HEARING ON PRICE-ANDERSON REAUTHORIZATION
January 23, 2002
SEN. JAMES M. INHOFE
PREPARED OPENING STATEMENT
Last September, when I attempted to attach a national energy policy to the defense bill, I argued that a diverse and domestically produced energy supply was key to our national and economic security. I have been saying this for almost 20 years now. In the 1980's, when I was in the House, Secretary of Energy Don Hodel and I went on a national speaking tour on energy policy. Our message was that our nation must have adequate supply of energy at competitively sound prices to ensure national and economic security. This same message endures and applies today.
We must utilize the broadest possible base of our God‑given resources: nuclear, oil, gas, coal, alternative, sun, wind, and conservation itself -- among others -- as a means of making these resources more available.
Currently, 103 U.S. nuclear units supply about 20 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. Going forward into the future, nuclear energy must be a key component of any national energy plan. The first step in that direction must be Price-Anderson Reauthorization. The Administration’s National Energy Policy Development group agrees with this statement. I would like to insert the National Energy Policy Development group’s findings and recommendations regarding nuclear energy into the record.
Because nuclear energy is an emission-free source of electricity, nuclear energy is also a key component to our national clean air goals. Each year, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, U.S. nuclear power plants prevents 5.1 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 2.4 million tons of nitrogen oxide, and, 164 million metric tons of carbon from entering the earth's atmosphere.
Furthermore, as a former insurance executive, I think Price-Anderson, as an insurance program, is a good deal for the public. For over 45 years, Price-Anderson has:
$ provided immediate and substantial private compensation to the public in the event of a nuclear accident;
$ provided coverage for precautionary evacuations and out-of-pocket expenses;
$ reduced delays often inherent in tort cases; and
$ consolidated all cases into a single federal court.
Price-Anderson renewal enjoys substantial bi-partisan support. Both the Bush Administration and the previous Clinton Administration, which had submitted reports from NRC and DOE in the late ‘90s supporting renewal of the Act with few changes, support reauthorization. The House has already passed by voice vote a Price-Anderson reauthorization bill that makes few changes to the commercial reactor provisions of the law.
While I understand that the Chairman and others have concerns about Price-Anderson, we must work together to get this done by this August – it is essential to the future of our national, energy, and environmental security.