One more point about the Democratic debate in Las Vegas last night, specifically relating to the discussion of plans to turn Nevada's Yucca Mountain into a nuclear waste repository. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards each stated their unequivocal opposition to this plan, arguing that science has already shown it to be unsafe. While even this point is highly contentious, what followed was even more problematic.
Edwards took time to clarify that he was the only one of the three to outright oppose nuclear energy. Considering Edwards's positions on global warming, energy independence, and "Big Oil", it is baffling that he would dismiss nuclear energy out of hand. As it stands, nuclear power is the only environmentally friendly, economic, and efficient source of energy that can help the U.S. wean itself off foreign oil. Solar and wind will never meet our demand, and bio-fuels are still years--if not decades--away from becoming viable.
Gwyneth Cravens's illuminating Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy dispels many of the myths about nuclear energy that Edwards' position helps prop up. For example, she notes coal plants emit more radiation than nuclear ones. (In fact, humans get more radiation from medical x-rays or flying round-trip from New York to L.A. than living near a nuclear plant). Also, Cravens argues that nuclear energy plants are almost completely risk-free regarding nuclear weapons proliferation (it's a different enrichment process) and potential terrorist attacks (U.S. plants are simply too secure). She also makes the argument that we likely have safe ways of disposing of nuclear waste, even at Yucca Mountain.
For all the empty "unity" rhetoric that inevitably is present during an election cycle, nuclear energy--if looked at with sober eyes--provides a real opportunity for the left and right to get together and tackle three of today's greatest challenges: national security, energy independence, and climate change.