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Pelosi, Clinton, Obama Favor More Nuclear Plants

Richard Simon, LA Times
Legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions creates new alliances and opens old wounds on Capitol Hill
The renewed push for legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions could falter over an old debate: whether nuclear power should play a role in any federal attack on climate change.

Congress, with added impetus from a Supreme Court ruling last week, appears more likely to pass comprehensive energy legislation. But nuclear power sharply divides lawmakers who agree on mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions. And it has pitted some on Capitol Hill against their usual allies, environmentalists, who largely oppose any expansion of nuclear power.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Barbara Boxer – Bay Area Democrats with similar political views – are on opposite sides.

Pelosi used to be an ardent foe of nuclear power but now holds a different view. “I think it has to be on the table,” she said.

Boxer, head of the Senate committee that will take the lead in writing global warming legislation, said that turning from fossil fuels to nuclear power was “trading one problem for another.”

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) – all presidential candidates – support legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and provide incentives to power companies to build more nuclear plants.
(9 April 2007)
Also at Common Dreams.

Forces dig in for energy battle

Mark Martin, SF Chronicle
A four-year battle to bring liquefied natural gas to California comes to a head beginning this week, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and two state commissions make key decisions on a project that pits the state’s dependence on fossil fuels against the push to boost renewable energy and combat climate change.

An Australian company hopes to build a terminal off the Southern California coast with the promise of creating a new supply of the liquid natural gas needed to fuel California’s electricity power plants. The LNG terminal would be located 14 miles offshore near the cities of Oxnard (Ventura County) and Malibu (Los Angeles County).

The proposal has generated emotional debate and sparked plenty of political intrigue. The company pushing the project, BHP Billiton, has poured millions into its lobbying effort and hired several friends of Schwarzenegger to work on its behalf. And while the lobbying effort has taken place primarily behind the scenes, a congressional committee under Democratic leadership has launched an inquiry into whether the White House influenced a federal environmental ruling that benefited the company.

Decisions made this week by the state Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission, as well as a verdict from Schwarzenegger due by mid-May on whether to allow the terminal could have profound impacts on the state’s energy future.
(8 April 2007)

Conservatives warm to climate concerns

E.J. Schultz, Fresno Bee
How popular is global warming as a political issue?

So popular that even conservative state lawmakers are getting into the act, using the issue to sell everything from building dams and nuclear power plants to thinning forests. The arguments are simple enough:

Higher temperatures reduce mountain snowpack, so more dams are needed to capture winter precipitation that falls as rain.

Nuclear power plants produce few greenhouse gases, the leading cause of man-made warming.

Forest fires, on the other hand, send plenty of gases into the air — so why not encourage timber companies to clear more brush to reduce fire risk?

Environmentalists, who are skeptical of the proposals, are peeved that the other side has stolen their issue.

“Clearly these legislators are just dressing up their existing legislation with a thin veneer of a pretended concern about global warming,” said Bill Magavern, senior representative for Sierra Club California…

Have they converted? Not necessarily, says Assembly Member Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, author of the nuclear bill. “It’s politics,” he said. “If the [Democratic] leadership has said this is a problem … then all I’m suggesting is maybe this is one of the solutions we should look at.”
(8 April 2007)