Nuclear energy

At a hearing earlier this month, and during a speech this week, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) continued his mission to publicize and correct major problems at the nation's nuclear weapons facilities. Calling infrastructure deterioration "totally unacceptable," Domenici intends to press the Administration and his colleagues to add additional money to what he predicts will be an insufficient FY 2002 budget request.

30 Mar 2001

Energy" is likely to be a word much spoken during the next two weeks on the Senate floor as Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) strives to complete work on the long-delayed energy policy bill before the Senate goes on vacation. One of the provisions of this Senate legislation would provide federally-backed loan guarantees for up to half the construction costs of six or seven nuclear power plants. The workforce to build and operate nuclear facilities was the subject of a House hearing held last month on university nuclear research and engineering programs.

23 Jul 2003

July 7, 2004, No. 92 During a brief exchange on the Senate floor during consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, reassurance was sought and provided that future nuclear weapons testing requires the permission of Congress. The exchange occurred on June 23 between Robert Bennett (R-Utah), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), and Carl Levin (D-Michigan).

7 Jul 2004

Few minds have changed in the Senate since last year's decision to support the Bush Administration's request to conduct research on "bunker buster" nuclear weapons and low-yield nuclear weapons. A June 15 attempt to deauthorize funding for both research programs failed by a vote of 42 "yes" to 55 "no," closely resembling the outcome in 2003.

1 Jul 2004

Since the end of the Cold War there has been continuing discussion about whether structural changes in the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons complex are indicated. Later this year, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board will consider a report recommending dramatic changes in the weapons complex. Comments will be solicited on the report before this meeting.

30 Aug 2005

"This is not the best picture that we are having painted for us, and does cause a great amount of consternation."- Rep. Al Green (D-TX)

None of the witnesses at two different hearings held by the House Science Subcommittee on Energy had much enthusiasm about the federal government implementing a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing system in the near future. Concerns about the risks of nuclear proliferation and the high cost of reprocessing were cited repeatedly as reasons for the federal government to do further research before making any decision.

8 Aug 2005

There are clear signs from the Bush Administration, Congress, and the utility industry that nuclear energy is poised for a renaissance in the United States. While no nuclear plants have been built in the U.S. since the late 1970s, scores of nuclear plants have opened in other nations since then, and many more are underway. U.S. utilities have become much more enthusiastic about nuclear energy, spurred by the National Energy Policy Act of 2005, forecasts of future generating needs, and rising public concerns about global warming.

3 Nov 2006

There are significant differences in the approach that House and Senate appropriators took to the Administration's FY 2007 request for DOE's nuclear energy programs. House appropriators, who complained in their committee report that aspects of the Administration's request were not well defined, cut the request of $632.7 million by 21% to $499.8 million. Senate appropriators took a different approach, providing 12.4% more than what was requested, recommending funding of $711.3 million. The current budget is $535.7 million.

10 Jul 2006

Despite years of study, and the expenditure of billions of dollars, the problem of how best to dispose of the nation's nuclear waste remains unresolved. As reviewed in FYI #109, there is disagreement about the feasibility of spent fuel reprocessing. The nation's only proposed repository beneath Yucca Mountain, Nevada is 20 years behind schedule.

7 Nov 2007

The conclusion drawn by a National Research Council committee regarding a major Bush Administration nuclear energy initiative is unambiguous. Said the committee: "All committee members agree that the GNEP program should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive research program."

1 Nov 2007

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