The Gore-Lieberman Record on Nuclear Energy Issues
2000 Nuclear Energy Institute.
With Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman taking center stage at the Democratic National Convention this week in Los Angeles, here is an overview of party platform language along with statements and positions the two have taken on nuclear energy and its role in America’s energy mix.
The platform does not specifically discuss nuclear power from the standpoint of supply, but does state, “Democrats believe that with the right incentives to encourage the development and deployment of clean energy technologies, we can make all our energy sources cleaner, safer, and healthier for our children. This responsibility includes disposing of nuclear waste in a scientifically sound manner in accordance with standards designed to protect human health and the environment.”
VICE PRESIDENT GORE
In a speech delivered at the Chernobyl museum in Kiev, Ukraine, in July 1998, Gore remarked that, “(T)he lesson of Chernobyl is not an indictment of nuclear power as such. Nuclear power, designed well, regulated properly, cared for meticulously, has a place in the world’s energy supply.”
Fifteen months earlier, in an April 1997 letter discussing nuclear energy, Gore wrote, “This administration is opposed to increased reliance on nuclear power.”
Most recently, he omitted any reference to nuclear energy in the energy independence plan that he unveiled on the campaign trail in June of this year.
Sen. Lieberman has expressed support for nuclear energy on a number of occasions. In June 1998, at a Senate hearing on energy and water development appropriations, he said, “I am a supporter of nuclear energy. I believe it can be part of the solution to solving the world’s energy, environment and global warming problems.”
Lieberman reiterated his support for nuclear power when he spoke at an energy conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in December 1999. While calling on the United States to curb emissions of greenhouse gases linked to the threat of global warming, he cited “the need to figure out a new way to build more nuclear power plants, as the present class of plants grow old.”
In 1997 and earlier this year, Lieberman voted against differing versions of legislation, which the Nuclear Energy Institute supported, that would have reformed the federal government’s nuclear waste management program. In April 1997, he voted against S.104 (the Nuclear Waste Policy Act Amendments). In February 2000, he voted against S.1287, a streamlined version of the 1997 legislation, and in May 2000 he voted to sustain President Clinton’s veto of the measure.
Nuclear Energy Institute
October 10, 2000-The Clinton Administration's reliance on nuclear energy as a tool to combat the threat of global warming became clearer in recent days.
"Nuclear energy is clean and should be part of the country' s energy mix to combat global climate change," Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said October 4 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, McGraw-Hill reported in the trade publication Nucleonics Week that the U.S. government will prevent nuclear power from being excluded from projects qualifying for carbon emissions reduction credit under the Kyoto Protocol. U.S. officials told the publication that the State Department "will make sure" that efforts by the majority of members in the European Union (EU) and some developing countries to exclude nuclear power from qualifying for the protocol' s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will fail. The United States is strongly supported by Canada, China, and Japan, Nucleonics Week said.
The 167 million metric tons of carbon emissions avoided by nuclear energy in 1999 was equivalent to removing 97 million cars and trucks from America's highways. The Council of Economics Advisors estimated that if the United States relied on international emissions trading for compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, the cost for carbon would range from $14 to $25 per metric ton. At $25 per ton, the carbon emissions avoided in 1999 alone would have been worth $3.5 billion.
At least some renewable energy advocates concur with the Administration' s view of nuclear energy. Solar Industries Association Executive Director Scott Sklar said in a presentation at NEI last week that nuclear energy and solar energy are complementary because they are not in direct competition for customers choosing emission-free electricity. He raised the possibility that greater synergies can be developed between solar and nuclear energy. Specifically, Sklar cited the large land areas around nuclear plant sites and suggested that companies could use solar units to power non-plant facilities like visitor centers.
Nuclear energy, undoubtedly, will be among the topics discussed during final negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism rules to be held in The Hague, Netherlands, in late November.