Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has flipped on nuclear power eight times while running for office, according to an analysis of her public statements and policy positions by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Clinton has consistently opposed nuclear power during her campaigns, but supported it once she actually got into office, TheDCNF’s analysis shows.
Clinton’s current energy plans, outlined in her 2016 platform, make no mention of nuclear power, but discuss wind and solar energy in glowing terms.
When Clinton was running for the Democratic nomination in 2008, however, she started off from a pro-nuclear power position, saying “I think nuclear power has to be part of our energy solution,” in February, 2007. “We get about 20% of our energy from nuclear power in our country,” Clinton continued. “Other countries like France get much much more, so we have to look at it because it doesn’t put greenhouse gas emissions into the air.”
Clinton transitioned from this initial pro-nuclear stance during the early race to a neutral stance later on, as her primary race with then-candidate Barack Obama tightened.
“I’m agnostic about nuclear power,” Clinton said in July, 2007, during a YouTube Democratic primary debate.” Until we figure out what we’re going to do with the waste and the cost, it’s very hard to see nuclear as a part of our future. But that’s where American technology comes in. Let’s figure out what we’re going to do about the waste and cost if we think nuclear should be a part of the solution.”
As her 2008 race with Obama got tighter, Hillary migrated to an even more vehemently anti-nuclear position, explicitly excluding the industry from her platform.”I don’t include nuclear power in my energy policy, which I think is an appropriate approach given the problems we have with it,” Clinton told SentinelSource.com during an interview in late 2007.
After Clinton lost the Iowa caucus she said that, “I have a comprehensive energy plan that does not rely on nuclear power,” in a January, 2008, debate in Las Vegas.
When she lost the race for the Democratic nomination in 2008, Clinton’s views regarding nuclear power shifted radically. She began representing American nuclear companies to other countries as Obama’s secretary of state. Clinton used her position to support American nuclear companies in bids to construct and operate reactors in other countries, and helped American nuclear companies get contracts in countries like Japan, the Czech Republic and India.
“I think that nuclear power will remain a component of the energy supply globally, currently the United States, last time I looked, got 20 percent of our energy from nuclear plants,” Clinton said in October of 2012.
When Clinton again ran for the Democratic nomination in 2016, she rarely directly discussed nuclear energy, though one of her campaign fact sheet claims she favors “advanced nuclear,” which requires, “expand[ing] successful innovation initiatives, like ARPA-e, and cut those that fail to deliver results.”
By the time Clinton pulled ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in March, her policy director told a local Idaho news source that, “nuclear energy has an important role to play in our clean-energy future.”
After locking down the Democratic nomination, Clinton shifted back to opposing nuclear power.
Clinton’s current platform for 2016 calls for having the nation run “entirely on clean energy by midcentury,” with a goal of “getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade.” The platform never defines clean energy, but other sections clearly indicate that it excludes nuclear. The phrases “nuclear energy” or “nuclear power” never appear in the platform.
Nuclear power provided 20 percent of all the electricity used in America in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The same organization found that wind and solar favored by Clinton only provide 4.7 and 0.6 percent, respectively. America isn’t even close to generating enough energy from wind and solar power to achieve Clinton’s current goal, despite extremely lucrative subsidies, according to an analysis of federal data conducted in July by TheDCNF.
Other clean energy sources like hydropower and biofuels accounted for 6 and 1.6 percent of all electricity generated last year, but both are increasingly targeted by the green movement, difficult to rapidly expand and dependent upon regional conditions.
Nuclear accounts for 63 percent of non-carbon dioxide (CO2) emitting power sources. The average single nuclear reactor prevents 3.1 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. It would take more than 100 years for solar to replace the electricity we currently obtain from existing nuclear plants, according to calculations performed by the National Review.
Daily Caller interns Kevin Klenkel and Joshua Delk contributed to this report.
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