November 1st, 2008
05:40 PM ET
6 years ago

Fact check: Does Obama think nuclear power is unsafe?

McCain has pushed for more nuclear power – and claimed Obama is completely opposed to it.
McCain has pushed for more nuclear power – and claimed Obama is completely opposed to it.

The Statement: Sen. John McCain, speaking at a rally in Newport News, Virginia, on November 1, touted his energy plan and said, "We'll invest in all energy alternatives, wind, solar, tide and safe nuclear power." Then he said, "You know, Senator Obama doesn't think that nuclear power is safe."

Get the facts!

The Facts: The Obama campaign says Obama "has consistently been supportive of more nuclear power."

The Obama-Biden Web site says that "nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our noncarbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option. However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, wastestorage, and proliferation."

The senator voted for the 2005 energy bill, a measure that contains provisions providing tax credits and loan guarantees as incentives for new nuclear plant construction. Obama also introduced a 2006 bill requiring plants to notify officials "whenever there is an unplanned release of fission products in excess of allowable limits." The bill never became law.

Obama said on December 30, 2007, at a town hall meeting in Newton, Iowa, that he isn't a "nuclear energy proponent" and that "nuclear energy is not optimal." But at the same event, he said he couldn't rule out nuclear power if it is clean and safe. And on several occasions, Obama has expressed his support for pursuing safe ways to develop nuclear power.

Frank Bowman, the president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear energy industry group, issued a press release praising the "favorable comments" from Obama and McCain about nuclear energy at the October 7 debate in Tennessee.

The McCain campaign, repeatedly asked for specifics to back up McCain's assertion, declined.

The Verdict: False. Obama's voting record and public statements indicate he is receptive to harnessing safe nuclear power, and there is no evidence he believes the proper deployment of the technology is intrinsically unsafe.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • John McCain
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