Environmental group critical of Sen. Lindsey Graham's MOX support

Environmental group airs ad

The Friends of the Earth environmental group traded jousts Wednesday with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham over his support for the mixed oxide fuel project at theSavannah River Site.

The group’s 30-second “Oink” ad, which features pigs in lobbyists’ suits, aired in Washington on Fox and MSNBC and on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show – along with stations near Columbia and the Aiken-Augusta market, said Friends of the Earth in a news release.

The House Energy and Water Subcommittee is discussing the U.S. Department of Energy’s funding for the MOX project, which would make nuclear reactor fuel from surplus weapons plutonium.

The Obama administration has requested a large cut to the program, which critics say could terminate the program – along with about 2,000 construction jobs.

The MOX facility, which is about 60 percent complete, is the cornerstone of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s plan to dispose of surplus plutonium by blending it into commercial nuclear fuel.

The plant has become increasingly expensive and behind schedule, with construction costs recently revised from $4.9 billion to $7.7 billion. Earlier this year, DOE proposed cutting $132.7 million, or 29.3 percent, from the project’s 2014 construction budget, citing rising costs that might have rendered the plant “unaffordable.”

Graham, R-S.C., a supporter of the MOX program, responded to the environmental group with some barbs of his own.

“Friends of the Earth is no friend to South Carolina,” he said in a statement on his website, adding that the MOX project is part of an important nonproliferation program.

“The Department of Energy made a commitment to South Carolina on plutonium disposition, and they have a responsibility to live up to their end of the deal,” he stated.

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