Obama and Exelon

Home-state favoritism: normal.
Wilting under pressure: not so great.
Re-inventing history on the campaign trail: bad.

Obama fans have always had to deal with the fact that his two home-state interests &#8212 in coal and in corn ethanol &#8212 have seriously compromised his capacity to frame a coherent environmental or energy policy. The big picture &#8212 cap-and-trade with an auction &#8212 is fine, but the details are a worry.

Obama also has a home-state interest in nuclear power, in the form of Exelon Corporation. That’s fine with me, since I’m basically pro-nuke. And it’s even possible that, on the merits, Obama was doing the right thing when he watered down a bill to tighten notification requirements around releases of radioactivity. Those notifications are useful mostly to anti-nuclear activists, since there is almost never any protective action for locals to take, in the face of releases that pose no measurable health threat.

Still, it sure does look as if Obama wilted under pressure from Exelon. Worse, it looks as if his statements on the campaign trail haven’t been consistent with the actual record. And in this case it’s hard to believe he was misled by sloppy staff work; surely he knows what was in his bill, what is in his bill, and what happened to his bill.

Ugh. Ain’t those feet of clay ugly?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com