Nuclear Industry Effort to Exploit Coronavirus Crisis for Backdoor Bailout Decried as ‘Disaster Capitalism at its Worst’

“The nuclear industry begged for a bailout last fall and is now using coronavirus to try and brazenly grab more cash,” warned Friends of the Earth.

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant is seen in the early morning hours March 28, 2011 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

Friends of the Earth on Monday accused the nuclear power industry of exhibiting “disaster capitalism at its worst” after a lobbying group representing it reportedly asked the Trump administration for a 30% percent tax credit amid the coronavirus pandemic and pressed congressional lawmakers to include handouts in stimulus legislation making its way through the House and Senate.

According to E&E News, which focuses on the energy industry, the request came in a letter sent to congressional leaders and White House officials on Friday by Nuclear Energy Institute president and CEO Maria Korsnick.

In addition to other forms of aid—including sick leave for employees and “prioritized access” to testing and masks—the letter requested taxpayer-funded grants in the form of broad tax credits and waivers for existing regulatory fees.

“Our member companies are anticipating—or are already experiencing—severe financial strain as product orders are delayed or canceled, as industrial electricity demand falls, and as workforce availability becomes increasingly constrained,” Krosnick wrote to in a letter sent to lawmakers, Treasury Sectary Steven Mnuchin, and Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council.

In reaction, Friends of the Earth senior policy analyst Lukas Ross called the request a bald effort to exploit the current outbreak and economic downturn to obtain the same kind of financial bailout it has repeatedly sought from the U.S. government in recent years.

“Demanding a $23 billion gift from taxpayers during an unprecedented public health crisis sets a new low bar,” said Lukas Ross, senior policy analyst with Friends of the Earth. “The nuclear industry begged for a bailout last fall and is now using coronavirus to try and brazenly grab more cash.”
Friends of the Earth on Monday accused the nuclear power industry of exhibiting “disaster capitalism at its worst” after a lobbying group representing it reportedly asked the Trump administration for a 30% percent tax credit amid the coronavirus pandemic and pressed congressional lawmakers to include handouts in stimulus legislation making its way through the House and Senate.

According to E&E News, which focuses on the energy industry, the request came in a letter sent to congressional leaders and White House officials on Friday by Nuclear Energy Institute president and CEO Maria Korsnick.

In addition to other forms of aid—including sick leave for employees and “prioritized access” to testing and masks—the letter requested taxpayer-funded grants in the form of broad tax credits and waivers for existing regulatory fees.

“Our member companies are anticipating—or are already experiencing—severe financial strain as product orders are delayed or canceled, as industrial electricity demand falls, and as workforce availability becomes increasingly constrained,” Krosnick wrote to in a letter sent to lawmakers, Treasury Sectary Steven Mnuchin, and Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council.

In reaction, Friends of the Earth senior policy analyst Lukas Ross called the request a bald effort to exploit the current outbreak and economic downturn to obtain the same kind of financial bailout it has repeatedly sought from the U.S. government in recent years.

“Demanding a $23 billion gift from taxpayers during an unprecedented public health crisis sets a new low bar,” said Lukas Ross, senior policy analyst with Friends of the Earth. “The nuclear industry begged for a bailout last fall and is now using coronavirus to try and brazenly grab more cash.”

Friends of the Earth
@foe_us
Nuclear is the latest industry to use this public health crisis as an opportunity to lobby for billions of dollars in government handouts — an ask they had before the crisis even started. This is disaster capitalism at its worst.
Nuclear lobby’s coronavirus cash grab is shameless
The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s main lobbying arm, is reportedly requesting a 30 percent tax credit for existing reactors as part of coronavirus aid.This is the same demand that the…
foe.org
1:00 PM · Mar 26, 2020Sprout Social

The industry proposal, added Ross, “would hurt ratepayers and the climate at a time when immediate need for people must be the first priority. The nuclear lobby should be ashamed. This is disaster capitalism at its worst.”

SOURCE

The left must stand against capitalism. Now.

Andray Domise: People who hold left-leaning ideals have to quit kidding themselves by believing that capitalism exists as a benevolent or even neutral social arrangement

Time for the left to quit capitalism

Norms are so warped that being forced to live in an RV is an accepted consequence of rising city rents (Photograph by Jen Osborne)

Late last year, I got an unusual request. A person identifying themselves as an environmental activist sent me a direct message asking if I would recommend a few books, as the organization they worked with was having trouble connecting its protest movement with the working class, especially people of colour. They were specifically looking for books related to decolonization, and after a few recommendations, I suggested they consider reading through the Communist Manifesto to see if any passages regarding exploitation leaped out.

They thanked me for the suggestion, but as for that brief volume by Marx and Engels, the response was this: “I don’t want to scare them off.”

If a group of activists can be “scared off” by a nearly 200-year-old critique of capitalism, while the externalities of capitalism itself pollute oceans with plastic, fill the air with smog and accelerate climate change via carbon emissions, something is terribly wrong.

READ: Naomi Klein on ‘disaster capitalism’ in Puerto Rico

There’s no way around a simple reality for people who consider themselves to be on the left side of the political spectrum, the people who strive for widespread and radical, if not revolutionary, change—we’re getting our tails kicked. There’s no putting an end to that if people who hold left-leaning ideals cannot quit kidding themselves by believing that capitalism exists as a benevolent or even neutral social arrangement. If the left intends to win these fights, it must also stand in principled opposition to capitalism. 2020 is the year to do it.

“It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism,” goes an observation by, depending on your sources, either Fredric Jameson or Slavoj Žižek. And the frightening thing is, not only does the world’s end become easier to imagine with each passing day, there is also a politically active bloc that intends to keep squeezing profits until the music stops.

Only a few months ago, Joe Oliver, once Canada’s minister of natural resources before assuming the federal finance portfolio, penned a column in the Financial Post extolling the possible benefits of climate change to Canadians. “Assuming a one-degree Celsius temperature rise,” Oliver wrote, “[bond rating agency] Moody’s calculates that our economy would be unaffected in 2048. A rise of 2.4 degrees would increase GDP by 0.1 per cent and four degrees would boost it by 0.3 per cent.” The benefit to farming, Oliver went on to say, is that the resultant permafrost retreat would—not could, but would—massively expand Canada’s arable land, and open up farming opportunities.

READ: The Left is constantly trying to out-woke itself. That’s a problem.

Not one word about the resultant cost to human life in countries hardest hit by climate change, nothing in the column about the massive outpouring of climate refugees in Oliver’s scenario. Just the profit motive.

Environmental policy is not the only one where norms have become warped to the point of immorality. In Toronto, where nearly half of renters are paying costs categorized by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation as “unaffordable,” it can take between two and 14 years to be placed into social housing. The situation is equally dire in Vancouver, where rising rents force tenants into recreational vehicles, and then the eventual possibility of being kicked out of RV camps en masse.

How does the federal government address any of this? By offering financial assistance and incentives to bolster people with tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars stashed away to buy a home. Which of course helps the real estate industry, helps mortgage lenders, and does nothing for people pressed ever further into the reaches of poverty. Condo towers sprout up all along Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway and tent cities underneath it are bulldozed, while the earth continues to pirouette carelessly on its axis.

What has capitalism given us in return? An economic environment in which multinational enterprises, according to Statistics Canada, compose 0.8 per cent of Canadian companies yet own 67 per cent of all assets. And income inequality, according to the Institute for Research on Public Policy, has been increasing for the past 40 years. With near-limitless amounts of private capital aligned against the interests of working-class people, nothing short of an organized, large-scale resistance will put the brakes on these trends.

Our political, business and media class would like nothing more than to pretend that these are natural outcomes, that none of it is avoidable, and that the world is and always has been shaped according to the capricious whims of that unknowable free market.

But the truth of the matter is this: 58 per cent of Canadians have a favourable view of socialism, and 77 per cent of us believe the world is facing a climate emergency. Most Canadians find income inequality to be fundamentally un-Canadian, and there are, numerically, more of us than there are bankers, landlords, brokers and executives put together. The only way for the left to win this fight is for its political vision to expand beyond capitalism, and to capture the widespread desire to move on from its exploitative limits.

We’ve lived in that world for long enough. Time for it to end. SOURCE

 

“It feels like everything could tip very quickly”: Naomi Klein takes on the climate crisis

Klein, who has done more to popularise the inseparability of capitalism and climate change than perhaps any other author, talks Extinction Rebellion and mainstream environmentalism.


KALPESH LATHIGRA FOR NEW STATESMAN

Twenty years ago, Naomi Klein’s No Logo was published on the crest of swelling unease about economic globalisation. Her analysis raged against corporate greed, sweat-shop labour and an increasingly voracious marketing culture that seemed to absorb all forms of critique.

In November 1999, while the book was still at the printers, thousands of activists shut down a meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in protest at a financial system of deregulated capitalism that was taking the world by storm. No Logo became a manifesto for the anti-globalisation zeitgeist that would define grassroots politics for the next decade.

The book foreshadowed crazy ideas: corporations were becoming more powerful than governments, and one day you could become your own global brand. Yet the world that Klein foretold has now come into being.

“What’s more powerful now… is the idea that every single person has to be their own brand, and the application of the logic of corporate branding to our very selves. It’s an insidious change that has everything to do with social media,” Klein tells me when we meet in London. The superbrands of the late Nineties were easy to identify; now, digital technology has made it less possible than ever to live a life unmediated by corporate power.

Klein is in London promoting her new book, On Fire, a crescendo of essays from the past ten years that concludes with an argument for the Green New Deal. The proposal, which encompasses dramatic increases in green energy investment and green jobs creation, is gaining political sway on both sides of the Atlantic.

We meet for coffee in the bar of an expensive hotel that smells like pot-pourri; outside, Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters are defying a ban initiated by the Metropolitan Police. The fortnight preceding our meeting, XR activists seized central London in a string of colourful uprisings. “It feels like one of those moments where everything could tip very quickly,” she tells me. “This is not tapping into people who saw themselves as climate activists – it’s tapping into something much broader.”

Klein, 49, has done more to popularise the inseparability of capitalism and climate change than perhaps any other author. In a series of books published over the past decade, she documented the human costs of ecological plunder and argued that environmental breakdown is rooted in capitalism’s quest for perpetual growth. “We have a handful of years to turn this around, and in those handful of years, I’m all in, all the time,’’ she says. Listening to her, it’s possible to feel a sense of calm; where much of the discourse about climate change redounds to the apocalyptic script of a climate-fiction novel, she has a resolute sense not only of what’s at stake, but of how we might fix it.

Klein has long railed against the dangers of “disaster capitalism”. In The Shock Doctrine (2007), she traced how elites exploited national crises and natural disasters to push through free-market policies. Today, she worries that without a concrete plan, climate activists may leave open the door to a similar possibility. “I’m extremely wary of just asking powerful interests to declare [a] climate emergency, and deferring the question of what we mean by climate action,” she says.

Though Klein commends XR, which has forced the UK government to declare a climate emergency and commit to citizens’ assemblies, she worries that “asking those in power to declare an emergency and waiting to articulate what their solutions should be” could open up a “vacuum”. “The time for simply calling for ‘action’, amorphous action, has passed,” she adds.

Mainstream environmentalism has long been criticised for being too elite, too concerned with pristine wilderness and charismatic species, and too apathetic to the reality that environmental harms are distributed along poverty and race lines.

In the US, for example, people of colour live with 66 per cent more air pollution than white citizens. Klein’s contention is that we should be learning from the movements at the front lines of environmental change.

One senses her frustration at big environmental groups that have avoided talking about the economic roots of climate breakdown. “The most well-funded green groups in the world are more focused on wilderness; they’re more focused on animals, on conservation. They take a tonne of money from fossil fuel companies, mining companies, and their whole business model is to shake down the extractive sectors and banks, and to… protect patches of wilderness,” Klein says.

Fixating on “nature” and “wilderness” rather than the ground under our feet can descend into something more troubling: the protection of a nativist social order. In On Fire, Klein argues that we’re already living through the dawn of climate barbarism, with terrorists such as the Christchurch gunman openly identifying as “eco-fascists”. “There’s a strong strain of ‘close it down, protect our own’,’’ she says. “Hypernationalism and native protectionism [are] a very likely outcome in many majority-white countries.”

“People know, whether they link it to climate change or not, that we are in an era of mass migration and that the space in which it is going to be safe for humans to live on this planet is contracting. It will continue to contract,” she says. “This is why it’s important to have a plan.” SOURCE