An article in yesterday's edition reported incorrectly that the House defeated an amendment by Rep. Peter Kostmayer (D-Pa.) to the energy-water resources approriations bill. Kostmayer's amendment, which passed 350 to 12, eliminated language requiring the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hire 100 new employes to process nuclear plant licenses.
Undeterred by the Three Mile Island accident, the House gave strong support yesterday to the nuclear power industry in a series of key votes.
In its first protracted floor discussion of unclear power generation since the March accident in Pennsylvania, the House:
Defeated an amendment by Rep. Jim Weaver (D-Ore.), 235 to 147, which would have blocked the issuance of plant licenses in states that do not have emergency evacuation plans.
Defeated an amendment by Rep. Peter H. Kostmayer (D-Pa.), 350 to 12, which sought to halt a directive to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hire 100 new employes to expedite plant-licensing procedures.
Approved an amendment - although by no means as controversial - by Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), 350 to 10, giving the NRC an extra $5 million to station resident inspectors at nuclear generating plants.
The nuclear issues arose as the House completed work, after four days of off-and-on debate, on a $10.6 billion spending bill for energy and water resources and some independent agencies.
Although it was a money debate, nuclear power and the country's need for energy quickly became the center of yesterday's discussion - and critics of the atom were put to rout.
After the spending bill passed by a 359-to-29 vote, Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.) lamented the public could conclude, should there be another nuclear plant accident, that Congress, didn't care whether they lived or died.
A recurrent question in more than four hours of back-and-forth debate was how the country would meet its energy needs if nuclear power generation were curtailed.
Rep. John W. Wydler (R-N.Y.) warned the House that the Weaver amendment was "probably the opening salvo" in a legislative campaign to curb nuclear plants.
Wydler and three other representatives - Tom Bevill (D-Ala.), John T. Myers (R-Ind.) and Mike McCormack (D-Wash.) - led the assaults on the limiting amendments.
The theme they and others sounded was that the nuclear power industry in general and the NRC in particular have enough problems, in light of post-Three Mile Island reaction, without "half-cocked" harassment from Congress, as Bevill put it.
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a critic of the NRC and the nuclear industry, argued that the debate raised a series of "red herring" points that had little to do with the amendments.
"Nuclear waste is not the issue; plant construction is not at issue; we're not talking about a moratorium or closing down power plants," Markey said.
But by then, minds were made up on the Weaver amendment and it was crushed, even as the Oregon Democrat lectured nuclear proponents that they have "an obligation to assure the public it is being protected."
The only real surprise in yesterday's floor action came when Rep. John J. Duncan (R-Tenn.) won approval of an unpublished, undebated amendment authorizing the Tennessee Valley Authority to complete its controversial Tellico Dam project in his district.
Duncan called up his amendment with no explanation. Appropriations Committee members said they had no objections and it was quietly adopted on a voice vote.
The Supreme Court held last year that TVA could not complete the project because it imperiled the vanishing snail darter, a fish protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The bill approved yesterday provides fiscal 1980 funds for the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, NRC, TVA and other resource agencies.