Al Gore should use his huge influence with environmentalists to push for more carbon-free nuclear energy when he speaks in Madison today.

Strong statements from the former vice president supporting an expansion of nuclear-generated electricity in Wisconsin and elsewhere would do more for his cause of easing climate change than anything else.

Gore will address a convention of environmental journalists from across North America today at the Concourse Hotel.

Gore has carefully avoided the nuclear question in recent years, knowing the environmental community is split on the issue. Gore has suggested nuclear power is part of the climate change solution. Yet he seems to favor the status quo - keep existing nuclear plants without significantly increasing construction of new ones to boost carbon-free energy.

Nuclear power provides the bulk of America's carbon-free electricity now. How could Gore possibly meet his aggressive goals on reducing carbon emissions without harnessing improving nuclear-power technology?

Nuclear technology is dramatically improving to minimize the industry's drawbacks. France now gets most of its electricity from nuclear power plants and recycles most of its nuclear waste, for example.

Wind, solar, geothermal and other carbon-free sources of energy are important and improving as well. They can all play a role in easing climate change, reducing pollution and creating more energy independence and national security for the United States.

To their credit, Gov. Jim Doyle and the Wisconsin Legislature just adopted uniform rules on smaller wind farms to help encourage more growth. But nuclear power is just as important - if not more so - than other carbon-free alternatives to coal and oil.

Gore has done a lot to highlight the growing scientific warnings about climate change. Though much is still unknown about the potential impacts and when they might occur, the need for action that doesn't ruin our economy is clear.

Nuclear technology needs to be a big part of the solution.

Gore should stress his support for more nuclear power today.

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