2:48 PM EDT
Dan Schaefer, R-CO 6th

Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Chairman, H.R. 629, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Consent Act, would grant the consent of Congress to the low-level radioactive waste disposal agreement reached between the States of Texas, Maine, and Vermont.

When Congress passed the Low-level Radioactive Waste Policy Act in 1980, it was a part of a broader agreement whereby the States are responsible for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste while the Federal Government is responsible for high-level waste disposal.

Since the 1980 act was passed, 41 States, as has been stated before, have received the consent of Congress for disposal compacts. Low-level radioactive waste includes a host of materials, from medical isotopes, to university research wastes, to the industrial waste generated at nuclear power plants.

The vast majority of these wastes do not even require the use of special containers to protect against threats to human health. In most cases, the radioactivity in these materials will decay to the point where there is no significant risk to human health after about 100 years.

With the decision to put low-level waste responsibilities at the State level, the obligations of the Federal Government are fairly limited. Clearly and certainly, it is our responsibility to ensure that the compacts comply with the Federal Low-level Waste Act.

During our consideration of H.R. 629 in the Committee on Commerce, it was clear that the compact meets this test. The State legislatures and Governors of Texas, Maine, and Vermont have met their obligation under the Low-level Radioactive Waste Policy Act. It is now our responsibility to support the States in this decision.

I want to thank the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Barton] and certainly the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Hall], ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, the sponsors of this legislation, for their very strong leadership and capable effort in moving the bill to this point. I strongly support H.R. 629 and encourage its adoption by the full House.

[Page: H8517]

2:51 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:51 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:51 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:51 PM EDT
Silvestre Reyes, D-TX 16th

Mr. REYES. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] for yielding me the time.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to oppose H.R. 629, which will allow radioactive waste to be dumped in the far west community of Sierra Blanca.

There are many reasons to vote against this bill. First, it violates the 1983 La Paz agreement between Mexico and the United States. This agreement directs both Governments to adopt appropriate measures to prevent and eliminate sources of pollution within a 60-mile radius of the border.

The State of Texas asserts that they must merely inform the Government of Mexico. But many people disagree. There is widespread objection to this site at all levels of the Mexican Government. The Mexican State of Chihuahua, which adjoins the proposed site, opposes the Sierra Blanca site. The Embassy of Mexico expressed deep concerns about the proposed site.

The chairman of the Mexican Senate's Committee on the Environment has written his American counterpart to object. The city councils of El Paso and Juarez have both issued a position statement in strong opposition to the site.

But if that is not compelling enough argument against this bill, there are others. If H.R. 629 passes, radioactive waste from Maine and Vermont will travel through the States of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and all the way across the State of Texas until it gets dumped into the community of Sierra Blanca and far west Texas.

Who would want radioactive waste shipped through their district? I do not, and neither should my colleagues. If my colleagues are still not convinced, there is more. How about the fact that this site is earthquake prone? Supporters of H.R. 629 are so concerned about that that they felt it necessary to send out a `Dear Colleague' trying to explain why we should put radioactive waste there anyway.

Or how about the fact that this waste remains active for literally thousands of years, low level? You decide. How will that affect the water table in west Texas? I do not think we need to draw a picture up to that one.

If my colleagues need another reason to vote against this bill, last week the public affairs director of the Maine Yankee nuclear power reactor said, and I quote this, `The Texas compact no longer makes economic sense for Maine Yankee ratepayers.'

If the company that wants to dump its radioactive waste on the constituents of the district of the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] does not support the compact, why should we?

Supporters of H.R. 629 will tell us that this bill does not endorse a specific site in Texas. The fact is that the Texas Legislature has already identified Sierra Blanca as a site for this dump, and a vote for H.R. 629 is a vote to support this site. This is the same legislation that was overwhelmingly defeated in the 104th Congress. But here we are again, fighting again to keep this Congress from dumping on the people of west Texas.

There have been reports to my office that supporters of this bill have said that no one lives where they want to put this dump. Representatives from the nuclear power districts of east Texas, 800 miles and 14 hours from Sierra Blanca, and from the States of Vermont and Maine, over 2,000 miles away, are the major proponents of the dump, and they have erroneously claimed that citizens of Sierra Blanca support this compact. They do not, and neither should my colleagues.

Supporters of this bill want to dump radioactive waste on the communities that are primarily populated by low-income minorities. Do my colleagues think we would be on this floor today debating this bill if the dump site were going to be at Lake Tahoe or Monterey, CA, or Newport, RI, or Martha's Vineyard? Of course not.

The Hispanic Caucus is unanimous in its opposition to this bill. Last week, we sent a letter to the Speaker asking him to stop this bill from coming to this floor. Obviously, he chose not to do that. Do my colleagues think this bill would be on the floor if the dump were going to be in Marietta, GA? Obviously not.

The Texas State Conference of the NAACP also passed a resolution in opposition to this compact.

I have only been a Member of this Congress for 9 months, Mr. Chairman, but I know a bad bill when I see one. If my colleagues think it is OK to dump radioactive waste in communities where 75 percent of the people are Hispanic, then they should risk on voting for this bill. But if they agree with me that my constituents and the constituents of the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] are as important as theirs and a life on the border is worth as much as a life away from the border, then they should vote on this bill. Send a message to the corporate CEO's who think they can dump their waste on my constituents and on the constituents of the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] halfway across the country. And that is not OK to do that.

I urge all my colleagues to consider those facts and vote `no' on H.R. 629.

2:51 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:56 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:56 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:56 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:56 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:56 PM EDT
Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX 30th

Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I am changing sides on this issue. I was in the Texas Senate when they debated this in Texas. One thing I have come to realize, we have got to identify some place to put this low-level waste. It is much more dangerous to have it scattered everywhere, behind every hospital, behind doctors' offices, and all over the place.

We do not know exactly where it will be in Texas. That will be a Texas decision. But many local citizens have come to my office and pleaded to allow it to happen, because without this legislation, it is going on now and it can come from anywhere and everywhere. With this legislation, it is limited to Vermont and Maine, small States, cannot have too much to dump there.

The one thing we have to understand in this country is that we utilize many medicines and many other elements to promote human life and health that are dangerous in storage. We have to store it somewhere, and we are trying to pick the least populous areas to store it.

These areas under discussion are the least populous areas in the country. If I thought for a moment that it would subject local citizens to a worse status of health and danger than what they are now, I would not be standing here asking my colleagues to support this measure. I know that it will not.

These will be under the most safe conditions that we can provide with rules to operate. Without rules to operate, it can very well be and continue to be very dangerous, because when we have these in our most populous urban areas and we talk about environmental justice, this is one way that we can protect environmental justice, by picking areas and using just those.

[Page: H8518]

[TIME: 1500]

2:56 PM EDT
Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX 30th

Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I am changing sides on this issue. I was in the Texas Senate when they debated this in Texas. One thing I have come to realize, we have got to identify some place to put this low-level waste. It is much more dangerous to have it scattered everywhere, behind every hospital, behind doctors' offices, and all over the place.

We do not know exactly where it will be in Texas. That will be a Texas decision. But many local citizens have come to my office and pleaded to allow it to happen, because without this legislation, it is going on now and it can come from anywhere and everywhere. With this legislation, it is limited to Vermont and Maine, small States, cannot have too much to dump there.

The one thing we have to understand in this country is that we utilize many medicines and many other elements to promote human life and health that are dangerous in storage. We have to store it somewhere, and we are trying to pick the least populous areas to store it.

These areas under discussion are the least populous areas in the country. If I thought for a moment that it would subject local citizens to a worse status of health and danger than what they are now, I would not be standing here asking my colleagues to support this measure. I know that it will not.

These will be under the most safe conditions that we can provide with rules to operate. Without rules to operate, it can very well be and continue to be very dangerous, because when we have these in our most populous urban areas and we talk about environmental justice, this is one way that we can protect environmental justice, by picking areas and using just those.

[Page: H8518]

[TIME: 1500]

2:59 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:59 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:59 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:59 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

2:59 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Dan Schaefer, for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I want to reiterate that we are here this afternoon debating whether three States of the United States have the right to enter into an interstate compact. The Constitution of the United States says they have that right, the Governors of the three States say they have that right, the legislatures of the three States say they have that right, and I would point out that 41 other States of the Union have entered into such State compacts.

We are not here to debate whether the site that is probably going to be selected in Texas is the appropriate site; we are not here to debate whether there are some overriding socioeconomic issues that may preclude this site being picked; we are simply here to say these three States have the same rights that all of the other States of the Union have.

Governors of the State of Texas, both Democrat and Republican, Governor Bush, the Republican Governor today, Governor Ann Richards, the prior Governor, have supported this compact. It was defeated on the House floor in the last Congress on the suspension calendar, which is why we are coming today to the floor on a nonsuspension calendar.

I do want to try to address some of the issues that have been raised so far in the debate. The gentleman from El Paso pointed out that earthquakes may be a problem. I would like to point out, if we want to be site-specific, that this is in an earthquake zone that has not had an earthquake in recorded history. There is no geological fault under the site, but if there is, the site has been designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

3:01 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman is correct, there have been tremors, but my understanding is that there have not been tremors in this area. Even if there were, the largest earthquake that has ever been recorded in Texas history is 6.4 on the Richter scale. This site could withstand an earthquake of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly under the site.

According to the study that has been done, any seismic activity anywhere close to Hudspeth County has been active from 750 years to 12 million years. The halflife radioactivity of low-level nuclear waste that is going to be transported and stored here is less than 100 years, and 85 percent of it has a halflife of less than 10 years.

Now, the gentleman from El Paso also talked about it is in violation of the La Paz agreement. It is not in violation of the La Paz agreement. The La Paz agreement says that the United States and Mexico should consult on these issues. We have consulted with the national government and with the local governments. The EPA and the State Department as late as July of this year have said there is no violation of any international agreement in this compact that is pending before us today.

There have also been concerns expressed about the facts that this has been located in a dominant Hispanic area. That is a true statement. The population of Hudspeth County is 66 percent Hispanic. I would point out that of the 10 sites that were considered, there were a number of them that had a higher ethnicity of Hispanic population. The three variables that were used, though, were not ethnicity. They were rainfall, this has the lowest rainfall; population density, this is right at one-half of a person per square mile, which is the second lowest density, and there are a total of less than 3,000 people in the county. So this has the lowest rainfall, one of the lowest population densities, and there have been no earthquakes in recorded history in this site.

There is support for this on this site in Texas. I include for the Record a letter from the county judge.

Hudspeth County Courthouse,

Sierra Blanca, TX, July 23, 1996.

Dear Member of Congress: We are writing to encourage you to vote in favor of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact, H.R. 558 without amendment.

As officials from the community nearest to the proposed facility, our primary duty is to protect the health and safety of our citizens and of future generations. In fulfillment of this duty, we have invested substantial time and effort in examining technical reports and talking with state officials and others involved in identifying and investigating a location for a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in our county.

We are convinced that the facility planned for the site is safe. This judgment is borne out by the `Environmental Safety Analysis' made by the state agency in charge of licensing the disposal facility in our state. That agency found that the site will not `pose an unacceptable risk to the public health' or cause `a long-term detrimental impact on the environment.'

Far from causing problems for our community, the disposal facility will bring to our area needed economic and social benefits. Hudspeth County has already received grants of over $2 million for the State of Texas for use in community projects of our own choosing. When Congress consents to the Texas Compact, the county will receive an additional $5 million in development funds from the states of Vermont and Maine. And, when the facility begins operation, the county will receive $.8 million annually from its gross revenue--equal to more than one-third of the county's total annual budget. These funds are very much needed in our effort to raise the standard of living, education, and medical care system for residents of our county.

Fundamentally, where and how to site a commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal facility is a state and local issue. In July of this year, the State of Texas will convene a series of public hearings, several in our community, which will allow any member of the public to comment and raise questions about any aspect of the proposed facility and its location. This is where the decision on the location and safety of the disposal facility should be made--not in the halls of Congress thousands of miles away from our community.

We have heard that some members of Congress, at the urging of certain advocacy groups who do not represent our community, object to the location of the disposal facility based on the ethnic composition and the economic status of our county. We are the direct representatives of this ethnically diverse and economically underdeveloped community, and we are convinced that the facility will be safely built. In addition, in December 1995, approximately half of the adult population of Sierra Blanca signed a petition supporting Congressional consent for the Texas Compact.

By consenting to the Texas Compact, Congress will: eliminate the need for two low-level radioactive waste disposal sites in more populous, more humid northeast states; alleviate the need to store low-level radioactive waste of hundreds of generating locations in the three member states; approve a facility that the most directly affected citizens find both safe and beneficial; and ensure that the State of Texas and its partners in the Texas Compact will be able to control the amount of waste coming into a facility located in our community.

Please vote for S. 419 without amendment.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.

Sincerely,

James A. Peace,

County Judge.

3:04 PM EDT
Lloyd Doggett, D-TX 10th

Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Chairman, my hometown of Austin, TX, is a mighty long way from Sierra Blanca, hundreds of miles, much further than traveling across the States of Vermont and Maine to reach this area of Texas. But I can tell my colleagues that there are literally thousands of people in central Texas that are greatly concerned about the idea that Texas would suddenly become the great dumping place for the Nation's toxic nuclear waste.

Mr. Chairman, there has been some suggestion that this is somehow low-level, and therefore, no risk. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not talking about just a box full of hospital gloves. Indeed, it has been estimated that we could take all of the medical waste in this country and all of the academic-generated waste, and it would be about 5 ten-thousandths of the waste that is going to be placed in this dump. Ninety percent of it comes from nuclear powerplants. That is one of the reasons it is so significant that the Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, the largest generator of waste from the State of Maine, now says it is a bad idea, that it is going to cost the ratepayers of Maine tens of millions of dollars if this compact is approved.

Indeed, the type of waste that is involved here, I do not see anything in the compact limiting it to a mere 100 years, as one of the last speakers said, although my guess is that for most folks around here, just 100 years of dangerous toxic radioactive nuclear waste is a mighty long time. In fact, it is more than a lifetime.

But the type of waste that can be placed in this dump includes tritium, which has a halflife of 12 years and a hazardous life of 120 to 240 years, and iodine 129, which has a halflife of 16 million years and a hazardous life of hundreds of millions of years.

It is because of the gravity of this situation that the Austin City Council went on record unanimously opposed to this dump. It is the same thing that was done by 18 county governments in Texas and by 9 Texas cities. Most recently, this past weekend the Texas Conference of the NAACP went on record against the location of this dump, and more Texans, as they learn about this, are saying, do not allow Texas to become the Nation's dumping ground.

Much has been said to the effect that this has nothing to do with the specific site. It has nothing to do with the specific site unless one happens to live in Sierra Blanca, because Sierra Blanca has already been designated. After elimination of more politically sensitive sites, it has been designated, after having been rejected on geological grounds, it has been selected as the most politically palatable place within the State of Texas to place this particular dump.

There are more than a few problems at this site, and that is probably why it was rejected initially in the State of Texas: earthquakes, seepage, closeness to the Mexican border. Can my colleagues imagine what would happen if Mexico proposed to locate a radioactive waste dump 16 miles from our border? There would be outrage, and there should be over this proposal.

[Page: H8519]

3:04 PM EDT
Lloyd Doggett, D-TX 10th

Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Chairman, my hometown of Austin, TX, is a mighty long way from Sierra Blanca, hundreds of miles, much further than traveling across the States of Vermont and Maine to reach this area of Texas. But I can tell my colleagues that there are literally thousands of people in central Texas that are greatly concerned about the idea that Texas would suddenly become the great dumping place for the Nation's toxic nuclear waste.

Mr. Chairman, there has been some suggestion that this is somehow low-level, and therefore, no risk. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are not talking about just a box full of hospital gloves. Indeed, it has been estimated that we could take all of the medical waste in this country and all of the academic-generated waste, and it would be about 5 ten-thousandths of the waste that is going to be placed in this dump. Ninety percent of it comes from nuclear powerplants. That is one of the reasons it is so significant that the Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, the largest generator of waste from the State of Maine, now says it is a bad idea, that it is going to cost the ratepayers of Maine tens of millions of dollars if this compact is approved.

Indeed, the type of waste that is involved here, I do not see anything in the compact limiting it to a mere 100 years, as one of the last speakers said, although my guess is that for most folks around here, just 100 years of dangerous toxic radioactive nuclear waste is a mighty long time. In fact, it is more than a lifetime.

But the type of waste that can be placed in this dump includes tritium, which has a halflife of 12 years and a hazardous life of 120 to 240 years, and iodine 129, which has a halflife of 16 million years and a hazardous life of hundreds of millions of years.

It is because of the gravity of this situation that the Austin City Council went on record unanimously opposed to this dump. It is the same thing that was done by 18 county governments in Texas and by 9 Texas cities. Most recently, this past weekend the Texas Conference of the NAACP went on record against the location of this dump, and more Texans, as they learn about this, are saying, do not allow Texas to become the Nation's dumping ground.

Much has been said to the effect that this has nothing to do with the specific site. It has nothing to do with the specific site unless one happens to live in Sierra Blanca, because Sierra Blanca has already been designated. After elimination of more politically sensitive sites, it has been designated, after having been rejected on geological grounds, it has been selected as the most politically palatable place within the State of Texas to place this particular dump.

There are more than a few problems at this site, and that is probably why it was rejected initially in the State of Texas: earthquakes, seepage, closeness to the Mexican border. Can my colleagues imagine what would happen if Mexico proposed to locate a radioactive waste dump 16 miles from our border? There would be outrage, and there should be over this proposal.

[Page: H8519]

3:07 PM EDT
Chet Edwards, D-TX 11th

Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Texas compact. If this were an issue that only affected the districts of my friend, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] or my friend, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Reyes], both of whom I greatly respect, then I would in no way want to involve myself in this fight.

This issue is more than that. It affects the citizens, all the citizens, of three States in this Union: Texas, Vermont, and Maine. It is on behalf of those citizens that I wish to speak today.

The fact is that 9 other compacts have passed this Congress affecting 41 States. This is not a new issue before this Congress. Since this compact most directly affects those citizens in those three States, I think it is fair to ask the position of those States' political leaders. All six U.S. Senators from the three States support this compact, all three Governors, the vast majority of U.S. House Members from the three States support it.

As a Texan I can say not only has the Texas Legislature overwhelmingly approved this compact in 1993, but former Governor Ann Richards, a Democrat, supported this compact as Governor, as well as her successor, Republican Governor George W. Bush.

Mr. Chairman, I know and respect the fact that some people do not want any low-level nuclear waste or any waste put anywhere. In a dream world, frankly, that would be my position. But in the real world, as long as we can save Americans' lives using x rays in hospitals, and yes, as long as we have nuclear powerplants, there will be low-level nuclear waste. The question is not will we put it somewhere; the question is where.

My contention is that if the State of Texas through its Governor, its legislature, its two U.S. Senators and a vast majority of its U.S. House Members support a low-level site in Texas, it seems that other Members of this House would at least lend weight to that position. Those of us who live in Texas have no intention of locating an unsafe depository of low-level waste in our home State. We live there. The fact is, this is not a free choice. If we do not pass this compact, we are going to have threatening waste and unsafe conditions all across these three States. For those reasons, I urge support of this compact.

3:10 PM EDT
John Baldacci, D-ME 2nd

Mr. BALDACCI. Mr. Chairman, owners of the sole nuclear plant in Maine this summer decided to shut it down 10 years ahead of schedule. Events in Maine relating to the compact have taken a dramatic and unexpected turn recently. I thank the gentleman for the opportunity to clarify some of the concerns that have been expressed.

My first issue concerns the heightened interest in the ability of compact member States to responsibly dispose of low-level waste generated in their States before completion of the Texas facility. I ask the gentleman if it is his understanding and intent that pursuant to an agreement by the Governors of Maine, Vermont, and Texas, each State can continue to ship waste to sites outside of the host State until the Texas facility is open and accepting low-level waste?

3:10 PM EDT
John Baldacci, D-ME 2nd

Mr. BALDACCI. Mr. Chairman, owners of the sole nuclear plant in Maine this summer decided to shut it down 10 years ahead of schedule. Events in Maine relating to the compact have taken a dramatic and unexpected turn recently. I thank the gentleman for the opportunity to clarify some of the concerns that have been expressed.

My first issue concerns the heightened interest in the ability of compact member States to responsibly dispose of low-level waste generated in their States before completion of the Texas facility. I ask the gentleman if it is his understanding and intent that pursuant to an agreement by the Governors of Maine, Vermont, and Texas, each State can continue to ship waste to sites outside of the host State until the Texas facility is open and accepting low-level waste?

3:11 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman is correct. This interpretation and expectation have been articulated by the Governors of the three party States. It is our intent that generators in the gentleman's State and in any other of the compact States will be allowed to send low-level radioactive decommissioning waste to a non-compact site before the host site is ready. In fact, States in other compacts currently ship their waste to sites outside the host State while the siting process continues.

3:11 PM EDT
John Baldacci, D-ME 2nd

Mr. BALDACCI. I thank the gentleman for that clarification.

My second concern relates to the disposal of oversized pieces of low-level reradioactive waste created during the dismantling of a nuclear powerplant. What provisions will be made to assure that when a facility opens in the host State, section 4.01 of the compact will be fully implemented?

3:12 PM EDT
John Baldacci, D-ME 2nd

Mr. BALDACCI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 629, with those concerns being addressed. Experience has taught us all just how difficult waste management issues can become, and none is more difficult than those involving radioactive waste.

I would like to remind my colleagues that have been speaking in opposition that their State does generate this waste and their State does need a place to be able to place this waste. The concern that has been raised by Maine Yankee Power Plant has to do with the dramatic turn of events and whether the economies make sense, since there will be a closing, decommissioning, and dismantling of the plant. Maine is in favor of this, the elected representatives of Maine are in favor of this, the Governor of the State of Maine is in favor of this, and this is an insurance policy for the right environmental safeguards for the disposal of this waste.

It is very important to understand that the compact under consideration contains real and significant advantages for all three States. With this compact, Texas will be able to limit the amount of low-level radioactive waste coming into its facility from out-of-State sources. Maine and Vermont together produce a fraction of what is generated in Texas, and for Maine and Vermont, the compact relieves either State from the need to develop its own facility. Given the relatively small amount of waste produced in Maine, developing such a facility will be a disproportionate expense.

These benefits are among the reasons that the compact received overwhelming support from the Governors and the legislatures in all three States. We should now act to approve H.R. 629, without amendments. It represents the States' best efforts linked to comply with a Federal mandate, an unfunded Federal mandate, not directly linked to the development of any specific site in Texas. It contains major benefits for all three States.

I also have the letter that has been signed by all three Governors, Governor Bush, Governor Dean, and Governor King from Maine, and I enter it into the Record at this time.

STATE OF MAINE,

Office of the Governor,

Augusta, ME, September 22, 1997.

Hon. George W. Bush,

Governor, State of Texas, Austin, TX.

Hon. Howard Dean, M.D.,

Governor, State of Vermont, Montpelier, VT.

[Page: H8520]

Dear Governors Bush and Dean: As you know, the State of Maine has been forced to review the feasibility of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact with the State of Maine and Vermont (`Texas Compact') now pending in Congress. Our review has been prompted by the unexpected development of the premature closing of the Maine Yankee electronic generation nuclear facility located in Wiscasset, Maine and the fact that the shipment of decommissioning waste will commence next year, ten years prior to the timeframe upon which the Compact was based.

It continues to be the strong preference of Maine to proceed with the Texas Compact as currently drafted, and to fulfill our obligations under that agreement. However, these unexpected developments place Maine at risk of duplicative expenditures for low-level nuclear waste disposal in the following three areas.

First, we have been forced to recognize the possibility that as Maine Yankee's decommissioning proceeds, the only available disposal facility licensed to accept major portions of the waste stream is the facility at Barnwell, South Carolina, to which generations in Maine, Vermont and Texas can currently send low level radioactive waste. However, upon ratification of the Compact agreement, the Texas Compact Commission will acquire the authority under Section 3.05(7) to disapprove shipments by waste generators in any of the three States to the Barnwell facility. Such an outcome could impose substantial costs, unnecessarily, or Maine Yankee and the Maine citizens who are paying for decommissioning.

Second, our obligation to make payments totaling twenty-five million dollars to the State of Texas under Section 5.01 of the Compact is unconditional, as long as Maine remains a member of the Compact, even if substantial portions of Maine Yankee's waste stream are ultimately disposed of in South Carolina. This places Maine citizens at risk of not getting the benefit of their bargain with Texas and Vermont, in the absence of any equitable adjustments in Maine's monetary obligations under the Compact.

Third, while the Texas facility has applied for discretion in the size or form of shipments that are accepted for final disposal, the proposed facility is presently unable to guarantee acceptance of oversize decommissioning waste components, intact or in large sections, as required under Section 4.01 of the Compact pertaining to disposal of all decommissioning waste in the Compact region. A failure to provide disposal capacity for this portion of the decommissioning waste stream in a timely manner at the Texas facility could compel Maine Yankee to dispose of waste at another licensed facility, causing duplicative costs.

With these aspects of our dilemma in mind, we request the following clarifications of intent, that we believe are fully consistent with the intent and letter of the Compact, but require affirmative action by the Texas Compact Commission to implement. These include the following three items:

1. The Compact agreement currently requires that there be no discrimination in prices charged to generators in Maine and Vermont compared with Texas at Section 4.04(4). It is consistent to also assure that there will be no discrimination between host and non-host generators regarding access by Compact States to disposal facilities outside of Texas. For this reason, appointees to the Texas Compact Commission should endorse a principle of non-discriminatory access by generators in all Compact States to disposal facilities outside of Texas. It is critical to effective implementation of this principle that final appointments to the Compact Commission and timely review of any petition under Section 3.05(7) occur as expeditiously as possible.

2. There is a realistic risk that Maine citizens could be compelled to pay twice for the disposal of Maine Yankee's decommissioning waste, in the form of up-front payment of construction costs for the Texas facility as well as the disposal fees charged by Barnwell for actual disposal. In consideration of this risk, the State of Texas agrees to undertake reasonable efforts in good faith to mitigate this problem in consultation with the States of Maine and Vermont. Efforts to mitigate, or reduce the impact on Maine citizens of up-front payments for unused disposal capacity will require the consent of the Texas Compact Commission, which consent will not be unreasonably withheld.

3. In order to accommodate the projected decommissioning waste stream at Maine Yankee that may occur as early as 1998, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority must pursue as expeditiously as possible the licensing of all disposal shipments, specifically including the disposal of oversize decommissioning components. Until the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission approves such a permit application, the Texas facility will be unable to fulfill the requirement established at Section 4.01 of the Compact for disposal of all decommissioning waste located in the party states.

We are confident that you recognize that none of these requested actions involve a change in the language of the Compact, nor of the basic expectations of the three states that negotiated Compact in 1993. These three points of agreement merely clarify the mutual intent of the Governors for implementing the Compact in a manner that assures an equitable outcome for all three states.

Thank you for your gracious consideration of these vital issues for our States and our joint effort in Congress and in the years to come.

Sincerely,

Angus S. King, Jr.,

Governor, State of Maine.

[TIME: 1515]

3:18 PM EDT
Esteban Torres, D-CA 34th

Mr. TORRES. Mr. Chairman, I stand today here in opposition to H.R. 629. I simply cannot understand why we talk about various Governors of States, the State of Texas, its legislature, really underscoring and underlining and accepting what I seem to believe could be opening the door to further dumping. I am not sure I understand this limiting.

First of all, I think H.R. 629 violates a 1983 La Paz agreement between Mexico and the United States wherein they are prohibited both Governments from dumping 60 miles from the border. As we see this map here, this waste material, radioactive, is going to come all the way from Maine across Vermont, New Hampshire, down to Massachusetts, to New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and all the way across down to Tennessee through Arkansas, through the State of Texas, and then finally settle down here in Sierra Blanca, radioactive material in the vicinity of a population numbered at some 700,000 people 20 miles from the border, from the river. This is against that treaty, Mr. Chairman. I do not see the sanity in opening up this kind of door for Texas.

I am not from Texas, I come from California. But we have had the same problems there. Our State is replete with the sight of waste dumps, toxic landfills, incinerators, you name it, in those communities of less resistance. Who are those communities? Usually the communities where minorities live, usually the east side of town, the other side of the tracks. That is what we talk about when we say environmental justice. We need environmental justice. I think this is environmental injustice. If Texas allows itself to open up the door to this kind of prevalent danger, I do not understand the facts here.

Why was this legislation defeated in the last session of Congress, the 104th Congress? I think I understand why the 104th Congress defeated this kind of measure. It is implicit, Mr. Chairman, as to the dangers, to the consequences of this.

Supporters of this bill want to dump radioactive waste on a community that is primarily minorities, again, here on the border, as if we do not have enough problems already on the border, on the river, with the kind of maquiladora dumping on the river, infesting all the way down to Brownsville.

Mr. Chairman, we do not need this kind of legislation. I urge my colleagues here to defeat it today very soundly, just like the 104th session of Congress did.

3:18 PM EDT
Esteban Torres, D-CA 34th

Mr. TORRES. Mr. Chairman, I stand today here in opposition to H.R. 629. I simply cannot understand why we talk about various Governors of States, the State of Texas, its legislature, really underscoring and underlining and accepting what I seem to believe could be opening the door to further dumping. I am not sure I understand this limiting.

First of all, I think H.R. 629 violates a 1983 La Paz agreement between Mexico and the United States wherein they are prohibited both Governments from dumping 60 miles from the border. As we see this map here, this waste material, radioactive, is going to come all the way from Maine across Vermont, New Hampshire, down to Massachusetts, to New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and all the way across down to Tennessee through Arkansas, through the State of Texas, and then finally settle down here in Sierra Blanca, radioactive material in the vicinity of a population numbered at some 700,000 people 20 miles from the border, from the river. This is against that treaty, Mr. Chairman. I do not see the sanity in opening up this kind of door for Texas.

I am not from Texas, I come from California. But we have had the same problems there. Our State is replete with the sight of waste dumps, toxic landfills, incinerators, you name it, in those communities of less resistance. Who are those communities? Usually the communities where minorities live, usually the east side of town, the other side of the tracks. That is what we talk about when we say environmental justice. We need environmental justice. I think this is environmental injustice. If Texas allows itself to open up the door to this kind of prevalent danger, I do not understand the facts here.

Why was this legislation defeated in the last session of Congress, the 104th Congress? I think I understand why the 104th Congress defeated this kind of measure. It is implicit, Mr. Chairman, as to the dangers, to the consequences of this.

Supporters of this bill want to dump radioactive waste on a community that is primarily minorities, again, here on the border, as if we do not have enough problems already on the border, on the river, with the kind of maquiladora dumping on the river, infesting all the way down to Brownsville.

Mr. Chairman, we do not need this kind of legislation. I urge my colleagues here to defeat it today very soundly, just like the 104th session of Congress did.

3:21 PM EDT
Bernie Sanders, I-VT 1st

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 629. Mr. Chairman, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act and its 1985 amendments make commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal a State and not a Federal responsibility.

As we have heard, all that Texas and Maine and Vermont are asking for today is to be treated as 9 other compacts were treated affecting 41 States. This is not new business. We have done it 9 times, 41 States, and Texas, Maine, and Vermont ask us to do it today.

Mr. Chairman, let me touch for a moment upon the environmental aspects of this issue. Let me address it from the perspective of someone who is an opponent of nuclear power, who opposes the construction of power plants and, if he had his way, would shut down the existing nuclear power plants as quickly and as safely as we could.

One of the reasons that many of us oppose nuclear power plants is that when this technology was developed, there was not a lot of thought given as to how we dispose of the nuclear waste. Neither the industry nor the Government, in my view, did the right thing by allowing the construction of the plants and not figuring out how we get rid of the waste.

But the issue we are debating here today is not that issue. The reality, as others have already pointed out, is that the waste is here. We cannot wish it away. It exists in power plants in Maine and Vermont, it exists in hospitals, it is here.

The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Reyes] a few moments ago said, `Who wants radioactive waste in their district?' I guess he is right. But do Members know what, by going forward with the nuclear power industry, that is what we have. So the real environmental issue here is not to wish it away, but to make the judgment, the important environmental judgment, as to what is the safest way of disposing of the nuclear waste that has been created. That is the environmental challenge that we face.

The strong environmental position should not be and cannot be to do nothing, and to put our heads in the sand and pretend that the problem does not exist. It would be nice if Texas had no low-level radioactive waste, or Vermont or Maine or any other State. That would be great. That is not the reality. The environmental challenge now is, given the reality that low-level radioactive waste exists, what is the safest way of disposing of that waste.

Leaving the radioactive waste at the site where it was produced, despite the fact that that site may be extremely unsafe in terms of long-term isolation of the waste and was never intended to be a long-term depository of low-level waste, is horrendous environmental policy. What sense is it to say that you have to keep the waste where it is now, even though that might be very environmentally damaging? That does not make any sense at all.

No reputable scientist or environmentalist believes that the geology of Vermont or Maine would be a good place for this waste. In the humid climate of Vermont and Maine, it is more likely that groundwater will come in contact with that waste and carry off radioactive elements to the accessible environment.

There is widespread scientific evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that locations in Texas, some of which receive less than 12 inches of rainfall a year, a region where the groundwater table is more than 700 feet below the surface, is a far better location for this waste.

This is not a political assertion, it is a geological and environmental reality. Furthermore, even if this compact is not approved, it is likely that Texas, which has a great deal of low-level radioactive waste, and we should make the point that 80 percent of the waste is coming from Texas, 10 percent from Vermont, 10 percent from Maine, the reality is that Texas will go forward with or without this compact in building a facility to dispose of their low-level radioactive waste.

If they do not have the compact, which gives them the legal right to deny low-level radioactive waste from coming from anyplace else in the country, it seems to me they will be in worse environmental shape than they are right now. Right now, with the compact, they can deal with the constitutional issue of limiting the kinds of waste they get.

From an environmental point of view, I urge strong support for this legislation.

3:21 PM EDT
Bernie Sanders, I-VT 1st

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 629. Mr. Chairman, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act and its 1985 amendments make commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal a State and not a Federal responsibility.

As we have heard, all that Texas and Maine and Vermont are asking for today is to be treated as 9 other compacts were treated affecting 41 States. This is not new business. We have done it 9 times, 41 States, and Texas, Maine, and Vermont ask us to do it today.

Mr. Chairman, let me touch for a moment upon the environmental aspects of this issue. Let me address it from the perspective of someone who is an opponent of nuclear power, who opposes the construction of power plants and, if he had his way, would shut down the existing nuclear power plants as quickly and as safely as we could.

One of the reasons that many of us oppose nuclear power plants is that when this technology was developed, there was not a lot of thought given as to how we dispose of the nuclear waste. Neither the industry nor the Government, in my view, did the right thing by allowing the construction of the plants and not figuring out how we get rid of the waste.

But the issue we are debating here today is not that issue. The reality, as others have already pointed out, is that the waste is here. We cannot wish it away. It exists in power plants in Maine and Vermont, it exists in hospitals, it is here.

The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Reyes] a few moments ago said, `Who wants radioactive waste in their district?' I guess he is right. But do Members know what, by going forward with the nuclear power industry, that is what we have. So the real environmental issue here is not to wish it away, but to make the judgment, the important environmental judgment, as to what is the safest way of disposing of the nuclear waste that has been created. That is the environmental challenge that we face.

The strong environmental position should not be and cannot be to do nothing, and to put our heads in the sand and pretend that the problem does not exist. It would be nice if Texas had no low-level radioactive waste, or Vermont or Maine or any other State. That would be great. That is not the reality. The environmental challenge now is, given the reality that low-level radioactive waste exists, what is the safest way of disposing of that waste.

Leaving the radioactive waste at the site where it was produced, despite the fact that that site may be extremely unsafe in terms of long-term isolation of the waste and was never intended to be a long-term depository of low-level waste, is horrendous environmental policy. What sense is it to say that you have to keep the waste where it is now, even though that might be very environmentally damaging? That does not make any sense at all.

No reputable scientist or environmentalist believes that the geology of Vermont or Maine would be a good place for this waste. In the humid climate of Vermont and Maine, it is more likely that groundwater will come in contact with that waste and carry off radioactive elements to the accessible environment.

There is widespread scientific evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that locations in Texas, some of which receive less than 12 inches of rainfall a year, a region where the groundwater table is more than 700 feet below the surface, is a far better location for this waste.

This is not a political assertion, it is a geological and environmental reality. Furthermore, even if this compact is not approved, it is likely that Texas, which has a great deal of low-level radioactive waste, and we should make the point that 80 percent of the waste is coming from Texas, 10 percent from Vermont, 10 percent from Maine, the reality is that Texas will go forward with or without this compact in building a facility to dispose of their low-level radioactive waste.

If they do not have the compact, which gives them the legal right to deny low-level radioactive waste from coming from anyplace else in the country, it seems to me they will be in worse environmental shape than they are right now. Right now, with the compact, they can deal with the constitutional issue of limiting the kinds of waste they get.

From an environmental point of view, I urge strong support for this legislation.

3:27 PM EDT
Tom Allen, D-ME 1st

Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Barton] can clarify one further point, it is my understanding that if the State of Maine suffers negative economic consequences owing to the circumstances of early closure of Maine Yankee, the Governors have agreed that the commission will use all good faith efforts to enable Maine to have such damages mitigated.

3:27 PM EDT
Tom Allen, D-ME 1st

Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Barton] can clarify one further point, it is my understanding that if the State of Maine suffers negative economic consequences owing to the circumstances of early closure of Maine Yankee, the Governors have agreed that the commission will use all good faith efforts to enable Maine to have such damages mitigated.

3:27 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that the Governors of the gentleman's State and my State and Vermont have agreed that all reasonable good faith efforts would be executed by the State of Texas and the commission, if any such damages occur, to assist Maine in achieving such mitigation.

[Page: H8522]

3:28 PM EDT
Tom Allen, D-ME 1st

Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Chairman, I want to say a couple of things. First of all, there is broad support within the State of Maine for this particular compact. In our State, not only has the Governor supported it, supported the compact and does support it; not only has it passed the State legislature; but it has passed a statewide referendum. People in Maine support this particular compact, even though, of course, as always, there is some opposition.

Mr. Chairman, we have been working for years to get to this particular point. Several speakers before me have mentioned Maine Yankee. Maine Yankee is in an unusual circumstance. Just recently, Maine Yankee closed down 10 years ahead of schedule. The President of Maine Yankee would not be doing his job if he did not look at the economic consequences and say, there may be some risks here that we did not anticipate.

There were some risks. The most important risk was this. What if the Texas facility is not built and not on line and not ready for Maine's decommissioning waste of Maine Yankee, and yet we cannot send it to Barnwell, SC, which is the only other site?

I believe, as a result of conversations with the Governor's office and with Maine Yankee and others over the last few days, that that risk is mitigated, and it is mitigated in particular by the undertaking of the Governors of the three States to work in good faith to solve those particular problems if and when they arise.

[TIME: 1530]

So I believe, I am convinced, that now the costs of this compact are in line with the costs of disposal of this waste in Barnwell, SC.

Let me say this. The gentleman from Vermont early on said there are two issues here. One is process. This has the broad support of people in Texas, Vermont, and Maine. But second, it makes good environmental policy. This is good environmental sense.

We cannot wish away low-level radioactive waste. It has to go somewhere. If it does not go somewhere and if it is not stored in a safe, secure site, then it is going to be distributed all over this country.

As a country, as we think about how we deal with low-level radioactive waste, and this is low-level, this is not spent nuclear fuel rods, this is low-level waste, we need to figure out how to dispose of it. We need to look for places where the geology is right, where the hydrology is right, where the population is sparse.

And although I am not involved in the choice of a particular site in Texas, I know that Maine has hydrological and geological problems that would make it a problem in our State.

It is vital as we go forward that there not be one site at Barnwell, SC, to deposit low-level radioactive waste. We need to have two. It makes good economic sense, and it makes good, sound environmental policy.

So I would close simply by saying that I urge all of my colleagues to support this bill. It makes sense for people in Maine, Vermont, and Texas, and around the country.

3:32 PM EDT
Sam Johnson, R-TX 3rd

Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I would like to point out that this property is State-owned property. We had a big discussion about that when I was in the State legislature. I know that the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Green] remembers that. And it was picked because of its location and because it was State-owned.

Mr. Chairman, after 30 years, 85 percent of the waste is nonradioactive. That is what we are talking about. We are talking about low-level waste. We are not talking about high-level waste.

The specific site is limited to 30 years, this place. And I would say to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Reyes] that at that location it takes 20,000 to 40,000 years for anything to seep down to the Rio Grande.

Also, I would ask the question about my colleague from California who has a compact but does not want this one. His State has got a compact with North Dakota, South Dakota, and Arizona. The gentleman had a big, long line that said transportation is a big problem. Guess what? California has not gotten their site ready yet, so where are they sending their waste? South Carolina, all the way across the country. If transportation is a problem, then California has got it.

Mr. Chairman, I would tell my colleagues, transportation is not a problem. Transportation has an excellent safety record for transportation of commercial low-level waste. During the last 20 years, there have only been four minor accidents and never been a radiologically related injury or death associated with a transportation accident of such waste.

For the past 20 years, they have been transporting this waste to South Carolina. Licensing, inspection, and enforcement regulations from the Federal Government ensure that transportation requirements are met. All waste coming into Texas is going to be dry, solid form, and they are going to have a tracking system to track the waste from the source of generation through disposal, accounting accurately for each part of it.

So I would suggest to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Doggett], if he does not want Texas to have a compact, then any State can ship waste to Texas.

3:35 PM EDT
Henry Bonilla, R-TX 23rd

Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Chairman, years ago when the country first started learning about toxic waste, nuclear waste, radioactive waste, there were jokes that kind of circulated around the country that if one visited a nuclear plant or grew up in an area like Three Mile Island, people would chuckle and say, `Do you glow in the dark?'

Mr. Chairman, I can assure my colleagues that while that was a joke in some other communities, this is no laughing matter for the constituents that I represent in west Texas. Imagine, just because they happen to live in a rural area, why would they have any less right to having a safe environment than somebody who grew up in downtown New York? Just because they chose a quiet area where they want to get away from all of that other stuff, and suddenly they wake up one day and the school bus that their kid is riding in down the highway passes a nuclear waste dump site, and they suddenly wonder every day if their child going to become infected or contaminated by some of the waste going through the system and through the water supplies possibly if something goes wrong. There is a possibility.

The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Barton] points out that there has never been an earthquake in this area. But there have been tremors. There has been movement in the ground that makes the residents out there shake in their boots at the prospect that something might happen.

Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to put themselves in their shoes. Imagine if they were sending their child to school every day wondering, `Did I make the right decision in settling in this area?'

Would they ever think the day would come as an American that their constitutional rights to be heard about something that is going to be built in their backyard might be violated and they would not, as an American, have any say as to whether or not this dump was going to be constructed in their very own backyard?

Mr. Chairman, I have got at least 12 county commissioners, courts, local governments, who have written me and spoken to me very strongly about their opposition to this dump being created in their backyard, people like county judge Jake Brisbin in Presidio and former mayor Alfredo Gutierrez in Del Rio who were concerned about this issue.

People talk about the La Paz agreement with Mexico. Sometimes we think that we hold the upper hand with our neighbors to the south on environmental issues. But the thing we have to ask ourselves is when the Speaker of the House, as he has in the right way, sat down with the President of Mexico and said, `Do not build those Carbon 1 and Carbon 2 burning plants near the border because they will pollute our air. Why don't you put scrubbers on the facility?' And the Mexican Government will not do it. And now, in turn, they are asking us not to build a low-level radioactive waste site nearing the Mexican border because it could threaten their country as well.

Mr. Chairman, we have to learn to coexist along the border and comply with the La Paz agreement so that we do not have threats that exist to people on either side of the border.

For those of my colleagues who think that this compact affects only Texas, Maine, and Vermont, I have a map. The gentleman from California [Mr. Torres] pointed out one route that the waste could take coming down here. But whether it takes a route that the gentleman pointed out that comes through the middle of the country, or whether it took a detour and went through Chicago, maybe Iowa or Nebraska or another

detour throughout the South like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, there are many different superhighways that exist in this area, and this stuff could be coming through the neighborhoods of my colleagues.

One of my friends pointed out earlier as well that there may be only 20 percent of this radioactive waste which is, in fact, radioactive. Mr. Chairman, I would ask my colleagues, if they had to drink the water in their house and they knew that only 20 percent of the liquid in that glass was radioactive, would they drink it? Is that not enough to scare them to death about how this could affect the future of the children growing up in their community?

I ask all of my colleagues, when they think about all those funny things that were said over the years about glowing in the dark, it is not just the people in Texas who are going to be suffering from this. If my colleagues live in any of these States enroute here in moving that waste though the country and down to west Texas, they have to ask themselves the same question.

If there is a truck accident or train accident or something happens along the way and suddenly just 20 percent of that load spills in their community, what are they going to say to their people when they have to come back and explain to them, `Yes, I approved that radioactive facility down in Texas, but I never thought the stuff would be coming through my town?'

Well, Mr. Chairman, how about if it does? What are my colleagues going to say when there is an accident? This is not just a case of my people glowing in the dark in the future if there is an accident. I ask Members to think about it. It could be their people, too.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

[Page: H8523]

3:35 PM EDT
Henry Bonilla, R-TX 23rd

Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Chairman, years ago when the country first started learning about toxic waste, nuclear waste, radioactive waste, there were jokes that kind of circulated around the country that if one visited a nuclear plant or grew up in an area like Three Mile Island, people would chuckle and say, `Do you glow in the dark?'

Mr. Chairman, I can assure my colleagues that while that was a joke in some other communities, this is no laughing matter for the constituents that I represent in west Texas. Imagine, just because they happen to live in a rural area, why would they have any less right to having a safe environment than somebody who grew up in downtown New York? Just because they chose a quiet area where they want to get away from all of that other stuff, and suddenly they wake up one day and the school bus that their kid is riding in down the highway passes a nuclear waste dump site, and they suddenly wonder every day if their child going to become infected or contaminated by some of the waste going through the system and through the water supplies possibly if something goes wrong. There is a possibility.

The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Barton] points out that there has never been an earthquake in this area. But there have been tremors. There has been movement in the ground that makes the residents out there shake in their boots at the prospect that something might happen.

Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to put themselves in their shoes. Imagine if they were sending their child to school every day wondering, `Did I make the right decision in settling in this area?'

Would they ever think the day would come as an American that their constitutional rights to be heard about something that is going to be built in their backyard might be violated and they would not, as an American, have any say as to whether or not this dump was going to be constructed in their very own backyard?

Mr. Chairman, I have got at least 12 county commissioners, courts, local governments, who have written me and spoken to me very strongly about their opposition to this dump being created in their backyard, people like county judge Jake Brisbin in Presidio and former mayor Alfredo Gutierrez in Del Rio who were concerned about this issue.

People talk about the La Paz agreement with Mexico. Sometimes we think that we hold the upper hand with our neighbors to the south on environmental issues. But the thing we have to ask ourselves is when the Speaker of the House, as he has in the right way, sat down with the President of Mexico and said, `Do not build those Carbon 1 and Carbon 2 burning plants near the border because they will pollute our air. Why don't you put scrubbers on the facility?' And the Mexican Government will not do it. And now, in turn, they are asking us not to build a low-level radioactive waste site nearing the Mexican border because it could threaten their country as well.

Mr. Chairman, we have to learn to coexist along the border and comply with the La Paz agreement so that we do not have threats that exist to people on either side of the border.

For those of my colleagues who think that this compact affects only Texas, Maine, and Vermont, I have a map. The gentleman from California [Mr. Torres] pointed out one route that the waste could take coming down here. But whether it takes a route that the gentleman pointed out that comes through the middle of the country, or whether it took a detour and went through Chicago, maybe Iowa or Nebraska or another

detour throughout the South like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, there are many different superhighways that exist in this area, and this stuff could be coming through the neighborhoods of my colleagues.

One of my friends pointed out earlier as well that there may be only 20 percent of this radioactive waste which is, in fact, radioactive. Mr. Chairman, I would ask my colleagues, if they had to drink the water in their house and they knew that only 20 percent of the liquid in that glass was radioactive, would they drink it? Is that not enough to scare them to death about how this could affect the future of the children growing up in their community?

I ask all of my colleagues, when they think about all those funny things that were said over the years about glowing in the dark, it is not just the people in Texas who are going to be suffering from this. If my colleagues live in any of these States enroute here in moving that waste though the country and down to west Texas, they have to ask themselves the same question.

If there is a truck accident or train accident or something happens along the way and suddenly just 20 percent of that load spills in their community, what are they going to say to their people when they have to come back and explain to them, `Yes, I approved that radioactive facility down in Texas, but I never thought the stuff would be coming through my town?'

Well, Mr. Chairman, how about if it does? What are my colleagues going to say when there is an accident? This is not just a case of my people glowing in the dark in the future if there is an accident. I ask Members to think about it. It could be their people, too.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

[Page: H8523]

3:40 PM EDT
Gene Green, D-TX 29th

Mr. GREEN. Mr. Chairman, let me briefly respond to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] in talking about glowing in the dark. I think that is raising questions that really are not the issue, because right now in our hospitals, in portable buildings in our hospitals, in the ceilings of our hospital, they are storing that.

So, it is not as the gentleman is trying to allege, that this is glowing in the dark. We are talking about low-level waste that is already being stored in urban areas, not in safe, contained areas like is contemplated for west Texas.

Mr. Chairman, let me talk about the transportation issue. There is more dangerous cargo now on Interstate 10 that goes through the gentleman's district, and not too far, than ever will be considered in low-level waste. There are more volatile chemicals flowing down Interstate 10 from El Paso to San Antonio than will ever be in there.

Mr. Chairman, let me address the La Paz issue a little bit. Let me quote from Reuters News. Alejandro Calvillo, an officer of Greenpeace Mexico, is quoted as saying that, `Mexico's National Water Commission and Nuclear Safeguard Commission recently concluded that the dump posed no health hazard for Mexico.' That was Reuters, September 5, 1996.

Mr. Chairman, another quote regarding the La Paz agreement. The Texas facility promotes another purpose of the La Paz agreement to `prevent, reduce and eliminate sources of pollution' because it is properly engineered and environmentally sound.

Mr. Chairman, that is why this provision is a good place to do it. The Federal Government, Congress, allowed in 1985 for the interstate compact. Texas, Maine, and Vermont agreed to do it. The legislature in Texas, and I know because I served there up until 1991, agreed to this compact. In 1993, they agreed, after a great deal of studies, to have the siting.

The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] talked about all those local elected officials that are contacting him. Maybe they ought to call their State representatives and senators and the Governor's office, because those are the people who made that decision to go to his county. We always believe that decisions are made best that are made locally. This was a local decision and not on the floor of this Congress.

Mr. Chairman, that is why it is important. If we do not pass this bill and that site opens, the constituents of the gentleman out there will have waste from all over the country coming to this site. Maybe instead of the gentleman from California [Mr. Torres] shipping his wastes from California to South Carolina, perhaps they will be able to stop halfway and leave it in the gentleman's district in west Texas. I am sure they will be able to make a deal with them.

That is what is so important about this bill. It allows a compact for a number of States to participate and allows Texas to say, we are the biggest State in the compact, we have to have a place to put our low-level waste that we are now warehousing on site.

Mr. Chairman, we need to pass this bill, H.R. 629, today to make sure we can do that. That is why I urge an `aye' vote for this bill.

3:40 PM EDT
Gene Green, D-TX 29th

Mr. GREEN. Mr. Chairman, let me briefly respond to the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] in talking about glowing in the dark. I think that is raising questions that really are not the issue, because right now in our hospitals, in portable buildings in our hospitals, in the ceilings of our hospital, they are storing that.

So, it is not as the gentleman is trying to allege, that this is glowing in the dark. We are talking about low-level waste that is already being stored in urban areas, not in safe, contained areas like is contemplated for west Texas.

Mr. Chairman, let me talk about the transportation issue. There is more dangerous cargo now on Interstate 10 that goes through the gentleman's district, and not too far, than ever will be considered in low-level waste. There are more volatile chemicals flowing down Interstate 10 from El Paso to San Antonio than will ever be in there.

Mr. Chairman, let me address the La Paz issue a little bit. Let me quote from Reuters News. Alejandro Calvillo, an officer of Greenpeace Mexico, is quoted as saying that, `Mexico's National Water Commission and Nuclear Safeguard Commission recently concluded that the dump posed no health hazard for Mexico.' That was Reuters, September 5, 1996.

Mr. Chairman, another quote regarding the La Paz agreement. The Texas facility promotes another purpose of the La Paz agreement to `prevent, reduce and eliminate sources of pollution' because it is properly engineered and environmentally sound.

Mr. Chairman, that is why this provision is a good place to do it. The Federal Government, Congress, allowed in 1985 for the interstate compact. Texas, Maine, and Vermont agreed to do it. The legislature in Texas, and I know because I served there up until 1991, agreed to this compact. In 1993, they agreed, after a great deal of studies, to have the siting.

The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] talked about all those local elected officials that are contacting him. Maybe they ought to call their State representatives and senators and the Governor's office, because those are the people who made that decision to go to his county. We always believe that decisions are made best that are made locally. This was a local decision and not on the floor of this Congress.

Mr. Chairman, that is why it is important. If we do not pass this bill and that site opens, the constituents of the gentleman out there will have waste from all over the country coming to this site. Maybe instead of the gentleman from California [Mr. Torres] shipping his wastes from California to South Carolina, perhaps they will be able to stop halfway and leave it in the gentleman's district in west Texas. I am sure they will be able to make a deal with them.

That is what is so important about this bill. It allows a compact for a number of States to participate and allows Texas to say, we are the biggest State in the compact, we have to have a place to put our low-level waste that we are now warehousing on site.

Mr. Chairman, we need to pass this bill, H.R. 629, today to make sure we can do that. That is why I urge an `aye' vote for this bill.

3:44 PM EDT
Ralph M. Hall, D-TX 4th

Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I thank all my colleagues for their input here. We are along toward the end of a long, hard trail, and a lot of these arguments that are being made are good arguments. I can understand them and understand where they are coming from. They are less legal arguments than they are emotional arguments.

I even respect these Members who have come to the aid of a colleague. I respect the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla], who has done a good job with this situation in that he came in late. When this first transpired, the gentleman was not the Congressman from that area. He has done a good job since becoming their Congressman and representing them and setting his best foot forward.

[TIME: 1545]

All of this is late. Most of this happened before the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla] got to be the Congressman for the area that they have designated. These arguments should have been made before the TNRCC and before all the community hearings. They should have been made before the town hall meetings. Even the recent colloquy between the Governors that gave the option for input from people who had an interest, there has been all the input in the world into this. There has been opportunity for everyone to be heard. I think everyone has been heard from the three States today.

I think this low-level radioactive waste policy act is a very good example of State and Federal cooperation. This compact fulfills the Congress' side of the bargain. This is just the part we have to do. The States have already done their part. Other States have their compacts. I think 40 other States have them. In 1980 and again in 1985, Congress enacted legislation that set up a program under which States would have primary responsibility and primary control over the disposal of low-level radioactive waste. This is what the States wanted. This is what they asked for. This is what they were entitled to.

It makes sense because so many important local activities depend on having safe and ready disposal of low-level waste. While this issue is often discussed in terms of utilities' needs for disposal facilities, let me tell my colleagues, it also concerns hospitals, university research programs. It concerns industries across the State of Texas and across this Nation, industries that spawn jobs, and jobs spawn dignity; industry and jobs in the area where this site is, where substantial amounts have been spent.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to pass this. I will not pretend that finding the site has been easy or is easy or that all the questions about how to build the right facility are known. These are questions that have to be resolved in the course of obtaining a license to operate the facility and cannot be settled by us.

The Texas compact meets the law's requirements. It is needed by the people of these three States. I strongly urge that we support it. We ought to encourage States to conform with Federal policy, which is exactly what Texas, Maine, and Vermont have done by entering into this compact. I urge Members' support of these States' actions by voting for H.R. 629.

[Page: H8524]

3:47 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, we have heard quite a bit of emotion this afternoon on the floor about the issue generically of nuclear waste and specifically low-level nuclear waste. We have heard the concerns about transporting the waste. We have heard the concerns about storing the waste. We have heard the concerns about possibly seeing some of the waste get into the water table because of an earthquake.

Let us reverse that as we close the argument. We do not live in a zero risk environment. Every day thousands of Americans are diagnosed with cancer. If we do not have a way to dispose of the radiation treatments that are used to treat colon cancer, they are not going to be treated and those people are going to die. If we do not have a way to diagnose if somebody has some sort of a defect that is treated by diagnostic piece of equipment like an x ray or radionuclide that they put into the bloodstream, those people will not know that they have that medical disability and they, too, will develop the disease and they will die.

The fact of the matter is that we need disposal sites for low-level radioactive nuclear waste. That is a fact. We want to protect human life. We want to do everything we can to give people a quality of human life. Forty-one States currently have developed compacts with other States. Three States today want the same right that those 41 other States have today, Vermont, Texas, and Maine.

If we want to talk about the transportation problem, almost all of the waste that is going to be stored in Texas is going to be generated in Texas. Less than 50 truckloads a year, less than 1 per week, is going to be transshipped from Maine or Vermont. As the gentleman from Texas, [Mr. Sam Johnson] pointed out, in the almost 30 years that we have tracked the transportation of low-level nuclear waste around this country, there have only been four accidents, only four accidents, and there has not been one reported injury from those four accidents. That is an important issue but it is in no way a determinative issue.

We simply need to accept the reality that States under the law and under the Constitution have the right to enter into a compact. This particular compact is between Texas, Vermont, and Maine. The Governors have supported it on a bipartisan basis, the legislatures of all three States have supported it on a bipartisan basis, and we should support it on a bipartisan basis.

When we come to the rollcall vote in the next 5 minutes, vote `yes.' The concerns that have been expressed by the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla], who represents the district, which are very valid concerns, can be addressed if they need to be addressed between the Texas Legislature and the executive branch, the Texas Natural Resource Commission that has responsibility for regulating environmental issues in the State of Texas.

There are some issues that need to be addressed. This is not the time and this is not the place. Vote `yes' on the compact. Give our States the same right that 41 other States have under the law today. I compliment the distinguished chairman of the subcommittee and compliment him for his leadership on this issue.

3:47 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, we have heard quite a bit of emotion this afternoon on the floor about the issue generically of nuclear waste and specifically low-level nuclear waste. We have heard the concerns about transporting the waste. We have heard the concerns about storing the waste. We have heard the concerns about possibly seeing some of the waste get into the water table because of an earthquake.

Let us reverse that as we close the argument. We do not live in a zero risk environment. Every day thousands of Americans are diagnosed with cancer. If we do not have a way to dispose of the radiation treatments that are used to treat colon cancer, they are not going to be treated and those people are going to die. If we do not have a way to diagnose if somebody has some sort of a defect that is treated by diagnostic piece of equipment like an x ray or radionuclide that they put into the bloodstream, those people will not know that they have that medical disability and they, too, will develop the disease and they will die.

The fact of the matter is that we need disposal sites for low-level radioactive nuclear waste. That is a fact. We want to protect human life. We want to do everything we can to give people a quality of human life. Forty-one States currently have developed compacts with other States. Three States today want the same right that those 41 other States have today, Vermont, Texas, and Maine.

If we want to talk about the transportation problem, almost all of the waste that is going to be stored in Texas is going to be generated in Texas. Less than 50 truckloads a year, less than 1 per week, is going to be transshipped from Maine or Vermont. As the gentleman from Texas, [Mr. Sam Johnson] pointed out, in the almost 30 years that we have tracked the transportation of low-level nuclear waste around this country, there have only been four accidents, only four accidents, and there has not been one reported injury from those four accidents. That is an important issue but it is in no way a determinative issue.

We simply need to accept the reality that States under the law and under the Constitution have the right to enter into a compact. This particular compact is between Texas, Vermont, and Maine. The Governors have supported it on a bipartisan basis, the legislatures of all three States have supported it on a bipartisan basis, and we should support it on a bipartisan basis.

When we come to the rollcall vote in the next 5 minutes, vote `yes.' The concerns that have been expressed by the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla], who represents the district, which are very valid concerns, can be addressed if they need to be addressed between the Texas Legislature and the executive branch, the Texas Natural Resource Commission that has responsibility for regulating environmental issues in the State of Texas.

There are some issues that need to be addressed. This is not the time and this is not the place. Vote `yes' on the compact. Give our States the same right that 41 other States have under the law today. I compliment the distinguished chairman of the subcommittee and compliment him for his leadership on this issue.

3:47 PM EDT
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th

Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, we have heard quite a bit of emotion this afternoon on the floor about the issue generically of nuclear waste and specifically low-level nuclear waste. We have heard the concerns about transporting the waste. We have heard the concerns about storing the waste. We have heard the concerns about possibly seeing some of the waste get into the water table because of an earthquake.

Let us reverse that as we close the argument. We do not live in a zero risk environment. Every day thousands of Americans are diagnosed with cancer. If we do not have a way to dispose of the radiation treatments that are used to treat colon cancer, they are not going to be treated and those people are going to die. If we do not have a way to diagnose if somebody has some sort of a defect that is treated by diagnostic piece of equipment like an x ray or radionuclide that they put into the bloodstream, those people will not know that they have that medical disability and they, too, will develop the disease and they will die.

The fact of the matter is that we need disposal sites for low-level radioactive nuclear waste. That is a fact. We want to protect human life. We want to do everything we can to give people a quality of human life. Forty-one States currently have developed compacts with other States. Three States today want the same right that those 41 other States have today, Vermont, Texas, and Maine.

If we want to talk about the transportation problem, almost all of the waste that is going to be stored in Texas is going to be generated in Texas. Less than 50 truckloads a year, less than 1 per week, is going to be transshipped from Maine or Vermont. As the gentleman from Texas, [Mr. Sam Johnson] pointed out, in the almost 30 years that we have tracked the transportation of low-level nuclear waste around this country, there have only been four accidents, only four accidents, and there has not been one reported injury from those four accidents. That is an important issue but it is in no way a determinative issue.

We simply need to accept the reality that States under the law and under the Constitution have the right to enter into a compact. This particular compact is between Texas, Vermont, and Maine. The Governors have supported it on a bipartisan basis, the legislatures of all three States have supported it on a bipartisan basis, and we should support it on a bipartisan basis.

When we come to the rollcall vote in the next 5 minutes, vote `yes.' The concerns that have been expressed by the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Bonilla], who represents the district, which are very valid concerns, can be addressed if they need to be addressed between the Texas Legislature and the executive branch, the Texas Natural Resource Commission that has responsibility for regulating environmental issues in the State of Texas.

There are some issues that need to be addressed. This is not the time and this is not the place. Vote `yes' on the compact. Give our States the same right that 41 other States have under the law today. I compliment the distinguished chairman of the subcommittee and compliment him for his leadership on this issue.