Obamanation! Campaign Contributions and More
|$151,911 from 174 Exelon employees (21.0%) to Barack Obama||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$32,200 from 34 Exelon employees (4.1%) to Richard Santorum||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$26,500 from 32 Exelon employees (3.9%) to Bobby Rush||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$23,150 from 16 Exelon employees (1.9%) to John McCain||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$20,650 from 35 Exelon employees (4.2%) to J. Hastert||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$17,550 from 17 Exelon employees (2.1%) to Mark Kirk||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$14,000 from 19 Exelon employees (2.3%) to Jim Gerlach||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$12,500 from 12 Exelon employees (1.5%) to George Voinovich||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$11,250 from 19 Exelon employees (2.3%) to Jesse Jackson||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$10,350 from 8 Exelon employees (1.0%) to Ed Perlmutter||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$9,900 from 6 Exelon employees (0.7%) to Arlen Specter||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$9,500 from 7 Exelon employees (0.8%) to Robert Menendez||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$8,500 from 14 Exelon employees (1.7%) to Rahm Emanuel||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$8,300 from 5 Exelon employees (0.6%) to Melissa Bean||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$8,000 from 6 Exelon employees (0.7%) to Jeff Bingaman||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$6,800 from 7 Exelon employees (0.8%) to Richard Durbin||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$6,500 from 8 Exelon employees (1.0%) to John Dingell||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$5,219 from 6 Exelon employees (0.7%) to Danny Davis||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$5,000 from 6 Exelon employees (0.7%) to Luis Gutierrez||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$4,250 from 5 Exelon employees (0.6%) to John Kerry||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$3,800 from 5 Exelon employees (0.6%) to Norm Coleman||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$3,500 from 4 Exelon employees (0.5%) to Bill Foster||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$3,500 from 11 Exelon employees (1.3%) to Peter Roskam||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$3,250 from 4 Exelon employees (0.5%) to John Shimkus||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$3,000 from 3 Exelon employees (0.4%) to Martin Meehan||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$2,685 from 3 Exelon employees (0.4%) to W. Weldon||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$2,300 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Ted Stevens||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$2,000 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Edolphus Towns||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,100 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Gerald Weller||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,000 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Edward Markey||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,000 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Joseph Pitts||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,000 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Evan Bayh||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,000 from 3 Exelon employees (0.4%) to Frank LoBiondo||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,000 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to John Cornyn||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,000 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Loretta Sanchez||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$1,000 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Michael Ferguson||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$750 from 3 Exelon employees (0.4%) to Melissa Hart||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$668 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Zach Wamp||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$500 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Ken Salazar||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$500 from 2 Exelon employees (0.2%) to Janice Schakowsky||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$450 from 2 Exelon employees (0.2%) to Hillary Clinton||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$250 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Joseph Sestak||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$250 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Nicholas Lampson||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$200 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Stephen Lynch||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$200 from 1 Exelon employees (0.1%) to Ronald Paul||<!– view details hide details–>|
|$0 from 2 Exelon employees (0.2%) to Christopher Van Hollen|
February 29, 2008
Count Me Out
The Obama Craze
By MATT GONZALEZ
REGULATING NUCLEAR INDUSTRY:
The New York Times reported that, while campaigning in Iowa in December 2007, Obama boasted that he had passed a bill requiring nuclear plants to promptly report radioactive leaks. This came after residents of his home state of Illinois complained they were not told of leaks that occurred at a nuclear plant operated by Exelon Corporation.
The truth, however, was that Obama allowed the bill to be amended in Committee by Senate Republicans, replacing language mandating reporting with verbiage that merely offered guidance to regulators on how to address unreported leaks. The story noted that even this version of Obama’s bill failed to pass the Senate, so it was unclear why Obama was claiming to have passed the legislation. The February 3, 2008 The New York Times article titled “Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate” by Mike McIntire also noted the opinion of one of Obama’s constituents, which was hardly enthusiastic about Obama’s legislative efforts:
“Senator Obama’s staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft,” said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. “The teeth were just taken out of it.”
As it turns out, the New York Times story noted: “Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.”
Declaration of Independence Day Edition
July 4, 2007
Another Automaton of the Atomic Lobby
Barack Obama’s Nuclear Ambitions
By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
and JOSHUA FRANK
The atom lobby during the 1990s had a stranglehold on the Clinton administration and now they seem to have the same suffocating grip around the neck of the brightest star in the Democratic field today: Barack Obama.
Barack, for the second quarter in a row, has surpassed the fundraising prowess of Hillary Clinton. To be sure small online donations have propelled the young senator to the top, but so too have his connections to big industry. The Obama campaign, as of late March 2007, has accepted $159,800 from executives and employees of Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power plant operator.
The Illinois-based company also helped Obama’s 2004 senatorial campaign. As Ken Silverstein reported in the November 2006 issue of Harper’s, “[Exelon] is Obama’s fourth largest patron, having donated a total of $74,350 to his campaigns. During debate on the 2005 energy bill, Obama helped to vote down an amendment that would have killed vast loan guarantees for power-plant operators to develop new energy projects the public will not only pay millions of dollars in loan costs but will risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default.”
“Senator Obama has all the necessary leadership skills required to be president,” says Frank M. Clark, chairman of Exelon’s Commonwealth Edison utility.
These gracious accolades come from one of Exelon’s top executives, despite the fact that Obama proposed legislation in 2006 that would require nuclear plant operators to report any hazardous leaks. While introducing the legislation Obama noted the failure of Exelon to report a leak of radioactive tritium into groundwater near one of their Illinois plants. But the senator’s criticism of nuclear power goes only so far.
During a Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works hearing in 2005, Obama, who serves on the committee, asserted that since Congress was debating the negative impact of CO2 emissions “on the global ecosystem, it is reasonable — and realistic — for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration.” Shortly thereafter, Nuclear Notes, the industry’s top trade publication, praised the senator. “Back during his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2004, [Obama] said that he rejected both liberal and conservative labels in favor of ‘common sense solutions.’ And when it comes to nuclear energy, it seems like the Senator is keeping an open mind.”
Sadly for the credibility of the atom lobby, some of their more eye-grabbing numbers don’t check out. For example, as noted in a report by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuke industry claims that the world’s 447 nuclear plants reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent. But the true villain behind global warming is carbon. Existing nuclear plants save only about 5 percent of total CO2 emissions, hardly a bargain given the costs and risks associated with nuclear power. Moreover, the nuclear lobby likes to compare its record to coal-fired plants, rather than renewables such as solar, wind, and geothermal. Even when compared to coal, atomic power fails the test if investments are made to increase the efficient use of the existing energy supply. One recent study by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that “even under the most optimistic cost projections for future nuclear electricity, efficiency is found to be 2.5 to 10 times more cost effective for CO2-abatement. Thus, to the extent that investments in nuclear power divert funds away from efficiency, the pursuit of a nuclear response to global warming would effectively exacerbate the problem.”
Clearly Senator Obama recognizes the inherent dangers of nuclear technology and knows of the disastrous failures that plagued Chernobyl, Mayak and Three Mile Island. Yet, despite his attempts to alert the public of future toxic nuclear leaks, Obama still considers atomic power a viable alternative to coal-fired plants. The atom lobby must certainly be pleased.
Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book is End Times: the Death of the Fourth Estate, co-written with Alexander Cockburn. St. Clair’s new book on the environment, Born Under a Bad Sky, will be published in December.
Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in March 2008.
Disaster Uranium: Democratic Presidential Candidates Backed by Nuclear Powerhouses
By Jessica Lee
While Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to spar for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, a hidden conflict over uranium mining and radioactive waste dumping is simmering, pitting the two candidates, other prominent politicians and Wall Street financiers against many indigenous and non-native American communities.
Tens of thousands of people across the continental United States and in Hawai’i still suffer the effects of previous uranium mining booms during the 1940s and the Cold War, and fears are growing over how a nuclear power renaissance will impact tribal lands.
Tiokasin Ghosthorse, a member of the Lakota Nation, explains, “In western South Dakota, there is an unspoken nuclear Chernobyl. There are days when the sky is brown from the dust of uranium mining tailings in the air. This is cattle and wheat country. When the dust settles, no one knows they are being radiated.”
Ghosthorse, also the host of “First Voices Indigenous Radio” on New York’s WBAI, speaks in a firm voice when he discusses the impact of uranium mining on his home in Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. “A few years, there were only 19 of us left from my 1973 high school graduating class of 70 or 80 people. Nine out of 10 of them had died of cancer.”
To bring attention to the environmental threats and the destruction of sacred sites, hundreds of Native Americans and supporters began trekking from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11. The five-month walk commemorates the 1978 Longest Walk that led to the defeat of 11 anti-Native American bills in Congress and passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
“The Walk is a call of action to the people to wake up and realize that the continued exploitation of Mother Earth cannot go on,” said Ricardo Tapia, a national coordinator of the Longest Walk 2. “This walk is for people of all colors. We are concerned about the trees, water and the sprit of the land. These things are alive. To most non-Indians, these are just seen as resources.”
The New York Times recently noted that in the case of New Mexico, where the nuclear power industry is seeking to restart uranium mining near a Dine (Navajo) reservation, “mining companies walked away from their cleanup responsibilities” of a thousand open mines after the Cold War ended. The Times stated “among the horrors” that resulted were “shifting mountains of uranium tailings; open mines leaching contaminated rain into drinking water tables; wind-blown radioactive dust; home construction from uranium mine slabs; and even the grim spectacle of children playing in radioactive swimming holes and ground pits.”
NUCLEAR ENERGY BACK ON THE TABLE
Like many other commodities, from gold to oil to wheat, uranium’s price has risen because of speculation. As of 2003, processed uranium ore, known as yellowcake, was trading for $7 a pound. Last year, it hit $138. The dwindling of Cold War-era uranium supplies combined with anticipation that industrializing economies in China, India and Russia would turn to nuclear power, led hedge funds and other big investors to drive up the price of yellowcake and the stocks of uranium mining companies. It’s this paper wealth that has stoked mining interests around the world.
The Las Vegas Sun noted on Feb. 10, “More than 1,000 new uranium mining claims have been staked on federal lands near the Grand Canyon during the past three years because of rising uranium prices.” According to the U.S. Department of Energy, uranium exploration and development drilling totaled 5,000 holes covering 2.7 million feet in 2006. It is estimated that at least 50 percent of uranium deposits are located on Native-owned lands.
But to realize these vast profits, the uranium mining industry needs various governments to approve new mining operations and to revive the controversial and dangerous nuclear power industry. In Virginia, for example, which has a moratorium on uranium mining; the state Senate approved a bill commissioning a “study” on Feb. 13 to determine if it is safe to mine a site that contains the “largest unmined uranium deposit in the United States, worth an estimated $10 billion.”
While the Bush administration is pushing for nuclear power’s revival, its future is not just in the hands of Republicans.
Claiming the United States cannot meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions if nuclear power is not an option, Obama wants to spend $150 billion over the next 10 years to develop new ”climate-friendly” energy sources. Clinton says the issue of nuclear waste storage can be overcome by American technological innovation.
The major political factor driving nuclear power’s revival is global warming. “What the industry’s public relations are trying to do … is find a bigger boogie man that is greater risk than building nuclear reactors,” said Jim Riccio, the nuclear policy analyst for Greenpeace. “If you are afraid of nuclear power, you need to come up with an alternative that is more frightening. That is where the industry has latched itself to the climate change debate, and it is trying to sell themselves as a solution.”
THE DEMOCRATS’ DIRTY SECRET
The nuclear industry has helped bankroll the presidential campaigns of both Senators Obama and Clinton. Executives and employees of the Illinois-based Exelon have given Obama at least $221,517 — making Exelon Obama’s eighth largest contributor. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has also served as a consultant to Exelon.
NRG Energy is betting on Clinton. In September, NRG filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to open the first U.S. nuclear plan in more than 30 years. NRG Energy has given Clinton nearly $80,000 in campaign contributions. The company’s president and CEO, David Crane, is a “Hillraiser” — a Clinton backer who has raised at least $100,000. NRG Energy has also given $175 million to The Clinton Global Initiative run by former President Bill Clinton.
A NEW AGE OF COLONIALISM
Left unsaid on the campaign trail is the tragic fallout. Uranium exploration and mining, nuclear testing and radioactive waste dumping began more than 60 years ago, largely on lands that Southwestern Native Americans were forced onto generations earlier. Not only did Native communities receive little in the way of royalties for the uranium extracted from their lands, health and safety precautions were essentially non-existent.
As with people in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, Dine and Hopi communities in the Four Corner region (Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico) have suffered greatly from environmental contamination and widespread illness. These areas were deemed “National Sacrifice Areas” by the U.S. government — lands determined “uninhabitable” due to the planned depletion of water resources by industry and widespread radioactive contamination.
For the Native communities who are all too familiar with the dangerous consequences of being the nation that possesses thousands of nuclear weapons and relies on nearly 20 percent of its power from nuclear generation, this is a cry for environmental justice. And the Democratic leadership does not seem to care.
“Not one of the presidential candidates has an energy policy that excludes exploitation of indigenous lands,” said Klee Benally, founder of Indigenous Action Media and a volunteer with the Save the Peaks Coalition.
Ghosthorse agrees. “Hillary and Obama are not going to do anything about this. It is not who we elect, it is the system.” While the presidential primaries continue to hypnotize the nation, the Native American resistance walks on.
“Politicians do not have the answers and we cannot rely on them to provide the answers in the context of a system that is built on the exploitation of our lands,” Benally said. “We do not just need political action, we need direct action in our communities — because behind every environmental crisis is a social crisis.”
“This is the low-intensity warfare against Native people all of the time,” Ghosthorse said.
Mike Burke and A.K. Gupta contributed additional reporting.
PHOTO: Local Native American youth join the Longest Walk 2 hikers in California Feb. 16. Hundreds of people are walking across the nation for the next five months to bring attention to indigenous religious freedom and global environmental protection. Photo courtesy of LONGESTWALK.ORG