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Udall Risks Enviro Wrath by Floating Bill to Boost Nuclear Industry

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rich in uranium, Colorado would be on the ‘dirty front end’ of any nuclear renaissance

By David O. Williams
The Colorado Independent

Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall Wednesday took his boldest step yet on the road to a national nuclear renaissance as part of a program designed to combat global warming. He introduced the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Improvement Act of 2009 in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor in which he acknowledged he was likely stepping on an environmental landmine.

“For some, news that a Udall is speaking favorably about nuclear power will come as a stark – and perhaps unpleasant – surprise. But I also believe public and expert opinion on the risks and benefits of nuclear power has changed,” Udall said, referencing the 1979 Three Mile Island power plant meltdown and the industry’s struggle to improve its public image in the ensuing three decades.

“Looking beyond environmental concerns, and as we face perhaps our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, we also need an ‘all of the above’ solution to jump-start our economy. That means continuing our development of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass, as well as traditional energy resources like coal, oil and cleaner fuels like natural gas,” said Udall, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The Senate bill, co-sponsored by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would clear the way for the U.S. Department of Energy to engage in research into modular and small-scale nuclear reactors, cost-efficient manufacturing for nuclear power facilities and enhanced proliferation controls.

The bill is largely viewed as an olive branch to key Republicans who insist nuclear power, a nearly carbon-free source of energy, must play a bigger role in the pending Boxer-Kerry climate change bill, which would set a cap on carbon emissions and penalize the nation’s largest polluters....(Remainder.)

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