President Obama rounded his first year in office talking about a "new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country." And he may get it yet. But something about watching an entire nation where the ground won't stop shaking and the roofs keep exploding off reactor containment buildings and nobody really knows when in the heck it might stop has a way of making you want to slow that awesome march to progress just a bit.
Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) on Face the Nation:
"We don't know where it's going with regard to the nuclear power plants in Japan right now. I think it calls on us here in the U.S. -- naturally not to stop building nuclear power plants, but to put the brakes on right now until we understand the ramifications of what's happened in Japan."
It's no comfort that Japan's nuclear plants are the same as most of ours, that some of ours are also parked along fault lines or that many rely on the same kind of backup generators. Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the House natural resources committee, is calling for a moratorium on development of nuclear plants in earthquake zones and for a safety review of all U.S. plants. The situation in Japan could easily happen here, Mr. Markey says. “I am concerned that it appears that no agency sees itself as clearly in command of emergency response in a nuclear disaster,” he writes in a letter to Mr. Obama. What he's describing is the specter of another Hurricane Katrina, only this time with a very long half-life.