Anti-nuke opposition muted even as U.S. nuclear industry expands

Opponents of nuclear power in the U.S. have been having a rough time of late attracting attention to their cause, even as the nuclear-power industry gears up to build five new reactors by 2015 and as many as 50 by 2050, with enthusiastic backing from the Bush administration. Concerns over high oil prices, enthusiasm over the prospect of nuke-plant jobs, and smart, targeted lobbying by nuke execs have combined to put the industry on its strongest footing in years. Generous new federal subsidies and the prospect of more in the near future haven’t hurt. Even environmentalists’ concerns over carbon-dioxide emissions are contributing to the nuclear comeback, as the industry can now tout itself as a solution to global warming. A stumbling block remains that pesky problem of what to do with spent nuclear fuel. While it seems that fewer communities are fighting the construction of reactors in their midst, nobody wants the waste.