Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Business Meeting on Price Anderson, Nuclear Security and NRC Fees and Reform Legislation Mr. Chairman, I am pleased that we are here today to address these three critical pieces of legislation. Before I share my views on each of these bills, let me first thank Senators Inhofe, Voinovich, Carper, Clinton, Boxer, Obama, and all members who have worked so constructively together on this legislation. I am pleased we have been able to reach bipartisan agreement to support the manager’s amendments to each of these bills. They are deserving of the Committee’s support and it is my hope that we can move them to the floor expeditiously. S. 864, the nuclear security bill, addresses critical issues of national security. We have a clear responsibility to ensure that our Nation's nuclear infrastructure is protected from terrorist attacks. This bill includes critical provisions to appropriately arm our nuclear plant security personnel, to ensure that the design basis threat is updated to cover emerging security threats, to track movements of nuclear materials and to ensure dispersed radium-226 sources are regulated so they are not available for use in a “dirty” bomb. I am anxious to complete this legislation. I know you share my commitment to report a bill from this Committee as we did with a unanimous vote last year. I understand we will need to work towards a resolution of the outstanding issues, such as ensuring the operation of our emergency warning systems in the event of a nuclear accident, and speedy passage of a bill in the Senate. S. 858, the fees bill, combines reauthorization of NRC’s authority to collect fees from other programs with some other important improvements to NRC’s programs. For example, it will allow NRC to work with universities to train and recruit the next generation of federal employees who will monitor and regulate our nation’s nuclear facilities. S. 865, the Price-Anderson bill, has been pending for a long time. This measure, if enacted, would reauthorize the program for 20 years. Price-Anderson has been an important part of ensuring that the public is compensated in the event of a nuclear accident, and this legislation will ensure such coverage is available should a new generation of nuclear reactors be constructed. I am pleased with the continuing bipartisan spirit we have been able to work on these bills, and I am anxious that we move these matters to the floor and proceed quickly to final passage. This marks the fourth time we will have passed the nuclear security language in this Committee since the events of September 11th, 2001. I believe that it is very important that we do not delay further on the language we are going to mark up today, language we again expect to pass on a strong, bipartisan basis out of Committee. We have all shown a strong commitment to getting these issue addressed quickly and responsibly, and I am sure that we will expect the same bipartisan spirit quickly moving the legislation to the Senate floor.