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Nuclear Energy's 10 Favorite Lawmakers

When there is trouble and folks start asking questions, it's good to know who your friends are. Case in point: the unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan has fueled fear and loathing for the power source throughout the world including the United States. Just last week, U.S. lawmakers pressed the Nuclear Regulator Commission for assurances that nuclear power plants here are safe and some urged caution and even a delay to a long-anticipated nuclear building revival.

Thank goodness that the nuclear energy industry has doled out a hefty load of political contributions -- $4.6 million since 2001, according to Maplight.org -- to members of Congress. What really stands out are the specific politicos on the receiving end of the industry's generosity. Lawmakers currently serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee received on average $9,024 from contributions related to nuclear energy, compared to their non-committee counterparts who received an average of just $3,314, according to a recent analysis by MapLight.org.

That's a whopping 63 percent difference. The same discrepancy, albeit smaller, can be found on the Senate. Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee received an average of $11,229, compared to their non-committee counterparts who took in $9,605.

With so much money being tossed around, it's worth checking out the top 10 total recipients of nuclear energy dough.

  • BNET calculated contributions from two categories via MapLight's data: "nuclear energy" and "nuclear plant construction, equipment and services."
  • The figures reflect current members of Congress during the recent election cycle. That means data for the Senate was taken between January 2005 and December 2010. For the House, that time window is smaller, with contributions calculated between January 2009 and December 2010.
The Top Ten
10. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss
  • Total: $24,450
  • Breakdown: $21,950 related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services; $2,500 related to nuclear energy
  • Fun Money Facts: Virtually all of the contributions ($20,950 to be exact) come from General Atomics, a San Diego, Calif-based company that started as a nuclear tech company and has since developed other high-tech systems including remotely operated surveillance aircraft and airborne sensors.
  • Committees: Armed Services; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Veteran Affairs
9. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
  • Total: $26,700
  • Breakdown: $21,200 related to related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services; $5,500 related to nuclear energy
  • Fun Money Facts: The three biggest contributors were Areva; General Atomics and Fluor, which was hired by the Department of Energy to clean and close its Hanford Site, plutonium production complex that had nine nuclear reactors.
  • Committees: Appropriations; Chairman of Veteran Affairs; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Rules and Administration; Budget.
8. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland
  • Total: $28,000
  • Breakdown: $17,500 related to nuclear energy ; and $10,500 related to related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services
  • Fun Money Facts: Hoyer received $10,000 from the lobbying organization Nuclear Energy Institute.
  • Committees: He was the House Majority Leader from 2007 to 2011
7. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico
  • Total: $28,300
  • Breakdown: $18,000 related to nuclear energy; and $10,300 related to related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services.
  • Fun Money Facts: The Nuclear Energy Institute has contributed $6,000 during the prescribed 2005-2010 time frame
  • Committees: Energy and Natural Resources; Finance; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
6. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky
  • Total: $29,000
  • Breakdown: $16,500 related to related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services; and $12,500 related to nuclear energy
  • Fun Money Facts: Areva, a Paris-based industrial conglomerate that specializes in nulcear, contributed $7,000. Areva has a significant U.S. presence, including a joint venture with Duke Energy to design, build and operate bioenergy power plants. McConnell also received a substantial amount, $13,500 in all, from Kentucky-based Usec Inc. (USU) , company that supplies low-enriched uranium for nuclear plants.
  • Committees: Appropriations; Rules and Administration; Intelligence; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
5. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
  • Total: $29,750
  • Breakdown: $19,250 related to nuclear energy; and $10,500 related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services.
  • Fun Money Facts: The Nuclear Energy Institute contributed $13,750. Of that, one $3,500 contribution was returned.
  • Committees: Appropriations; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Chairman of Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Energy and Natural Resources
4. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
  • Total: $30,160
  • Breakdown: $21,410 related to nuclear energy; and $8,750 related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services.
  • Fun Money Facts: Graham received numerous small donations between $250 to $500 from Westinghouse. Specifically, from employees connected to the company's South Carolina operations.
  • Committees: Judiciary; Special Committee on Aging; Armed Services; Budget
3. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
  • Total: $33,000
  • Breakdown: $17,000 related to nuclear energy; and $16,000 related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services.
  • Fun Money Facts: $14,000 in contributions came from General Atomics and its executives
  • Committees: Environment and Public Works; Foreign Relations; Armed Services
2. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
  • Total: $34,500
  • Breakdown: $22,500 related to nuclear energy; and $12,000 related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services.
  • Fun Money Facts:
  • Committees:
1. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona
  • Total: $37,610
  • Breakdown: $15,150 related to nuclear energy; and $22,460 related to nuclear plant construction, equipment and services.
  • Fun Money Facts: Contributions run the gamut, including $8,100 from Usec; $5,350 from General Atomics and $4,000 from the Southern Nuclear Operating Co., which operates three power plants in Georgia and Alabama.
  • Committees: Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Indian Affairs; Armed Services; Intelligence
Photo from Flickr user Brooks Elliott, CC 2.0
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