February 3, 2008


Obama's tout of nuclear bill draws scrutiny: Measure didn't pass, contrary to what he has said (MIKE MCINTIRE, 2/03/08, New York Times)

When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corp. had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state's freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.

Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He boasted of it during the campaign, telling a crowd in Iowa last month it was "the only nuclear legislation that I've passed."

"I just did that last year," he said, to murmurs of approval.

A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators.

Nuclear interests pull a big switch: The industry, which backed GOP candidates in past elections, gives large sums to Obama and Clinton. (Dan Morain and Maloy Moore, 2/03/08, Los Angeles Times)
Looking back, Joseph Cosgrove said he was naive to think that Sen. Barack Obama could require that nuclear power plant operators publicly disclose any radioactive releases.

Cosgrove and others who live and work in the hamlet of Godley, Ill., sought help after discovering years after the fact that there had been releases from the nearby Braidwood Generating Station.

Two years later, Obama's legislation, lobbied by one of his largest corporate backers, has stalled.

Cosgrove, glimpsing the nuclear industry's sway, said he watched as the bill's "teeth" were removed.

Many references to "nuclear" were stripped. More important, Obama allowed deletion of a provision that nuclear plant operators "shall immediately notify" state and local officials about any release. [...]

Obama is the largest beneficiary of money from companies that have a stake in nuclear energy's future. The Braidwood plant's owner, Exelon Corp., has donated $275,000 to Obama over his career.

There's nothing wrong with a politician removing the teeth from a bill, but when you cast yourself as being above such mortal politics you'd better have a way to dull people's pain. The Senator's gonna need more cloves....

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 3, 2008 8:41 AM
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