Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) supports nuclear because it reduces air pollution

One of the highlights of the recent Advanced Nuclear Summit hosted in Washington, DC by Third Way was an inspirational talk by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Here is a partial transcript, starting after Booker’s folksy story to set the talk’s tone.

Here in this realm, we in government have to start acting boldly and let this be the nation of innovation again. That leads. And so the cleaner and safer future depends, in my opinion, on having carbon neutral power, baseload power. It’s got to be about renewables.

Now I was in part of that scrum of a bunch of Senators, including Senator Whitehouse, my ally and a bunch of Democrats. We said, we’re not crazy, rushing to go export oil, but, dear god, if we can get that in exchange for renewable tax credits, I’m all for it. And the original proposal that we put forward had not just wind and solar but also had nuclear energy. Because wind and solar is not enough to get us there.

If we set that B-HAG, get to the roof, that Big Hairy Audacious Goal, it can’t be done with wind and solar alone. We have to be a country that steps up and says it has to be renewable new advanced nuclear energy. It has to be there if by 2050 we are to be a carbon neutral country.

And so if we are going to do that, we have to begin to lead from the government as well as the innovations we’re already seeing along with investments from the private sector. And so today, we need to figure out greater ways to drive investment, to remove, dear god, the bureaucratic barriers. And to allow one of the greatest things that we have going for us as a country is those innovators and investors to unleash the promise of new nuclear technology.

Now, I’m really proud that I’m a part of this bipartisan effort. It’s what I came to Washington to do. Not to be a Democrat, but to find ways to work with people across the aisle to get real things done. I’m really proud that we have a solid bill, following the lead of the House, that’s talking about doing the things that we need to do.

First that the federal government needs to do more to partner with the private sector as Senator Crapo mentioned. Second, that the NRC licensing process must be streamlined to allow new technologies to be approved in a timely manner. Third, that the federal government needs to exponentially increase our research and development spending on nuclear reactors. And again, R&D spending which has been going down as a percentage of GDP must be increased in our country if we are to lead as a global innovator across the board and in this area.

For me, this is about the kids in my city. For me, this is about kids in Camden and Patterson who are suffering not just because we have a polluted atmosphere, but it’s also about creating an America for them that is bold and courageous again. Our effort here will help with job creation, spurring our economy. It will grow it in significant ways. It’s going to solve some of the waste problems that we have from 1960s technology and innovation that we can solve for now if we are willing to move boldly in this direction. It’s going to help geopolitically by helping us be less reliant on foreign oil. And after a long classified briefing this morning, dear god, we need to move boldly in that area.

This is a time when we need to lead. Not dilly dally. Not equivocate. And not, dear god, settle for three inches more. We as a country must now decide that we’re going to the roof.

For a brief moment, I was worried about his confusion between “renewables” and reliable, baseload generating sources like nuclear energy. Once I realized that he considers nuclear to be a renewable, I understood that he understood the scale of the challenge.

The proposals that Booker described were offered as amendments to the Energy Bill (S. 2012) that Senators Murkowski and Cantwell brought to the Senate floor this week. Those amendments were approved with an overwhelming majority of 87-4. Here is the short list of people voting Nay.

Hirono (D-HI)
Lee (R-UT)
Markey (D-MA)
Merkley (D-OR)

Regular readers might wonder about some of the senators who have been featured here for their antinuclear antics. Nine senators did not vote. Unfortunately, the non-voters included all of the presidential candidates that are currently serving as senators.

Boxer (D-CA)
Cruz (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Nelson (D-FL)
Paul (R-KY)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sanders (I-VT)

It is apparent to me that there is a rising groundswell of support for nuclear energy development in the United States. We need to nurture allies like Senator Booker and the others who invested the time and resources to organize and/or attend the Third Way’s Advance Nuclear Summit and Showcase.

Here’s a link to the full three hour and forty-five video of Third Way’s Advanced Nuclear Summit


PS: While watching the event live, I was distracted by a small, adorable child and missed Rachel Pritzker’s introduction.

After returning to the stream, I started listening to Booker’s talk and watching the way he interacted with the crowd. I was impressed, but then I demonstrated my ignorance of popular culture by Tweeting the following reaction to his talk.

A small flurry of my followers quickly responded by telling me that the guy I had referred to as the “Congressman from Newark” was Senator Cory Booker, the former Stanford All-American tight end, Rhodes Scholar, and Newark major. There was an unwritten, but rather obvious “have you been living under a rock” tone to the responses.

Apparently, Senator Booker is well known in the social media world. I’m a prolific Twitter poster, but I follow a rather narrow segment of the user base. The list of users I’m “following” now includes @CoryBooker.

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