The thing to remember is this, though: No matter how good you are, it's going to be very difficult. And the way to minimize the difficulty is to have people be self-reliant, to have them well prepared, to make sure they're educated so they can take their own actions to get out of the way if, in fact, it looks like we're going to have a problem.
AMANPOUR: And, Governor, you were governor of New Mexico when Secretary Chertoff was in office. To your mind, is the federal government prepared if it happened somewhere near your state?
RICHARDSON: Well, I can tell you that states generally are not prepared. And so we rely on the federal government. And -- and I believe the secretary's right. The federal government has to lead.
I think the big message here is -- from -- from the Japanese crisis is that we're looking at what happened in the oil spill, what happened with the mining disaster in West Virginia, the pipeline explosion. We have to look at the safety, cost, environmental risks of all our energy production. And I think the message with the nuclear reactors in Japan is that we should look at all our 104 reactors in the United States for their safety and preparedness within NRC.
AMANPOUR: And when you were governor -- you were saying the states aren't prepared -- but did you believe that the federal government was prepared?
RICHARDSON: Well, I think this tragedy in Japan indicates that we need to be better prepared, that...
AMANPOUR: So is that a yes or a no?
CHERTOFF: Well, I think -- I think, again, Christiane, you have to have a realistic expectation. I think the federal government is -- has a general plan for catastrophic incidents. I think there are capabilities that could be deployed.
But recognizing, the initial hours after any kind of catastrophe, the government is not going to rescue everybody. That's not possible. And part of what I used to say and what Secretary Napolitano is saying is, preparation begins at the home and at the business level.
And that means, if you're in an area which is earthquake-prone, you've got to have a plan in place to evacuate if necessary, or you've got to know how to shelter yourself. Now, there's going to be a big exercise in May, in the central part of the country, the New Madrid earthquake fault, which we put in process several years ago. And that's a great opportunity for communities to take a -- a second look at their plans and make sure they're really serious and well-prepared.
AMANPOUR: So what scares you most as a former governor and having to rely on the federal government for this kind of rescue?
RICHARDSON: Well, first of all, we need to have evacuation plans. I don't think we have adequate ones around the country.
Secondly, we have to look at licensing of new nuclear power plants. The president wants to proceed with 20 in the next decade. We want to have loan guarantees. But I think we have to have a timeout on nuclear power.
AMANPOUR: So is that -- a timeout?
RICHARDSON: A timeout, not -- not a moratorium, a timeout, review the safety and cost of all these plants, with the new licensing plants. Let's look at those that are being proposed in earthquake- prone areas. Let's look at those that are in seismic -- where there's intensive seismic material.