Lindsey Graham is a Republican U.S. Senator from South Carolina. A lawyer with a degree from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Graham served as an active-duty Air Force lawyer for over six years. In 1994, Graham was elected to the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina's 3rd congressional district. In 2002, upon Senator Strom Thurmond's retirement, Graham was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Since 1995, Graham has continued to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is one of only two U.S. Senators currently serving in the Guard or Reserves. He is a colonel and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School.
Graham serves on six committees in the Senate: Aging, Armed Services, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Judiciary, Budget, and Veterans Affairs.
Question: Why are many environmentalists loath to accept nuclear energy?
Lindsey Graham: Well, I think there’s a mindset from the Chernobyl accident that, you know, nuclear power is verboten. Quite frankly, 80% of the power in France comes from the nuclear industry, surely we can be as bold as the French. There’s a waste disposal problem; the French have a reprocessing system. Secretary Chu, whom I admire greatly in this administration, believes that in the next 10 or 15 years new technology will develop better than reprocessing. So what I’m willing, work with administration to provide a jump start of building nuclear power plants, loan guarantees that will back these plants up, reform the regulatory process, like they do in France, so that we can, you know, really get on with developing power.
I understand environmental concerns, but every technology has some downside. I think nuclear power has proven over time to be a safe, reliable form of power. And the good news: it doesn’t emit CO2. The other good news is, it creates a lot of high tech jobs that we need.
And a lot of environmentalists are changing their position. The environmental community, I’ve tried to work on a comprehensive energy bill with Senator Lieberman and Kerry, was pretty practical, quite frankly.
Recorded December 1, 2010
Interviewed by Alicia Menendez