As the Denver Post reports:
While McCain long has supported nuclear power as part of a strategy to cut heat-trapping carbon emissions, [Sen. Mark] Udall previously had hesitated.
“I agree with Sen. McCain that nuclear power has to be part of the mix,” Udall, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s subcommittee on National Parks, said Monday in the meadow. “It is clear that if we want to respond to climate change, nuclear power has to be part of the solution.”
Later in an interview, Udall said his support includes emphasis on safety by improving the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and issuance of mining permits. Udall also noted that a project to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada appears to be “a dead project.”
At some point, he said, “you have to have a geologic depository that is safe.”
To which the Colorado Independent adds:
Udall is a strong proponent of the state’s New Energy sector and is seen as a friend to the green movement in the state. His advancement of nuclear power, however, has alarmed environmentalists, who see the risks posed by uranium mining and nuclear power plant construction as far outweighing any benefits to be derived from expanding the contemporary nuclear industry.
Keith Hay, energy advocate for Denver-based Environment Colorado, has argued against the inclusion of nuclear power as a part of any clean-energy discussion. Hay told the Colorado Independent in May that there was “a strong push by southern Democrats to include nuclear and clean coal in the renewable energy standard” but that environmentalists thought any such tack was misguided at best.
“Anyone who has seen the front end of uranium mining for nuclear knows that it is in no way clean.”
It’s an interesting question–Colorado hasn’t had a nuclear power plant since the experimental Fort St. Vrain facility shut down a number of years ago, but the state is historically a leading producer of uranium. And that, of course, has its own locally sensitive environmental consequences.
But nuclear doesn’t emit greenhouse gases making electricity, and properly isolated waste doesn’t pose a threat to the surrounding community. Furthermore, nobody will ever build a nuclear power plant as badly designed as Chernobyl again. You do want to cut greenhouse gas emissions without reverting to the pre-industrial age, don’t you?
In terms of the politics, none of this is really a problem for Mark Udall–there is an arguable shift of opinion going on about nuclear power, or at least increased debate within the legitimate environmental community. And as we’ve said before, Udall isn’t up for election again for over five years: he can afford to be first when he wants to be.
A poll follows.