Tag Archives: weapons

Lamar Defends Tritium Valley Authority, Needed for Nuclear Weapons

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON, April 24 – In a hearing of a subcommittee overseeing the Department of Energy’s budget, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said President Obama should seek the advice of his own energy experts on his proposal to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority, given its importance in producing nuclear weapons and other “national missions.”
Alexander, who is the lead Republican, or Ranking Member, of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, asked department officials to confirm whether TVA was the nation’s only current source of tritium, an important component in the production of nuclear weapons. He said sale to a private utility could endanger that purpose, as well as work on technology such as small modular reactors that would advance the use of nuclear energy.
“Is the Obama administration really going to sell TVA?” Alexander asked at the committee hearing on the department’s budget. “You might suggest to the president’s advisers that if he’s going to sell the agency that produces tritium – all of the tritium for our nuclear weapons system – he might get some advice from the Department of Energy before he does so.”
The officials, including Neile Miller, acting administrator for the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, confirmed TVA’s importance to nuclear weapons product, and said they had not personally been consulted on the matter. Though her portion of the budget is related to defense, Miller said other areas of the department may have been consulted.
Alexander continued, “I would think that the Department of Energy would want to give advice to the administration about thinking through any proposal to sell our only producer of tritium.”
The senator previously said selling TVA was “one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas” that President Obama has proposed to Congress. TVA receives no federal taxpayer subsidy, and Alexander said that after deducting its debt “selling TVA would probably cost taxpayers money” and “could lead to higher electricity rates” for Tennesseans.

Haslam: Mental Health Services Maybe Better Than New Gun Laws

Preventing a repeat of the Connecticut school shootings may be better addressed through mental health services than new gun laws, Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday.
Haslam, questioned by reporters about the murders, also said his administration will hold a conference on school security next month. He said the discussion could include having more people at schools trained in dealing with violent attacks, as proposed by state Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains.
Niceley said he is working on legislation that would require all Tennessee schools to either have a “school resource officer” for security – as most high schools do now — or train one or more staff members in use of firearms and dealing with violent attacks.
Haslam said he was sickened by the Connecticut slayings and expects them to trigger “a national debate (on guns) over the next three or four months.” But he was cautious about saying what his position would be in any such discussions.
“I don’t know that a lot of (gun-related) legislation I’ve seen so far that could have stopped what happened there,” he said. “I don’t know that I see a big need to change things.”

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Rep. Curry Todd Arrested on DUI, Weapons Charges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee state lawmaker who was the lead sponsor of a law allowing handgun concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns into bars has been arrested on charges of drunken driving and possession of a gun while under the influence.
Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, was pulled over in Nashville late Tuesday, police say in court documents. He allegedly failed a roadside sobriety test and refused to take a Breathalyzer test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster stuffed between the driver seat and the center console.
A police affidavit said Todd was unsteady on his feet, “almost falling down at times.” It concluded that Todd was “obviously very impaired and not in any condition to be carrying a loaded handgun.”
As a former Memphis police officer, Todd isn’t required to have to have a permit to carry a gun in public, but state records show he has one anyway.
State law makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to consume alcohol while carrying a firearm in public, and those who violate that law are subject to losing their permits for three years.
The name of a lawyer for Todd, who is a former Memphis police officer, could not immediately be located. A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus had no immediate comment on the arrest.
Todd’s arrest was first reported by WSMV-TV.
Todd sponsored a 2009 bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, provided they don’t drink. The law passed despite opposition from law enforcement and district attorney groups, and easily survived a veto from former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.
A judge later declared the law unconstitutionally vague. The Legislature passed a new version last year.
Todd, the chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee, is known for flashes of a quick temper. After Bredesen vetoed the original version of the guns in bars bill, Todd said: “I want to tell you what the governor can do with that piece of paper he just sent.”
Todd also drew national attention last year for saying in a committee hearing that illegal immigrants can “go out there like rats and multiply” after hearing that federal law requires the state to extend prenatal care to women regardless of their citizenship status because all children born in the U.S. are citizens.
Todd initially acknowledged that he used the wrong words and that he meant to say “anchor babies” — itself a term many consider offensive — but refused to apologize for the original remark.
Todd later changed course and said he would “apologize if the comment offended anyone.”

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TVA Ratepayers May Have Subsidized Nuclear Weapons?

Tennessee Valley Authority ratepayers may have subsidized millions of dollars in tritium production costs for the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, according Anne Paine.
An audit of the program in which TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant makes bomb-triggering material for the U.S. Department of Energy turned up a major lack of data and other shortcomings that leave questions about who is paying. That could include whether the nation’s taxpayers are subsidizing electricity production for ratepayers.
In 2003, TVA’s Watts Bar became the first and only commercial reactor in this country that is used for electricity generation and also provides radioactive tritium for weapons. A summary of the audit by TVA’s Office of Inspector General included statements that the power producer had failed to address $9 million in “under-recovered overhead” that an earlier audit had found. The rates negotiated with DOE didn’t accurately reflect the anticipated costs of the program.
“We were unable to determine if tritium costs were accurately identified and invoiced or if any negative impacts on plant operation from tritium were reimbursed by DOE due to inadequate documentation,” the Inspector General office said in the summary released in May.
TVA nuclear power division officials say the issues occurred with the startup of the complex and unique program and also a changeover of accounting systems.
“If there were cases where TVA customers may have been subsidizing the program, there’ll be an effort to recover that money,” said Ray Golden, TVA spokesman. “In cases where we overcharged the Department of Energy, there’ll be a trueing up of that as well.”