U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson still wants to see a nuclear power plant in his district, though he’s backed off on pushing policy changes since the nuclear crisis in Japan.
In January, Gibson said he planned to introduce legislation to encourage private investment in nuclear power by revising part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. But on Wednesday, he said he won’t do so now.
“Now is not the time to make policy decisions until we understand what happened there in light of the natural disaster,” Gibson said. He represents the 20th Congressional District, stretching from the Poughkeepsie area to Saranac Lake.
Still, he hasn’t soured on the idea of nuclear power, but said officials can learn from Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami March 11 that damaged two nuclear plants.
“I think it’s important to have a clear head when you make decisions,” he said. “It needs to be safe, and toward that end, we need to incorporate the lessons from Japan.”
A bipartisan committee in Congress plans to study nuclear energy and make sure the country’s 104 nuclear plants are safe before promoting nuclear energy, and Gibson said that’s the right move.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has urged the same thing in New York State, and Gibson said Wednesday he agrees. Thirty-two percent of the state’s electricity comes from nuclear power, he said.
Nuclear energy was one of the types of energy discussed at an energy advisory council Gibson convened on Wednesday at TEC-SMART in Malta, the Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Alternative and Renewable Technologies. The nonpartisan council will focus on energy production, conservation and distribution.
“Nuclear is something that’s in play when you consider our full-spectrum energy needs,” Gibson said.
About 30 energy experts, conservation advocates, organized labor leaders and government officials sit on the advisory panel, which will meet quarterly after its first meeting Wednesday.
“We’re looking at energy from a comprehensive approach,” he said, adding that all kinds of energy will be discussed, both traditional and alternative.
“I found it a very productive session,” Gibson said afterward. “We are very pleased to have such a wide array of expertise and experience.”
The meeting was closed to the press.
Gibson also hopes to educate constituents, including homeowners, farmers and small businesses, about energy credits that are available.
“There’s not wide understanding on the incentives that are out there for families to retrofit their homes,” he said. “What we want to do is pull all that information together and broadcast that.”
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