US-backed loans to expand nuclear power: a boon for overseas jobs?
A report released Thursday finds that all 18 firms lining up for tens of billions in US-backed loans for new nuclear power plants would use overseas jobs to build most of them.
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Two of three reactor projects now on a US Department of Energy short list for taxpayer-backed loan guarantee bailouts – Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 in Maryland and South Texas Project Units 3 and 4 in Texas – have substantial foreign ownership involving French and Japanese companies. Another reactor project not in line to get quick funding – Nine Mile Point, Unit 3 in New York State – also has substantial foreign ownership.Skip to next paragraph
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Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York this spring pleaded with the Obama administration not to spend federal stimulus funds on renewable energy projects when most wind and solar manufacturing was conducted overseas. Sens. Robert Casey (D) of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown (D) of Ohio, and Jon Tester (D) of Montana supported Senator Schumer's bill to put "Buy America" provisions on renewable-energy projects supported by taxpayer financing.
In response to the senators' objections, an agreement was hammered out last month between the American Wind Energy Association and the United Steelworkers union to source more components from US suppliers. It's not clear if the senators will make similar requirements for loan guarantees for nuclear power. Calls and e-mails to the offices of three of the senators were not returned.
"Senator Brown believes that US tax dollars should be used to finance energy projects where the work is done in the United States," said Meghan Dubyak, a spokeswoman for Senator Brown, in response to e-mailed questions. "He is working to build a domestic supply chain for clean energy components – as a result of his intervention on the wind turbine sourcing issue."
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the trade group representing the nuclear power industry, dismissed the new study as full of "myths" about nuclear job creation. It noted that reactors built using loan guarantees to foreign-owned utilities would still create US jobs.