"Obviously, all energy sources have their downside - I mean we saw that with the gulf spill last summer," [Obama] said. "But I do think it's important for us to think through constantly how can we improve nuclear technologies to deal with additional safety concerns that people have."
"Nuclear plants are designed to withstand certain levels of earthquakes, but having said that, nothing's completely failsafe, nothing is completely foolproof, and so each time these kinds of events happen, I think it's very important for us to examine how we can further improve the safety and performance of these plants," [Obama] said.
"I think we will, no matter what happens, try to take the lessons of Fukushima and apply them to our existing fleet and any future reactors we will be building," Steven Chu, US energy secretary, told Congress... Nuclear energy has been handed a big role in meeting a pledge from President Barack Obama that the country will generate 80pc of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.
In the State of the Union speech this year, Obama presented a goal of generating 80 percent of the country’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Citing support among different constituencies for wind, solar, nuclear, “clean coal” and natural gas, the president said: “We will need them all.”
“I still think that nuclear power is an important part of our overall energy mix,” he told an interviewer this week from WVEC-TV in Norfolk. He added that “we’ve got to do it in a safe and sensible way.”
While campaigning for president in 2008, Barack Obama promised that nuclear power would remain part of the US's "energy mix". His chief adviser, David Axelrod, had consulted in the past for Illinois energy company ComEd, a subsidiary of Exelon, a major nuclear-energy producer.
"We've got to budget for it [investing in American nuclear power]. I've already instructed our nuclear regulatory agency to make sure that we take lessons learned from what's happening in Japan and that we are constantly upgrading how we approach our nuclear safety in this country," [Obama] said.
The president said facilities in the U.S. are closely monitored and built to withstand earthquakes, even though nothing's failsafe. Proponents of nuclear power fear their efforts to win over the public to the safety of their industry have been dealt a tremendous blow by the disaster in Japan. "I think it is very important to make sure that we are doing everything we can to insure the safety and effectiveness of the nuclear facilities that we have," the president said in a second TV interview Tuesday, with KOAT in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to increase our supply of nuclear power and today’s announcement helps to move us down that path. But energy leaders and experts recognize that as long as producing carbon pollution carries no cost, traditional plants that use fossil fuels will be more cost-effective than plants that use nuclear fuel. That is why we need comprehensive energy and climate legislation to create a system of incentives to make clean energy profitable,” said President Obama.
Underscoring his Administration’s commitment to jumpstarting the nation’s nuclear power industry, President Obama today announced that the Department of Energy has offered conditional commitments for a total of $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a plant in Burke, Georgia. The project is scheduled to be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to break ground in nearly three decades.