Sen. Jim Webb Sways from Left's Energy Playbook

     As oil trades in excess of $135 a barrel the theme of the left has been to invest in “green alternative energy solutions.” But Sen. James Webb, D-Va., touted as a rising star in the liberal movement, isn’t playing along.

     “We need to look at nuclear,” Webb said on July 8. “We need to have a sensible nuclear policy. We haven’t built a nuclear power plant in this country in 30 years. Technology’s changed a lot in the last 30 years. You know when I was saying this two years ago, as some people in this room know – there were people who were Democrats whose hair would get on fire when I started talking about nuclear. But it’s sensible.”

      Webb delivered those comments at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., where he was promoting his new book,

"A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America.”

     Webb highlighted Japan and France as the best examples of alternative energy use. Eighty percent of France’s electricity is generated from nuclear power and 30 percent of Japan’s is generated from nuclear.

     “It’s safe when it’s done right. France has shown us that. Japan has shown us that. It has to be done right, but it’s environmentally friendly,” Webb said.

    Webb didn’t rule out coal power either. The coal industry has taken a lot of heat from environmentalists, who call clean coal a “pipe dream.” Jeff Goodell, a noted coal critic, once likened “clean coal” to fat-free doughnuts. However, Webb remained optimistic about the possibilities of cleaner coal.

     “In terms of coal, we need to find technological solutions – and they’re available – that will go after carbon dioxide emissions and these sorts of things,” Webb said. “When we were doing the discussion of global warming, one of the things I started saying to my staff was … ‘Somewhere out there, in a lab at MIT, or Cal-Tech or George Mason – there is somebody out there who has figured out how to break apart a carbon dioxide molecule and put a carbon bi-product and oxygen going up in the air and that person is going to make a billion dollars and will help us solve this problem.’”

    Webb didn’t rule out alternative energy altogether, but he also didn’t parrot the rhetoric of renewable energy and ‘green’ jobs, which are regarded by some experts as less efficient than current technologies.

     “We need to get into alternate energy,” said Webb. “We need to get into solar. We need to get into wind. But, we also need to make sure we take advantage of the assets that we have.”