Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.  I regret that I can’t be there in person, but the Congress is reconvening this week to finish up its business for the year.
I would like to speak with you briefly about some of our accomplishments on the issue of energy in this past Congress.   Many of these accomplishments were done on a bipartisan basis.  I would like to briefly touch on a couple of items for the next Congress.  And, finally, I will spend some time speaking with you about our accomplishments on nuclear energy and the future of the nuclear renaissance in this country.
As many of you know, the 109th Congress was an important one for the advancement of energy policy.  Most news outlets focused on daily swings in the price of gasoline at the pump.  While this was a legitimate and important topic to cover, I think that there should have been more attention to another story about the future of energy policy in this country.
In August 2005, President Bush came to New Mexico to sign into law the bipartisan Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct).  This bill was the most comprehensive energy bill in decades and a policy shift that was a long time in the making.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 passed the United States Senate with a strong bipartisan vote of 74 to 26. 
The policies advanced in this Energy Bill are real, strong changes in energy policy.  This was a long term policy shift on bio-fuels, nuclear power, energy efficiency, renewable energy, electricity, oil and gas, coal, and energy conservation.  While the impacts of some of these changes have been seen immediately, many of these other new policies will take time and patience to reach their full potential.  Nevertheless, I submit to you today that what we did in 109th Congress, in a bipartisan manner will substantially improve the energy security of the United States.  I trust that our committee will continue to work in this bipartisan spirit in the next Congress and will act as a model for the rest of the Congress.
        I would like to highlight for you what I think is one of the most important policy directives of the Energy Bill.  That is, the revitalization of nuclear power in America.  In this bill the Congress reauthorized Price-Anderson for another 20 years.  Hopefully, this provides the nuclear energy industry with confidence in the U.S. commitment to advancing the nuclear renaissance.
We included “risk assurance” for the first movers to provide them with an insurance against the federal regulatory process breakdown.  And, we also included a production tax credit for those first movers.  As this group knows so very well, nuclear energy is our only base-load generation in existence today that is clean and emission-free.  Therefore, not only is nuclear power essential to providing affordable and reliable energy, but it is also critical in reducing our nation’s carbon emissions.      
It is clear that nearly two decades ago the United States made a mistake.  After inventing nuclear power, through the genius and hard work of American people, we decided to let the world have it and we would have nothing more to do with it.  And, since that time, the rest of the world kept nuclear power alive through technology advancements of countries like France, Canada and Japan.  These nations could not afford to abandon nuclear power, and so, they did not.
And then, very recently, the price of natural gas and oil started going up and it became clear that nuclear power would be a necessary way of the future in terms of generating electricity for the American people.   It is time that America – the inventors of nuclear power— once again advances nuclear power.  In passing the Energy Bill, we moved closer to that goal.
Believe it or not, we did not have a single application for a new nuclear power plant during the twenty-five year period prior to the passage of the Energy Bill.  In the 15 months since Senator Bingaman and I passed the Energy Bill we  have seen 31 planned applications for new nuclear power plants.  The policies enacted in the Energy Bill made it necessary for nuclear power to have a chance to make a break-through.  And, what a break-through it will make.
We have also seen a transformation at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The Commission is doing its job of regulating and of reviewing applications.  It is carrying out its mission in an effective way. 
I am hopeful that this new age will be different from the past.  In the past, nobody wanted a nuclear power plant.  But now we are seeing the American people accept nuclear energy.  In no small part, this is because the industry is proposing construction right next to existing facilities.  The American people are saying:  we’ve had these nuclear plants and we welcome expansion of nuclear power in our country.
In the Senate next year, I hope to tackle the final issue of what to do with our national backlog of spent nuclear fuel.  We must get Yucca Mountain back on track.  We need Yucca Mountain.   And, at the same time, we must complete the necessary first steps that bring nuclear recycling back to our country.  To say it will be tough is an understatement.  But we are ready to take on this challenge.  In September, I introduced a bill addressing Yucca Mountain that I hope will stand as the foundation for a debate in the next Congress.
I was so proud to work together with Senator Bingaman in a bipartisan way on an Energy Bill that will breathe life into nuclear power in America. It’s coming alive in many other parts of the world and must take an even bigger part of the stage in years to come.
I am thrilled today to be a part of something that has the potential to deliver clean energy to millions of Americans.  The nuclear renaissance is alive in America.  Working together we can do even more. 
Again, I’m sorry I can’t be there with you today.  Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you.