1992 Scorecard Vote
A decade ago, environmentalists joined forces with taxpayer groups to defeat the Clinch River Breeder Reactor, which was finally canceled in 1983. The Department of Energy (DOE) now supports development of a similar reactor called the Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor (ALMR). The ALMR is designed to either burn spent fuel from conventional reactors to generate electricity or to extend uranium supplies through breeding. Breeding is the process of creating higher grade nuclear material from lower grade material. The adoption of ALMR technology would require overturning a long-standing ban on commercial reprocessing of spent fuel. This new nuclear fuel cycle would introduce plutonium into global nuclear commerce, raising serious concerns about the proliferation and diversion of weapons-grade nuclear material.
ALMR is a technology that is unlikely to be commercially competitive. An internal DOE review of electricity technologies compared 23 competing energy technologies for environmental impact, economic and energy potential, and technical risk. On the basis of these criteria, the DOE analysis ranked ALMR 21st out of the 23 programs. The ALMR program is extremely expensive; costs to demonstrate the technology alone are estimated at $5 billion.
When the Energy and Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 5373) for FY 93 reached the House floor, Representative Howard Wolpe (D, MI-3) offered an amendment to eliminate funding for the ALMR program by cutting the nuclear energy research and development budget by $34 million. The Wolpe amendment was rejected 141-282 on June 17, 1992. YES is the pro-environment vote.