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President Obama Says It's Time to Act on Nuclear Energy

We quoted a bit of President Barack Obama’s discussion of the energy bill in the post below, but he had more to say, with nuclear getting a pretty good showing. Here are all his comments referencing nuclear energy from the interview (the nuclear parts neatly bolded), with a fair amount of surrounding context. Do take a look at the whole thing, though. Lots of meat.

1. President Obama: I think this was an extraordinary first step. You know, if you had asked people six months ago -- or six weeks ago, for that matter -- whether we could get a energy bill with the scope of the one that we saw on Friday through the House, people would have told you, no way. You look at the constituent parts of this bill -- not only a framework for cap and trade, but huge significant steps on energy efficiency, a renewable energy standard, huge incentives for research and development in new technologies, incentives for electric cars, incentives for nuclear energy, clean coaltechnology. This really is an unprecedented step and a comprehensive approach.

2. President Obama: So this is really a bill that helps give industry a certainty that this is coming along, rather than depending whether you start now or five years from now -- let's start it now. I've seen over the last decade more and more industries that the United States used to have a leadership in -- from nuclear power to power engineering of transformers to cars -- just one by one going away, being off-shored. And we've got to capture back this high-value engineering, which is the future.

3. Q. Do you think the Senate is actually going to be able to get something done this summer? You've got a lot of things, between health care --

President Obama: How the Senate times all this stuff is going to be, obviously, up to Harry Reid and the leadership in the Senate. But with the House having taken the lead and set a benchmark, I think the Senate is going to recognize now is the time to act.

So how all this stuff gets sequenced is hard to gauge. It may be that the Senate decides to do health care before they do energy. We've still got financial regulation in place. And the air traffic control system on all this legislation, how we land all of it I think is going to require enormous hard work and a deft touch by legislative leaders. What we want to do is to simply encourage the Senate and the House to seize the day, seize the opportunity.

The most important message that I want to deliver -- and it's the same message that I'm delivering on health care -- is everybody knows what we're doing isn't working. Everybody knows that. There's no contradiction. That the most vocal opponents to this legislation all have to admit that the status quo is unacceptable. So then you ask them, well, okay, what should we do? And they're sort of mumbling and muttering and vague allusions to, well, maybe we ought to do more nuclear power.

Well, I'll tell you what, there is a serious approach to nuclear power in this building
. "Well, we need to focus on production, that's what will free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil." I've already said I'm happy to see us move forward on increasing domestic production, including offshore drilling -- but we can't do that in isolation from all these other important steps that need to be taken.

So if the starting point is to acknowledge that we can't keep on doing the same things that we've been doing and expecting different results, then it means that now is the time to act. And I'm confident that ultimately the Senate is going to feel as the House did and, as tough as this may be, they're going to go ahead and move forward.


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