There are many post-election news stories that try to explain what the new dynamic in Congress and between Congress and President Obama means for various policies. Energy policy and nuclear energy have not been left out of consideration.
Here’s the New York Times:
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumed new House Speaker, may have already etched out the blueprints for a GOP energy bill with the "American Energy Act." That legislation, which he introduced last year, calls for ramping up nuclear energy and offshore drilling as well as creating incentives for renewable energy.
But the Times’ sources think that Republicans’ disdain for large bills will favor “small ball” bills that tackle aspects of an issue, in this case energy and climate change, rather than the whole issue at once:
If comprehensive climate bills -- like the one current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed through two years ago -- are the way of the past, some think the Republican path forward may be going "small ball."
Jim Collura, a former staffer for New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg (R), thinks Boehner will dispense with thousand-page bills in favor of piecemeal moves, like a stand-alone bill for clean energy incentives or a bipartisan renewable electricity standard.
And of course, there are bills from both sides of the aisle that zero in on nuclear energy. These may find new life in Congress.
Think Progress notes that half the incoming group of Republicans do not think global warming is occurring (or, if it is, that human activity is not exacerbating it). But that means half do think it is occurring and requires action. Additionally, of course, a number of members who retained their seats on both sides of the aisle also consider it an important issue:
– Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R- Florida): “Global warming is real and man-made.”
– Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.): “The science behind climate change is sound.”
– Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.): “Congressman Gerlach believes we have a responsibility as legislators and citizens to reduce our imprint on the Earth and reverse the effects of science-based climate change for both current and future generations.”
– Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia): “I believe that global warming is real. The National Academy of Sciences has presented evidence that the Earth’s surface is warming because of human activities, including increased worldwide industrial development, over the past several decades.”
Nuclear energy, of course, answers to this issue. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is quite explicit about this:
"Through a greater commitment to nuclear, we have a unique opportunity to cut greenhouse gases, provide stability to our electrical supply and create jobs," Upton told Reuters.
All true. And although President Obama will be proceeding with a different governing dynamic, his consistent support for nuclear energy could well increase as a way to find common ground.
“There’s been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases,” Obama said during a speech the day after the midterm elections. “Is that an area where we can move forward?”
We vote yes.
All elections provide elation and hope for some and despair for others. That’s as true for those in the nuclear energy sphere as in any other. But I prefer hope, especially as the fluid nature of American politics makes it very difficult to really make sure predictions.
In that vein, let’s let Alternate Energy Holding’s CEO Don Gillispie have the last word:
When the history of nuclear power is written, Nov. 2, 2010 will be a major turning point for the industry," said Gillispie. "It will mark the beginning of a dramatic resurgence for nuclear power."
He may be right, he may be wrong. But there’s no quibbling with his right to hope and elation.
A weapon that comes down as still; As snowflakes fall upon the sod;
But executes a freeman's will; As lightning does the will of God;
And from its force nor doors nor locks; Can shield you,'tis the ballot-box.
By John Pierpont (1785-1866)