Obama Trying to Fast Track Nuke Plants, Critics Say

Clements said one reason he is alarmed is because of the president's ties to the nuclear industry. Executives at the Illinois-based utility Exelon -- a leader in the nuclear energy field -- contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama's campaigns for the United States Senate and for president, according to a review by The New York Times, which noted that two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, were among Obama's largest fund-raisers.

In September, White House visitor logs show Exelon CEO John W. Rowe visited with Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, for nearly an hour in the West Wing. Rowe is also a past chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, which advocates for nuclear energy.

White House officials pointed out that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is independent, and not subject to pressure from the administration.

Steven Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said Southern Co., the company building the Georgia plant, has made clear it understands the federal commitment is conditional.

"There is no final loan guarantee without an approved design and without an approved license application from the NRC," Kerekes said. "This permits Southern to continue on the investment path it is on while providing a measure of assurance to financing institutions."

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