Time for a ‘Debate’ on Nuclear Power–Involving Mainly Boosters

Will the unfolding crisis in Japan lead to a debate over the safety of nuclear power in the United States? Initial signs are not encouraging.

NBC‘s Meet the Press(3/13/11)had an interview with Marvin Fertel of the Nuclear Energy Institute.Host Chuck Todd prefaced one question with, “Iunderstand that you represent the industry’s interests in this….”

Later on the show, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) was asked to weigh in–since he had been speaking out in favor of nuclear power, a position he doesn’t appear to be abandoning:

Well, we’re going to have to see what happens here. Obviously, it’s still, still things are happening. But the bottom line is, we do have to free ourselves of independence from foreign oil…. So I’m still willing to look at nuclear. As I’ve always said, it has to be done safely and carefully.

On the CBS program Face The Nation, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I.-Ct.) was on to say:

I’ve been a big supporter of nuclear power because it’s domestic. It’s ours and it’s clean. And we’ve had a good safety safety with nuclear power plants here in the United States. But I think we’ve got to–I don’t want to stop the building of nuclear power plants, but I think we’ve got to kind of quietly–quickly put the brakes on until we can absorb what has happened in Japan.

ABC‘s This Week, to its credit, had Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund. He also appeared on Fox News Sunday–which featured pro-nuke Sen. Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) rightafterward.

In the New York Times today (3/14/11)we see the headline “U.S. Nuclear Industry Faces New Uncertainty.” But the article only quotes proponents of nuclear power. The lead graph:

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.

So we hear from a member of that “fragile” consensus (which never included “mainstream environmental groups,” as the article claimed). Is the Times planning on running a separate piece detailing the concerns of critics of the nuclear power industry?

The Washington Post has a similar Reuters piece (3/14/11) headlined, “Some Nervously Eye U.S. Nuclear Plants.” The lead sentence:

Anxiety over Japan’s quake-crippled nuclear reactors has triggered calls from U.S. lawmakers and activists for a review of U.S. energy policy and for brakes on expansion of domestic nuclear power.

But the only quotes come from nuke boosters: Joe Lieberman, a spokesperson for the Nuclear Energy Institute and a White House spokesperson. If there really is “anxiety” and calls from “activists,”readers shouldhear them.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.