This week, I joined nearly 20 of my House and Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle for a five-day conference to examine the role of nuclear power in meeting our nation's energy challenges. We are discussing emerging technologies, as well as security, infrastructure, and nuclear proliferation issues. It has been a fascinating experience, and I've had the opportunity to hear from nuclear scholars and experts from around the world. Right now, about 65 countries are interested in joining the 30 that have nuclear power, which in the U.S. already generates about 20% of our electricity, and 50% of our electricity here in Illinois.
The disaster in Japan serves as a wake-up call about the importance of securing nuclear infrastructure, and I'm pleased to report that the United States is leading the world on that front. Just this week, a series of tornados hit the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama (which has the same design as the Fukushima plant). The safety system worked, and the plant shut down successfully with backup generators. At the conference, we also are discussing the steps that have been taken since September 11th to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Some of my colleagues even commented on my depth of interest in nuclear power, something that I attribute to many years of working with scientists at Argonne National Lab in our district, where they have spearheaded some of the world's most advanced nuclear recycling technologies. My thanks to these men and women who've spent so much time working with me to educate my colleagues in Washington about the importance of science and innovation to U.S. competitiveness.