US, Germany differ on nuclear energy on sidelines of G-8 summit

Differences over nuclear power surfaced on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit Monday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which is phasing out its nuclear plants, arguing that its use is not the only way to combat climate change. Merkel's comments came after a senior US official argued that nuclear power should be used to stem emissions. "A country that has the capability to responsibly use nuclear energy in my view has a responsibility to do so, if we want to get serious about not just cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but also improving public health through reduced air pollution," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Asked if that was a dig at Germany, since Merkel is sticking to her predecessor's plan to phase out Germany's 17 nuclear power plants in the coming years, Connaughton did not respond directly. Merkel countered: "I don't think that climate protection is decided by the question of nuclear energy alone."