SAN FRANCISCO—U.S. Sens. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and U.S. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) today received the nuclear energy industry’s William S. Lee Award for Leadership at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) annual conference here.
“In a departure from the tradition of giving the Lee Award to an individual, this year we recognize a unique group of leaders,” NEI Chairman Anthony Earley Jr., said in presenting the award. “These four leaders have individually and collectively framed a broad energy vision that helps jump-start the construction of new nuclear power plants.”
Earley, the chairman and chief executive officer of DTE Energy Co., cited the diligent work of all four Congressional leaders to produce comprehensive national energy legislation—efforts that culminated with the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 last August. The legislation is designed to stimulate investment in large-capital energy projects spanning a host of technologies, including nuclear energy. Since its enactment, 10 electric utilities have announced plans to file combined construction and operating license applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for as many as 20 advanced-design reactors.
U.S. electricity demand is expected to increase 45 percent by 2030, according to government projections.
“Because of Senators Domenici and Bingaman and Congressmen Barton and Dingell, we gather here to celebrate their achievement and thank them for their untiring efforts on behalf of the American people,” Earley said. “All four share a passion for addressing our nation’s energy challenges and are equally committed to finding the best solutions for America’s energy future.”
In a video acceptance, the recipients shared these thoughts with conference attendees:
“I can tell you with a great amount of confidence that, with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a nuclear renaissance is indeed occurring,” said Domenici, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “The bill contains concrete achievements that will make new nuclear plants a reality in the United States. Thank you for the William S. Lee Award … In joining the other three [recipients] and making the foursome, I am very thrilled.”
Bingaman, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking Democrat, said: “Like you I share a belief that nuclear power can make a meaningful contribution to controlling the growth of greenhouse gases, while still allowing our economy to expand. Now I am hoping that you will do your part to use those tools that Congress has put in place to ensure that nuclear power achieves its potential as part of our future energy mix.”
Barton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he is “very honored” to receive the William S. Lee Award and gratified that the industry “is beginning to look to see if they can build some new reactors … I'm very pleased with all of the companies that are making those decisions to begin to move forward with a new generation of nuclear power.”
With regard to the federal government’s nuclear waste management program, Barton said, “We really need to get the Yucca Mountain (Nevada) repository built and operational.”
Dingell, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking Democrat, said it is a pleasure and honor to receive the award honoring Lee, whom he described as “a friend, a great gentleman and a very fine citizen.”
Dingell said: “The nation confronts major energy problems. Electrical utilities have very special difficulties to confront in providing the continued high-quality service that they have for so many years … (including) the use of nuclear and seeing to it that we continue our development and growth in that area, and seeing to it that we do the other things that enable us to address the environmental concerns that the nation has.”
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 chairman emeritus of Duke Power Co. when he died. Lee was the first 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.