RALEIGH, N.C. — Across the country and in North Carolina, nuclear power plants are controversial. Speaking at the Durham Rotary Club this week, Rep. Richard Burr said we need more of them.
"There is no way to meet the air standards that we agreed to and the goals America demands we get to without nuclear generation coming back into the mix and probably playing the prominent role in the future," he said.
According to a political watchdog group, electric utilities contributed more than $172,000 to Burr's campaign. Only President George W. Bush received more.
Burr is also a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, so his campaign said the donations are not surprising and are not significant, considering he has raised millions of dollars.
Burr's campaign officials say to help with the energy crisis, he does not just support the addition of nuclear power plants, but water, fossil fuel and hydropower plants, too.
Bill Schlesinger, dean of Duke's School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, believes renewable and alternative energies are better solutions than more nuclear power.
"It has the terrible disadvantages that we don't know what to do with the waste, and there are a lot of people out there who present a terrorist threat," he said.
In response to Burr's comments, Democratic challenger Erskine Bowles said, "Nuclear energy is a part of our energy policy, but the first order of business is protecting the nuclear power plants we have."
Even as Burr pushes for more nuclear power, he points out he has made security at the plants a priority too.
Many environmental groups believe conserving energy, not building new nuclear plants, is the best and safest way to go.