Kentucky's two Republican senators, who built their political careers railing against unions and government spending, stuck people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest with hundreds of millions of dollars of debts plus higher costs for electricity. They did it to save union jobs by wasting millions in federal dollars. Confused? Hold tight. It gets worse. (Or better, if you live in Kentucky.)
The deal crafted by Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian, required the federal agency that owns hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), to pay $700 million for uranium fuel that could have been purchased on the open market for just $450 million. Interesting sidebar: Bonneville didn't need this fuel.
... The deal was officially touted as a move that would save power customers in the Northwest by paying only $65 million for fuel that it claims would have cost more than three times as much if it were purchased later. But details in the contracts reveal that the deal increased costs by at least a quarter-billion dollars and perhaps as much as $1.7 billion.
US copyright laws prevent me from blockquoting the whole damn thing, but David Cay Johnston's Newsweek expose is so full of infuriating details that you've just got to click through and read it for yourself. Like the part about the carbon-spewing coal-fired generating plant dedicated to powering the World War II-era uranium enrichment facility that this deal propped up—a facility responsible for 68.7 percent of the otherwise banned ozone-eating CFC-114 the US released into the atmosphere in 2012. Or the Paducah, Kentucky energy executive who got paid $5.9 million in salary and bonuses a year during a four-year period in which his business lost $1 billion. Or the fact that the enriched uranium BPA bought is intended to fuel a nuclear reactor near Pasco, Washington, based on the same design as the ones that melted down at Fukushima.
It is one giant shit show, the sole purpose of which appears to be an enormous transfer of wealth from Pacific Northwest ratepayers (BPA supplies about 40 percent of Seattle City Light's power) to Senators McConnell's and Paul's constituents back in Kentucky.
The complicated transaction was made through Energy Northwest, an arm of the BPA. As the only state lawmaker sitting on Energy Northwest's executive board, I have contacted state Senator Tim Sheldon (?-Potlatch) for comment. (Yes, that Tim Sheldon.)