I’m sure there’ll be some grousing about this, but as someone who lives within the potential exclusion zone of the single riskiest nuke plant in the U.S. (which also makes it a prime terrorist target), it’s A-OK by me. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that The One deserves credit for sticking by nuclear power while other world leaders have predictably begun hyperventilating. Even a guy with a spine as steely as Bibi Netanyahu admits that he’s rethinking the issue, which is understandable given how a Fukushima-type disaster might affect a country of Israel’s size but still a blow to the international pro-nuke movement. Still, I don’t think you’ll see Obama cave on this. Greenpeace and the rest can scream all the want, but clean energy is key to the left’s policy solutions to global warming. So the Atlantic is right: As unlikely as it may seem, there really is something of a pro-nuclear consensus in Washington right now. Whether there’s a similar consensus outside Washington is, er, less certain.
As for the rest of his statement, the “we stand with Japan” statements are nice but he missed an opportunity here to delve into the details of just how low the risk to the U.S. is from Japanese radiation. He touches on it and even repeats the no-harmful-radiation line for good measure, but given the health risks from nuclear paranoia, some hard data for viewers to chew on would have gone a long way. I’m thinking of something like this piece at RealClearScience crunching the numbers on deaths and disease at Chernobyl; adding a fact sheet along those lines to the White House website and having Obama point people there could stave off a lot of panic among the iodide-pill-popping set. Too bad.