Public Citizen Oregon PeaceWorks |
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Lisa Gue, PC, 202-454-5130 May 13, 2002
Michael Carrigan, OPW, 503-585-2767
Smith a Top Recipient of Nuclear Industry PAC Money
Senate Gears up for Vote to Put Nuclear Waste on Oregon Highways
WASHINGTON-Oregon U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith is among the top Senate recipients of political action committee campaign contributions from the nuclear power industry, a report from Public Citizen shows.
Since 1997, including thus far in the 2002 cycle, the Oregon Republican has received $70,500 from PACs of corporations belonging to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's powerful Washington lobby. Smith's substantial nuclear PAC money ranks him 15th among current U.S. senators over the last five years. Smith has received $35,500 so far in his 2002 campaign, the tenth largest amount among senators and candidates for Senate this year. Smith's Democratic challenger, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, has received no nuclear PAC money through Feb. 28 of this year.
The Public Citizen report, "Hot Waste, Cold Cash: Nuclear Industry PAC Contributions and the Senators Who Love Them," is released as the Senate gears up for a landmark vote on whether to establish a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The report is based primarily on PAC filings with the Federal Election Commission compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The nation's senators and senatorial candidates have accepted a total $5.24 million from the nuclear energy PACs since 1997, including $1.3 million so far in 2002.
While not as popular with the nuclear PACs as Smith, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden has also been courted by the nuclear industry. Wyden accepted $31,900 from the industry PACs since 1997, including $3,000 in the 2002 cycle, although he isn't on the ballot this year.
PAC contributions received by Oregon senators from members of the Nuclear Energy Institute:
|Senator/Senate candidate||1997-98||1999-2000||2001-02||Total all cycles|
|Gordon Smith, R-OR||$18,500||$16,500||$35,500||$70,500|
|Ron Wyden, D-OR||$28,900||0||$3,000||$31,900|
"Politicians bristle at the suggestion that their votes can be purchased by campaign contributions, but the money has an effect or the industry wouldn't be handing out so much," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. "The nuclear power industry, on the other hand, candidly boasts that campaign cash influences public policy, and the industry funnels money to candidates because 'the system operates this way.' "
If nuclear waste is shipped to Yucca Mountain, more than 3,300 shipments of lethal cargo could travel over Oregon's highways, much of it traveling through the state's largest population center in the Portland area and then winding through the Columbia River Gorge. The transportation casks that would be used have never been tested, and even the DOE acknowledges that there will be traffic accidents involving nuclear waste. An accident involving just one of these shipments could be catastrophic. Emergency response and public health infrastructures would not have the capacity to respond to a nuclear disaster.
The Yucca Mountain site itself is unsuitable. It sits atop an aquifer and in an earthquake zone, and the site selection process has been rife with conflicts of interest and industry influence.
Shipping waste to Yucca Mountain will not consolidate the nation's waste in a single spot. Nuclear waste must cool for at least five years before it can be handled for shipping, which means there will always be waste at operating nuclear reactors.
"Yucca Mountain presents a wonderful opportunity for Senators Smith and Wyden to reject the industry's cynical assertion that policy is for sale," said Michael Carrigan, Oregon PeaceWorks program director. "The Senate can put the public health and safety of Oregonians ahead of special-interest influence by voting against the Yucca Mountain project," Carrigan said.
Added Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environmment Program, "The more scientists learn about Yucca Mountain, the less they want to ship nuclear waste there. Sadly, nuclear industry clout usurped science as the driving force behind national nuclear waste policy long ago. But by voting not to ship deadly nuclear waste through Oregon and the rest of the country, senators can show that they represent their constituents, not powerful corporations."
To view the full report visit www.citizen.org/documents/hotwastecoldcash.PDF.
### Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.
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