Nuclear Energy Institute
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
According to its website, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is "the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry and participates in both the national and global policy-making process. NEI's objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energies and technologies in the United States and around the world." 
- 1 Response to Obama's presidential win and policies
- 2 The lobbying / PR wing of the U.S. nuclear industry
- 2.1 Bringing U.S. pundit David Frum to France
- 2.2 Clean Energy America
- 2.3 Sponsoring auto racers
- 2.4 Spinning nuclear as "emission-free"
- 2.5 2007 ad campaign
- 2.6 2006 ad campaign
- 2.7 The power behind the nuclear resurgence
- 2.8 NEI attacks nuclear opponents
- 2.9 Bush and Yucca Mountain
- 2.10 "Clean, safe" pro-nuclear front group
- 2.11 NEI ghostwriters
- 2.12 Criticism for saying nuclear is clean
- 3 Quietly lobbying local communities to accept waste
- 4 Defense companies join NEI
- 5 Lobbying for full federal loan guarantees
- 6 Brother, can you spare $18 per megawatt hour?
- 7 Atoms for prosperity
- 8 History
- 9 Polls on nuclear power acceptance
- 10 Lobbying
- 11 Personnel
- 12 Contact information
- 13 Articles and resources
Response to Obama's presidential win and policies
The day after Barack Obama was elected President and Joe Biden Vice-president, NEI released a statement which congratulated them and added, "[W]e must recognize as a nation that we cannot reach our energy goals without the reliable, affordable and carbon-free electricity that nuclear power plants generate to power our homes, businesses, telecommunications, military and transportation infrastructure. Senator Obama recognized this linkage early in his campaign by noting, 'It is unlikely we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option.'" 
Later in November 2008, Frank Bowman announced his resignation as NEI's president and CEO, saying his decision was based on "deliberation about the right course of leadership for our industry ... during this period of dramatic change in Congress and the White House." NEI executive vice-president Martin Fertel will lead the trade group during the transition. 
In May 2009, after President Obama submitted a budget proposal that eliminated funding for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, NEI was blunt in its criticism. Marvin Fertel said, "With all due respect to the president and [Energy] Secretary Chu, I doubt they've looked at the science at all; they've made it a political decision. ... Our evaluation of the science [of Yucca] is that it's very good and it's the most studied piece of land known to mankind," added Fertel. "Every '-ologist' from every national lab has studied it, and spent about $8 billion studying it. ... The administration must come to the realization of the role nuclear can play. ... It can't address climate change effectively without the expansion of nuclear energy." 
The lobbying / PR wing of the U.S. nuclear industry
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is described by Dr Helen Caldicott - a pediatrician and long-standing nuclear critic - as "the propaganda wing and trade group for the American nuclear industry [which] spends millions of dollars annually to engineer public opinion".
NEI’s objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the "beneficial uses" of nuclear energy in the United States and around the world. It has over 280 corporate members in 15 countries, including companies that operate nuclear power plants, as well as design and engineering firms, fuel suppliers and service companies, and labor unions.
NEI is governed by a 47-member board of directors and has more than 130 employees. NEI's board includes representatives from the nation's 27 nuclear utilities, plant designers, architect/engineering firms, and fuel cycle companies. Eighteen members of the board serve on the executive committee, which is responsible for NEI's business and policy affairs. NEI also takes part in Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, a group funded by the gas, oil, electric and nuclear industries. 
In recent years, the NEI has used a variety of approaches to try and win the PR battle to secure a new generation of nuclear power plants.
Bringing U.S. pundit David Frum to France
In June 2009, conservative U.S. pundit and American Enterprise Institute fellow David Frum traveled to Normandy, France, as a guest of NEI, to see a nuclear reactor being built in Flamanville. "An executive at the Institute had seen me on television lecturing Bill Maher that nuclear energy was an indispensable foundation of any serious plan of action on climate change," Frum wrote on the NewMajority.com website. "The Institute apparently decided I was their kind of pundit and invited me to join a delegation to Flamanville in Normandy on the Channel coast near Cherbourg where EdF, Électricité de France, is building France's first new reactor since the early 1990s."  Frum also wrote an article for The Week promoting the reprocessing of nuclear waste. 
Clean Energy America
NEI launched a "Clean Energy America Speakers Bureau program" in 2008. A September 2008 news article described the bureau as "33 individuals in a wide variety of professional backgrounds selected from a slate of 70 candidates to speak to organizations across the nation about the safety, reliability and efficiency of nuclear power production." Participants, such as Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station employee Robert Klindworth of Ohio, are tasked with "visiting college campuses and speaking venues, building awareness of energy issues in general and nuclear energy in particular, in an effort to reach new and diverse audiences and answer the public's questions." 
The Clean Energy America website describes the effort as "a group of nuclear energy experts who volunteer their time to raise awareness about the benefits of nuclear energy as a clean, reliable and affordable source of energy." The website does state, "Clean Energy America is sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute." 
Sponsoring auto racers
NEI sponsors Swiss auto racer Simona De Silvestro, "the second woman in the 34-year history of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda to win a race with her victory in the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach." After her historic April 2008 win, De Silvestro said, "It was a very tough weekend, especially on Friday, but we got everything together. ... For the race, I was pretty confident, because the car felt really good. ... I also need to thank the Nuclear Energy Institute for supporting me. I am proud to be a brand ambassador for the Nuclear Clean Air Energy Initiative." 
The NEI racecar also visits college campuses. On September 29, 2008, "Georgia Tech will host a recruiting session featuring the number 34 'Nuclear Clean Air Energy' racecar along with female driver Simona De Silvestro, who is the current spokesperson for the 2008 campaign. Newman Wachs Racing, Entergy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) are funding a nuclear education outreach program to implement college recruiting programs on campuses with engineering curricula," according to a racing news site. "Team owners Paul Newman and Eddie Wachs noted, 'The objective of our partnership with Entergy and NEI is to aid overall public awareness and to promote public policy that supports the beneficial uses of nuclear energy. It's a long road, so what better way to start at than at the race track?'" 
In November 2008, De Silvestro and the NEI racecar went to the Society of Women Engineers national conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The car was also on display at Entergy headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, and a nearby high school, before visiting the Society of Hispanic Professionals in Engineering in Phoenix, Arizona. On December 2, 2008, the car will appear at NEI's "Holiday Reception for Congress," in Washington, D.C. 
In March 2009, the "Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development / Nuclear Clean Air Energy / NEI / Entergy" racecar driven by John Edwards won an Atlantic Championship race in Sebring, Florida. "The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and US power utility Entergy took advantage of the team's offers of cut-price sponsorship deals for approved causes to take the role of official sponsors," according to World Nuclear News. 
One goal of NEI's race car sponsorship is to encourage young people to enter the nuclear power workforce. "NWR [Newman Wachs Racing] has created an innovative program with Entergy and NEI to aid in the industry's recruiting efforts," according to a racing website. "The first event for 2009 will be this year's American Nuclear Society Student Conference, April 1-5 in Gainesville, Florida. NWR drivers John Edwards and Markus Niemela will be ambassadors for the 2009 recruiting effort. Edwards along with his Swift 016 'Nuclear. Clean Air Energy' race car will attend the conference held at the University of Florida and will be on hand to discuss both the NWR team's success as the 2009 racing season gets underway and opportunities for professionals in the nuclear energy industry." 
Spinning nuclear as "emission-free"
As part of its major PR campaign, the NEI referred to President Bush's State of the Union speech in which Bush had spoken of the need to break America's "addiction to oil". Skip Bowman, NEI president, said Bush's backing of nuclear energy is a "positive sign that the U.S. should expand its reliance on this emission-free source of electricity."
Bowman's words formed part of a carefully-crafted public relations campaign. According to the leading PR magazine, O'Dwyers: "The H&K (Hill and Knolwton) campaign plays up nuke power as a major player when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases". 
In March 2008, a press release from the Clean Technology and Sustainable Industries Organization, an industry association "advancing the development, commercialization and global adoption of clean technologies and sustainable industry practices," listed NEI as a member. 
2007 ad campaign
In mid-September 2007, the St. Petersburg Times reported that NEI had "unveiled a round of ads touting nukes as the carbon-free solution. The printed ads feature a young girl with a flower in her hair against a vibrant yellow background; they bill nuclear as 'reliable and affordable electricity for future generations' that protects 'the air we breathe.'" 
While NEI usually targets legislators and policymakers, "with nearly 30 new plants planned throughout the United States, the institute will soon start getting the message out around the nation, said spokesman Steve Kerekes." 
2006 ad campaign
"The nation's nuclear-power industry is set to roll out a multiyear advertising campaign to build public support for a generation of new plants," reported the Wall Street Journal in January 2006. The ad campaign, run by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton for the industry group Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), promotes a "nuclear renaissance." NEI's Scott Peterson said the goal is to "build a broader base of bipartisan support, both in Washington and across the country." Last week, NEI selected Alex Flint as its new head lobbyist. Flint will remain at his current job, as the majority staff director of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, until joining NEI in April 2006. 
The power behind the nuclear resurgence
Opponents of nuclear energy regard NEI as the power behind the current resurgence of nuclear power in the United States.  In March 2006 it launched its largest campaign in years to build support for nuclear energy, according to the Wall Street Journal and PR Week. The ad campaign - run by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton to promote a "nuclear renaissance" – aimed to prepare the ground for as many as four proposals for nuclear plants that are expected to enter the licensing process at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2007. NEI's Scott Peterson said the goal is to "build a broader base of bipartisan support, both in Washington and across the country." 
The campaign had three themes; firstly to show that the widely held belief that the public does not want nuclear power is incorrect; secondly to show that nuclear energy is consistent with environmentalism; and thirdly that nuclear power should be part of a portfolio of sources to wean the US off foreign sources of energy.
In January 2007, the NEI predicted a huge expansion of nuclear plants in the US - saying they had seen over 30 letters of intent to build new plants. "We see a wave,” said Steve Kerekes, from the NEI. "We definitely believe it’s going to be a whole new era of new plant construction in this country.”
NEI attacks nuclear opponents
In October 2006 the New York City-based Grass Roots Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) published a report entitled "False Promises: Debunking Nuclear Industry Propaganda."  NEI’s response was published in a matter of days claiming that the GRACE report was full of "gross inaccuracies and blatant misrepresentations" and that NEI had produced a "point-by-point discrediting of the report's fallacious conclusions." 
Bush and Yucca Mountain
In September 2006 the NEI ran full page ads calling on Congress to "Fix Yucca Mountain." It was part of NEI's campaign to pressurize Congress to pass legislation that would boost progress in opening up the repository for highly-radioactive nuclear waste that has been blocked by lawsuits for several years.
The NEI was hoping that President Bush would fix the problem in his last two years in office. "The president has been a strong friend of nuclear, and we would certainly like to see legislation advance under his administration," Michael Bauser, an NEI associate general counsel said.
"Clean, safe" pro-nuclear front group
Hill & Knowlton and NEI have also been involved in the setting up of a pro-nuclear front group. In April 2006, the New York Times, reported on the formation of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. It said that a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, “acknowledged that it was providing all of the financing, but would not say what the budget was". Former New Jersey Governor and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Christine Whitman, and former environmentalist, Patrick Moore, were hired to lead this new public relations campaign for new reactors. The formation of the new front group coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine. 
The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition was described as a front group forged by Hill & Knowlton for the nuclear power industry, by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). The Review criticised the Washington Post for simply referring to Moore as an “environmentalist” and a cofounder of Greenpeace — without mentioning that he is funded by the industry.
A string of other newspapers followed this, failing to mention that Moore is also a paid spokesman for the nuclear industry. CJR concluded that it is “…maddening that Hill & Knowlton, which has an $8 million account with the nuclear industry, should have such an easy time working the press”.
The words "Clean" and "Safe" were chosen as part of the nuclear industry's mult-million dollar campaign to describe itself. The industry continues using these words despite opposition from anti-nuclear groups.
In April 2004 The Austin Chronicle  revealed that NEI had hired the Potomac Communications Group  to ghostwrite pro-nuclear op-ed columns to be submitted to local newspapers under the name of local personalities. Other clients of this Washington DC-based public relations firm include: Areva, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, Entergy and Washington Group International.
Criticism for saying nuclear is clean
In 2004, NEI had released Vision 2020: Powering Tomorrow with Clean Nuclear Energy - a report calling for the building of 50 new nuclear power plants. It promoted nuclear power as "clean energy" or “the largest source of clean-air, carbon-free energy in North America".
The NEI continues to produce adverts with this message today, despite the fact that it directly defies a 1998 ruling by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
NAD stated that the NEI should "discontinue" its "inaccurate" advertisements that claim nuclear power is clean. The NAD called on NEI to terminate its advertisements to "avoid any potential for consumer confusion and that broad, unqualified claims that nuclear energy is 'Environmentally Clean' or produces electricity 'without polluting the environment' be discontinued". 
In their decision, the NAD noted that nuclear energy cannot be considered "environmentally clean" for several reasons. First, the uranium enrichment process relies heavily on electricity generated from coal-burning plants that produce "a significant amount of greenhouse gases." And perhaps most importantly, unlike other forms of energy, nuclear power produces toxic, radioactive waste, for which no safe method of disposal has been approved.
Quietly lobbying local communities to accept waste
In March 2008, the Las Vegas Sun reported that NEI, convinced that the proposed national waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada would not open for at least a decade, was "quietly talking to communities across the nation to see if they are interested in hosting a temporary waste storage site -- perhaps not just a dump, but a nuclear industrial park that could support ancillary businesses and bring in jobs." NEI "envisions two, maybe four, sites in rural communities that might see something in it for them. These sites wouldn’t replace the need for a long-term repository at Yucca Mountain ... but would be caretakers of the waste for the next 100 years." 
NEI's point person on the effort, Marshall Cohen, "has visited a few communities and is trying to reach out to more. He has spoke publicly at about a half-dozen industry events. He gave a printout of his 12-slide PowerPoint presentation to the Sun." 
Defense companies join NEI
In September 2006, the journal Energy Washington reported how "Major defense contractors have begun to align directly with the nuclear power industry, quietly joining the industry's leading trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), in recent days."
The article continued: "The move has been significant in terms of attracting what some DOE sources call an ever-widening range of powerful new stakeholders looking to lobby for nuclear power's rebirth. The largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, along with Northrop Grumman signed on as members following meetings between NEI president Frank "Skip" Bowman and defense industry CEOs earlier this month"
"Bowman", said the article "believes becoming a leader in nuclear energy is a U.S. national security issue. The country's lack of infrastructure in specialized, often large, nuclear components needed for new or next generation reactors places the military and hence the nation at growing risk."
Lobbying for full federal loan guarantees
In May 2007, The Hill reported that NEI, along with "top banking institutions" are lobbying the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) for "more comprehensive" federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants. "Since the April meeting" with OMB, the DoE "has proposed that the federal government cover 90 percent of loan guarantees, higher than its original guidelines of 80 percent." 
NEI's "New Plant Finance Task Force" is telling federal agencies that without total or near-total federal loan guarantees, which "act as default protection for private lenders," nuclear power companies will "have difficulty in financing new plants, which can cost as much as $4 billion." NEI's Richard Myers said that even increasing the loan guarantees to 90% of plant costs "will probably not be workable." A DoE spokesperson said the agency was not supporting a greater than 90% guarantee because the agency must protect "the taxpayer dollar from the potential financial risks of these projects." 
Brother, can you spare $18 per megawatt hour?
NEI staff member Marvin Fertel, in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Energy on March 4, 2004, pushed for continuing and increasing government subsidies for the nuclear industry. These NEI wish list items include extension of the Price-Anderson Act and an $18-per-megawatt-hour tax credit Congress was considering at the time of Fertel's testimony, in the federal energy bill House Resolution 6. Such government subsidies are necessary, according to Fertel, as "an important step toward making investment in the first few new nuclear plants attractive to the private sector."
Fertel also advocated for early site permits other ways to streamline the regulatory process for new nuclear power plants: "New nuclear plants will receive a single license for construction and operation -- not the separate proceedings that created unwarranted delay in the period between construction and operation of today's plants. This approach should limit the regulatory risks that impacted the construction and licensing of many of our operating plants... This should avoid the costly delays common to the old way of licensing a nuclear plant."
Atoms for prosperity
The American Nuclear Society, European Nuclear Society and NEI jointly held their 2003 International Winter Meeting in New York City. The conference commemorated the 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" speech at the United Nations, with a "topical meeting" on Atoms for Prosperity: Updating Eisenhower's Global Vision for Nuclear Energy.
According to the January 2004 issue of ANS' "Nuclear News, NEI chair and Entergy Corporation president Donald Hintz focused on the importance of communications during his address to the meeting. "Nuclear's opponents are very savvy about public relations, he warned. They organize sophisticated and high-profile campaigns and other various media strategies to voice nuclear's perceived problems. 'They understand the nuclear industry,' he said, 'and their agenda is to eliminate it.'" Hintz also waxed poetic: "'I believe,' said Hintz, 'the coming decades represent not only an opportunity for our industry, but a responsibility to play an even greater role for bringing light where there is darkness, food where there is hunger, prosperity where there is poverty. We in the nuclear industry believe that we are up to the task, in the spirit with which we responded to President Eisenhower's leadership a half-century ago.'"
NEI "has over 260 corporate members in 15 countries" and "about 120 employees" at its Washington DC headquarters. It was founded in 1994, by merging the Nuclear Utility Management and Resources Council, the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness, the American Nuclear Energy Council, and the nuclear division of the Edison Electric Institute. Two of these NEI parent organizations, NUMARC and USCEA, were created by the Atomic Industrial Forum, which "was created in 1953 to focus on the beneficial uses of nuclear energy," helping to birth the "Atoms for Peace" PR campaign. 
NEI devotes significant resources towards lobbying the U.S. government on nuclear policy, taxation, foreign trade, environmental and other issues of concern to the nuclear industry. The on-line database lobbyists.info lists nine in-house, Washington DC-area NEI employees who lobby government officials and 13 outside firms that lobby on behalf of NEI. (These outside firms include Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, the EOP Group, the Direct Impact Company and the Advocacy Group.) NEI also has a Federal Political Action Committee.
According to Nucleonics Week, in 2002 NEI's compensation of its highest-level officers rose 8 percent compared to the previous year, while its expenses increased more than 18 percent. According to the organization's IRS filings: "NEI's total expenses for 2002 were nearly $40.9 million, and its revenues were reported as $35.7 million. It ended the year with a $5 million deficit... NEI President/ CEO Joe Colvin received an $817,607 compensation package."
NEI's frequently-used arguments for nuclear power include that nuclear power is relatively cheap (a claim which ignores the federal subsidies given the industry); nuclear power generation does not produce greenhouse gases; and local economies benefit from existing, new and revamped nuclear power plants.
In April 2004 The Austin Chronicle revealed that the Nuclear Energy Institute had hired the Potomac Communications Group to ghostwrite pro-nuclear op-ed columns to be submitted to local newspapers under the name of local personalities. 
Polls on nuclear power acceptance
"Support for new nuclear power plants deteriorated slightly during the past two years among people living close to existing reactors, according to a survey by the Nuclear Energy Institute," reported the Dallas Morning News in August 2007. 
While rates of acceptance were still high, "82 percent of people living near nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy, and 71 percent are willing to see a new reactor in the neighborhood," according to NEI's 2007 survey. In 2005, "83 percent favored nuclear power, and 76 percent were willing to see a new reactor built nearby." 
NEI's lobbying spending for calendar year 2007 totaled $1.3 million, according to lobbying disclosure forms. "The Nuclear Energy Institute lobbied on various appropriations bills, including those dealing with energy and water development and the restructruing of the electric utility industry," reported Associated Press. "Besides Congress, the institute lobbied the White House, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Government Accountability Office and the departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Transportation and State." 
In September 2007, Associated Press reported that NEI had spent $680,000 to lobby the U.S. federal government in the first half of 2007. The industry group had lobbied the U.S. Congress, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Government Accountability Office, the White House and the departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, State and Transportation. 
According to the online database Lobbyist.info (sub req'd; accessed February 28, 2007), NEI's in-house lobbyists include Leslie P. Barbour, Adm. Frank L. "Skip" Bowman USN (Ret.), Alex Flint, Terry L. Freese, John E. Kane, J. Michael O'Connell, Julia Roll, Donn J. Salvosa, Jerry D. Slominski, and Chinch V. Wollerton. 
NEI's outside lobbying consultants include the firms The Advocacy Group, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Bill Carney & Company, Clark & Weinstock, Direct Impact, EOP Group, Flynn and Associates, The Hohlt Group, Daryl Owen Associates, The Smith-Free Group, and Michael L. Tiner. 
US Senate lobbying records show that the following lobbying companies have worked for the NEI since the late nineties lobbying at the Senate:
- Alexander Strategy Group
- American Continental
- Barbour & Assoc
- Billups, Ray
- Legislative Strategies
- Loeffler Group
- O’connor & Hannon LLp
- Owen Association Inc,
- Renkes group
- Ricchetti Incorporated
- Washington Policy & Analysis
- Williams & Jensen
In 2006, only Clark and Weinstock and Flynn and Associates still listed the NEI as a client at the Senate. Flynn were working on the "approval of Yucca Mountain as a national spent fuel repository," whereas Clark and Weinstock were lobbying on "nuclear fuel management and disposal"; "general information on environmental impacts of nuclear power" and "a bill to enhance and protect against terrorist attacks at chemical facilities". 
The opensecrets database that compiles a list of lobbying across federal buildings, shows a different list of companies working for the NEI in 2005, being paid a total of $700,000:
- Alexander Strategy Group - $80,000
- Advocacy Group - $30,000
- B&D Sagamore - $20,000
- Bill Carney & Co - $120,000
- Darryl Owen Assoc - $40,000
- EOP Group - $40,000
- Flynn & Assoc - $120,000
- Hohlt, Richard F - $85,500
- Smith-Free Group - $120,000
- Tiner, Michael E - $80,000
- Williams & Jensen - $20,000 
Nuclear Energy Institute
1776 I Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20006-3708
Blog: http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/ (with blogroll of other pro-nuclear blogs)
Phone number during business hours: 202.739.8000
General email: email@example.com
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- American Nuclear Energy Council
- British Nuclear Energy Society
- Clean and Safe Energy Coalition
- Christine Todd Whitman
- Frank L. "Skip" Bowman
- Lisa Stiles-Shell
- Nevada Bets against Nuclear Waste
- North American Young Generation in Nuclear
- Nuclear Energy APPG
- Nuclear Industry Association
- Nuclear Energy Agency
- Nuclear Energy Institute Personnel
- Patrick Moore on Nuclear Power
- Storing Nuclear Waste: the Nukem PR Strategy
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