Nuclear Key to Senate Climate Bill


"Nuclear power needs to be a core component of electricity generation. . ."

A three-day round of hearings over a companion bill to the cap-and-trade legislation passed in the House last May begins today in the Senate.

It seems the call for cap-and-trade climate change legislation could breathe new life into the U.S. nuclear industry as Democrats make concessions to Republicans to get the bill passed before President Obama heads to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December. It is this split along party lines that the nuclear industry stands to benefit from.

While speaking at MIT on Friday, President Obama urged the Senate to get the job done saying new energy and climate legislation is essential and should include "safe nuclear power" along with other renewable energies.

The House bill includes a cap-and-trade emissions reduction plan that mandates the use of renewable energy by utilities and allows polluters to buy and sell permits for emissions. It is expected to bring in billions of dollars and reduce carbon dioxide emissions 17% by 2020 and over 80% by 2050.

In a bipartisan move, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Democrat Senator John Kerry penned an op-ed together in The New York Times. "Nuclear power needs to be a core component of electricity generation if we are to meet our emission reduction targets," said the two Senators.

Even the President went as far to say at a New Orleans town hall this month that there is "no reason" why the U.S. couldn't employ nuclear power in a safe manner like Japan and France.

Key Republicans that might sign onto the Senate bill if nuclear energy plays a more important role include Senators Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John McCain (Arizona).

"The only way we get there. . .is if we really ramp up nuclear," said Senator Murkowski in a C-SPAN interview. "Nuclear power must be part of the solution."

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