This week, Republicans in Washington were prepared to highlight the need for more nuclear energy in the United States.
Given the events still unfolding in Japan, they intend to stick with the topic. But the tone will be different. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Marietta Republican and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was on Fox News on Sunday, cautioning against overreaction:
”I think we should go forward. This nuclear reactor withstood a 9.1 Richter scale earthquake and a tsunami, and although there was a hydrogen explosion in the outer containment, the inner containment building is secure. Of course, it remains to be seen – we’ve got to watch this evolve….
“But this is not the time for us to shut down our ability to generate nuclear power. We’re only doing 20 percent. We probably need to be doing 30 percent.
The situation has indeed evolved. A Japanese official is now saying that fuel rods were exposed at one plant. The fallout in the U.S. – no pun intended – could be severe. From this morning’s New York Times:
The fragile bipartisan consensus that nuclear power offers a big piece of the answer to America’s energy and global warming challenges may have evaporated as quickly as confidence in Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors….
“I think it calls on us here in the U.S., naturally, not to stop building nuclear power plants but to put the brakes on right now until we understand the ramifications of what’s happened in Japan,” Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut and one of the Senate’s leading voices on energy, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
My AJC blogging colleague Jamie Dupree this morning writes of dashed GOP plans:
“We want to find out why it takes so long to go from start to finish on a new nuclear reactor,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), who touted hearings this week with members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission….
[I]nstead of a Wednesday hearing that will focus on ways to get things moving in the U.S. on nuclear energy, look for critics of nuclear energy to be raising concerns about it, while backers will be on the defensive.
The matter is by no means an academic argument in Georgia. Last year, President Barack Obama offered $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur construction of a new nuclear power plant – the first one in the U.S. in 30 years – in east Georgia.
Republicans in Georgia’s 159 counties held organizational conventions on Saturday – another step toward the party’s May state convention in Macon. State chairman candidate Tricia Pridemore arrived at the Cobb gathering via helicopter, with Gov. Nathan Deal to escort her – a sign that there’s a great deal of money being spent in this campaign.
The Pridemore campaign quickly noted that state aircraft wasn’t involved. She used the craft to fly to the GOP gathering in Hall County as well, said campaign spokesman Edens Davis.
This morning’s Marietta Daily Journal notes that many topics were mentioned at the Cobb GOP gathering. But county’s Tuesday sales tax vote appeared to be off-limits:
The SPLOST has so divided a county that prides itself on being a conservative bastion, that speakers at Saturday’s county Republican Party stuck to more unifying topics being debated in Washington, D.C., like the budget, health care and President Barack Obama, rather than mention the hot button issue in their backyard .
Proponents and opponents both held rallies, hours apart, at the Marietta Square on Sunday. Former Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr served as the voice of those against the tax. Former state senator Chuck Clay was among those who spoke in favor.
The Fulton County Republican Party sends the following results of a presidential straw poll taken at its convention:
– Newt Gingrich: 25.1%
– Mitt Romney: 17.1%
– Herman Cain: 15.6%
– Ron Paul: 6%
– Mike Huckabee: 6%
– Mitch Daniels: 5.5%
– Haley Barbour: 5.5%
– Tim Pawlenty: 5.5%
– Donald Trump: 2%
– Michele Bachman: 2%
The real surprise was that former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin received the support of just .5 percent of attendees.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider