SANTA MONICA—U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today received the nuclear energy industry’s top individual award for leadership. Abraham was presented with the William S. Lee Award for Industry Leadership at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) annual conference here. The award recognizes people who have made an outstanding contribution to technical advancements, improved regulatory focus or public acceptance of nuclear energy.
“Secretary Abraham is a most worthy recipient of the William S. Lee Award,” said NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Joe F. Colvin. “He has been a decisive, visionary figure in advancing nuclear energy’s role as a vital component of our energy security, diversity and environmental well-being. Secretary Abraham has given nuclear energy a prominent place on the energy and national security agenda.”
The former Michigan senator’s support of the value of nuclear energy to domestic energy security grew increasingly visible through his work on a Bush administration task force that in 2001 developed the first national energy policy in more than a decade, Colvin said. Building on that, “Secretary Abraham’s work with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Power 2010 initiative, and his leadership on the decision selecting Yucca Mountain (Nev.) as the site for our nation’s used nuclear fuel repository, show that he shares many of Bill Lee’s finest attributes,” Colvin said.
Nuclear Power 2010 is the agency’s initiative to help stimulate construction of new nuclear power plants by the end of the decade. Congress approved Yucca Mountain as the site for an underground disposal facility for used nuclear fuel last July, after Abraham’s recommendation of the site was endorsed by President Bush. DOE is preparing a license application for the Yucca facility that is expected to be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission late in 2004.
Another area of Abraham’s influence was the formation earlier this year of a “Power Partners” alliance between the Department of Energy and the electric utility industry. The partnership will work to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases while sustaining economic growth.
“Building on his interest in energy and technology issues stemming from his tenure as a Michigan senator, Secretary Abraham is quickly shaping a strong legacy of leadership and service with regard to our nation’s energy security,” Colvin said.
In accepting the award via a message videotaped in Washington, D.C., Abraham said, “It is a great honor to be chosen the 2003 recipient of the William S. Lee Award for Industry Leadership. I proudly accept it, not just on behalf of the Department of Energy, but for President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the entire Bush administration. From our first weeks in office, this administration has made very clear that nuclear energy must play a prominent role if we are to ensure America’s energy security in the 21st century. The Bush administration has begun to lay out a roadmap for nuclear energy over the coming decades. I look forward to working with all of you to meet our shared goals.”
The William S. Lee Award for Industry Leadership was renamed in Lee’s honor following his death in 1996. Lee, one of the industry’s most vocal safety advocates, was serving as chairman emeritus of Duke Power Co. when he died. Lee was a recipient of the industry’s leadership award in 1995.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.