Words of Caution to SK Taxpayers

Again, a little something from the Inbox for you, dear Reader.  What I can’t figure out is why the Canadian Tax Payers Federation isn’t in a big huff about all this!

Tax-payers are already paying, or will pay for:
– the research and other costs of developing the tar sands (roads,
infrastructure, etc.)
– the water reservoirs (dams) needed for the nuclear reactors (billions of dollars)
– most of the costs of a nuclear reactor (billions of dollars)
– all the costs of the power transmission lines (billions of dollars)
– radioactive waste disposal costs (billions of dollars for eternity) and
– we are paying for lobbyists in Washington.

Taxpayers should be aware of how much money we are, or will be, contributing to the nuclear and to the tar sands companies – – unless we take a stand. The best place to take a stand is on whether or not we want nuclear reactors here. It is not us that needs them as an energy source. If we don’t want nuclear reactors and we stop them, the huge energy source needed for tar sands development does not exist – – unless the Government is willing to use up natural gas supplies for tar sands processing. That would mean running us out of a relatively clean energy source to develop a very dirty energy source, and notwithstanding the fact that most of the infrastructure for heating our homes is for natural gas. The reactors have to have access to large volumes of water. We stopped (at least temporarily) the construction of the HighGate Dam on the North Saskatchewan River near the Battlefords. We would have paid billions of dollars for the HighGate Dam or “reservoirs” as the Government likes to call them.

The assumption of the Government is that these projects are going to proceed:

Wall Heads to Washington

Tuesday, 03 March 2009

The province will have some representation at an Energy Council in the US this week.

Premier Brad Wall will be giving a major speech at the council, which goes from tomorrow until Saturday. Wall plans to talk about carbon capture and clean investments in the province, as well as nuclear opportunities.

March 8, 2009 FINANCIAL POST


… Wall spent part of his trip to Washington scouting D.C. lobby firms, with the intention of hiring one to protect the province’s interests on Capitol Hill.

“We hope to get a firm that’s not just got some ability to open some political doors. We need to continue to open financial doors and attract capital to the province,” he said.

“They would be boots on the ground in the Capitol.”

During meetings with several prominent U.S. lawmakers – including senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham – Wall also discussed Saskatchewan’s interest in developing small nuclear reactor technology as a way to replace the burning of natural gas in the production of oilsands oil.

“There are challenges and risk to these technologies, but we will cause ourselves innumerable more problems if our default position is to do nothing,” Wall said.

Of course, certain risks come with having a higher profile in Washington – especially regarding energy and the environment.

Alberta had early success promoting itself as a safe and secure source of foreign oil, but is now struggling to combat anti-oilsands sentiment among U.S. lawmakers under pressure from the environmental lobby.”

3 thoughts on “Words of Caution to SK Taxpayers

  1. The case of fiscal responsibility = anti-nuclear is not as clear cut as this post suggests. One of the reasons Sask Power is trying to minimize consumption is that the capital costs to produce power in the future are much higher now than in the past. Although there are high costs with nuclear, they are not unique to nuclear power either.

    Given that we have such high stocks of uranium and vast areas of land in the north that are sparsely populated, if nuclear was going to happen anywhere, it should be in this province.

    This said, dealing properly with the environmental impacts is paramount. There are some who think this is impossible to do with nuclear. I respect that position, though I don’t necessarily share it. We’ll keep an eye on how this all goes forward. The devil is sometimes in the details.

    Lee Harding
    Sask Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

  2. There are some who think this is impossible to do with nuclear.

    High level nuclear waste must be guarded by paramilitary teams, outfitted with the latest anti-terrorist, anti-aircraft, anti-conventional warfare equipment and weapons. Bruce Power brags about its security team and their advanced equipment and weapons. Bruce Power also states in its own literature that spent fuel must be kept secure and guarded for thousands of years.

    Mr. Harding, do you honestly think that Bruce Power will be picking up the tab for keeping this bomb grade plutonium safe from bad guys for thousands of years. Our grandchildren will be paying for it through their tax dollars just as tax dollars are already disappearing into the bottomless pit of nuclear power.

    The nuclear industry has spent 60 years and billions in tax dollars to come up with a method of dealing with radioactive waste. That money has been part of the waste.

    The Americans just woke up and have quit throwing billions of good tax dollars after bad at the now dead Yucca Mountain deep geologic respository.

    The British just woke up at quit throwing hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ Pounds Sterling into the 10 year old Sellafield fuel reprocessing plant.

    The Greeks have placed a moratorium on nuclear expansion.

    Spain, Italy and Belgium are implementing no-nuclear commitments in favour of clean renewables.

    Ontario ratepayers are still paying for years-old massive cost overruns at Darlington.

    Bruce Power is refurbishing 2 reactors at its Ontario plant. Taxpayers agreed to pay $2.75 billion for the refurbishment. They are 6 months behind schedule and they estimate they will be $640 over budget. Taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost overruns and the fact that the reactors are to be out of service longer than expected creates another drain. When questioned about the costs, BP spokespersons contend that a 24% cost overrun is in line with normal company expectations.

    In Ontario over the past 15 years, 8 reactors were offline for 7 years. Had Ontario not been able to replace the offline nuke power with coal-generated energy, there would have been a massive energy shortfall and crisis. Nuclear power plants are sold to the public with the upfront costs prorated over a 40-60 year lifespan. However, multi-billion dollar refurbishments are typically required after 15-25 years.

    Decommissioning costs will be borne by the taxpayer. In Ontario, the industry does, indeed, have a fund that is supposed to pay for decommissioning but the fund is tied to the stock market and cannot even come close to meeting the expected (and completely unavoidable) future decommissioning costs. Taxpayers will pay.

    In New York State, a nuclear facility is being decommissioned at West Valley, near Lake Erie. The company, as is typical, went bankrupt. Latest estimates are that NY taxpayers will be spending $27 Billion (yes, with a “B”) to clean up West Valley.

    No private insurer will underwrite a policy for a nuclear plant. Because of that, government underwrites their liability. In Canada, nuclear operators’ liability for a nuclear accident is limited to a mere $75 million. Modest estimates of the costs of a major accident are in the 100’s of Billions. Taxpayers are taking insurance underwriting risks that private insurers reject outright.

    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation must take a long, hard look at the black hole of nuclear investment and help keep our tax dollars out of this wasteful sector.

    Yes, the devil is in the details. How many details is it going to take to convince you that money spent on nuclear energy is a huge misuse of public funds and will saddle future generations with untenable security costs and environmental risks?


  3. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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