Idaho Congressman Questions Energy Secretary on Reductions in Nuclear Funding
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today questioned Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the energy future of our country. Chu testified before the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee during a hearing on the president’s FY13 budget proposal for DOE. Simpson, who is a senior member of the subcommittee, concentrated his questions on the recommendations of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and funding for nuclear power technology.
The Administration decided to abandon the 30 year, $11 billion effort to create a final repository for spent nuclear fuel and created the Blue Ribbon Commission to determine a path forward in how to deal with the nations spent nuclear fuel. The Commission submitted the final report in January.
Simpson asked Secretary Chu whether DOE has embraced the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations and whether the department intends to submit legislation to Congress for review or implement changes through administrative fiat, as the Administration did by abandoning Yucca Mountain. Chu responded that a number of the recommendations will require congressional action.
“Don’t let this turn into a Simpson-Bowles proposal, where we go out and make recommendations and then no one pushes it forward,” warned Simpson. “If you’re going to [act on the recommendations], then push them forward and come and work with Congress to get it done.”
Simpson also expressed concern about proposals in the budget to impose huge increases for renewable energies while the administration has requested decreases in funding for advanced reactor technology like Small Module Reactors that have the potential to be safer and easier to finance compared to existing reactors.
“Fifty percent of our electricity is produced by coal, 20% by nuclear power. Yet when I look at your budget, I look at huge increases in renewable energy funding, which makes up only a small portion of our energy portfolio, and cuts in the other area that’s producing most the electricity, and frankly I’m disappointed,” said Simpson. “Seems to me like there is an agenda of trying to push green technology, when I think nuclear energy is green technology…If you’re really going to address global climate change, you had better adopt nuclear energy, and it doesn’t seem like we’re doing that in this budget. This is the first time I’ve seen a retrenchment in this administration in advancing nuclear energy. The talk is all there, but the budget doesn’t reflect that.”
The Subcommittee will be hearing from multiple offices within the Department of Energy in the coming weeks.