There's money in those nuclear power plants. And nuclear executives are cleaning up, making much more than counterparts in other parts of the energy industry.
According to the National Journal , the president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute Frank Bowman was paid a whopping $3 million in 2008.
While other fossil fuel energy groups paid their executives handsomely, the nuclear industry was way out in front of groups like the American Petroleum Institute, Edison Electric Institute, American Iron and Steel Institute, American Gas Association. American Chemistry Council and the American Forest and Paper Association.
By contrast, being environmentally conscious is no way to make money. The National Journal points out that the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, the National Wildlife Federation and the American Wind Energy Association paid their chiefs between $400,000 and $100,000. Greenpeace's former executive director, John Passacantando made just $103,624.
This is significant because it tells us that the nuclear lobby has deep pockets. President Obama has provided loan guarantees for the nuclear industry which means US taxpayers will carry the tab. For Wall Street banks, financing the nuclear industry is too big a risk – the plants all come in one size, they're expensive, they take too long to build, there's risk of accidents and government intervention – so they won't finance nuclear programs unless they are backed by the US government. Which means if there are financial difficulties, taxpayers will foot the bill.
And the US Government's focus on nuclear power has been helped by the lobbying power and campaign contributions of the nuclear industry headed by Bowman's employers at the Nuclear Energy Institute. Analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University shows that companies and unions in the industry have spent more than $600 million on lobbying and nearly $63 million on campaign contributions.
No wonder they can pay their executives that much.