Nuclear energy

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

"We are engaged in a unique undertaking, one that joins governments of the East and West, North and South in the pursuit of a common goal: the safe expansion of nuclear power around the world."– Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman in Vienna, September 2007

8 Oct 2007

While House and Senate appropriators generally are supportive of nuclear energy, they part company with the Bush Administration over its FY 2008 request for a major civilian nuclear energy program. Appropriators on both sides of the Capitol have significantly reduced the $395 million request for the the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership's (GNEP) Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative

12 Sep 2007

"A believable attribution capability may help to discourage behavior that could lead to a nuclear event," concluded a report issued earlier this year by a Joint Working Group of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The report continued, "A forensics capability that can trace material to the originating reactor or enrichment facility could discourage state cooperation with terrorist elements and encourage better security for nuclear weapon usable materials."

13 Oct 2008

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