Why does nuclear power fly in France, but not in the U.S.?

Venezuela joins the nuclear power club.

Published September 29, 2008 9:30PM (EDT)

While nuclear power is pretty cold (more or less) in the U.S., it's heating up around the world.

Eléctricité de France, the French power giant, just bought British Energy for about $23 billion, which gives the French company a major role in controlling British domestic energy production. France, of course, is well known for having three-quarters of its energy produced from nuclear power plants. (Compare that with about 20 percent in the U.S.)

Across the globe, of course, Iran is struggling to get its nuclear reactors online without interference from the West. And on Sunday, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela announced that with Russian help, his country will begin work on nuclear energy reactors.

A U.S. Department of Energy document from earlier this year states:

Electricity generation from nuclear power is projected to increase from about 2.6 trillion kilowatthours in 2005 to 3.8 trillion kilowatthours in 2030, as concerns about rising fossil fuel prices, energy security, and greenhouse gas emissions support the development of new nuclear generation capacity.

Heck, even the founder of Greenpeace is now (as of 2006) for nuclear power.

Maybe the U.S. needs to rethink its attitude toward nuclear power. If France can make it work, why can't the U.S.?

By Cyrus Farivar

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