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Sierra Daily

Mar 15, 2011

Full Steam Ahead

Nuke scale At a House subcommittee hearing today, Energy Secretary Steven Chu reiterated the Obama administration’s support for nuclear power, despite the ongoing nuclear-reactor catastrophe in Japan.

"The administration believes we must rely on a diverse set of energy sources, including renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power," Chu told the committee. "The administration is committed to learning from Japan's experience as we work to continue to strengthen America's nuclear industry."

Today, France's ASN nuclear safety authority said that the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant could now be classed as level six out of an international scale of one to seven (image above). The 1986 Chernobyl accident is the only nuclear event to merit a 7; 1979’s Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania was rated a 5. "We are clearly in a catastrophe," ASN President Andre-Claude Lacoste said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Many scientists and environmentalists agree that while nuclear power produces no global-warming emissions, it is an inadequate response to climate issues because it cannot reduce emissions quickly and with the lowest costs and risk. Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope offered his take on why nuclear power makes no sense here.

--Reed McManus

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