In recent weeks, the parliaments of Finland and Sweden have given their approval to the development of several new nuclear power plants in the Nordic countries. The grant of parliamentary approval does not necessarily mean that the plants will be built, but it does suggest that the two environmental leaders are --for the time being at least -- finding that nuclear power is an acceptable generating vehicle in the context of worries about carbon emissions and continued reliance on Russia for gas.
The newly approved plants underscore the continuing interest in the European Union in nuclear power. Despite what many may think, the European Union -- one of the greenest political entities in the world -- does not prohibit nuclear power. In fact, France now generates upwards of 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power and the U.K. has given indications of being interested in more nuclear power installations.
Spokesman for the World Nuclear Association Ian Hore-Lacy said the nuclear power industry is finding greater acceptability generally. "Over all, opinions are firming and more positive. People are less concerned about waste because they've seen it's not a drama, and it's been well managed."
What does this portend for U.S. response to new nuclear facilities? No one is sure, but if two of the EU's most environmentally green member states have chosen to go ahead, can the U.S. be far behind?