“Energy Security Act of 2000” Is Gift to Industry; Undercuts Consumer Security

May 17, 2000

“Energy Security Act of 2000” Is Gift to Industry; Undercuts Consumer Security

Murkowski and Lott Once Again Are Railroading Bad Policy Through the Senate; Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Director, Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program

The Energy Security Act of 2000 (S. 2557), proposed Tuesday by Natural Resources Committee Chair Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), is yet another example of industry-written legislation geared toward promoting greed-driven energy policy and stripping away the rights of Americans.

The bill not only allows for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) a phenomenally poor idea that would threaten one of the world s most environmentally fragile areas but it contains a host of perks for the nuclear industry.

It would allow U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to replace formal hearings with informal hearings on any and all nuclear issues that come before it. The few sentences in S. 2557 that grant this authority have wide-ranging impacts for all Americans. If the NRC takes advantage of this authority, citizens living near reactors, materials storage facilities and nuclear dumps would lose their rights to demand documents and cross-examine witnesses during hearings on issues related to these facilities. Further, this provision has the potential to strip away the rights of Nevadans for formal hearings on Yucca Mountain s proposed use as a nuclear waste repository. This legislation is just one more example of Murkowski s and Lott s willingness to eliminate the rights of Americans to satisfy the nuclear industry and keep the industry s campaign contributions flowing into their coffers.

S. 2557 also attempts to pass a provision of S. 1287, which the president vetoed last month (the Senate sustained the veto on May 2). This provision would establish an Office of Spent Nuclear Fuel Research to explore technologies for “treatment, recycling, and disposal” of nuclear waste. This research clearly goes against the United States non-proliferation policy. If successful, the technologies would produce large amounts of low-level radioactive waste and some high-level radioactive waste. Also, they could be modified to produce purified, weapons-usable material.

Adding insult to injury, Lott has used his power as the Majority Leader to keep this bill from being examined by any Senate committees, so there will be no chance to modify these disastrous provisions before the bill is considered on the Senate floor. Murkowski and Lott are attempting to mask their attempts to pacify the nuclear industry by claiming that this bill will decrease America s dependence on foreign oil sources, which could far more effectively be achieved for consumers and the environment with fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks. What they neglect to admit, however, is that their real goal is to increase America s dependence on nuclear energy. This isn t security, as the writers of this misnamed act are trying to purport rather, it is environmentally, economically and ethically bad energy policy.