1981 Scorecard Vote
Johnston (D-LA) motion to kill the Bumpers (D-AR) - Humphrey (R-NH) amendment to the Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill to reduce by half the money for the Clinch River nuclear breeder reactor. This meant a cut of $90 million. Breeder reactors produce more nuclear fuel than they consume, but they are more expensive and much more dangerous than the light water reactors now in use. They require the production and shipping of large amounts of plutonium, one of the most poisonous substances known. Terrorists or other nations would need only a small amount of plutonium to make a nuclear bomb. The core of the breeder generates tremendous heat and is usually cooled with liquid sodium, which is itself dangerous and can explode or burn on contact with either air or water.
The Clinch River breeder reactor is now expected to cost $3.2 billion, up from $700 million in 1970. More than $1 billion has already been spent, yet construction has not even begun. The project is considered obsolete even by many who support breeder technology. When he was in Congress, OMB Director David Stockman opposed the breeder on economic grounds. Motion passed 48-46; November 4, 1981. NO is the pro-environment vote.