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At climate conference, Democrats shift tones on nuclear power via Axios

A group of five Democratic senators attending a climate conference here in Bonn, Germany, agree climate change is an urgent problem but are conflicted over whether carbon-free nuclear power should be part of the solution.

Why it matters: Nuclear power, which provides about 60% of America’s carbon-free electricity, is facing a series of economic challenges, along with persistent worries about safety and how to store its radioactive waste. Nonetheless, the United Nations, which is hosting this conference, and the International Energy Agency have issued studies saying nuclear power is essential to helping the world cut its carbon emissions to levels scientists say we must.

What they said: The senators — Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Ed Markey of Massachusetts — were asked during a press conference whether they supported nuclear power.

What they’re not saying: A lot. I interviewed Cardin, Whitehouse, Merkley and Schatz yesterday, and asked them all about nuclear power. They told me they supported it, albeit some more cautiously than others, and all while emphasizing safety must be prioritized.

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