May 21, 2009
Dear Friends,
Thank you to each of the thousands of you who have written and called your elected officials over the past couple of weeks. You are making a difference!
Both the Senate Energy Committee, which is considering S. 949, the Senate energy bill, and the House Energy Committee, which is considering the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, are continuing to meet and mark up their respective legislation.
But we thought we'd give you a quick update on how things are going.
First, the good news: The Senate Energy Committee (very narrowly!) rejected Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) amendment to support new nuclear reactors and radioactive waste reprocessing plants, and to provide bribes to local communities to accept "interim" storage of radioactive waste. The vote was 11-11, and Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) ruled it defeated. All Republicans on the committee plus Sen. Landrieu (D-LA) voted for the Murkowski amendment. All other Democrats except Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) (who voted present) voted against the amendment.
The committee also voted down pro-reprocessing, pro-waste amendments from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), also by very narrow margins.
We can expect to see some or all of these amendments again when the bill reaches the Senate floor.
Now, the less-good, but still not necessarily bad news: the House Energy Committee voted 51-6 in support of a compromise clean energy bank amendment offered by Reps. John Dingell (D-MI), Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Bart Gordon (D-TN). While the "clean energy" bank remains self-defeating in that it continues to allow support for dirty nuclear power and coal technologies, many of the excesses in earlier versions of the legislation were addressed.
For example, the version passed by the House Energy Committee does NOT allow unlimited loan guarantees to any technology. Instead, the amount of loan guarantees available would follow the current process, which requires annual Congressional authorization and appropriations. No single technology could receive more than 30% of the bank's overall funding. And priority is supposed to be given to those technologies that can provide the greatest greenhouse gas emission reductions within a reasonable period of time per dollar invested as well as the earliest reductions in greenhouse emissions.
All of these are improvements from the clean energy bank included in the Senate energy bill, which continues to have unlimited loan guarantees, does not limit the amount a single technology could receive, and does not provide any priority in terms of efficiency or speed of reducing carbon emissions. We will soon post on NIRS website a more complete comparison of the two clean energy bank approaches.
Amendments to the Waxman-Markey climate bill are continuing in the House Energy Committee (the Republicans had prepared 450 amendments--most of which they know will be defeated and some of which are downright silly)--in an effort to delay the bill's passage out of the Committee. We will let you know if any significant amendments that affect nuclear issues are adopted.
It is likely that, as in the Senate, pro-nuclear amendments will be offered when the bill reaches the House floor. We will all need to be prepared to act accordingly.
We will keep you posted on developments as they occur; let you know when the bills are ready for consideration on the Senate and House floors; and when you can effectively take more action to stop taxpayer support for nuclear power and to promote clean, safe, and cost-effective renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. In the meantime, it is always helpful to keep your elected officials aware of your positions, and to keep organizing and reaching out to everyone around you. If you know people who want to be kept informed, please encourage them to join our e-mail Alert list by sending their name, city and state to
And if you haven't yet signed the simple statement on nuclear power and climate, please do so on the front page of our website:
Thanks for all you do,
Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service