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Japan nuclear woes cast shadow over U.S. energy policy

Facing its biggest crisis in 25 years, the U.S. nuclear power industry can count on plenty of Democratic and Republican friends in both high and low places.

During the past election cycle alone, the Nuclear Energy Institute and more than a dozen companies with big nuclear portfolios have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions to lawmakers in key leadership slots and across influential state delegations.

The donations and lobbying funds came at a critical moment for the nuclear industry as its largest trade group and major companies pushed for passage of a cap-and-trade bill.

While that effort failed, the money is sure to keep doors open on Capitol Hill as lawmakers consider any response to the safety issues highlighted by multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns in Japan in the aftermath of last week's monster earthquake and tsunami.

"The bottom line is you've got a variety of industrial interests that care about nuclear power and have a heck of a lot of money to spend if their business and their bottom line is put in political jeopardy," said Dave Levinthal, communications director at the Center for Responsive Politics. "As Congress is talking about potentially diving deeper, these companies bring a lot of resources and a heck of a lot of cash to bear if this fight goes forward."

Read the complete Politico story, "Japan nuclear woes cast shadow over U.S. energy policy."

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