WASHINGTON (September 16, 2009) – The Natural Resources Defense Council has announced its support of a bill introduced today by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) that would assist developing countries with meeting their energy needs with alternatives to both proliferation-prone nuclear energy and costly and polluting imported petroleum-based fuels.
Akaka’s bill, the Energy Development Program Implementation Act of 2009, directs the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to present Congress with a plan for working with developing countries to develop sustainable energy policies.
“In light of the triple threats to international security posed by nuclear weapons proliferation, climate change, and failing economies in many parts of the world, this superb bill seems like an obvious step,” said Christopher Paine, director of the Nuclear Program at NRDC. “Environmentally sustainable energy supply should be a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy. This bill just makes good sense by supporting international efforts to discourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons, stop global warming, and promote sustainable economic growth in the developing world.”
“We hope the Secretary of Energy will not run, but sprint, ahead with this mandate offered by Senator Akaka’s bill,” said Paine.
Paine says the bill calls for the development of an Alternative Energy Corps, similar to the model of the Peace Corps, which would employ large numbers of technically trained volunteers to support the identification and use of indigenous renewable energy resources in developing countries.
“This is an idea whose time has come.” Paine said.
The Nonproliferation Act of 1978 (NNPA) contains a statutory mandate for U.S. government agencies to proactively assist foreign countries “in the development of non-nuclear energy resources” and in “protecting the international environment from contamination arising from both nuclear and non-nuclear energy activities.” In pursuit of these aims, Congress specifically directed the Departments of Energy and State, in cooperation with the Agency for International Development, to “… cooperate with developing countries for the purpose of expanding the energy alternatives available to such countries” and “reducing the dependence of such countries on petroleum fuels, with emphasis given to utilizing solar and other renewable energy resources.”