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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

More from the Big Idea for Sunday, July 14 2013

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Just as we looked at quintessentially "American" ideas on the Fourth of July, in honor of Bastille Day, Big Think is looking at the best ideas from France. The sources of these ideas range from... Read More…

 

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