1984 Scorecard Vote
Nuclear breeder reactors produce more fuel than they consume, but the fuel is plutonium, one of the most dangerous substances known. Terrorists or other nations need only a small amount of plutonium to make a nuclear bomb; yet the commercialization of breeder reactors for nuclear power generation could put these ingredients of nuclear bombs into every day commerce.
The vote is on the Ottinger amendment to cut $43 million for research originally designed to support the Clinch River nuclear breeder, which Congress had terminated the previous year. The amendment would have returned $10 million to the Treasury, and spent the remaining $33 million on developing new solar energy technologies and research to make existing nuclear reactors safer. These nuclear safety programs were designed to reduce the high level nuclear wastes from power plants by 40%, and also reduce the amount of "weapons grade" fuel produced by nuclear reactors. The bill as written had $255 million for nuclear breeder technology, (far more than the solar budget), and almost nothing for nuclear safety.
Federal research and development priorities play a major role in determining America's energy and environmental future. In the long run, the safest and perhaps the cheapest way to meet our energy needs is through conservation and renewable energy sources which don't pollute and never run out. But in the last four years, the federal energy conservation budget has been cut by 50% and the solar programs have been cut 70%.
Ottinger amendment rejected 171-229; May 22, 1984. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (Ottinger amendment to the fiscal 1985 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, H.R. 5653.) The Reagan Administration opposed the Ottinger amendment. The full $255 million for nuclear breeder research was included in the final legislation to pass Congress.