1993 Scorecard Vote
Nuclear power has claimed two-thirds of all federal energy funding since World War II. Renewable energy sources have received only 11% of the funds, and greater energy efficiency only 6%. Despite massive government subsidies, the nuclear power industry has failed to solve its economic, safety and waste problems, and no successful order for a new reactor has been placed in over 15 years.
The bulk of current federal funding for nuclear fission goes to the Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor (ALMR), a breeder reactor technology that could increase the already excessive world supply of deadly plutonium. This proposed new reactor consumes the largest share of nuclear fission funding, yet makes no economic sense, suffers from serious safety problems, and would generate more high-level nuclear waste than it would consume. A 1991 Department of Energy review of energy technologies compared 23 potential technologies for economic and energy potential, environmental impact, and technical risk. The liquid metal reactor received the third worst rating.
When the fiscal 1994 Energy and Water Appropriations bill came to the Senate floor, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) offered an amendment to terminate the reactor's funding. Energy and Water Subcommittee Chair J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) moved to table (kill) the amendment and keep the program alive. The Johnston tabling motion passed 53-45 on September 30, 1993. NO is the pro-environmental vote.
During the same debate, the Senate voted on an amendment proposed by Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) to follow President Clinton's recommendation and terminate another unwise Department of Energy nuclear project: the Modular High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (MHTGR). In the Department's 1991 review of 23 potential energy technologies, it had received the fourth worst rating. The National Academy of Sciences had recommended in 1992 that no funds be allocated for such technology. Environmentalists also opposed this reactor because it lacked containment structures to prevent radiation releases in the event of an accident.
On September 30, 1993, when Sen. Bradley offered his amendment to strip $22 million for the high-temperature, gas cooled reactor from the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, Subcommittee Chair Johnston (D-LA) moved to table, thereby keeping the funding level for the reactor. The Johnston motion to table failed 41-58, and the amendment then passed by a voice vote. NO is the pro-environmental vote.