The last time a contract was signed to build a nuclear power plant in the U.S. was in 1978, just before the near disaster at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island plant and the later tragedy at Chernobyl. But nuclear power's problems such as how to safely store tons of dangerous radioactive waste remain unresolved. A long-term waste storage site at Yucca Mountain, Nev. has never opened due to continuing questions about its safety. But the nuclear industry, with help from the Bush administration's recently unveiled energy plan, hopes to revive atomic power, which currently supplies the nation 20 percent of its electricity.
In addition to drilling for oil in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the White House energy plan calls for hundreds of new fossil fuel and nuclear power plants over the next 20 years. Vice President Dick Cheney ironically promotes nuclear power as a clean energy source that doesn't produce greenhouse gasses, even as his administration dismisses the issue of global warming. According to recent opinion polls the public, opposed to polluting fossil fuels and fearful of a looming energy crisis, is looking more favorably on nuclear power than it has in decades.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Michael Marriotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information Resource Service, about the Bush plan to revive nuclear power, an industry that until recently appeared headed for a slow death.
Contact the Nuclear Information Resource Service by calling (202) 328-0002 or visit their Web Site at www.nirs.org
This interview segment available in downloadable MP3 and RealAudio on radio newsmagazine Between The Lines'
website www.btlonline.org for week ending 6/8/01.