The earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown at a nuclear power plant have created an unprecedented disaster in Japan.
While disaster relief efforts proceed, policymakers in the U.S. are examining the wisdom of using nuclear power for electricity. The House of Representatives held hearings this week to examine the state of nuclear plants in the country. The U.S. has about one hundred nuclear facilities, some of which are identical to the plants in Japan.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the administration supports expansion of nuclear facilities. The President included $36 billion in his recent budget proposal for support of new reactors and the development of new, smaller reactors.
"We must rely on a diverse set of energy sources, including renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power,'' said Chu.
Sojourners questions this approach. Jim Rice, editor of Sojourners magazine, said that U.S. energy policy should focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
"The ongoing disaster in Japan cries out for our prayers and whatever concrete help we can send," said Rice. "It also stands as a vivid, unmistakable warning of the cost of hubris, one that we ignore at our own peril."
The Two Futures Project (2FP), an evangelical effort to eliminate nuclear weapons, has also weighed in on the question of nuclear power—sort of. 2FP does not have an official position either way because the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty allows for peaceful nuclear energy programs. The organization is, however, wary of the threat nuclear power may pose.
"We have consistently said that if nuclear power continues to be used—and especially if it is expanded—a new infrastructure must have built-in technological and diplomatic ...