A proposed nuclear bailout — House Bill 11 — sponsored by Republican Rep. Thomas Mehaffie is purporting to secure jobs in the energy sector workers while also securing an investment in renewable energy. Like other people — both Republican or Democrat — I agree with the intentions behind such a proposition. Reducing carbon emissions is just as important as growing the energy sector is.
However it’s not apparent a $500 million bailout of a failed facility would help us achieve this policy goal.
For instance, bailing out Exelon won’t help expand the energy sector. In fact it’s likely to harm energy production. Bailing out Exelon harms the energy sector by propping up bad business at the expense of the more efficient natural gas industry that’s flourishing across the commonwealth.
Analogously nobody thinks Blockbuster should have been given money to keep Netflix from taking the jobs of retail employees.
Now protecting the jobs of residents — like retail workers — is certainly a noble goal. Yet even from this point of view the nuclear bailout doesn’t achieve its purported goal. Jobs in nuclear power don’t need additional protection.
This is because shutting down a nuclear power plant involves a decommissioning process that takes approximately 10 years. In that span Exelon said it plans to keep current employees to see that process through. Therefore there’s no need to be concerned about nuclear employees losing their jobs. They’ll have jobs for another 10 years. And 10 years is a sufficient amount of time for people to make other career arrangements.
Other proponents of the bailout suggest it’s necessary to maintain our investment in clean energy to protect the environment.
But is the bailout really about environmental protection? Because if environmentalists were truly concerned with the environment they wouldn’t flock to the suburbs where C02 emission rates are off the charts.
Nor would environmentalists use C02 producing smartphones. Until environmentalists ditch the smartphone, move out of the burbs, and relocate to a more environmentally friendly rural area, it’s difficult to believe environmentalists are truly concerned with preserving mother nature.
That’s why we as residents of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania cannot let our representatives vote yes on House Bill 11. If we do, it won’t be the only thing politicians look to bailout; they’ll keep looking out for ways to bailout their own political careers by passing out our money to failing enterprises. And that’s not what the Keystone state is about; that’s corporate welfare.