Speeches & Floor Statements

United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act

S. 3709

Posted on November 16, 2006

Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I am here to support the Lugar-Biden legislation that would implement changes in law necessary to secure our Nation's civil-nuclear agreement with India. This is very important to our future for two reasons: No. 1, India is one of the great powers of the 21st century, and this agreement represents an important step toward a new strategic partnership between our two countries; and No. 2, nuclear power is a source of clean energy that is good for us, and it is good for India. As we look at the beginning of this new century, we have witnessed the emergence of three great powers or influences in the world--three major shifts that will help define the many years to come. One is the rise of China. One is the emergence of a new political Islam. And the third is the arrival of India as a great power. I asked Secretary Rice about these three new forces shaping the coming century at the Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the United States-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, and she agreed with my assessment. And if you look at those three emerging forces, one presents the greatest opportunity for us to be a partner, and that one is India: India, the largest democracy in the world; India, where English is an official language; India, where the legal system, like ours, is descended from that of the British; and India, where a diverse ethnic and religious population has joined together to form one nation with a democratic government. India. I was fortunate to travel to India earlier this year with a group of Senators led by Senator ENZI. We went to look at what India is doing to improve its economic standing by improving its brainpower through better education and research and an emphasis on science and technology. And we saw a country that is rapidly advancing. Both our President and this Congress, in a bipartisan fashion, are showing real vision by recognizing that in this new century there may be no more important two-country relationship than the one between the United States and India. And we share an important strategic interest: we are facing the same sort of energy and environmental issues. India's needs are even more acute. When I was there a few months ago, I was told that India hopes to bring online 50,000 MW over the next 10 years in order to meet demand. That is an incredible figure. If each power plant has a capacity of 500 MW, that is 100 new power plants. And they are going to build them with us or without us. The question for us is: What kind of power plants will they build? From an environmental perspective, the only technology that is ready to go, today, to provide large amounts of reliable power without emitting noxious gases into the air is nuclear power. As new studies are emerging that India's air pollution and China's air pollution is also our air pollution because air pollution both deposits locally and moves around the globe and that their greenhouse gases cause just as much global warming as our greenhouse gases, then it is in our interest for India to build nuclear power plants rather than more dirty coal power plants that emit sulfur and nitrogen and mercury and carbon. Seventy-two percent of India's electricity needs are currently provided by coal-burning plants. Gas provides 12 percent; oil, 2 percent; nuclear, 3 percent; hydro, 10 percent, and renewables, 1 percent. This agreement won't radically shift those numbers overnight, but each new nuclear powerplant is a powerplant that is not emitting noxious gases into the air. It is one more powerplant that is not putting out sulfur or nitrogen or mercury or even carbon. So, Mr. President, before us is legislation to implement the United States-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. This is not an agreement about nuclear weapons--it is about cooperation for nuclear power. This is an agreement that puts us on the path to a new strategic partnership with India--one of the three great rising forces in this new century. And this is an agreement that meets energy needs while being good for the environment. I am glad that we have taken this matter up in a bipartisan manner and look forward to its passage today.