Senator Pete Domenici, Idaho Laboratory Host Forum Aimed at Reexamining Nuclear Energy
WASHINGTON, DC, June 19th, 1998 -- To help bring rational thought and debate back into the nuclear arena, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, U.S. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) have teamed up to focus the nation's leaders in the field on how to bring about renewed support for nuclear energy in the United States. They invited the nation's nuclear energy leaders to Washington, D.C., today to discuss the expected long-term need for environmentally clean U.S. energy sources. Attendees to the meeting included managers of electric power plants, related industry executives, university heads, national laboratory experts, suppliers, Department of Energy officials and other elected officials and staff members. "I am convinced that our nation must maintain a nuclear energy option for a time in the future when fossil options become economically, environmentally or politically limited," said Domenici. "Nuclear power is the only emissions-free electrical generating technology that is available as a major source for meeting the electrical demands of this country today. "In order to meet the Clinton Administration's goals for reducing carbon emissions, we must focus on emissions-free power sources," said Craig. "My hope is that this forum will help highlight the advantages of nuclear power and work to convince the American people that nuclear power is safe, reliable and environmentally beneficial."
Following a series of speeches last fall by Domenici on the subject, the idea for the forum was conceived in conversations between the senator's staff and Dr. Bart Krawetz, director of the INEEL, where commercial nuclear power technologies were originally developed and tested for this country. The INEEL is a U.S. Department of Energy facility approximately 50 miles west of Idaho Falls.
"The revitalization of nuclear energy is critical to the environmental future of this nation," said Krawetz, "and it won't happen without top-level support from our government and industry leaders. Senators Domenici and Craig have been outstanding representatives for nuclear energy, and we're proud to support them in this effort."
With 20 percent of the nation's current electricity requirements supplied by nuclear power and no new nuclear plant orders since the early 1970s, the nation is headed for a potential energy and environmental crisis as current reactors approach the end of their designed life expectancy. Most of the nation's nuclear power plants currently have operating licenses that will expire between 2005 and 2030. If these nuclear assets are replaced with fossil-fueled electrical generation, U.S. carbon emissions will increase more than 100 million metric tons per year, with potentially serious environmental consequences.
"Most alternative energy options are limited in terms of technological maturity and cost effectiveness," said Domenici. "However, the zero emissions nuclear option is virtually unlimited and needs to be part of this country's overall energy strategy. Otherwise, the risks of falling behind in this area threaten the very heart of what has made this country great: technological leadership."
Today's meeting included a broad look at where the country is today in terms of nuclear technology. Breakout sessions developed strategies for consideration by Domenici, Craig and other energy leaders to utilize in revitalizing the nuclear option for the benefit of the nation. A final report resulting from the forum will then be delivered to participants and become the basis for a roadmap to the future in the nuclear industry.
This meeting focused attention on the importance of nuclear technology, Domenici said. "After almost 50 years of nuclear power generation, many countries around the world have recognized it as a safe, clean and efficient means of supplying their nations with electricity. It's time for the United States to regain world technological leadership in this arena."
"It is a great honor for me to represent Idaho, the birthplace of commercial nuclear power and home of one of the largest concentrations of nuclear engineering expertise in the world," said Craig. "The INEEL has accomplished tremendous advancements in nuclear science over the last half century, and I am excited it brought its expertise to the nation's capital today to highlight the benefits of nuclear power. I recognize the importance of a sustained focus on nuclear research and development for energy production and wholeheartedly support this initiative."
U.S. Senator Dirk Kempthorne and Idaho second-district U.S. Congressman Mike Crapo joined Craig in his support of the objectives of the forum.