Wednesday, May 7

The nuclear option

The presidential candidates have weighed in on nuclear energy in recent weeks, an issue of particular interest to Northern Coloradans because of Powertech's ongoing push for uranium mining.

Republican candidate John McCain is downright enthusiastic about nuclear energy. Earlier this week, in North Carolina, he said, "I believe we are not going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become energy independent...unless we use nuclear power and use it in great abundance."

Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are much more cautious toward supporting nuclear energy and both have questioned heaping subsidies on the industry. Both have also raised questions about the waste and safety issues. Clinton has said she doesn't oppose continuing research related to costs and these other issues.

I'm wondering whether McCain's position will become campaign fodder this fall because when Republican politicians have turned into energy-industry lapdogs they have often alienated core constituents. Colorado's transition from red to blue (well, purple) has been partly fueled by the Bush Administration's zealous support for oil and gas and the impacts on rural parts of the state. Long-time Republicans, caught in the drilling haze, were already flipping allegiance to John Kerry in 2004. So, energy exploration could play a role this November when Larimer and Weld county voters (both counties have been Bush country) head to the polls.

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