Dear EarthTalk: Radioactive rain recently fell in Massachusetts, likely due to Japan's nuclear mess.

Author:Mason, Bill
 
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Dear EarthTalk: Radioactive rain recently fell in Massachusetts, likely due to Japan's nuclear mess. Given the threats of radiation, wouldn't it be madness now to continue with nuclear power? How can President Obama include nukes as part of a "clean energy" agenda?--Bill Mason, Hartford, CT

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, countries around the world that were growing more bullish on nuclear power are now reconsidering their future energy investments. Germany has shut down seven of its oldest nuclear reactors and is conducting safety studies on the remaining facilities; those that don't make the grade could be closed permanently. Meanwhile, in earthquake-prone Chile some 2,000 demonstrators marched through the capital to protest their government's enthusiasm for nuclear power. And China, the world's fastest growing nuclear energy developer, has suspended the approval process on 50 nuclear power plants already on the drawing board, and begun inspections on 13 existing plants.

But despite calls to shutter the U.S. nuclear program, President Obama remains committed to the industry despite his stated opposition to it pre-election. In December 2007, Obama told reporters at a campaign stop in Iowa: "Until we can make certain that nuclear power plants are safe ... I don't think that's the best option," adding that he was much more keen on solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative fuels.

According to investigative journalist Karl Grossman, Obama changed his tune on nuclear as soon as he took office, "talking about 'safe, clean nuclear power' and push[ing] for multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies for the construction of new nuclear plants." Right away, Grossman says, Obama brought in nuclear advocate Steven Chu as energy secretary, and two White House aides that had been "deeply involved with ... the utility operating more nuclear power plants than any other in the U.S., Exelon."

Undeterred by the...

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