Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on “NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety.”

A copy of Sen. Carper’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“Thank you Chairman Boxer for holding this very important hearing.  I want to welcome our witnesses and also congratulate Senator Whitehouse for taking the helm of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.

“Just like Chairmen Boxer and Whitehouse, I am a firm believer that climate change is occurring and humans are the primary drivers of it because of our carbon pollution. But you don’t have to take our word for it.  The leading scientists of our time agree. Last month, a team of more than 300 climate scientists issued the third National Climate Assessment Report. It is the most comprehensive study on the impact of climate change on the United States. The report finds clear correlation between human influence, predominantly the burning of fossil fuel, and increasing U.S. temperatures.

“The devastating consequences of climate change are too great for any of us to sit on the sidelines. It is with this potential future in mind that I applaud the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030. This proposal moves our nation a step towards protecting our environment and our economy. But in order to meet the president’s carbon emission reduction goals, nuclear energy must be part of our energy mix.  Without nuclear energy those goals will be nearly impossible to achieve.

“In recent years, we have seen the closure of several plants and face the potential retirement of up to 6 percent of our nuclear generation in the foreseeable future. According to the EPA, 6 percent of nuclear capacity is equal to avoiding releasing 200 to 300 million metric tons of CO2 over a 10-year period. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of 25 million average family households. So, it is critical that we work together to ensure a safe and economically viable nuclear fleet. With nuclear power as part of our “all of the above” energy policy, we benefit from passing on cleaner air and a more hospitable climate to future generations. But to have nuclear energy in this country we must continue to have a safe nuclear fleet and have a strong, independent agency overseeing the industry.

“I welcome back the NRC Commissioners to this committee and look forward to hearing an update on recent safety concerns and actions. I look forward to working with all of you to ensure we continue to have a safe and efficient regulatory regime to keep this important industry alive as we move toward a cleaner energy future.”