Domenici’s Democratic counterpart, Senator Jeff Bingaman, is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. We suspect Bingaman may play an integral role in helping Senator Domenici fulfill that dream. Ironically, Senator Bingaman, who last November was invited to a Santa Fe anti-nuclear environmentalist fundraiser, and which highlighted television mogul Ted Turner, was effusive in saying about the LES enrichment facility, “This will be one of the largest construction projects our state has ever seen. And the economic impact in southeastern New Mexico will be tremendous.” Does Bingaman appear to be playing both sides of the nuclear chessboard?
No, the former attorney, who reportedly once provided legal advice to uranium mining powerhouse, Kerr McGee, is deftly maneuvering between being a good Democrat and providing what he may honestly believe is best for his state. While Bingaman has curried favor among the environmentalists, in May of this year, he accepted, along with Domenici and others, the William S. Lee Award for Leadership at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) annual conference, saying, “I share a belief that nuclear power can make a meaningful contribution to controlling the growth of greenhouse gases, while still allowing our economy to expand.” It was his subsequent remark directed at the NEI, which leads us to believe he may be among the first to support additional nuclear growth in New Mexico. He told the NEI, “I am hoping that you will do your part to use those tools that Congress has put in place to ensure that nuclear power achieves its potential as part of our future energy mix.”
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
In March 2006, Senator Domenici pledged his support to President Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP),
“With GNEP, we begin to close the cycle on nuclear waste in ways that prevent proliferation and reduce both the volume and toxicity of waste. By recycling spent nuclear fuel, we can reuse the uranium, which is 96 percent of spent fuel, and separate the most toxic radioactive material to be burned in an advanced burner reactor. By reusing uranium fuel and burning the transuranic material in a new generation of modern reactors, we can reduce the amount of waste placed in Yucca Mountain by a factor of 100.”