Don’t Call It a Comeback
The nuclear industry is swinging into comeback mode. A bill expected to pass the U.S. Senate in the next few weeks would provide federal loan guarantees for as much as 50 percent of the cost of constructing up to six new nuclear power plants. Sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), the legislation also would earmark $1 billion for building an advanced nuclear reactor in Idaho that would generate hydrogen. “If the demonstration [project] succeeds, it could well initiate a major nuclear reactor renaissance,” said Jay Silberg, an attorney for nuclear utilities. The Senate bill and a similar one passed by the House last month would also funnel millions of dollars into nuclear research and extend a cap on the nuclear industry’s liability in the event of an accident. Still, opposition to an expansion of nuclear power is strong, from environmentalists, some congressional Democrats, and many average Americans who simply don’t want a nuclear plant anywhere near their homes. The biggest hurdle may be Wall Street, which is dubious about the high cost of building new nuclear plants.