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Mike Gravel on Energy & Oil

Libertarian for President; Former Democratic Senator (AK)


Implacably opposed to civilian nuclear power

I’m implacably opposed to civilian nuclear power, because of the waste and the danger. I was the first in the Senate to speak out against nuclear power thirty-five years ago.
Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p. 23 May 2, 2008

Using H-bombs to build harbors is an “insane idea”

An insane idea for northern Alaska in 1958 was to explode five H-bombs to create a mile-long, deepwater harbor from which to ship Alaskan coal & oil. The Atomic Energy Commission approved the plan, calling it Project Chariot. But Alaskan officials doubted its viability because the port would be frozen 9 months of the year. Scientists weighed in about the obvious dangers of radiation fallout. The local Inuit opposed it. Two years later, the perverse H-bomb dream was dropped.
Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.138 May 2, 2008

1971: Nuclear power causes long-term contamination

Civilian nuclear power troubled me. After Eisenhower’s “peaceful atom” speech in 1953, the Atomic Energy Commission was given the conflicting tasks of promoting commercial nuclear power and regulating it. Only General Electric and Westinghouse developed nuclear power. They essentially owned the AEC [resulting in] lax standards on reactor safety & environmental impact.

I sounded the alarm in the Senate. In 1971 I wrote a long letter to the NY Times about issues well known today but not then: “If this country actually does build 600 nuclear power plants, those plants will produce each and every year about as much long-lived radioactivity as 500,000 Hiroshima bombs. It is unfortunate that we have an Atomic Energy Commission instead of an energy commission.“ I introduced a bill to create an Energy-Environment Commission to promote alternative energy, such as solar and wind. The bill would also have repealed special insurance privileges for GE’s and Westinghouse’s nuclear plants. It went nowhere.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.175-176 May 2, 2008

1971: Fought environmentalists for Alaska oil pipeline

[After passing the Alaska Pipeline Act] in 1971, the way was clear to get federal approval for the private construction of the 789-mile pipeline. I fought for the pipeline to Valdez against the legal and publicity war waged by environmentalists. I shared many of their concerns: the pipeline could melt the permafrost, an earthquake could rupture it, and caribou migration could be impeded.

The environmental movement feared an oil spill at the Valdez port. That unfortunately came true in 1989, with the Exxon Valdez disaster. I had proposed an amendment that would have required double-hulled ships. The oil companies and the Coast Guard fought me and my amendment failed. Had it not the Exxon Valdez disaster might have been averted.

After more than two years of battling the environmentalists, Congress approved the pipeline to Valdez in 1973. The Alaska pipeline has since supplied the US with 20% of its oil at the peak of its operation and has completely transformed the state.

Source: A Political Odyssey, by Mike Gravel, p.190 May 2, 2008

Institute a tax on oil

Source: Presidential Election 2008 Political Courage Test Apr 22, 2008

Carbon tax can get us off of gasoline in 5 years

Q: Would you raise the gasoline tax in order to wean America off of Mideast oil?

A: Yes, but let me qualify it. I would ask the Congress, but then I would empower the American people to put a carbon tax on. We can get off of gasoline in five years; all we got to do is want to do it. And to put a tax on gasoline permits politicians and bureaucrats to play favorites. You do it right at the lump of coal, and you do at the gas, and you do it at the oil, and then let it filter through the system properly.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Wind power is solution to oil dependency

Q: Would you be in favor of developing more nuclear power to reduce oil dependency?

A: Not at all. The solution obviously is wind power. If we manufactured 5 million of these 2.5 megawatt windmills across the country, we could electrify the entire nation. I’m talking about our transportation system. Why don’t we do that? This is technology off the shelf. That’s why I kept saying, we can get off of gasoline in five years; we can get off of carbon in 10 years.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

I started the nuclear critique in this country

Q: With the French system as the model, is the US woefully behind in its use of nuclear energy?

A: No, not at all. I think there had to be a maturation process. And I’m the one that started the nuclear critique in this country. And I’m also the one that brought about the Alaska pipeline by one vote in the Congress. So when you ask about the energy issues, let me just tell you....

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Make Global Warming a matter of national security

Source: Campaign website, www.gravel2008.us, “Issues” Dec 25, 2006

Immediately sign the Kyoto protocol

Energy and environment are two sides of the same coin. But it is a global problem, not just an American problem. The U.S. should immediately sign the Kyoto protocol and seek its ratification by the Senate. Carbon energy should be taxed to provide the funding for a global effort led by the US, with willing allies, to bring together the world’s scientific and engineering communities to develop energy alternatives to remove the world’s energy dependence on carbon.
Source: Speech at the N.H. Institute of Politics, Manchester NH Nov 1, 2006

Nuclear energy is unwise because of nuclear waste

Coal supplies may last years, but the problems of strip-mining and CO2 pollution are serious. We had better develop other sources of energy or face the prospect of lights that go out or pollution which threatens life.

Our government is pursuing nuclear power. It seems to me we are not thinking about the long-range environmental hazards as we plunge ahead.

It is folly to force us down a road that holds grave potential for contaminating our entire planet. The by-product of this process is not a “little” harmful radio-activity from “burning” atomic fuel as the AEC would have us believe. The amount of radioactive waste, which is small only if measured by the space it fills, is already enormous if measured by the billions of people it could kill

No one knows what will result from all the radioactive waste that has been dumped in the oceans and is still being dumped by other nuclear powers. And that is the point: we will not find out until it is too late--after the radioactivity has escaped.

Source: Citizen Power, by Sen. Mike Gravel, p.177-179 Jan 1, 1972

Sponsored bill letting states decide on federal dams.

Gravel sponsored letting states decide on federal dam decisions

OnTheIssues.org EXPLANATION: Let the Army Corps of Engineers decide with state government where to build dams, including signing contracts with state agencies for operating those dams, without getting each dam individually approved by Congress. This applies only when a state is willing to contribute to the costs of the dam construction.

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill authorizing the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers, to plan, design, and construct small hydroelectric power projects not specifically authorized by the Congress.

EXCERPTS FROM BILL: