1983 Scorecard Vote
Environmentalists are very concerned about the risks of nuclear accidents and the unresolved problem of what to do with deadly nuclear wastes. Not all of them oppose nuclear power, but they do oppose massive subsidies to the nuclear industry like the one in this vote. By disguising the true costs of nuclear power, such subsidies discourage utilities from investing in safer and cheaper energy sources.
This is a vote to throw good money after bad and float $1 billion or more in bonds to finish construction of two nuclear plants in the Pacific Northwest. The bonds were intended to bail out what was already one of the biggest nuclear subsidies ever proposed for a single region. The Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) is pronounced "whoops" by friend and foe alike. It has already defaulted on $2.5 billion in bonds and had to scrap two of the five nuclear power plants it originally intended to build, because of a power surplus in the Northwest. Unable to sell the bonds to finish two other plants, WPPSS now wanted more help from Uncle Sam.
Under the new proposal, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) would have guaranteed at least $1 billion in high interest WPPSS bonds. But BPA already owes the U.S. Treasury $8 billion in low interest loans and is way behind schedule in paying this money back. Since the new WPPSS bond holders were to get preference over the Treasury in repayment of loans, the bailout scheme could have further delayed payment of the $8 billion and cost the taxpayer millions of dollars.
The vote is on whether the WPPSS bailout could be considered by the Senate. Ruling of the Chair rejected 40-57; August 3, 1983. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (Judgment of the Senate on the Chair's ruling than an Appropriations Committee amendment to the 1984 Interior Appropriations bill, H.R. 3363, was out of order.) Although we lost this procedural vote, Senator McClure later withdrew his amendment under the threat of a filibuster and the bailout scheme died.