NEI’s Top 20

It’s no secret that the nuclear power industry gives money–lots of it–to candidates running for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, especially incumbents.

In the ten-year period from 2003 through 2012, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) gave a total of $2,006,624.74 to Congressional candidates, an average of about $200,000 year–including non-election years. In the first half of 2013, a non-election year, NEI put up an additional $132,000 for Congressional campaigns.

During that same ten-year period, anti-nuclear organizations gave a grand total of zero to Congressional candidates.

What does NEI want for its money? The answer, of course, is power. Power, access to Congressmembers, influence over legislation. That means not only support for particular bills, but the ability to block anti-nuclear legislation from ever seeing a hearing, much less a committee or floor vote. It means the ability to help write legislation, to insert that key phrase that can mean millions of dollars in new revenue for nuclear utilities, or perhaps an equal amount in reduced costs. It means the ability to not only set the agenda when it comes to nuclear power, but to see that agenda enacted.

It’s easy to see from the chart below, which shows the key committees and positions NEI’s largest cash recipients hold, that NEI is directing its largest checks to those with the greatest ability to ensure NEI’s agenda moves ahead. That only makes sense.

That the nuclear industry isn’t always successful in its goals–and it isn’t, the anti-nuclear movement has won some clear victories in Congress over the years–doesn’t mean their money has been poorly spent. The industry has won far more than it has lost in Congress.

Below is the NEI’s Top 20, those 20 Senators and Representatives who received the most money from NEI from 2003-2012. The information was taken directly from NEI filings with the Federal Election Commission and was compiled by NIRS’ volunteer Adam Chimienti, who did a stellar job.

It’s important to remember that NEI is just one of many nuclear entities that contribute to Members of Congress. Nuclear utilities also contribute, often heavily, and most have as many–sometimes even more–lobbyists working daily on Capitol Hill than NEI itself. There are also reactor manufacturers, fuel cycle companies, radioactive waste companies, and a few more trade groups as well. The total amount of nuclear money going into Congress runs into the millions per year, every year, year after year.

To repeat: the total amount of anti-nuclear money going to Members of Congress is, and has been, zero. While there have been contributions from environmental groups, like League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and Sierra Club, and contributions from the renewable energy industry and its trade organizations, none of that money has been to explicitly promote a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system. And with LCV’s Board now chaired by Nuclear Matters spokesperson Carol Browner, there is no confidence that LCV will support anti-nuclear candidates in the future.

We’ll talk more about this issue, and offer a modest proposal, in GreenWorld this week.

Rank    Name                                          Amount          Key Committee/Position
1.         Steny H. Hoyer MD-5               $36,000            House Minority Whip
2.         Peter J. Visclosky IN-1              $35,000            Appropriations
3.         Joe Barton TX-6                         $32,750            Energy (Chair)
4.        *Ed Towns NY-10                       $26,595
5.      **John D. Dingell MI-15              $26,500           Energy (Former Chair)
6.          Fred Upton MI-6                       $26,000           Energy
7.          James E. Clyburn SC-6             $25,265           Asst. Democratic Leader (#3 Dem in House)
8.          Lisa Murkowski AK-Sen           $21,500           Energy (Ranking Minority Member)
9.          John A. Boehner OH-8             $20,000           Speaker of the House
10.     *Blanche Lincoln AR-Sen           $20,000
11.        John Barrow GA-1                    $19,000           Energy
12.      *Jason Altmire PA-4                   $17,695
13.    **Dave Camp MI-4                      $17,000          Ways and Means (Chair)
14.      *Frederick Boucher VA-9          $16,172
15.        Richard Burr NC-Sen               $16,000          Finance
16.  ***Christopher S. Murphy CT-5  $15,500          Energy (in House)
17.        Rodney Frelinghuysen NJ-11 $15,500          Appropriations
18.      *Chet Edwards TX-17                $14,000
19.       *John Spratt SC-5                      $13,322
20.        Mary Landrieu LA-Sen             $13,500         Energy (Chair)

*no longer a member of Congress
**retiring after the current Congressional session
***now a U.S. Senator

Update, 1 pm, May 7. The industry’s Exelon-funded Nuclear Matters astroturf organization just announced that former Senator Blanche Lincoln (#10 in NEI campaign contributions) has signed on as their latest spokesperson.  Coincidence? Hardly.

Michael Mariotte

May 7, 2014


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7 thoughts on “NEI’s Top 20

  1. Don Richardson, M.D.

    I assume that money was a pass-through from taxpayer subsidies. Let’s stop this lethal cash cow
    welfare check to the dying nuclear industry and shift to clean renewables NOW–tomorrow is too late.

    1. Michael Mariotte Post author

      Where NEI gets its money from is actually an interesting question–and one they don’t disclose. The members of NEI–nuclear utilities, reactor manufacturers, etc. pay to be part of the organization; how the fees are set is unknown to the public. In addition, it is unknown how many foreign companies–like Areva, Electricite de France etc.–are giving money to NEI, which is then giving money to U.S. politicians…..

      1. CaptD

        This WEB of international donations allows the Nuclear Industry and the IAEA to promote nuclear globally by giving donations to political decision makers as needed to fund nuclear biased PR that is used to then tout the use of nuclear and/or new nuclear construction. As recent news shows reactor manufactures are now getting into the financing and/or ownership of new reactors which will then provide them with about a hundred year income stream (not including upgrades), while at the same time extending the use of nuclear for as long as possible despite its effects upon mankind longterm.

    2. Andra Miller

      While we’re talking about money. Shouldn’t we be actively engaged in stopping the purchase of politicians by making it illegal? By only allowing public funding for campaigns? Of course that seems impossible. Doing the right thing often does seem impossible.

  2. Pingback: A Modest Proposal: We need a clean energy PAC | GreenWorld

  3. CaptD

    Because the global nuclear industry has the money it needs to fund all the peer reviewed studies it wants, they all end up saying whatever they want them to, or they simply will not publish them…

    We also know that about three years ago today, all the Japanese nuclear Experts (along with most other nuclear Experts in the World) that said that “modern” nuclear power plants were safe and had so many safety features that they would not meltdown because they were so well designed, were proven terribly wrong by Fukushima’s triple meltdowns and that it will take decades if not about 100 years to deal with its on-going pollution of the Pacific Ocean, that is, if nothing BIG goes BAD before then.

    Also in all fairness, mankind will have to employ NEW types of equipment that have never ever been built, in order to deal with the new problems Fukushima has created. Also, until fully decommissioned, the Japanese will continue to contaminate massive amounts of sea water with radioactivity daily, that will all end up in the Pacific Ocean unless the UN sanctions the Japanese with penalties which should be used to finance Solar (of all flavors) R&D and it’s installation in developing Countries, if they will agree to not use nuclear. This will enable mankind to begin the transition to Solar while at the same time reduce the need for our Earth’s limited resources.

I also will be the first to point out that the Coal Industry has many health problems associated with it, which the Nuclear industry is all too eager to point out; but the SAME THING COULD BE SAID ABOUT THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY; since it also mines radioactive Uranium ore which is then processed into highly radioactive fuel rods of several different types. Once this radioactive fuel is used in a reactor, it then produces huge amounts of additional radioactive waste that will have as yet unknown effects on mankind over the enormous timespan that it will take to render all of it harmless! Because this radioactive timespan dwarfs anything currently affecting mankind, it is completely unscientific to say today, what the harmful effect of our using nuclear power plants in the twentieth and twenty-first century will be generations, from now!

For example, should highly radioactive “dirty” material from Fukushima be used in a terrorist weapon at some point in the future, its affect on man must be placed directly upon the nuclear industry that created it, because without building the nuclear power plants it would have never existed to cause harm to man’s health. This is yet another potential “future” health problem that cannot be discounted since there is so much radioactive waste material unaccounted for at Fukushima and many other locations globally!

It is no longer fair for the nuclear industries spokespersons, the IAEA and/or Regulators like the NRC to try to limit Energy discussions to only the positive points that favor using nuclear while at the same time shrugging off all other negative points as not being relevant!

    Excerpts from:

  4. CaptD

    I think we are now seeing a large organized push by the NEI and many others to restore the image of nuclear generation and downplay the radioactive pollution and damage caused by Fukushima. By having a large number of available organizations to choose from money can be funneled as needed without attracting the attention of the Press or activists.

    A perfect example of this Pro-Nuclear PR:

    My posted comment, (which was one of hundreds this article attracted, so many, that I suspect that this article was pre-planned to appear at a certain time so that as many positive comments as possible could be added, which will allow references to it to be used in the future…).

    Now, suddenly the UN, who has up to now had to let the IAEA handle all issues related to nuclear is saying that everything is wonderful in Fukushima, Japan and that they have a reliable crystal ball that says “no one will get cancer or die from radiation released from Fukushima”…

    This is so unbelievable that it can only be the result of a concerted attempt by the Japanese Nuclear Industry and their global nuclear supporters to somehow try to jump start their lagging nuclear industry because Solar (of all flavors) is now far less expensive and is taking ever more of the market share away from them.

    I view this UN “Health Notice” as the first step in a ☢ PR Push designed to convince the World that is is OK for the Japanese to dump all their radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean turning it into their own radioactive toilet, that the rest of the planet to enjoy because “no one will get cancer or die from radiation released from Fukushima”…

    Mankind is now in deep trouble, when the UN Leaders say that Fukushima is not a issue any longer, no matter how much Nuclear Payback* they received! I bet there was not even a vote or other inquiry into the reliability of this UN document.


    Those that support nuclear power because nuclear power somehow supports them; no matter what the health implications or other “costs” are for others.


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