WASHINGTON—The following is a statement from the Nuclear Energy Institute's president and chief executive officer, Joe F. Colvin, in response to the U.S. Senate's 64-35 vote to attempt to override President Clinton's veto of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2000, S. 1287. A two-thirds majority vote of members present and voting was required for a successful override. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, after initially voting in favor of S.1287, changed his vote to make it possible for the Senate to reconsider the bill later this year.
"The nuclear energy industry is disappointed that the U.S. Senate failed to override President Clinton's veto of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act. All things considered, we came within one vote of overriding the President on this important environ-mental issue. This issue is far from over. It can be reconsidered later in this session of Congress.
"Despite federal law that mandates the government take used nuclear fuel from nuclear power facilities beginning in 1998, 34 U.S. Senators voted against vital energy and envi-ronmental legislation that would have set an innovative course to safely manage nuclear waste at one specially designed disposal facility. In the face of this vote, Congress must ensure that funding for the repository program—more than $16 billion from electricity consumers—is provided for the Department of Energy to complete scientific studies un-der the current schedule. Although this facility will not begin operation until 2010, at the earliest, DOE is approaching key milestones in the program, and increases in federal funding for construction of the specially engineered repository will be needed if the site is approved in 2001.
"The industry appreciates the efforts of Majority Leader Trent Lott, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski, and the majority of U.S. senators who supported this important environmental legislation. Nuclear energy provides nearly 70 percent of our emission-free electricity at a time when energy and environmental pol-icy increasingly are linked. It is irresponsible for policymakers to leave this important policy issue unresolved when the nation relies so heavily on nuclear energy to power the new economy and improve our air quality today and for future generations."
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.