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.

. . . reports the New York Times. In fact, on Face the Nation, even Senator Joe Lieberman (CT) said:

“I think it calls on us here in the U.S., naturally, not to stop building nuclear power plants but to put the brakes on right now until we understand the ramifications of what’s happened in Japan.”

Recalling that Lieberman is nominally an independent, it’s a rock-ribbed Republican response you want, you can always count on the party’s Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who

. . . said that the United States should not overreact to the Japanese nuclear crisis by clamping down on the domestic industry indefinitely. . . . “I don’t think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy,” Mr. McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” . . . Republicans have loudly complained that the Obama administration did just that after the BP oil spill last spring when it imposed a moratorium on deepwater oil drilling until new safety and environmental rules were written.

When it comes to oil, Republicans jump when told to. I don’t have the figures, but one suspects the nuclear energy industry doesn’t contribute to Republican congressional campaigns on the scale that the oil industry does. Thus, conservative outliers might be willing to slow, if not stall, the nuclear energy renaissance.

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