McCain Says Wants 45 New Nuclear Reactors by 2030
Author: Jeff Mason
McCain, his party's presumptive nominee in this fall's presidential election, is laying out a strategy to wean the United States from foreign oil, an issue that has risen to the top of voters' minds as gasoline prices soar.
The Arizona senator has argued forcefully for more nuclear plants, seeing them as part of a solution to fighting climate change and establishing US energy independence.
There are 104 operating US nuclear reactors at present, which generate about 20 percent of the country's power supply.
"If I am elected president, I will set this nation on a course to building 45 new reactors by the year 2030, with the ultimate goal of 100 new plants to power the homes and factories and cities of America," McCain told a campaign event in Missouri, an electoral battleground state.
"If we're looking for a vast supply of reliable and low-cost electricity -- with zero carbon emissions and long-term price stability -- that's the working definition of nuclear energy."
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, McCain's presumptive Democratic opponent, has issued supportive statements about nuclear power but has set no outright goal for building plants.
Though nuclear energy is key to meeting US climate concerns, the issue of disposing of nuclear waste from US plants and solving nuclear proliferation concerns are also paramount, Obama's campaign said on its website.
The key roadblock to new US nuclear plants has been finding a home for nuclear waste. Congress designated Yucca Mountain, 90 miles from Las Vegas, to be the nation's waste repository, but the site is years behind schedule and may never open because of powerful opponents like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not issued a new nuclear plant license since the mid 1970s and utility companies have balked for years at constructing new sites because of concerns about plant safety and cost overruns.
McCain and Obama have sparred in recent weeks over how to address the country's energy challenges.
McCain criticized his opponent Wednesday for supporting a "windfall profit" tax on oil companies, which McCain opposes.
"For Senator Obama, the solution to every problem and the answer to every challenge is a new tax," he said.
McCain added he would set aside US$2 billion a year for research and development into clean coal technology.
(Editing by Christian Wiessner and Braden Reddall)