Statement by Congressman Earl Blumenauer opposing H.R.2983 Price-Anderson Reauthorization Act of 2001

PRICE-ANDERSON REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2001
(House of Representatives - November 27, 2001)

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the gentlemanís courtesy in yielding me time to speak on this issue.

I appreciate the hard work of this committee, but I rise in opposition to the bill.

First and foremost, it has no business on the suspension calendar. It is not a simple, noncontroversial bill, and members of this assembly should be given an opportunity to fully express their concerns and fully debate the reauthorization. Madam Speaker, it is not about changing rules for existing plans, although many argue that the Price-Anderson Act has long been an unwarranted subsidy enjoyed by the nuclear industry.

The question is, where are we going to go from here? The gentlewoman from New Mexico was correct, there is a little bit of coverage. Two hundred million dollars sounds like a lot, and $88 million in addition to the pool, but look at what happened in the World Trade Center: just the collapse of an office tower, and we see tens of billions of dollars that are being brought forward, rocking the potential for the insurance industry.

There is big money that is going to be involved if we have a serious nuclear accident; and I think it is very easy to document by any impartial group that it will go far beyond $200 million, far beyond $288 million, and will stretch, in a realistic form, to something that deals with $9.5 billion, as she talks about.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. We are going to spend maybe $100 billion and not do an adequate job cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Plant, and that is something that has not been subjected to a meltdown.

If smaller, safer plants make sense, so be it. Allow the smaller, safer plants to go forward like any other industry would, and be able to cover their own liability. If they make sense, the private sector will provide coverage.

I would strongly suggest that if we have to continue subsidizing the production of energy, that this body can find far more productive, safer, economically viable alternatives in terms of renewable energy. If we are going to throw hundreds of billions of dollars, let us do something that is going to stabilize our energy future, something that has been long ignored, rather than taking a path for an industry that, after 50 years, should be mature enough to stand on its own legs with this new generation. b 1600

I strongly urge a no vote. We need to deal with Price-Anderson in a broader context. It ought not to be on the suspension suspension calendar. This assembly needs to look at alternative ways of subsidizing energy production. I would suggest continuing a subsidy for the nuclear power energy is not the alternative to follow.