus the government on key responsibilities like establishing predictable and effective regulation that will ensure safety and security.