Thursday, March 04, 2010

Letter From Senator Robert Casey of PA

I believe that the U.S. must get serious about construction of nuclear power plants. The electric car is real, and the batteries must be charged somehow. Dependence on foreign oil must be reduced. And we need some jobs.
All of that speaks to building nuclear power plants. President Obama deserves high praise for extending credit to The Southern Company to construct additional nuclear plants. But, accompanying news is that it will take the NRC 12-18 months to approve the plans. That is silly. What are they doing now? Can't be many blueprints of proposed plants waiting on review.
I wrote Senator Casey a letter, recommending that he get the NRC in a hearing room and tell them they've got a month to approve it.

Here is his reply:

Dear Mr. Morphis:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your views on nuclear energy. I appreciate hearing from all Pennsylvanians about the issues that matter most to them.

The United States currently generates around 20% of its electricity from nuclear power plants. While no new plants have been built for almost 30 years, calls for a new wave of nuclear power plant construction have grown stronger in recent years. For example, as our Nation considers ways to combat global climate change, proponents of nuclear power highlight its ability to generate significant power with no greenhouse gas emissions. They maintain that if we are serious about achieving an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, without substantially reducing our electricity consumption, we must build nuclear facilities that can replace coal-fired and other fossil fuel based power plants. On the other side of this debate, however, opponents of expanding nuclear power contend that some of the same problems that confronted the nuclear industry decades ago persist today, including the challenge of nuclear waste disposal as well as the exorbitant costs of building new plants.

One aspect of the nuclear debate that I feel most parties can agree on is the need for strong safety and security measures to protect those who reside in communities located near nuclear facilities. Over ten million Pennsylvanians, for example, live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. While nuclear safety guidelines, which help protect a plant from mechanical or operational failures, have long been a priority of federal regulators, I am concerned that the same level of attention has not been paid to the challenges of nuclear plant security. The threat of a terrorist attack on a U.S. commercial nuclear facility remains real, which is why I have lead efforts to identify ways to strengthen the level of security at all of our Nation's nuclear power plants. In January 2008, I asked the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety to hold an oversight hearing on the subject of nuclear security. At the hearing, which took place on February 28, 2008, I testified on a reported lapse in security that took place at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in York County, Pennsylvania. In addition, I questioned the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on these matters and offered a number of reforms that could address some of the problems that allowed incidents like the one at Peach Bottom to occur.

As Congress considers legislation that could provide incentives that would promote nuclear generation expansion, please be assured that I will bear you views in mind. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

If you have access to the Internet, I encourage you to visit my web site, I invite you to use this online office as a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Bob Casey
United States Senator

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