Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander argued in a floor speech that the problems with the Japanese reactors should provide a chance to make new projects safer rather than a reason to shut them down.
“My own view is that we need to have a diverse set of sources for energy production, and nuclear power is currently responsible for 20 percent of our electricity generation,” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) said in a statement. “I think nuclear power can be provided in a safe reliable way and it is possible that we will learn some things from what’s happened in Japan that will persuade us to put in place additional precautions.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) also rejected the idea of a moratorium on nuclear energy development. “I don’t agree on a moratorium ... if we’re going to reach energy independence, it’s absolutely essential,” Hoyer said.
But House Natural Resources ranking member Ed Markey, long a critic of the nuclear energy industry, warned that the U.S. could experience a similar tragedy.
“I am ... struck by the fact that the tragic events now unfolding in Japan could very easily occur in the United States. What is happening in Japan right now shows that a severe accident at a nuclear power plant can happen here,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.