Thursday, October 15, 2009

Resources And Streamlining in the Senate

sidebar-spent-fuel-1-lg The bipartisan push for a nuclear title in the Senate’s climate change bill picked up considerably today:

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is helping to negotiate a nuclear energy amendment that could help bring aboard swing votes who support the industry. Architects and backers of the nuclear effort include Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who are seeking more federal financial backing and other support.

Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats and of course he and Sen. McCain had a go at a climate change bill in the last Congress. Sen. Graham penned with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) the editorial discussed in a post below. You can search for Sen. Carper on this site, too. He’s a pretty reliable advocate for nuclear energy. In other words, this isn’t a remarkably surprising group.

What is surprising is that they are crossing the aisle so early and so productively.

Carper yesterday declined to endorse the idea that the NRC review process needs to be further streamlined.

"To the extent that people have ideas for further streamlining, should we look at those? Sure. But keep in mind a lot has been done, there is an incredibly heavy workload for the NRC already, and we have got make sure they have the resources they need," [Carper] said.

This seems exactly right. There’s a significant difference between wanting to speed up the process by winnowing out steps and adding resources so the NRC can see the current process through without undue delay due to lack of personnel. That’s “streamlining” of a kind and answers to the need for timely licensing without the NRC becoming a funnel with an extremely thin neck.

The approach laid out by Sen. Kerry the other day – making the bill a framework that will be fleshed out  as it goes forward – is bearing some unusually tasty fruit.

Sen. Tom Carper wants you to know.

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