An Obama Deal On Nuclear Power?

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THE VINE MAY 4, 2009

An Obama Deal On Nuclear Power?

Down below, I mentioned that Obama will meet with key House Democrats tomorrow and try to persuade them to support the big climate bill. Now InsideEPA reports that nuclear power may be one way the White House tries to woo some of the more recalcitrant Dems:

Obama administration officials are suggesting that Democrats in Congress are willing to compromise on providing incentives for nuclear power as part of a federal climate change program…

[EPA senior counsel David] McIntosh said he sees that more liberal members of Congress are ready to deal on nuclear to get a bill passed. Even members with the most progressive constituencies are "willing to give up their efforts to hinder" nuclear and CCS "in order to serve the higher good of getting carbon policies enacted," he said. "They’ve essentially gotten beyond that already."

It wouldn't be shocking to see a similar deal in the Senate to lure Republicans like John McCain, who has often said that he won't support a carbon cap-and-trade bill unless it includes federal support for the nuclear industry. Incidentally, when McCain tacked on nuclear subsidies to his own cap-and-trade bill back in 2005, he ended up losing four votes from liberal Senate Democrats. So it always seemed like there was a trade-off on this issue—add incentives for nuclear power to woo Republicans, and you lose votes on the left. But if McIntosh is correct, it sounds like liberal Dems would rather cave on nuclear than see the whole bill go down in defeat this time around.

--Bradford Plumer

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