$8b set aside for nuclear plant

Clean-energy jobs expected to follow

By Michael D. Shear and William Branigin
Washington Post / February 17, 2010

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WASHINGTON - Saying “this is only the beginning,’’ President Obama revealed $8 billion in loan guarantees yesterday to build a nuclear power plant in Georgia, part of the White House push for new jobs from clean- energy technology.

Speaking after touring a Maryland training facility for energy jobs, Obama said the move accelerates his administration’s efforts to increase the use of nuclear power.

“My budget proposes tripling the loan guarantees we provide to help finance safe, clean nuclear facilities - and we’ll continue to provide financing for clean-energy projects here in Maryland and across America,’’ he said.

Obama called for an end to the clash between environmental concerns and the economy, saying that the United States needs new energy jobs such as the ones created by a new nuclear plant.

“We cannot allow those differences to prevent us from making progress,’’ he said.

The president said other nations are racing ahead with nuclear power, generating jobs and expertise outside the United States. White House officials said the construction of the plant in Georgia would create thousands of temporary jobs and 800 permanent ones.

By embracing a new generation of nuclear power, Obama is seizing on an issue that has potential for bipartisan support even as his plan for overall climate-change legislation has stalled in Congress. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona often called for construction of nuclear plants during the 2008 presidential campaign.

But Obama is also raising the prospect of opposition from environmentalists who believe that nuclear power is dangerous.

To those people, the president said yesterday that efforts must be made to make the technology even safer but that nuclear power must be part of the effort to reduce reliance on carbon-based fuels.