Renewable energy advocates are concerned that the unraveling nuclear crisis in Japan may prove to be a setback for U.S. clean energy policy. Efforts to stop and contain the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station are intensifying as an attempt to pump ocean water into a crippled reactor temporarily failed yesterday, increasing the risk of the release of larger amounts of radioactive material. As nuclear fears grow, the anxiety could spell an end to the fragile truce between environmental advocates and nuclear power advocates -- the basis for the Obama administration's attempts to promote clean energy in the U.S.
"It's going to be more difficult to build a bipartisan consensus around clean energy," says Jesse Jenkins, director of energy and climate policy for the Breakthrough Institute. The Breakthrough Institute supports nuclear energy as part of the clean energy mix. During the state of the union speech, President Obama endorsed a goal of 80 percent of electricity produced by clean energy sources by 2035. He noted that this would include nuclear, wind, solar, and clean coal. By bringing together advocates for clean coal, nuclear and renewable energy sources like wind and solar, the administration hoped to build a bipartisan consensus.