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Obama ends 30-year nuclear power freeze -

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Obama ends 30-year nuclear power freeze

Broadcast: 17/02/2010

Reporter: Greg Jennett

Barack Obama has paved the way for the first new nuclear power plant to be built in the United
States for almost 30 years, but Australia's ban on nuclear power will remain unchanged.


TONY JONES: The United States has ended an almost 30-year freeze on new nuclear power plants.

The US President Barack Obama has underwritten a massive reactor, with billions of dollars in loan
guarantees, and it's likely to be the first of many.

But while the US is moving further down the nuclear path, Australia's ban on nuclear power will not
be changing.

Political correspondent Greg Jennett reports.

GREG JENNETT: He counts it among the clean energy technologies of the future.

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: If we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then
we're going to be importing those technologies.

GREG JENNETT: President Obama's making US$8 billion available in loan guarantees to back America's
first new nuclear power station in almost 30 years.

It's a hole in the ground in Georgia awaiting final approval, but promises 800 permanent jobs,
electricity for more than half a million homes and an estimated 16 million tonnes a year in reduced
carbon emissions, compared to coal fired plants.

BARACK OBAMA: We can't keep on being mired in the same old stale debates between the left and the
right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs.

GREG JENNETT: The President's rejoining a nuclear power race. Fifty-six reactors are under
construction globally, 12 more are being considered by US regulators.

The rallying cry has struck a chord with nuclear advocates here.

PAUL HOWES, AUSTRALIAN WORKERS UNION: It just makes sense to investigate all the options and
opportunities that are available to us in an energy-constrained, low-carbon future.

GREG JENNETT: But the Prime Minister ruled out nuclear two years ago.

KEVIN RUDD: I will prohibit the construction of nuclear reactors in this country.

GREG JENNETT: And, although he shares Barack Obama's frustration over emissions trading, he will
not be sharing his atomic adventure.

KEVIN RUDD: We will not be heading in the direction of civil nuclear power.

GREG JENNETT: The abundance and price of coal means Australia wants to make its heavy investment in
carbon capture and storage pay off. As much as the Opposition wants a debate, it accepts nuclear
won't happen without bipartisan support.

Australia is drawn in to America's return to nuclear power. It already exports around 4,000 tonnes
of uranium oxide each year and the industry is gearing up to sell more, once new and expanded mines
come on line.