Bingaman: Germany's plan to abandon nuclear power is a 'mistake'

“I think that is a step back from the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Bingaman said, referring to Germany’s plan to close its nuclear power plants. “By far the largest portion of power produced in the world that is not emitting greenhouse gases is the power produced from nuclear facilities. So, I think it is unfortunate that they’ve chosen not to continue with that.”

Bingaman’s comments come a day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with President Obama and Senate leadership.

Merkel proposed closing all of Germany’s nuclear power plants by the end of 2022 in the aftermath of the partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan earlier this year.

Germany’s Cabinet agreed to the plan Monday, which would involve keeping closed seven nuclear reactors that were shuttered in March and gradually shutting down 17 other power plants over the next decade.

Bingaman said it is appropriate to shut down any reactors that have similar safety problems as those at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But he said Germany has gone too far in its plan to close all of its nuclear plants.

“I think clearly if there’s any safety problem that they’ve identified, they should be closing those plants and not using them,” Bingaman said. “But I think they’ve gone beyond that and decided as a matter of policy they are not going to continue to produce power from nuclear power and I think that is a mistake.”

In the aftermath of the Japanese nuclear crisis, the Obama administration stuck by its support of nuclear power as a key part of the country’s energy portfolio. At the same time, the Nuclear Energy Commission launched a two-part safety review of the U.S. nuclear fleet.