Nadler Seeks To Protect New York From Nuclear Disaster

The following is a press release from the office of Rep. Jerrold Nadler:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today on the House Floor, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the senior Northeastern Member of the Judiciary and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees, offered an amendment to help prevent a potential catastrophic meltdown at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Upstate New York or other nuclear reactors. His amendment to H.R. 3010, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011, would exempt from this counter-productive legislation any proposed regulations made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). With the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan fresh on our minds, it is critical to preempt regulatory failure when it comes to ensuring the safe operation of nuclear reactors.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must have the ability and flexibility to quickly impose new regulations to safeguard the health and well-being of all Americans,” said Nadler. “Impeding the NRC’s ability to regulate will not save one job but might cost millions of lives….Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant lies less than 40 miles away from my New York City district, and there are 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius of the plant – the same radius used by the NRC as the basis for the evacuation zone recommended after the Fukushima disaster. Indian Point also sits near two fault lines and, according to the NRC, is the most likely nuclear power plant in the country to experience core damage due to an earthquake.”

The following is the text of Nadler’s statement on the House Floor, as prepared:

“I rise in support of my amendment, which would exempt rules proposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from the new impediments to regulation in H.R. 3010.

“Mr. Chairman, there they go again. The right-wing Republican House Majority is practicing more voodoo economics. This time it’s the belief that overregulation is the cause of our slow economic growth and high unemployment rate. There is no evidence to support this position. None.

“In actuality, according to the Economic Policy Institute, ‘economy-wide studies do not find a significant decline in employment from regulatory policies.’ And, some regulations actually create jobs due to regulatory compliance. More broadly, findings from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in both Republican and Democratic administrations show the benefits of regulations far outweigh their costs. Most recently, OMB found that the benefits from major rules issued between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2010 yielded benefits ranging from $136 billion to $651 billion and imposed costs of between $44 billion and $62 billion.

“Despite these facts, the right-wing Republic House leadership presses ahead with what it considers regulatory reform. Today’s bill, H.R. 3010, in the name of so-called reform, adds over 60 new procedural and analytical hoops agencies and departments must go through before a regulation can be issued. The result is simply to impede, obstruct, and delay the attempt of government to accomplish one of its most basic functions – protecting the health and welfare of its citizens.

“Not surprisingly, groups who care about protecting public health, safety, and the environment, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen, Defenders of Wildlife, and U.S. PIRG, oppose this bill. According to the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, which represents a coalition of many such groups, this bill ‘will grind to a halt the rulemaking process’ and ‘is nothing less than an attempt to roll back our critical public safeguards and promote industry interests instead of protecting American citizens.’

“Americans should rightfully be scared that this bill will put their health and safety at risk. One example that highlights this fact is the subject of my amendment – nuclear power.

“The risks and dangers of nuclear power were made all the more real this year. In Japan, we all watched in horror when that country was devastated by the earthquake and resulting tsunami. That disaster then almost caused its own disaster – the possible meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Later, Virginia was struck by a relatively rare but strong earthquake, felt up and down the Eastern seaboard. It caused a nuclear power plant near the epicenter to have to go off-line.

“Because of the catastrophes that can result from disasters, be they natural or man-made, at nuclear power plants, prevention of meltdowns is the key. That is why I’m a cosponsor of H.R. 1242, the Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011, sponsored by Representative Markey, which is designed to help do that. Among other changes, it would require the NRC to impose rules requiring plants to upgrade to withstand severe events, like earthquakes, and to have enough backup power so as to avoid a meltdown for a significant length of time.

“The NRC must have the ability and flexibility to quickly impose new regulations to safeguard the health and well-being of all Americans. Impeding the NRC’s ability to regulate will not save one job but it might cost millions of lives. Sadly, H.R. 3010 makes its ability to regulate all but impossible.

“And, for me, this concern hits close to home. A nuclear power plant, Indian Point, about which many people, including myself, have had concerns for years, lies just less than 40 miles away from my New York City district. There are 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius around the plant, the same radius used by the NRC as the basis for the evacuation zone recommended after the Fukushima disaster. Indian Point also sits near two fault lines and, according to the NRC, is the most likely nuclear power plant in the country to experience core damage due to an earthquake.

“To keep my constituents and, indeed, all Americans safe, I’m offering this amendment today. It would exempt the NRC from the onerous new requirements for rulemaking imposed by H.R. 3010. That way, the NRC would have the ability to safeguard public health and safety – as it should.”

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the Financial District and Battery Park City. In Brooklyn, the 8th District includes parts of Borough Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Seagate

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