1978 Scorecard Vote
H.R. 12163. The vote is on the Fish motion to recommit the bill back to Committee and amend it to phase out the Clinch River nuclear breeder reactor. The Fish motion used the same language as an earlier Flowers amendment that had been rejected by the House. It reduced funding for Clinch River by $159 million, leaving only $55 million for completion of the design, with no commitment to build anything. Work on other breeder technologies was limited to the completion of studies and tests, and the Department of Energy was required to do a study on breeder technologies to be ready by March 1, 1981.
The proposed Clinch River plant would be a liquid fast metal nuclear breeder reactor, which nuclear advocates want because it produces more fuel than in consumes. But the fuel is plutonium, which terrorists or other nations can use to build nuclear bombs. The Carter Administration opposed the construction of the Clinch River breeder because it increased the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation. Other problems with the breeder include: (1) a greater danger of explosion; (2) plutonium is one of the most toxic substances known, with a half-life of 24,000 years; and (3) money spent on the breeder reduces the amount available for other more promising energy sources, such as solar power. Environmentalists consider this the most important nuclear vote of the year. Rejected 157-238. July 17, 1978. YES is the correct vote.