Jan 152015
 

The federal government requires our energy companies to report accidents that result in loss of life or $50,000 in property damage. Between 1952 and 2009, at least 66 of these accidents occurred at nuclear power plants. Another 57 nuclear accidents have occurred in other countries since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster which killed 30 people, forever contaminated miles of Ukrainian real estate, and caused at least $7 billion in damages. These accident totals do not include Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in which 3 reactors melted down and spread airborne radioactive contaminates throughout the region. Each day for the past for the past 4 years and counting, this crippled facility leaks more than 70,000 gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Radioactive contaminates have also been found in groundwater under the plant. Fukushima was caused by a large earthquake and ensuing Tsunami which killed more than 18,000 people. However, none of these deaths have been attributed to radiation exposure. Although there are relatively few immediate fatalities from nuclear power plant accidents, health advocates warn that many people exposed to radiation during and after these events are likely to get sick later in life. When promoting future prospects for nuclear power, supporters like to say that modern nuclear power plants are much safer than ones like Fukushima which were constructed 30 years ago. However, with no nuclear power plants having been built in the last 30 years, our plants are also older designs like those at Fukushima –and presumably just as dangerous. Advocates claim the Fukushima disaster shows how little time there is for citizens to react to an escalating nuclear emergency and how important it is for local communities to be prepared for such an event. They claim Japan’s chaotic attempts to use untried and untested methods to bring these reactors under control shows how important it is for industry and government entities to be prepared as well. They say that, unlike Japan, we must prepare for nuclear plant emergencies before one may occur.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1700 – Nuclear Disaster Preparedness Act

I oppose reforming current nuclear accident preparedness policy and wish to defeat H.R.1700

I support directing the President to issue guidance on the federal response to any nuclear disaster that may be caused by a natural catastrophe, an accident, or a terrorist or other attack; occurs initially at a nuclear power plant; and disperses radiation off the reactor site and into the surrounding area. Requires such guidance to designate the single federal agency responsible for coordinating the government’s efforts in response to a nuclear disaster, including making a formal declaration that a nuclear disaster exists; designate the single agency responsible for recommending the evacuation of the area within a 10-mile to 50-mile radius from the nuclear power plant; designate the single agency responsible for developing plans for, educating the public regarding, and conducting, such evacuation; designate the single agency responsible for recommending that evacuees may return following a nuclear disaster; designate the single agency responsible for conducting cleanup of a nuclear disaster; identify what cleanup standards will apply, and wish to pass H.R.1700

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

We now have 65 commercial nuclear power plants in 31 states operating 104 reactors. There are also another 15 permanently shut reactors that house spent fuel. Our largest facility is Arizona’s Palo Verde power plant. It operates 3 pressure water reactors and consumes nearly 5 million pounds of uranium each year. Nuclear power plants provide about 20% of our electricity even though none have been built in more than 30 years due to concerns over safety and waste disposal. Even so, about half a dozen new plants with 24 reactors had been planned to come online by 2020. However, the construction of these plants has been threatened by competition from now-abundant natural gas. Nuclear power plant supporters say these facilities produce electricity that is cheaper and cleaner than fossil-fueled power plants. Critics claim nuclear-produced power is not more inexpensive if plant construction and decommissioning costs are considered. They say the cost of quarantining and abandoning large tracks of land contaminated by radioactive fallout has not been factored into these costs. They warn there is no fail-safe way to store or dispose of waste materials which remain deadly for hundreds and thousands of years. They also warn most of our aging nuclear reactors now need to be replaced or decommissioned since they become more dangerous as they grow older.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.2712 – Nuclear Power Licensing Reform Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current nuclear power plant construction policy and wish to defeat H.R.2712

I support stricter power plant licensing that includes a requirement that the location of new and existing nuclear power plants to not pose an unreasonable threat to people and the environment; adequate evacuation plans; applications for nuclear power plant renewals be subject to the same requirements as would new plants and ensuring any changes in the size or distribution of the surrounding population, or seismic or other scientific data not available at time of original licensing, have not resulted in the facility being located at a site at which a new facility would not be allowed to be built, and wish to pass H.R.2712

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The problem of what to do with 72,000 tons of nuclear waste accumulated over 60 years by our energy and defense industries has not yet been solved. Currently, commercial and government nuclear facilities incur great expense by storing their waste on-site. This waste includes used, or spent, fuel rods as well as hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water. Our Department of Energy (DOE) wants to build a permanent underground storage facility to reduce costs and minimize security threats. It claims on-site waste storage at 131 nuclear facilities increases the risk of leaks which could contaminate the environment or of terrorists acquiring this material. DOE is studying the feasibility of building a repository capable of storing up to 77,000 tons of nuclear waste for possibly 10,000 years. The chosen storage site is deep inside Nevada’s Yucca Mountain -about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The estimated cost of this unparalleled construction project is at least $60 billion but is adamantly opposed by many Nevadans. These Americans have experienced the effects of previous radioactive experiments conducted in their state. Some claim a central repository is unnecessary since studies have shown nuclear waste can be safely stored on location for possibly 100 more years. They say that Yucca Mountain is an unsuitable location for a repository since water has been found to move through the mountain faster than previously believed. To counter this problem, the construction of man-made barriers would be needed to prevent contaminant seepage. However, this violates the mandate by Congress for a repository with natural geological barriers. Also, radioactive waste is projected to be encased in metal containers but experts claim no metal will last underground for more than 400-500 years. Others are worried about the dangers of transporting nuclear waste across our country. Yucca supporters claim this site was selected because it was remote and geologically stable. They say that nuclear waste will be isolated 1,000 feet under dry rock and 1,000 feet above the water table. They also say that, due to robust shipping containers, there have been no accidents in more than 3,000 shipments of used fuel transported across 1.7 million miles nationwide. They claim studies continue to show Yucca Mountain to be a suitable site for the repository. In 2011, the Obama administration suspended funding for the Yucca Mountain repository without making a final decision on whether to proceed with this project. A federal court has recently ruled the construction of the repository is to proceed.

Pending Legislation:

S.1240 – Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current nuclear waste policy and wish to defeat S.1240

I support establishing a new nuclear waste management organization, authorizing the construction of interim storage facilities and permanent waste repositories, sited through a consent-based process and funded by fees currently collected from nuclear power ratepayers, and wish to pass S.1240

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

We spend about $20 billion each year maintaining our strategic nuclear arsenal which consists of 15,113 nuclear warheads as well as the missiles and submarines needed to deliver them. The goal of nuclear disarmament is to reduce or eliminate nuclear weapons. Disarmament opponents claim nuclear deterrence and the threat of nuclear force are needed to maintain peaceful relations between unfriendly nations. They point to the success our détente policy had in preventing our “cold” war with the former Soviet Union from turning “hot.” Disarmament supporters claim the fall of the Soviet Union has made nuclear weapons unnecessary, if not obsolete. They claim eliminating all nuclear weapons will not alter the balance of power but will remove a catastrophic threat to humanity. They say the use of nuclear weapons are immoral, threatens all life on Earth and go beyond the political reasons for war. They also claim we loose credibility when telling other nations such as Iran and North Korea not to build nukes while maintaining a huge arsenal ourselves. Most agree that nuclear disarmament decreases the chance of an accidental missile exchange.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1650 – Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act of 2013

H.R.1506 – Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act

I oppose reforming current nuclear disarmament policy and wish to defeat H.R.1650 and H.R.1506

I support requiring the government to provide leadership to negotiate and enter into a multilateral treaty or other international agreement that provides for the dismantlement and elimination, under strict international control, of all nuclear weapons in every country by 2020. Once the President certifies that all countries have eliminated such weapons or begun such elimination under established legal requirements; to redirect resources that are being used for nuclear weapons programs to addressing human and infrastructure needs and to converting nuclear weapons industry employees, processes, plants and programs to constructive, ecologically beneficial peacetime activities; to undertake efforts to eliminate war, armed conflict, and all military operations; to promote policies to induce all other countries to join in such commitments, and wish to pass H.R.1650

I support prohibiting using funds: to arm B-2 or B-52 aircraft with nuclear weapons; for the research, development or procurement of a new long-range penetrating bomber aircraft or ICBM; to make the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Requiring that: there shall include no more than eight operational ballistic-missile submarines available for deployment; no more than 200 intercontinental ballistic missiles, no more than 250 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; or for the medium extended air defense system, and wish to pass H.R.1506

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The threat of worldwide nuclear destruction has been greatly reduced by the fall of the former Soviet Union. However, threats have increased from rogue nations and terror groups that are trying to acquire radioactive material. Since 1993, the International Atomic Energy Agency has logged some 2,000 cases of illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material. Security experts warn that if terrorists have the opportunity and acquire enough radioactive material to make a “dirty bomb” -they will use it. Since 1992, we have spent more than $10 billion to secure Soviet weapons and nuclear material under the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program. This program has also paid the salaries of thousands of former Soviet weapons engineers, scientists and technicians to prevent them from working for rogue states. It is suspected that a former Soviet lab worker helped Iran develop its nuclear program. In 2009, 41 nations had weapons-usable nuclear material. President Obama then said that preventing nuclear terrorism was a top security priority. Today, thanks to these efforts, there are only 31 of these states. More than 3,000 pounds of weapons-usable nuclear material has been removed from nations such as Austria, Mexico, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Poland, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Uzbekistan. Even so, advocates claim the threat from “loose nukes” and dirty bombs has not disappeared. They say we need to continue efforts to secure nuclear material and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.

Pending Legislation:

S.1021 – Next Generation Cooperative Threat Reduction Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current nuclear threat reduction policy and wish to defeat S.1021

I support directing the President to establish a multi-year comprehensive regional assistance strategy to coordinate and advance the Cooperative Threat Reduction program (CTR) and related nonproliferation efforts in the Middle East and North Africa; authorizing 2014-2019 appropriations for the relevant executive agencies to implement such a Strategy, and wish to pass S.1021

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a multilateral agreement that would ban explosive nuclear tests above or below the Earth’s surface. President Clinton signed the CTBT in 1996 but our Senate failed to ratify it. The CTBT has achieved near universal adherence but it has not entered into force due to the non-ratification of eight nations. Some of these nations such as India have indicated they would sign the treaty after we do. If enacted, the CTBT would force nuclear-ambitious nations to either risk deploying untested weapons, or incur international condemnation and reprisals by conducting tests in violation of the treaty. CTBT would also hinder nations from confirming the performance of advanced nuclear weapon designs. Opponents say CTBT enforcement would be difficult and that nations could easily cheat. They also claim our nuclear stockpile would not be safe or reliable without testing. Supporters disagree, saying CTBT includes provisions to verify whether a nation has tested a nuclear device. This verification consists of GPS satellite surveillance and 337 worldwide monitoring stations, 260 of which have already been certified. They also say sophisticated computer models can ascertain the performance of newly-designed nukes without actually exploding them. They claim the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would constrain regional arms races in the years and decades to come. They add that, after more than five decades of talks, it is time to finally ban the testing of nuclear weapons.

The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was an agreement between our nation and the former Soviet Union which prohibited the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. When unilaterally withdrawing from this treaty with Russia in 2001, President Bush said “I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government’s ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile attacks.” It is likely he was talking about North Korea which has nearly developed the capability to strike our mainland with an ICBM. After more than 10 years, Russia still strongly opposes our intention to develop a missile defense system. ABM Treaty supporters claim an anti-missile system will demolish our policy of détente -assuming it is still relevant. They say the purpose of this treaty was to prevent a country from using an anti-missile system to shield itself after launching a preemptive attack on another nation. ABM critics say deploying such a system could encourage a first strike from a nation without one. Russia and China have threatened a renewed arms race if we proceed with an anti-ballistic missile system.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current nuclear treaties policy

I support identifying a senator who will sponsor a bill to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to reinstate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia

 Posted by at 12:00 am