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Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash Rock Capitol Hill

The practice of celebrities lobbying Congress has become so eye-rollingly clichéd. Unless, of course, the lobbyists are Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash and Jackson Browne, who spewed forth such passion and knowledge on the subject of nuclear power plants over breakfast Tuesday morning that you just felt certain the aging rock stars' daylong blitzkrieg of Capitol Hill would somehow make a difference.

Their tutorial of the Sleuth and two of her Washington Post colleagues, Josh Freedom duLac and Rich Leiby, was an alternately enlightening and entertaining conversation - much of it amongst themselves.

"When you hear phrases like 'permissible releases' - what does that mean?" Browne asked incredulously. "Yeah, what does that mean?!" Nash echoed, his outrage punctuated by his British accent.

"I don't see them paying for the cancer that's developed," Raitt said, lighting up the room with her autumn red hair.

"Everybody has acknowledged that there's no safe dose," Harvey Wasserman, a longtime activist against nuclear power, chimed in.

"They're not ever going to tell you the truth - never, ever, ever," Nash said.

"To subsidize nuclear is to rob our safe-energy future," Browne said.

The musicians, together with Wasserman, are waging a pin-prick lobbying effort - not exactly a No Nukes-level concert tour - to remove a single tiny provision from the energy bill before Congress. The offending one-sentence provision would give nuclear power plants some $50 billion in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees.

"If we can get that out of there we won't have to do concerts," said Nash, of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame, removing any doubt that his activism against nuclear energy outweighs his music career at the moment. (Or maybe he's just so over live performances.)

The trio of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers is working to remove the loan guarantee provision, sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), before it gets put in the final energy bill being negotiated by the House and Senate. They're hanging their hopes on Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to help them.

They voiced unhappiness with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who both say expansion of nuclear power plants should be considered. "I'm a little surprised by Obama - and even Nancy," said Nash, who wore a silver peace sign necklace.

Sounds like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) may be getting their vote for president anyway. It was as easy as opening a door for the musicians.

When Raitt, Nash and Browne and Co. went to Capitol Hill after breakfast to begin their day of lobbying they ran into Kucinich. The underdog presidential candidate gave Raitt a kiss and waved the entourage past security, prompting joking that Kucinich had their endorsement.

Raitt, Nash and Browne have made a music video with Ben Harper and Keb' Mo' - a remake of "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield ("Stop, look, what's that sound, everybody look what's going down...") - which they've posted on their web site, nukefree.org. Raitt says that in just one week, their online petition to "stop the nuclear bailout" garnered more than 120,000 signatures.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  October 23, 2007; 5:15 PM ET
 
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Comments

Three people who have gained great wealth an fame from a medium that relies on electricity for successful distribution of their products want to remove a power source from consideration. There's not enough surface water for hydro-electric, solar can't produce enough and its by-products damage the environment, Teddy K doesn't want windmills in his back yard, coal burning plants damage the environment, and nuclear has all kinds of issues. Maybe we can just get everyone to stop buying and listening to music, watching TV/Movies/sports events, go to bed at sunset and get up at sunrise and produce all goods and services by hand. With their advanced degrees in science, nuclear engineering and long term experience with electrical power generation, this trio are just the right ones to address such a complex issue. But they're celebrities and that makes them so much smarter than the rest of us.

Posted by: actuator | October 24, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I think Pete Domenici (R NM) inserting a phrase that guarantees loans for 23 nuke plants into a clean energy bill is criminal. He's the past. He's not running again. Solar and Wind power are sustaiable and leave no nuclear waste problem that we haven't dealt with yet. Until we do, no nukes. Sun and wind will save us for the future.

Posted by: MKBe | October 24, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

If they want to do something with an alternative form or energy, I think the average citizen should get a subsidy also. So if I want a windmill in my back yard, the government should help me to pay for it...same difference except my windmill won't have a meltdown.

Posted by: Molly | October 24, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Every form of energy generation carries risks and produces some sort of issue that has to be dealt with. The most pressing problem is how to generate large amounts of energy as soon as possible while reducing green-house gasses. With all that has been learned about nuclear energy safety in the recent years, we should be able to build new nucear energy generating plants and run them with no risk to the climate and extremely low risk in general. Solar, wind and hydro power will not be enough. We should keep an open mind to all of these and not panic over one or two disasters of the past which we can now prevent. The problems of nuclear energy production are soluble.

Posted by: welbycox | October 24, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I agree with actuator

These Music industry/Hollywood types who have become has-beens in the industry and can't sell music anmymore so they need to keep their mugs on the TV to seem important to themselves.
Why doesn't the media write an article on a farmer from Iowa or an emgineer from New Jerey, someone that actually has some idea of how useful things are made? No, we pander to Hollywood,and like Al Gore's Oscar for something he doesn't have either the experience or knowledge to underatand what he is blathering about. I wonder if he ever had to take a college physics, chemistry, engineering or metereology courses all are which just the sophmore basics for even majoring in environmental sciences. Does anybody want to run for President, who actually knows how to do something other than BS? The media likes these people. They sell commercials which the media live off of.

Posted by: KMR from WA | October 24, 2007 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Forget about your hang ups with who is protesting and look at the facts. Let's give the $50 billion in guaranteed loans to renewable/sustainable energy development.I am someone who grew up with a nuclear reactor in her backyard. One which has contaminanted both the ground and the water of the might Columbia River(not to mention air emissions for years!). The Nuclear industry is using global warming as an excuse to pull a fast one one the uninformed or uneducated. Don't be a fool!

Posted by: Linda | October 25, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Linda, if you're talking about Hanford, you're talking about a 1940's design that produced tragic results, but in no way incorporated current nuclear technology. Certainly the issues around nuclear must be addressed, but don't try to make fools of us yourself. At least come up with a fair, modern day comparison instead of that.

Posted by: actuator | October 26, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Such selfish, righteous people we are. We are only temporary custodians of this planet. We are here for, maybe, 100 years, then we are gone in the wink of an eye. I don't believe that we have the right to create a substance that is radioactive and deadly for over 100,000 years. Who do we think we are?
The last time we were sold the bill of goods that proponents of nuclear energy call the "benefits" of nuclear power, the companies that produced the power and reaped untold billions (trillions?) of dollars cried that they couldn't pay the bill for safe storage and disposal of the deadly waste created when nuclear power is generated. Congress, in it's wisdom, agreed to stick the taxpayer with the bill, to the tune of over $400 billion and counting. There is still no safe method for the transport and disposal of nuclear waste.
We need to think through our long-term solutions to our need for energy. Our need for energy to be able to even survive is so very basic to the human race that we should not leave the solutions to the problem up to greedy corporations that are compelled only by profits. This very basic fact should make one stop and think "gee - maybe somebody's not telling us the truth" about nuclear power.
Whatever the solution is, we the taxpayer are going to have to pay the price (not to mention the true cost to future generations). When will we wise up and realize that, whatever the solution, it should not include deadly consequences. Renewable sources of energy seem to have the basic ingredients of not destroying our evironment as well as the hope that we, as individuals, may someday be able to become energy self sufficient so that we don't have to mortgage ourselves and our descendants' futures just to heat and cool our homes and fuel our transportation.
Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash have for years given their time and money selflessly to humanitarian causes and we should thank them for their efforts. I'm just guessing, but I'd bet that those that critisize these "celebrities" for their efforts on behalf of others haven't given a fraction of the time these three have given to help others. As for the implications that they are doing it for the money or the limelight - that's just plain ignorant. Do you think that they need money? Do you think they need attention? No. They already have plenty of both. These three individuals are three of the most caring and selfless humans among us. Shame on the ignorant people that question their motives. We should, to a person, thank them for all they have done.

Posted by: Mikey D. | November 14, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

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