Saturday, June 21, 2008

Boehner Column: "New Technologies Deliver New Cleaner Energy"

Usually when you hear the word “nuclear” it means that Iran is in the news again. But I think that we need to view “nuclear” in another light, as in safely and cleanly delivering on our energy needs and helping us achieve our goal of energy independence.

While the price of gas has been slowly creeping upward in the years since President Clinton vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have opened up parts of a desolate plain in Alaska for oil exploration, the true consequences of President Clinton’s ill-advised decision have only recently become fully apparent. Families and small businesses this summer are being pummeled by skyrocketing gas prices that have put an unacceptable squeeze on their budgets.

In a recent e-mail to constituents, I asked people to tell me how they’re coping with gas prices. I did this because I want to be able to share these real-life stories with the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington whose policies are blocking our nation’s path to energy independence. The response to my request was staggering. I heard from grandparents who are limiting their visits to grandchildren. I heard from farmers in rural areas who cannot drive to the post office more than twice a week to get their mail and families who are cutting back on groceries.

Just as the United States has the capacity and the ingenuity to increase domestic production of oil in an environmentally-safe way to help lower gas prices, so too can we pursue technology to lower the cost of electricity. And we can do so using clean nuclear energy.

Believe it or not, France can serve as a great example for us here at home when it comes to nuclear power. Today, 440 nuclear reactors in 31 countries generate 16 percent of the world’s electricity – including 30 percent in the European Union – but France most assuredly leads the way.

Today, France derives 78 percent of its electricity from more than 50 reactors and “recycles” nuclear fuel for further use – a textbook example of “energy efficiency,” which we hear so much about these days in Washington.

In a sign that we may have finally been turning the corner on nuclear energy, last year Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told a House committee that “I have a different view on nuclear than I did 20 years ago” because of advances in technology and that she believes nuclear energy “has to be on the table.” Unfortunately, the Speaker’s actions speak far louder than her words. In spite of its clear advantages to American consumers, the Democratic Congress has refused to promote nuclear power.

For those of us here in Ohio , particularly near Fernald and the Miamisburg Mound Laboratory, the word “nuclear” may have a certain connotation. But, as other nations around the world have demonstrated, nuclear energy in the 21st Century is the safest, cleanest source of energy you can find. In fact, we’re proving it in this country as well. For more than a generation, nuclear technology has powered our Navy with incredible safety.

It’s time now for our leaders in Washington to step up to the plate. The American people deserve a Congress that is willing to make these difficult decisions. Let’s begin to free our nation from the shackles of energy dependence through the clean, safe, and efficient nuclear power.

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