WASHINGTON – Two senators unveiled legislation Monday to double US nuclear energy output in 20 years and foster clean energy options with "mini-Manhattan Projects" named for the original US atomic bomb push.
Democratic Senator Jim Webb and Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, noting they cannot support a "cap-and-trade" climate change bill now churning through the Senate, said their plan could cost 20 billion dollars over 10 years.
The measure would include 100 billion dollars for carbon-free electricity loan guarantees, expected to chiefly benefit the US nuclear industry.
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It would also offer 750 million dollars per year for 10 years to fund carbon capture and storage technology -- sometimes known as "clean coal" -- biofuels made from non-food crops, advanced batteries for electric cars and trucks, solar power and to recycle used nuclear fuel.
The senators dubbed those initiatives "mini-Manhattan projects," a reference to the World War II-era US effort to develop the atomic bomb.
The bill also included 100 million dollars per year for 10 years to train and educate nuclear engineers, operators and related skilled workers at a time when US unemployment is soaring at 10.2 percent, a 26-year high.
Alexander, a fervent foe of White House-backed cap-and-trade legislation, noted that boosting nuclear energy enjoys the support of members of both major US parties as well as President Barack Obama's administration.
Webb, who said he could not vote for the cap-and-trade bill "in its current form," said increasing US nuclear capability was among "things we know we can do" to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
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