HIGHTOWER: The Nuke Industry Buys a Senator

You might see the dome of our nation's capitol building as a majestic symbol of our Republic. Corporate lobbyists, however, see the dome as the lid to a giant candy jar -- and they're now grabbing all the sweet goodies they ever dreamed about.

Among those reaching deepest into the congressional candy jar is the nuclear power industry. This disgraced industry has failed in the marketplace, constantly threatens human safety with radioactive emissions, burdens rate payers with its bad investments, and has left a mountainous legacy of nuclear waste for future generations. Why worry about such unpleasantness, however, when your campaign contributions can buy you friends in high places?

One of those friends, Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, wants to give a sugar-sweet deal to the nuke boys. His bill not only includes some $400 million a year in direct subsidies, but it also attempts to bamboozle us with linguistic hocus-pocus, simply defining away the industry's environmental ugliness. The Domenici bill asserts that nuclear power is "essentially" emissions free -- a claim that will come as quite a surprise to scientists and anyone living around a nuclear facility. The bill goes further, declaring that nuclear power "shall be considered an environmentally preferable product." Never mind that it isn't. Hey, this is congress -- it can declare butter to be a diet food!

To help his pals even more, Domenici goes after their opponents. His bill would pull federal funding from any organization that opposes nuclear power development (a group that includes the World Bank), and it would strip from the American public our legal right to have full participation in hearings concerning the safety and licensing of nuclear power plants.

This is Jim Hightower saying -- Pete Domenici might want to be the nuclear industry's sweet thing, but you might not. To help stop this giveaway, contact the watchdog group, Safe Energy Communication Council at 202-483-8491.

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