2003 Scorecard Vote
Nuclear power poses an array of major risks to the environment, public health and public safety. The radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants is among the world's most dangerous substances and is extremely difficult to store safely. In addition, mining and enriching of the uranium that fuels nuclear power plants produces even more unsafe waste. Despite these concerns, the federal government has provided the nuclear industry with more than $66 billion in research and development subsidies.
In an attempt to jump-start the construction of new nuclear reactors, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) inserted language into the Senate energy bill, S. 14, that would have authorized federal loan guarantees to finance half the cost of bringing an additional 8,400 megawatts of nuclear power on line. According to the Congressional Research Service, this provision would have cost taxpayers between $14 and $16 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the risk of default on the guarantees would have exceeded 50 percent. In addition, the provision authorized the federal government to buy back power from the reactors-- effectively giving a double subsidy to the nuclear industry.
During floor consideration of the energy bill, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Sununu (R-NH) offered an amendment to strike this provision. On June 10, 2003, the Senate rejected the Wyden-Sununu amendment by a 48-50 vote (Senate roll call vote 214). YES is the pro-environment vote. The Senate has not yet passed the House-Senate conference report of the energy bill, which does not include the Domenici loan guarantee provision.