Wednesday, December 24, 2008

OBAMA AND NUCLEAR POWER

Matthew Cardinale, Interpress Service - At least 31 new plants have been proposed throughout the United States, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website. Twenty-six of these are already going through the NRC's environmental impact review and site approval process.

Obama has included reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and promoting alternative energies as key components of his campaign platform.

'I will set a clear goal as president,' he said in his Democratic nomination acceptance speech. 'I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.' He added that he would also use solar, wind, biofuels, and water as sources of energy.

'Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our non-carbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option,' Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden wrote in their energy plan.

'However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation.'

This assumes that nuclear fuel and waste storage are the only problems with nuclear power, however. Nuclear power also uses vast amounts of water and releases low levels of radioactive pollution, which one study has correlated with increased cancer rates in Burke County, Georgia.

'One thing I haven't seen them point to, which is the real sticker on this, is the problem of economics. The nuclear executives that want to build don't want to use their own money. You see them hat in hand here in Washington [seeking] loan guarantees. I can't see Congress doing that given we're in the hole financially,' Jim Riccio, a nuclear policy analyst for Greenpeace, told IPS.

The Green Party of the United States said in a statement that it 'rejects President-elect Barack Obama's reckless support for new nuclear power plants, as such an agenda poses unacceptable health and environmental risks and would be fiscally irresponsible in the extreme.'. . .

'I actually think we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix,' Obama said during the CNN/Youtube Presidential Debate on Jul. 23, 2007. 'There are no silver bullets to this issue. . . But we're gonna have to try a series of different approaches.'