Nuclear power still needed in U.S., members of Congress say


SPRINGFIELD -- The effects of a natural disaster on nuclear power plants in Japan shouldn’t derail efforts to develop nuclear power in the United States, members of the U.S. House who represent Springfield said Monday.

“I’m a proponent of nuclear energy,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona. He called the earthquake and tsunami in Japan “horrible,” but also said he’d read that one reactor involved was 40 years old.

Schilling said he believes in “all-of-the-above” when working to provide energy to the United States.

“When a plane crashes, do we stop flying?” Schilling asked. “Of course we don’t. What we do is we go in and we improve that plane and make it better.”

“Nuclear is clean and green — how’s that?” Schilling added.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, chairs the environment and the economy subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“I continue to support the planning and development of new nuclear power plants in the United States,” Shimkus said in a statement. “We cannot stop the process, as there are a few plants in the planning stages now.”

However, Shimkus also said, “Moving forward does not mean we close our eyes to the situation in Japan.”

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, said in a visit to the Citizens Club of Springfield last month that nuclear power should be part of the mix.

“We can become electrically independent as a country,” Schock said then. “We have the ability to do that, much like France and other European countries have, if we invest in nuclear power” while also increasing development of solar and wind power.

Schock spokesman Steve Dutton said Monday that Schock hasn’t changed his position “one bit.” Schock’s response, Dutton said, is, “There’s nothing more dangerous than relying on foreign sources for our country’s energy supply.”

Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at (217) 788-1540.