By Sam Youngman - 02/16/10 05:14 PM EST
In an effort to embrace a keystone of Republican energy proposals, President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that his administration will make available $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of two new nuclear power plants.
The president acknowledged that his announcement puts him at odds with many environmentalists, but he called on Republicans to get on board with other carbon-cutting proposals that along with new nuclear plants will curb greenhouse emissions.
The president, in remarks in Lanham, Md., said that the two new plants — the first in the U.S. in almost 30 years — will create thousands of construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs.
Obama said he raised the idea of tripling loan guarantees for the construction of nuclear plants with Republican congressional leaders last week, and he thinks "there is real common ground here."
"And my administration will be working to build on areas of agreement, so that we can pass a bipartisan energy and climate bill through the Senate," Obama said.
In defending himself against allies on the left who oppose the construction of new plants, Obama said that the U.S. "cannot continue to be mired in the same old debates between left and right; between environmentalists and entrepreneurs."
"Now, I know it has long been assumed that those who champion the environment are opposed to nuclear power," Obama said. "But the fact is, even though we have not broken ground on a new nuclear plant in nearly 30 years ... nuclear energy remains our largest source of fuel that produces no carbon emissions."