Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday that one of his agency's goals is to push nuclear energy.
"One of the things we want to do at [the Department of Energy] is to make nuclear energy cool again," Perry said during a lengthy news conference at the White House Tuesday.
He said, "You remember when we were kids, well, sorry, you are nowhere near my age. But when I was younger in the '60s, and a lot of kids wanted to go into the nuclear energy field."
But that isn't the case now, he said, "because this industry has been strangled all too often by government regulations." He wants the U.S. to begin again to "bring us to that place where nuclear energy is part of a portfolio, and be able to sell it in great truthfulness and honesty about what it can add to America from an environmental standpoint and from a security standpoint."
In the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear power was envisioned as powering everything from cars to aircraft, but issues over cost and radioactive emissions and waste led to the quick curtailment of those dreams. The Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown in 1979 also helped kill those dreams.
On the nuclear power side, the U.S. has the largest fleet of nuclear reactors in the world, although it is becoming too expensive to run many of the plants because of increased cost pressures and competition from natural gas.
Perry mentioned that the U.S. will engage with India on nuclear power development as part of a three-part plan to export energy technologies to foreign markets. The first part of new cooperation with India will be exporting liquefied natural gas, the second area will be on clean coal, and the third will be nuclear energy.