Nuclear Industry Showered Congress with $15 Million

April 29, 1999

Nuclear Industry Showered Congress with $15 Million
in Contributions During 1998 Election Cycle

Corporations Seek Transport of Nuclear Waste to Yucca Mountain

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nuclear industry doled out nearly $15.5 million to members of Congress during the 1998 election cycle in the hope that members will support the dangerous nationwide transport of nuclear waste to an “interim” dump in Nevada, according to a Public Citizen report released today.

“The nuclear industry s wave of cash to Congress is another example of corporate special interests trying to buy legislation through campaign contributions,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “The industry is attempting to portray the irresponsible Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1999 (H.R. 45) as the solution for high level nuclear waste, when in reality the bill rolls back health and safety standards and forces the shipping of deadly nuclear waste across the country.”

The Nuclear Energy Institute, the lobbying arm of the nuclear industry, and its members contributed $6.4 million to members of the House of Representatives who supported the bill last year, according to the report, The Nuclear Industry: A Cash Cow for Congress II, an analysis based on campaign contribution disclosures for 1997 and 1998.

“NEI members, with their vested economic interest in passing the nuclear waste bill, have showered key members of Congress with campaign money,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project. “While PAC money naturally flows toward those members who already endorse the industry position, it undoubtedly helps to consolidate that support and influence undecided votes.”

The nuclear waste bill would require the unprecedented shipment of high level nuclear waste through 43 states to an “interim” dump in Nevada. Fifty million American citizens living within half a mile of the transportation routes could be exposed to the hazards of 100,000 shipments over the next 30 years.

Of the more than $15 million in PAC contributions, $8.5 million went to House members and $3.2 million went to senators. Both parties also accepted a total of $3.7 million in unregulated “soft money” from the NEI and its membership since 1997.

In the 1998 election cycle, according to the report:

  • House Commerce Committee members, who have jurisdiction over H.R. 45, accepted $33,824 on average — $16,096 more than members of the House not on the Commerce Committee. Members of the committee who supported the bill last year received $38,566 on average — $23,216 more than members who opposed the bill.
  • Members of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, which has jurisdiction over H.R. 45, accepted a whopping $39,546 on average. Those members who supported the bill last year received $44,055 on average — $20,505 more than members who opposed the bill.
  • The Commerce Committee leadership has been a leading beneficiary of the nuclear industry and its money. Committee Chair Thomas Bliley (R-Va.) received $80,681, and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chair Joe Barton (R-Texas) received $117,744. Ranking Member John Dingell (D-Mich.) received $111,632, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (D-Texas) received $68,123. All four members support H.R. 45.

Read full report