Energy

Cory Booker Knocks Fellow Democrats Who Oppose Nuclear Power

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Chris White Tech Reporter

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker dinged his fellow Democratic presidential candidates for pushing environmental proposals that do not embrace nuclear power.

Democrats must consider nuclear power as a viable climate proposal or risk being labeled so-called science deniers, Booker said in a Huffington Post interview Thursday. The New Jersey senator has made nuclear power a key component of his environmental policy mix.

“As much as we say the Republicans when it comes to climate change must listen to science, our party has the same obligation to listen to scientists,” he said, referring to data some experts believe shows nuclear power as one of the only clean energy sources in the country. “The data speaks for itself.”

Booker added: “If we had a president who was going to pull us out of nuclear, we’d be more reliant on fossil fuels … It’s as simple as that.” He announced $3 trillion climate plan on Sept. 3, which promises to phase out fossil fuels and create a 100% carbon neutral economy.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren chat during commercial break on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren chat during commercial break on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released her $3 trillion climate plan, which makes no mention of nuclear power. She pledged during CNN’s climate hall debate to start weaning the country off nuclear energy with the goal of shutting down existing power plants by 2035. Other candidates are taking a similar tact.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, for instance, supported the closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, which closed in late 2014. Vermont Yankee was the same model as the Fukushima plant, which melted down after being hit by an earthquake and tsunami. Booker is not the only Democrat in the race who’s supporting nuclear.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has called for ramping up investment in small modular reactors, as has businessman Andrew Yang, who promised investments in new reactors powered by thorium, a metal that produces less radioactive waste than uranium, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Much of the opposition to nuclear is making the energy source cost prohibitive. (RELATED: Sen. Booker Reveals $3 Trillion Climate Plan)

U.S. nuclear plants spent roughly $4.2 million every year as of 2016, meeting government paperwork requirements and another $14 million on various government fees. Getting licenses and permits to build nuclear reactors has caused the country to stop building new ones.

The average age for American nuclear reactors is 35 and near the end of 40-year operating licenses. Sixteen American nuclear reactors are more than 42 years old, according to government data.

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