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March 25, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Three Republican Senators stepped up to the plate Thursday morning and reiterated their support of nuclear power, despite calls for a moratorium or shutting down reactors in the face of the Fukushima accident.

"We don’t have a form of energy production in the United States with a better record than nuclear power," Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told a press gathering at the nation’s Capitol.  "I don’t think we should be making long-term, domestic U.S. policy based on something that happened in another part of the world," added Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.  "We certainly need to observe it, learn from it."

Senator Alexander has been a leading figure in the effort to revive nuclear, calling for the construction of 100 new reactors over the next twenty years. 

Democrats at the press gathering were more cautious.  I think we all pause and examine what happened and what these plants look like. Of course, I mean, we need to have a lot more information than we have now," Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio told the audience.     "We need to have a way for a complete safety assessment," added Senator Diane Feinstein of California. "I think that’s the important thing, particularly plants that are of vintage, plants that are close to faults, plants that are close together. Seems to be that’s the emerging no-no."

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama warned against a moratorium on the model of oil drilling after the Gulf oil spill.  "I am not for delays," he said.  "They delayed in the Gulf and they still haven’t started drilling again."  Texas Republican John Cornyn added that safety issues in nuclear had already been given extensive scrutiny.  "We’ve had a virtual shutdown of new reactors for the last 30 years, so I don’t think we need any more brakes on it, especially if we’re going to make ourselves less dependent on foreign sources of energy," he said.

Although the Senate does not have any particularly nuclear issues before it now, the debate may be joined if the issue of extending loan guarantees or reviving Yucca Mountain come to the floor.

Read more about it at WAMU News Radio

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