During the weekend, while I was climbing over rocks and mountain summits on the Appalachian Trail, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) published an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation) that contained the following comment about nuclear energy:
Second, while we invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, we must also take advantage of nuclear power, our single largest contributor of emissions-free power. Nuclear power needs to be a core component of electricity generation if we are to meet our emission reduction targets. We need to jettison cumbersome regulations that have stalled the construction of nuclear plants in favor of a streamlined permit system that maintains vigorous safeguards while allowing utilities to secure financing for more plants. We must also do more to encourage serious investment in research and development to find solutions to our nuclear waste problem.
The encouraging drumbeat continues. I am reminded of an old saying; “You can fool some of the people, all of the time. You can fool all of the people some of the time. But you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” The political class – from liberal to conservative – has now fully grasped the fact that support for nuclear energy is not a “third rail” of politics that must be avoided. Instead, they recognize that it is, like money, a tool that can be used by both parties and all philosophies to advance human development.
It is not only safe to express support for nuclear energy; it is a political advantage to do so. That is something that could not have been said 10 years ago. Progress is sometimes slow and hard to see until you step back.