Thursday, June 19, 2008

MCCAIN CALLS FOR 45 MORE NUCLEAR POWER SITES, OBAMA WAFFLES

REUTERS Republican John McCain would put the United States on course to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 if elected president, the Arizona senator said. . . . There are 104 operating nuclear reactors nationwide at present, which generate about 20 percent of the nation's power supply. . . Sen. Barack Obama, McCain's presumptive Democratic opponent, has issued supportive statements about nuclear power but has set no outright goal for building plants. Though nuclear energy is key to meeting U.S. climate concerns, the issue of disposing of nuclear waste from U.S. plants and solving nuclear proliferation concerns are also paramount, Obama's campaign said on its website.

The key roadblock to new U.S. nuclear plants has been finding a home for nuclear waste. Congress designated Yucca Mountain, 90 miles from Las Vegas, to be the nation's waste repository, but the site is years behind schedule and may never open because of powerful opponents like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not issued a new nuclear plant license since the mid 1970s and utility companies have balked for years at constructing new sites because of concerns about plant safety and cost overruns.