To Make Sense of the Nuclear Debate, Look No Further Than Renewables
Climate Progress touts a new study by the New Rules Project showing that 31 states in America could produce enough energy from renewable sources to exceed their consumption (map below). That’s certainly noteworthy, but what’s more interesting, I think, is a quick glance at the 19 states that fall short, in the context of the renewed push for nuclear energy following Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) groundbreaking New York Times column.
Let’s consider the leading Senate advocates of nuclear energy in the current climate legislation debate (and we’ll exclude Republicans who would under no circumstances support such legislation). Topping that list would be Graham, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — all potential key votes for a climate bill. What do these senators have in common? They all represent states among those 19 that couldn’t support themselves with renewables. (Kerry’s Massachusetts, which could produce 105 percent of its energy demands from renewables, just barely exceeds that threshold.) It’s not hard to understand, then, why they’d turn to the other clean (but non-renewable) energy source.
Interestingly, none of the top five Senate recipients of campaign donations from the Nuclear Energy Institute in the 2010 campaign cycle — and just one of the top ten — comes from any of these 19 states. Perhaps as the nuclear debate comes into focus, the nuclear industry will shift its targets.
Here’s the map from the New Rules Project: