In a speech you can watch on MBJ-TV, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour hammered “the left” and “environmentalists” as the only critics of nuclear energy in America.
“They don’t like nuclear because — I don’t know why they don’t like it,” Barbour said. “They’re afraid of it.”
Yet, in a Feb. 9 Associated Press story, Republican Sens. James Inhofe and David Vitter are accusing federal nuclear regulators of applying differing standards in reviewing nuclear plants’ applications for relicensing — one for when they draw strong opposition and another for when they don’t.
They say the leading examples are the Pilgrim nuclear station in Plymouth, Mass., and the Vermont Yankee plant in Vernon, Vt., whose owner, Entergy Corp., applied for 20-year license extensions for the two on the same day, Jan. 27, 2006. The reviews for those plants just passed the five-year mark, and are the tied for the longest it has taken the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to examine and approve such an application, a process that usually takes 22 to 30 months, said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.
Inhofe, of Oklahoma, is the senior Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees the NRC. He’s been a longtime champion of nuclear power.
Vitter represents Louisiana, Entergy’s home state. He has received $20,000 in campaign contributions from the company since the 2002 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington-based group that tracks money in politics.