Nuclear Power May Be Climate Change Bargaining Chip

Waxman-Markey may need a different kind of 'nuclear option.'

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In the middle of this Post story on the political wrangling over Waxman-Markey in the Senate, there's an interesting tidbit. The Democrats may need to offer new permits for nuclear power plants to lure a few Republican votes and avoid a filibuster:

Maine's moderate Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, are the only likely GOP backers of the legislation at this point, and if Obama needs more Republicans, he may have to authorize Reid to give in for more funding for the construction of the nation's first new nuclear power plants in a generation. The environmental lobby has rigorously opposed any new nuclear plants, but several GOP senators, including Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and John McCain (Ariz.), have made their case that nuclear power is the best for cleaning the skies of carbon emissions.

I've never understood the kneejerk environmentalist opposition to nuclear power. Loosening regulations on building new plants seems like a commonsense, bipartisan way to increase clean energy production without heavy subsidies. Countries with a much stronger environmentalist bent than the US have embraced nuclear power. Even France gets a majority of its energy from nukes.