President Obama today announced that his Energy Department had approved an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to build two new nuclear power plants in Georgia. If built, they would be the first new plants in the United States since the 1970s. Obama announced support for nuclear energy in his State of the Union speech last month, as a nod to bipartisanship. And Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander was quick to praise the move.
Conservatives have long advocated removing regulatory barriers and building more nuclear power plants, but due to the riskiness of the enterprise, it would be difficult for energy companies to raise money to actually construct them — thus government ends up getting involved by having taxpayers absorb the risk. As much as I’d like to see more nuclear power plants built, I still can’t bring myself to supporting government subsidies.