1981 Scorecard Vote
Proxmire (D-WI) - Nickles (R-OK) amendment to the fiscal year 1982 Interior Appropriations bill to remove $130 million for a solvent refined coal demonstration plant in Newman, Kentucky. Solvent refined coal (SRC-1) is a chemical process that turns coal into solid coke and liquid boiler fuel. SRC-1 would release toxic chemicals into the air and water, and could violate federal health regulations and expose on-site workers to high cancer risks. For many of the plant's exotic by-products and wastes, air quality standards and emission limits "do not as yet exist," the plant's environmental impact statement said. SRC-1 will consume tremendous amounts of water and pour potentially toxic metals into the Green River, sometimes causing significant deterioration in water quality.
The refining process requires a lot of energy, so that the net energy produced per ton of coal would be only 75% of what it would be if the coal were burned directly. Ultimately this means that more carbon dioxide is put into the global atmosphere for each unit of energy produced. For this reason, heavy reliance on synthetic fuels like SRC-1 could change the earth's climate. Since this project began, its estimated cost has gone up sevenfold, and is now estimated to be $4.5 billion. To cover costs, the SRC-1 fuel would have to sell at $76 per barrel, compared to $34 per barrel for oil on the world market today. Amendment rejected 40-57; October 27, 1981. YES is the pro-environment vote.