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« Stock Trader Update 09 December 2015 | Main | Why more Middle Eastern states are building nuclear power stations »

The Curious Politics of Global Warming and Nuclear Power

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, the most formidable candidates vying to serve as our next president have largely avoided the topic of nuclear power. Indeed, they have encountered little pressure to address it even as the Paris climate talks open, with none of the Republican or Democratic debates so far including a single, specific question on nuclear energy. Only one Republican candidate, Chris Christie, and one former Democratic candidate, Jim Webb, broached the subject during the past debates. Christie strongly endorsed nuclear energy, arguing that if we want to mitigate climate change, "nuclear needs to be back on the table in a significant way." In a subsequent forum across the aisle, Webb essentially agreed.

Bernie Sanders appears to be the only candidate to reject expressly an increased reliance on nuclear power. Back in May, Sanders indicated that he does not support building more nuclear plants "when we do not know how we get rid of the toxic waste from the ones that already exist." Sanders, however, since then has side-stepped the issue. Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley have also been cautious and evasive, but clues from their climate proposals and past positions indicate support for nuclear energy in combination with renewable sources. Clinton's climate plan seems to maintain nuclear at current levels, while O'Malley historically has expressed strong support for innovative nuclear technology. Jeb Bush has expressed robust support of nuclear power, emphasizing access to new technologies that include advanced nuclear power designs.

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