We were all prepared to pounce on the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham energy bill earlier this week – it should include a very interesting nuclear title, if leaks to the press are accurate – but one of its sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) bailed out at the eleventh hour due to his concern about moving the immigration issue ahead of energy in the Senate.
We’ll have to wait to see if this resolves itself. Both issues are important, of course, but Graham and his colleagues have legislation ready to roll – it’s the bird in the hand, so to speak, and it already has a bipartisan profile. Depending on the funding mechanism, this is also the kind of thing with which both parties can roll into election season that won’t cause awkward meetings with constituents – immigration reform, not so much.
So here’s where we are today:
Graham has said for days that he's dropped out of climate/energy talks, but pressed tonight, he said that he will filibuster his own bill if Reid tries to bring it up without tabling immigration altogether.
"If they can do this without me, go ahead.... I am not going to be part of an energy-climate process that has no hope of success," Graham said. "I am not going to let that happen with my vote."
Well, you could say, The Senate as usual, but we suspect that immigration popped because of current events and will go back in the queue when cooler heads prevail.
In the meantime, we have to get back into crouch position and see if we get to pounce on energy legislation next week.
Calling nuclear energy “key to strengthening America’s energy security,” a bipartisan group of 19 Congressmen introduced legislation to promote research and development of small nuclear reactors, those that generate up to 350 MW of electricity, noting that they have the potential to “help bring nuclear technology to new regions of the country.”
Formally introduced by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Penn.), the intiative comprises two bills:
- The Nuclear Power 2021 Act, purposely named to evoke the Nuclear Power 2010 program, directs the Department of Energy to enter into public-private partnerships to design and license two small reactors by 2021.
- The Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Improvement Act directs DOE to develop a five-year strategy to lower the cost of constructing and licensing nuclear reactors, including small reactors.
Altmire said, “Investing in the development of safe and reliable reactors of all sizes will both increase our nation’s energy security and create good paying jobs here at home.”
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who co-sponsored the two bills, said that “It is clear to both the Republicans and Democrats supporting these bills that expanding the use of nuclear energy is key to strengthening America’s energy security,”
Barton continued, “By facilitating the development of small nuclear reactors, this legislation could help bring nuclear technology to new regions of the country.
The legislation mirrors Senate bills introduced late last year, including the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Improvement Act of 2009 (S. 2052), introduced by Sen. Mark Udall, and the Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S. 2812), introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). Both are being considered by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which Bingaman chairs.
This is original reporting and we have nothing to point you to – well, you can look at our coverage of the Udall and Bingaman bills and the links provided there.
Sen. Lindsay Graham.