Tim Johnson Watch

Representative Tim Johnson was elected to represent the residents of Illinois' 15th Congressional District in Central Illinois. His constituents should know what he's doing.

Location: 15th Congressional District, Illinois, United States

A concerned citizen of Central Illinois.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

DeLay's $25,000 Is Not Johnson's Only Radioactive Contribution

In yesterday's round up of Tim Johnson's fourth quarter fundraising, I somehow failed to mention Johnson's top contributor both for the fourth quarter of 2005 and for the entire election cylce -- it's Exelen Corp., with $2,500 for the quarter (almost 7.5% of all contributions) and $5,000 for the cycle (almost 5% of all contributions).* According to Open Secrets, Exelon was also among Johnson's six biggest contributors for the 2003-04 and 2001-02 cylces.

Exelon operates all six of Illinois's power plants (one through a subsidiary). TJW is not opposed to nuclear power, but TJW is opposed to nuclear power companies that are cavalier about the safety of local citizens. Exelon was in the news this morning for having to declare a state of emergency at a nuclear power plant in Illinois. And this is not Exelon's first major safety problem in Illinois -- there have been at least two other spills since 1998. (Republican Rep. Jerry Weller is apparently still trying to get Exelon to clean up the 1998 spill, which involved 3 million gallons of radioactive water.) Here's a more thorough accounting of Exelon's safety record. And here are safety allegations from an Exelon whistle-blower.

What does Exelon want for its contributions? According to Public Citizen:
Exelon is America's largest nuclear power plant operator with 10 nuclear power plants. Exelon spent $10.5 million since 2000 lobbying the federal government on hundreds of energy policy issues, from increasing federal subsidies to the nuclear industry, to easing regulations over the operation of its plants, to repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act, to subsidies. (Emphasis added; more on Exelon here.)
According to NJ PIRG:
[I]n the Illinois Commerce Commission's most recent reliability assessment report, Exelon got very poor marks....

And finally, Exelon has a penchant for putting profits before safety at their nuclear plants. Exelon has a history of cutting on-site staffing levels, lobbying for license extensions for aging plants, experimenting with increases in power output, firing staff for raising safety concerns, and delaying critical maintenance projects. (Emphasis added.)
For someone who fancies himself an environmentalist, Tim Johnson might want to explain why his biggest campaign contributor is a nuclear power company with a dubious safety record in Illinois!

*Exelon is tied for the quarter with the National Beer Wholesalers Association and for the cylce with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.


Blogger DailyProse said...

Wouldn't this also be a security issue?

8:49 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Certainly. The security of nuclear power plants has been questioned considerably since 9/11.

5:23 AM  

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