With challenges in meeting clean energy goals and new electricity demands, politicians in both parties seek to prolong and even expand reactor use.
Driven by the difficulty of meeting clean energy goals and by surging electricity demands, a growing number of political leaders are taking a fresh look at nuclear power — both extending the life of existing reactors and building new ones.
Even past skeptics, largely Democrats, have come around to the idea — notably in California, where the state’s sole remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, is scheduled to close in 2025. The search for clean energy has given nuclear power a spark that has drawn bipartisan support that added billions in funding for existing and new projects.
But critics of the nuclear industry argue that a veneer of clean energy has not changed the concerns about the technology, including aging facilities in need of potentially costly improvements, the challenge of nuclear waste disposal and steep cost overruns for new projects that are years late — if they reach completion.
“The industry knows it does not have a good story to tell,” said Edwin Lyman, a physicist and the director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s still plagued by the same issues.”
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