Voters in Utah's 2nd Congressional District say climate change is the nation's most pressing environmental problem and that immediate action is needed to address it, according to a new poll by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.
Half of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s 24-member Blue Ribbon Advisory Council on Climate Change voted last week to endorse nuclear energy. Utah currently has no nuclear power plants, given the sensitivity of the issue in a state that has fought high-level nuclear waste storage, received nearly $1 billion in compensation payments for victims of nuclear-testing fallout and endured about $1 billion in cleanups from previous nuclear-energy activities in the state.
David Tuft, director of NRDC's climate change project, said the group included nuclear power as part of its survey but was not releasing that data at this time. He noted that nuclear energy is not part of the climate-change legislation Congress is currently considering.
A Salt Lake Tribune poll last summer showed that Utahns were roughly split in their belief that global warming is occurring. Baldwin said as more businesses tackle climate change and as Huntsman gets more active on the issue, it has become more visible to the public.
Nice try Mr. Tuft. Good work on getting the lede you wanted in there though. The whole point of this poll was to pressure Jim Matheson to vote with other Democrats on binding climate change provisions. Now that Rep. Matheson is on the Commerce Committee, he has a say on whether our cars and trucks will have increased full efficiency, whether the US will further subsidize ethanol [please say no], or how much will go into solar and battery research, if the US will have more nuclear plants etc. Since Rep. Matheson used to be an energy consultant and is from the west, his colleagues will listen to him more than other new committee members.
Rep. John Dingell, the octogenarian chairman who is from Detroit and for decades has been an SUV maker's best friend, is considering offering a bill that calls the environmentalist's bluff--a carbon tax and major gasoline tax hike. Sen. Chris Dodd supports a carbon tax but none of the other candidates for president do. Most Democratic candidates support raising the CAFE standards (average fuel efficiency) and other more moderate efforts to address global warming.
Climate change is a real issue and it needs serious solutions, not just statement bills like Dingell's (that say environmentalists lack support) or Dodd's (that says I am liberal so vote for me Iowans). Recently nuclear energy has been given a second look by environmental politicians and policymakers in Europe as well as the US because it is carbon-neutral (and radiation-not-neutral).
Nuclear's fundamental problem is the end waste has a more immediate, localized, and long-term danger. Where do you put it? NIMBY How do you transport it out of your backyard? Who will accept it? (Nevadans don't want it, but impoverished Native American tribes do)
This is a serious problem with no easy answers. But pretending you didn't get informaiton supportive of nuclear energy really is dishonest, even if I might be inclined to agree with NDRC. I just hope Jim will vote for solutions that seek to make a real impact on climate change and not just a feel good measure like hydrogen fuel cells or ethanol.