Idaho elected officials kick off bi-partisan effort
Legislators from six states have joined forces to form a bi-partisan organization to be advocates for the licensing and construction of more nuclear power plants to meet the country’s future energy needs.
Idaho State Rep. Erik Simpson, (R-Idaho Falls, ID) founder of the National Nuclear Caucus, was joined by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) Saturday in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to formally introduce the organization.
Crapo is a co-chair of the U.S. Senate Nuclear Caucus, while Risch is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy.
“The National Nuclear Caucus will be a working partner with pro-nuclear organizations and with our elected officials in Washington,” said Simpson. “Involving state legislators across the country will add another voice in support of nuclear energy.”
Currently the organization has nine members from six states. They are;
- Nevada Rep. Ty Cobb (R-Reno),
- Washington Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland),
- Washington Sen. Jerome Delvin (R-Richland),
- Idaho Rep. Erik Simpson (R-Idaho Falls),
- Idaho Sen. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian),
- Tennessee Rep. Jim Hackworth (D-Clinton),
- New Mexico Rep. John Heaton (D-Carlsbad),
- South Carolina Sen. Shane Massey (R-Edgefield),
- South Carolina Rep. J. Roland Smith (R-Warrenville).
Two members of the organization – Reps. Haler and Simpson – currently work at Department of Energy laboratories. Rep. Hackworth retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory after 34 years working at the Tennessee facility. Combined, these members have more than 90 years experience working at nuclear labs.
Simpson mentioned that like his relationship with the state’s congressional delegation, other members of the caucus are reaching out to their Members of Congress with a positive message about nuclear energy.
Blog interview with Simpson – closing the gap
He said President Obama showed leadership and settled some skepticism about his support for nuclear energy when last February he announced loan guarantees for a Georgia utility to build new reactors.
Simpson pointed out that the U.S. House and Senate have a nuclear cleanup caucus to promote common-sense waste management solutions. At the local government level, the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), a group of community organizations and county and city elected officials, has a similar mission.
However, there is a gap in the middle. Simpson said no organization, consisting of elected officials, exists at the state legislative level to promote nuclear power development. A number of state legislatures have taken actions, pro-and-con, related to nuclear energy in the past two years.
Simpson emphasized the group has no official connection to any nuclear energy organization including the labs. He said the group hopes to develop a good relationship with the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) and is thinking about holding an informal gathering of interested members at the group’s next national convention to be held in July in louisville, KY.
Sen. Delvin, one of the founding members of the caucus, currently serves on National Conference of State Legislatures’ Nuclear Waste Subcommittee and Rep. Heaton is the vice- chair of the Radioactive & Hazardous Materials Interim Committee in New Mexico. NCSL as an organization officially testified in May 2010 before the Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear waste.
Nuclear caucus objectives
The National Nuclear Caucus (NNC) is being formed he said to promote new nuclear reactor research and to advance nuclear power to meet the country’s future energy needs.
The NNC will be a pro-nuclear, advocacy organization Simpson said. He outlined a series of tasks.
- educating the public of the benefits of nuclear power;
- working with utility and fuel-cycle companies to ensure proposed nuclear projects move forward; and
- working to ensure funding for nuclear power research and development,
Simpson said the group would also call for "common-sense nuclear waste management solutions.”
He referenced the fact the NRC has received applications for 18 new nuclear power projects, some with more than one reactor. There are several fuel cycle facilities planned or currently in construction.
“The National Nuclear Caucus will be following the progression of these projects and will be a proponent for new nuclear-related projects,” Simpson said.
Funding for the organization was still in the development stage. There are no plans at this time to raise money for a political action committee (PAC). Simpson said and he emphasized the group’s priorities will be set by its members.
He added that the group is interested in adding state legislators as members who have commercial nuclear power plants in their districts along with other legislators who have rate payers that would benefit from low cost nuclear energy.
For further information about the National Nuclear Caucus, access the organization’s website at http:/www.NuclearCaucus.org
- KIDK TV Idaho Falls, ID - Photo and news coverage
# # #