U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Statement of Senator Barack Obama
Oversight on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing.
As electricity demand throughout the nation increases in the coming decades, we will be challenged in how best to meet these consumption demands without sacrificing the environment. That means creating jobs, protecting water and air quality, establishing energy independence, and using all of our energy resources fully and wisely.
I strongly support greater energy conservation and greater federal investment in renewable technologies such as wind and solar, which ought to receive greater attention in our national energy policy than they likely will this year.
However, as Congress considers policies to address air quality and the deleterious effects of carbon emissions on the global ecosystem, it is reasonable - and realistic - for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration. Illinois has 11 nuclear power plants - the most of any State in the country - and nuclear power provides more than half of Illinois' electricity needs.
But keeping nuclear power on the table - and indeed planning for the construction of new plants - is only possible if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is vigilant in its mission. We need better long-term strategies for storing and securing nuclear waste and for ensuring the safe operation of nuclear power plants. How we develop these strategies is a major priority for me.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses, and I thank the Chair for holding this hearing.