tv [untitled] CSPAN June 4, 2009 1:50pm-1:57pm EDT
their message was loud and clear: a clear policy statement from the administration and congress is absolutely critical in acknowledging that nuclear-powered generation will be a growing part of our nation's energy mix. investments in programs that support the nuclear industry's near term implementation needs are absolutely vital. that is the number one thing, mr. president, is getting the $50 billion loan guarantee so we can get more of these people off the ground. they all see the long-term potential growth of nuclear and would like to invest in nuclear manufacturing but they need a clear commitment from the government before they make those investments. mr. president, i think these people are saying, what they are see saying is we need presidential leadership to acknowledge what most of us and the rest of the world already know: we can't get there from here without nuclear. we can't get there from here without nuclear.
i am convinced that nuclear power is the only real alternative we have today to produce enough low-cost, reliable, clean energy to remove harmful pollutants from the air, prevent the harmful effects of global climate change and keep jobs from going overseas. the biggest challenge remains the financing, particularly in nonregulated states. the deepening global economic crisis is putting additional pressure on the nuclear industry. and on utilities. today, we have, as i mentioned, the applications have come in but d.o.e. has 14 nuclear presents, a total project cost of $188 billion and loan guarantee requests up to $122 billion. so basically, what i'm saying is that unless we can get this $50 billion loan guarantee taken care of, it's going to call this progress that we've been making,
bring it to a halt. a very important point that gets lost in this discussion is the fact that the loan guarantee program authorized under the energy policy act requires the borrowers to pay all the required fees including what is called a subsidy cost and, thus, there's no cost to the government. in other words, if they borrow $5 billion, you will have to come up with, i think, close to $1 billion in order to secure that so that if things don't go well on the loan we've got something to turn to. subsidy cost is levied on each loan guarantee similar to a down payment on a mortgage in case of a dwrawlt. any potential defaults are covered by fees paid by the applicants. i have a copy of a recent m.i.t. study on the future of nuclear power. the authors include former clinton administration officials john deutch and erni yevmenrnied
they say to mitigate global warming we must reevaluate the role of nuclear power as part of the energy future of our country. i share the conclusions from this report which i believe fits rather nicely with the speech -- and i quote -- "the current assistance program put into place by the 2005 energy policy act has not been effective and needs to be improved. the sober warning is that if more is not done, nuclear power will diminish as a practical and timely auction for deployment at a scale that constitutes a material contribution to climate change risk mitigation." mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to include this report in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. voinovich: another issue that has plagued the industry for decades is the u.s. government's fall to meet its commitment to assume responsibility for spent nuclear fuel. first, let's get the record
straight: i've talked with many experts and policy people including secretary chu and n.r.c. chairman kline and they all assure me -- this is important everyone understands that -- that the current spent nuclear that's being stored today in dry casks and pools are safe, are safe, and are secure for at least 100 years. that's very important because folks are saying, well, you can't go forward with this because we don't know what to do with the waste. well, we would like to do something more permanent than what we're doing but the fact of the matter is that with the dry casks that we have we're in good shape for at least 100 years. so the lack of a repository at yucca should not be something that would inhibit us from licensing new reactors. that being said, we must pursue a long-term solution now. if yucca is not going to
materialize, we owe the american people a viable alternative. the 1982 nuclear waste policy act established a nuclear waste fund, a fee paid by utilities to create a fund to deal with nuclear waste and since its beginning it has collected $29 million. so everyone understands this: since that act went into effect we have collected $29 million from ratepayers in this country. unfortunately, the fund is on budget and only about $9 billion was used to deal with waste. the rest of the $20 billion amounts to little more than an i.o.u. to ratepayers and even if the administration decided to proceed with yucca we don't have the money to build a repository. we spent the money on other things and we'll have to borrow over $20 billion to replenish the fund. and the federal courts have ruled in favor of utilities, something else that most people
are not aware of, and, thus far, we have paid utilities $550 million in damages because we haven't come up with a permanent repository for nuclear waste. i'm sure if we keep going the way we are it's going to be in the billions. i recently met with secretary chu and he told me he will convene a blue ribbon panel to study alternatives to yucca. i believe this is just kicking the can down the road for a couple of years. we have been studying this thing for more than four decades and we need to provide clear direction and certainty on this issue. the time for studying options is over. and the federal government must meet its legal obligation and start taking the spent fuels problem sooner rather than lar. if the administration is pulling the plug on yucca without