1977 Scorecard Vote
ERDA Authorization, Civilian Research & Development (H.R. 6796). Vote is on the Brown substitute for the Dodd amendment to authorize $33 million for the Clinch River breeder reactor in Tennessee. The intent of the amendment was to kill the project by funding only the termination costs. The original bill called for $150 million to continue full funding for the project. Dodd's compromise amendment was for $75 million, which allowed funds for design, supply procurement and continued working teams but precluded new construction or site preparation. The proposed Clinch River plant would be a demonstration liquid metal fast breeder reactor which produces plutonium, which is relatively easy to make into nuclear bombs. President Carter opposed construction of the Clinch River breeder on the grounds that it would greatly increase the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation. Other problems with the breeder include: (1) some danger that it can explode -- unlike most other nuclear reactors; (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 programs. Aside from Clinch River, the ERDA budget already contained $450 million for research on other types of breeder reactors. Rejected 162-246. September 20, 1977. YES is the correct vote.