News > News > Stop Polluters > Power Plant Cases > Indian Point > New Report Documents How Entergy Spends Millions on Lobbying, Campaign Contributions and Deceptive PR Strategies to Influence Indian Point Relicensing

New Report Documents How Entergy Spends Millions on Lobbying, Campaign Contributions and Deceptive PR Strategies to Influence Indian Point Relicensing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2013

Contact:
Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 516-526-9371, tposterli@riverkeeper.org

“Astroturf” groups controlled by Entergy account for more than a quarter of this spending

The following is a statement by Brooklyn for Peace, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, New York Public Interest Research Group, PHASE, Riverkeeper and Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter in response to today’s release of the Common Cause report, Generating Influence: Entergy’s Political Spending and the Battle over the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant:

“This detailed report from Common Cause describes how Entergy conducted a campaign of intense lobbying, public relations blitzes, advertising and targeted political contributions to shore up political support and distract the public from the real safety risks posed by the aging nuclear plant’s operation.

The report documents how Entergy extensively employed astroturfing strategies to give the appearance of public support for Indian Point. Entergy’s two front groups – SHARE (Safe Healthy Affordable Reliable Energy) and NY AREA (Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance) have delivered a significant portion of its PR campaign over the past eight years – which Common Cause estimates has cost at least $20 million dollars. SHARE postures as an environmental justice coalition and NY AREA as a coalition of business, labor and community leaders. Both, however, are controlled by Entergy executives, consultants, and lobbyists, according to IRS filings for these groups, which have 501(c) (6) tax status.

The Common Cause report estimates that Entergy and its front groups spent more than $4.8 million between 2005 and 2012 in lobbying and campaign contributions to state and local elected officials in New York, and this doesn’t include the massive advertising and public relations campaigns they have mounted to sway public opinion on Indian Point. More than a quarter of this amount (28%) was spent by NY AREA and SHARE – groups masquerading as independent organizations but actually under the control of Entergy. Federally, Entergy spent $31.1 million and hired 18 firms to lobby federal government and contributed more than $4 million to candidates, PACs and committees. Spending has intensified in recent years as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approaches a decision on relicensing Indian Point.

Entergy’s campaign to convince the public that Indian Point is ‘safe, secure and vital’ contradicts documented facts. Indian Point’s history is replete with radioactive leaks, exploding transformers, intense concentration and storage of lethal nuclear waste in unsafe, unsecured fuel pools, and ongoing damage to Hudson River ecology from its obsolete cooling water intake system. Numerous independent studies over the past five years, such as the Synapse Energy Economics Report, show conclusively that Indian Point’s power can be replaced quickly, affordably and without increasing fossil fuel emissions. Indian Point is unsafe, its radioactivity is insecure, and the energy it produces is irrelevant to the region’s needs.

The new Common Cause report makes clear that Entergy considers it more important to spend millions of dollars on public relations and political influence rather than to improve Indian Point’s safety and reducing its environmental impact. Our citizens’ groups, along with a number of state and federal elected officials, have repeatedly called on Entergy to move spent fuel out of the dangerous pools and into dry cask storage to reduce the risk of a catastrophic accident, and to upgrade its cooling system to prevent the slaughter of over a billion fish and other aquatic life in the Hudson River every year. Entergy has refused. Instead, it spends millions on misleading public relations tactics and seeks to sway elected officials.

Entergy’s campaign of political contributions includes key state and federal elected officials, which the Common Cause report itemizes in detail, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer and former Senator Hillary Clinton, and numerous members of Congress, with Rep. Nan Hayworth topping the list of recipients. Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer have yet to state their position on Indian Point’s relicensing. Our groups call on them to do so, so that their constituencies are fully informed as to where they stand.

At the state level, among the top five recipients are Senators Kevin Parker and George Maziarz, both key members of the Senate Energy Committee, who have expressed strong support for Indian Point’s operation. Significantly, the company did not contribute to many of the elected officials who have publicly stated their opposition to Indian Point, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, and Congressmembers Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and John Hall.

The Common Cause report shows a pattern of influence-peddling and deceptive public relations tactics conducted by Entergy in its quest to keep these dangerous and antiquated nuclear reactors operating at Indian Point. Our groups urge New York’s elected officials to see through this smokescreen and join us in calling for the closure of Indian Point.”
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