US President Barack Obama has lived up to his campaign promise to support clean energy by approving a new nuclear power facility.
The facility, the first new plant in 2o years, will be built in an existing complex in Burke, GA. Obama announced that he would provide $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to build a new two reactor plant on the site. The site already houses a two reactor plant built in 1987.
This is a huge policy shift for the US, where nuclear power developments stagnated in the wake of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
Opposition to nuclear power in the US has been particularly strong in the wake of these disasters. Despite the safety and efficiency of nuclear power, and its widespread adoption around the world (especially in Japan and France), there remains a very strong NIMBY effect in US opinions on nuke power.
Interestingly enough, Obama’s major opposition on this issue comes from within his own party. Democrats have long stood in opposition to expanding nuclear power operations, despite the fact that nuke power has no carbon dioxide or other greeenhouse gas emissions. Secretary of State Clinton said famously in 2008, “I am agnostic about nuclear. I am very skeptical that nuclear could become acceptable in most regions of the country, and I am doubtful that we have yet figured out how to deal with the waste.”
Given that Obama’s placing a Nobel Laureate who’s spent much of his career trying to figure out how to make nuclear power more feasible in charge of the project, it’s more likely to be the start of something good than any previous nuclear initiative.