Build More Nuclear Power Plants, Bush Says

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - "There is a growing consensus that more nuclear power will lead to a cleaner and safer nation," President Bush said on Wednesday during a trip to a nuclear power plant in Maryland.

"It is time for this country to start building nuclear power plants again," he said to applause at the Calvert Cliffs plant.

"We're taking practical steps to encourage construction of new plants, Bush said, as he pressed Congress to send him an energy bill by August.

President Bush joked that he didn't understand all the buttons and dials in the control room of the Calvert Cliffs plant -- but he said he does know that when the people of Maryland flip a switch and see their lights come on, they need to thank the people working at the nuclear plant.

He said nuclear power is the one energy source that is "completely domestic, plentiful in quantity, environmentally friendly, and able to generate massive amounts of electricity."

The 103 nuclear power plants currently operating in America produce about 20 percent of the nation's electricity, Bush noted, without producing a single pound of air pollution or greenhouse gases.

In terms of safety, times have changed since the 1970s, Bush said. Advances in technology have made nuclear plants far safer than they were before. Yet no new plants have been built in the U.S. since the 1970s.

In his speech, President Bush noted that Americans are using energy faster they they're producing it. "We really haven't confronted this problem," he said, noting that he's been asking Congress to send him an energy bill for the past four years. All he's gotten is debate and politics but no results, he said. "So now's the time...for Cognress to stop the debate, stop the inaction, and pass an energy bill."

The House has passed an energy bill and the Senate needs to do so, the president said -- before the Senate's August recess.

President Bush said gasoline prices will not drop when he signs a bill. But making the nation less dependent on foreign oil will make life better for future generations, he said.

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