“This discussion reminds me, somewhat, of the conversations that were going on after the BP oil spill last year,” Sen. Mitch McConnell told Fox News last week. “I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy.”
He was speaking, of course, about nuclear power, which has been getting its share of bad PR as Japan struggles to prevent a meltdown. McConnell isn’t alone; leading Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, have made similar remarks.
It begs the question: when is a good time to make domestic policy? Perhaps after a 10-year, $645 million lobbying campaign on the part of Big Nuclear? That figure comes from the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, which analyzed Congressional disclosure forms from 1999 to 2009.
“In many ways, the nuclear power industry’s efforts to win support are a textbook case of how the influence game is played in Washington,” IRW wrote in its report. “Besides the money spent on lobbying and campaign contributions, the industry…has created a network of allies who give speeches, quote one another approvingly and showcase one another on their Web sites. The effect is an echo chamber of support for nuclear power.”