Obama presses nuke power button

Obama presses nuke power button

Prez announces $8.3b in loan guarantees for construction of first N-plants in 30 yrs

Obama presses nuke power button

Obama, in a visit to a job training centre in Maryland, said the loan guarantees to the energy giant, Southern Company, would help launch the first wave of construction of new reactors in nearly 30 years as well as advance his energy and climate agenda.
“Even though we have not broken ground on a new nuclear plant in nearly 30 years, nuclear energy remains our largest source of fuel that produces no carbon emissions,” he said.

 “To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we’ll need to increase our supply of nuclear power. It’s that simple,’’ the president said.

The loans would commit the US government to repaying Southern’s loans if the company defaults. The guarantees cover some 70 per cent of the estimated $8.8 billion cost of building the two new reactors at the company’s Vogtle plant, which is east of Atlanta.
White House officials said Wednesday’s announcement reinforced Obama’s pledge in his state of the union address last month to expand America’s use of nuclear energy and to open up offshore drilling.

Obama has also asked Congress in his budget request to triple loan guarantees for the nuclear industry to $54 billion from the current $18.5 billion.
Obama’s pledge to the nuclear industry was seen as part of a strategy to win Republican support for a climate and energy bill that has stalled in the Senate.
Expanding America’s reliance on nuclear power — which currently supplies about 20 per cent of electricity — is one of the few elements of Obama’s energy and climate agenda to win broad-based support.

A number of Republican senators have demanded Obama help fund the construction of 100 new nuclear plants over the next decade.
Lindsey Graham, the Republican who is working closely with Democrats to draft a compromise cap and trade bill, is also on board with a greater role for nuclear power. His state, South Carolina, gets nearly half of its electricity from nuclear power.
But the subsidies for the nuclear industry have made some senators as well as environmental organisations uneasy. “It’s a heck of a lot of money,” said  Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who is an independent. “The construction of new nuclear plants may well be the most expensive way to go,” Sanders added.

The administration is also stuck on a solution for nuclear waste, after shutting down plans to bury the waste in the Yucca Mountain range in Nevada. The administration last month set up a panel to recommend new waste disposal solution.
White House officials said the new reactors could come on line by 2016 or 2017, and would generate 2.2GW. Construction alone would create 3,500 jobs, and the plant itself would create 800 operations jobs.

‘Obama doesn’t deserve second term’
A year after President Barack Obama’s landslide victory, more than half of  Americans say he doesn’t deserve re-election in 2012, according to a new poll.
Only 44 per cent of all Americans said they would vote to re-elect the president in two and a half years, eight percentage points less than the 52 per cent who said they would prefer to elect someone else. Obama faces a 44-52 deficit among both all Americans and registered voters, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll released on Tuesday. Four percent had no opinion.
The re-election numbers are slightly more sour than Obama’s approval ratings, which are basically tied. Forty-nine per cent of people told CNN that they approve of the way Obama is handling his job, while 50 percent disapprove.

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