Touting nuclear energy as a critical component of the effort to confront climate change and meet the U.S.’s energy needs, President Barack Obama announced Tuesday roughly $8 billion in government-loan guarantees for Southern Co. to break ground on a new nuclear-power plant in Georgia.
Speaking at an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers job-training facility in Lanham, Md., Mr. Obama used the announcement to push for bipartisan backing for a broader energy and climate bill.
“Investing in nuclear energy remains a necessary step,” the president said. “And what I hope is that this announcement underscores both our seriousness in meeting the energy challenge—and our willingness to look at this challenge not as a partisan issue, but as a matter far more important than politics.”
The loan guarantee, reported last week by Dow Jones Newswires, would pave the way for the first new nuclear-power plant in the U.S. in almost 30 years.
The reactors are “just the first of what we hope will be many new nuclear projects,” said Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, in a press briefing Tuesday.
Southern Co. Chief Executive David Ratcliffe called the loan guarantee “an important endorsement in the role nuclear power must play in diversifying our nation’s energy mix and helping to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.”
The company, which plans to build the new units at its Vogtle plant near Waynesboro, Ga., expects to create around 3,500 jobs during construction and another 800 permanent jobs when the units begin operation.
Mr. Obama painted the new power plant as a jobs creator, and a way to cut carbon pollution. But he also acknowledged concerns among environmentalists and others, saying nuclear plants must be held to strict safety standards, and pledged to address worries over the storage of nuclear waste.
I’m not sure how Nuclear Power became “Green Energy” in view of the radioactive waste issue…