Nuclear Plants Become a Factor in Elections: Democrats Soften
Their Stances on Traditionally GOP-backed Solution
Source: Dallas Morning News
Posted on: 01/28/2008
Barack Obama says nuclear power should be explored as an energy
option. Hillary Rodham says she's "agnostic" on whether more nuclear
plants should be built. As climate change rises to the top of
voters' minds, many Democrats are reconsidering their anti-nuclear
The party front-runners' refusal to rule it out may indicate a
big shift in U.S.
environmental politics, coming at a time when
Texas power companies want
to build up to six new reactors.
Nuclear power plants can generate massive amounts of cheap
electricity without emitting any greenhouse gases. Republicans have
long advocated nuclear power, in contrast to many Democrats.
"They've gone from 'no' to 'yes, but,' and some even describe
themselves as agnostics, and that's a big improvement," said Derrick
Freeman, senior director of legislative programs for the Nuclear
Energy Institute, which supports the nuclear industry.
Still, Freeman is nervous about a Democratic president delaying
or halting the building of plants. "It's 'yes,' and the smile comes
on their face with a 'but,' " he said. Until last year, no one had
filed plans for a new nuclear plant in the U.S. since a 1979
accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania . Now the
industry is poised for what many are calling a renaissance.
Power companies have proposed around 30 new reactors across the
country, taking advantage of new building technology as America
power needs continue to increase. "We should explore nuclear power
as part of the energy mix," Obama says, adding that nuclear plants
can cut greenhouse gas emissions, he says. Clinton doesn't state
explicitly whether she supports building new plants.