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Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) compared Democrats who oppose nuclear energy to Republican climate science deniers, highlighting a growing rift in the party over the nation’s biggest source of emissions-free electricity.
In a wide-ranging interview with HuffPost, the Democratic presidential hopeful said he once shared progressives’ skepticism of nuclear power but became convinced that reaching net-zero emissions from the utility sector by 2030 was impossible without the source that generates more power than all forms of renewables combined.
“As much as we say the Republicans when it comes to climate change must listen to science, our party has the same obligation to listen to scientists,” Booker said. “The data speaks for itself.”
The remark ― one of the most pointed critiques of the anti-nuclear position in the Democratic primary so far ― grazes a particularly sensitive nerve in the climate policy debate.
The United States hasn’t built a new reactor in a quarter century. Yet nuclear power is deeply unpopular. In 2016, Gallup found a majority of Americans opposed nuclear energy for the first time since the pollster began surveying the question in 1994. If the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, stoked fear in a generation too young to recall 1979’s Three Mile Island accident, HBO’s new hit miniseries “Chernobyl” exposed viewers to the horrors of radioactive contamination.
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